Violin Pedals To Rock Out! (part 1)

violin pedals

Getting Started With Pedal Effects

When I first started playing rock I knew I needed to find the right violin pedals to change the sounds I could make. The reason was pretty obvious: the best guitarists rock their amazing riffs or solos with the help of a pedal or sound filter.

Violin pedals aren’t meant to be like make-up and fake leather

Don’t be confused: filters and effects are just that – you won’t rock only because you plug in a pedal. They are there to help you boost the song; to get a certain sound.

Let me be perfectly clear: music is about scales, harmony and everything else. Using a distortion pedal on an electric violin doesn’t automatically turn you into a fiddling god… Just like wearing fake leather leggings won’t turn  you into an instant rockstar 😉 Sorry to disappoint you!

 

The next step was looking for the right fit for the violin. Unlike the guitar, which is a plucked string instrument, the violin is a bowed string instrument. Although it seems obvious, the difference is a big deal when we start using pedals.

Guitars make short, pluck sounds, that have low sustain. Violins react very different to guitar effects, since they produce long sustained notes. This long sounds can interact with the filters in completely different ways.

In an ideal world, we would have specific effect pedals for violins. Since there are non in the market (…yet!), we need to identify guitar pedals that work best with violins, and avoid those that simply don’t.

 

Types of Violin Pedals

These are the main pedals categories:

 

Inside the first group, Modulation, we’ll find five types of pedals: Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Tremolo and Rotary.

Based on my experience, the pedals that work best for violin are the Flanger and the Phaser; but not the rest. You’re welcome to try them all out and see what suits you and the sound you’re trying to obtain, of course.  But first, I’ll explain further why I chose these two pedals over the others.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Looking forward to pt.2! I play NS Design electric cello and use Line6 Pod HD500 for my effects. I completely agree with what you said about chorus effect but – at least on cello – I’m a big fan of tremolo (as just a volume modulation with no added voices) and especially rotary cabinet effect. I find their effect is kind of similar to vibrato and goes well with stringed instruments. Cello vibrato is often slower than on violin so this might be the reason you don’t find it that nice on violin.

    I have been toying with distortion as well and find that squashing the dynamics with a compressor inserted before the distortion pedal makes the effect more controllable and more similar to guitar.

    1. Thank you, Marko! Part 2 is already out (http://rocktheviolin.com/violin-pedals-rock-part-2/) and in a few days we’ll be posting part 3 (the final one).

      Cellist are more than welcome here 🙂 Your gear sounds really good (Line6 is a great brand). Perhaps the lower tones of the cello work better than the violin for the tremolo. I’ll have to check with my cellist, but you’re probably right about the vibrato.

      Distortion pedals will be discussed on the 3rd part of the series – I’m looking forward to comparing our experiences 🙂

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