The 9 Best Electric Violins
9. Barcus Berry Vibrato
- top is carved by hand
- made with hardwearing wood
- requires significant setup time
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
8. NS Design Amberburst
- 40-to-1 precision tuners
- weighs six pounds
- not completely silent when unplugged
|Model||WAV 4 Violin Amberburst|
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
7. Kinglos Colored Intermediate-A
- seven flower designs to choose from
- generous four-meter-long cable
- not especially sturdy
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
6. Yamaha Teardrop Natural
- high quality pickups
- made with six types of wood
- does not come with bow
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
5. Wood Stingray
- ergonomic design minimizes strain
- built to last for years
- better for players with shorter arms
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
4. Bunnel Edge Outfit Rock Star
- pickups are ceramic
- understated matte finish
- money-back guarantee
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
3. Kinglos 4/4
- runs on nine-volt battery
- shoulder rest included
- made by experienced luthiers
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
2. Bunnel Next Natural
- lifetime warranty
- does not require assembly
- comes with rosin
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
1. Yamaha SV200
- four color choices
- two equalization modes
- thoughtfully positioned cable jack
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
The Violin Through The Ages
The violin is perhaps the best known member of the four major instruments that make up the string family of instruments. The others are the viola, the cello, and the bass. Each of these stringed instruments features four strings pulled taut above a body traditionally made of layered wood.
The violin is the highest string instrument in terms of pitch. Violins are valued both for their use as part of a full orchestra or a quartet, but are also often used as solo instruments, with thousands of entire pieces of music having been composed sole for the violin over the many years during which it has been played. (Bach's famous Chaconne from the Partita Number Two in D Minor is a fine example of piece written for an unaccompanied violin.) Note that a violin is occasionally called a fiddle; there is no difference save for the name between the two instruments, though the type of music played by a fiddler is often more raucous and less refined than that of a classical musician.
The earliest known instruments that approximate the modern violin hail from the Near East, with Turkic and Byzantine instruments being some of the first stringed instruments likely played with a bow rather than played via plucking, as was common with earlier examples of stringed instruments like the Ancient Greek lyre.
Beginning in 16th Century Italy, instruments similar to violins still being produced today were first developed. By the mid 1700s, after certain improvements to the design, including an altered neck length and angle, the violin had already achieved the apex of its design. Many of the instruments built during that century are still in use today, and are considered the finest examples of violins yet created.
A fine violin produced today will mimic a violin made 250 years ago in almost every regard, save for the tools used to create it. However, the modern violinist has one option that famed Stradivari family certainly never conceived of: today, there are multiple examples of electric violins available.
Why An Electric Violin Is A Grand Idea
An electric violin does not feature the same resonant chamber as an acoustic instrument; instead, they are made with a magnetic pickup built into their bodies. This pickup converts the vibration from the strings into an electrical signal that can then be transmitted to a speaker (or sent into another piece of hardware).
First produced in the late 1920s, electric violins are now popular with musicians all around the globe. These instruments allow a musician an amazing latitude of sound style, as -- just like with an electric guitar -- they can be altered using effect pedals to add distortion, echo, delay, and more.
An electric violin makes a great addition to an orchestra, but it can also be a lively part of a rock or folk band. Their versatility of sound means that one instrument can be used to play multiple different styles of music. That's good news both for the versatile musician as well as for any artists who need to share an instrument. This versatility also makes electric violins good tools for music teachers and for school bands or music programs.
Ironic as it might sound, one of the best attributes an electric violin offers is its ability to be played almost without sound. Unlike an acoustic instrument, an electric violin makes appreciable noise only when paired with a speaker -- some electric violins are even called silent, in fact. Thus an electric violin is a great tool for practicing without disturbing others nearby.
Whether connected to a computer to allow you to record and analyze your playing later or whether you use a pair of headphones to contain your music to yourself, the electric violin is a great tool the budding violinist.
Choosing The Right Electric Violin
A decent electric violin will cost at least several hundred dollars; one should know that from the start of their search. While there are models available that cost only around a hundred dollars or so, these instruments are often only suitable for use solely for recreation or as a young or amateur player's first foray into an area of music he or she may well abandon. A truly superb electric violin will cost as much as six or seven hundred dollars, for reference. This price point of two to three hundred dollars should seem manageable.
When choosing an electric violin, first decide if you want an acoustic electric model. These instruments can be played without power, or they can be connected to a speaker for amplification. They often offer excellent sound quality in both iterations, but cannot be as easily manipulated by effect pedals. This type if instrument can't be played "silently" either, thus limiting their use for convenient practice.
When you have settled on a type of violin (and a budget, of course) next consider the aesthetics of the instrument. Many electric violins come in fanciful colors and shapes, which might be as appealing to some players as they are a disincentive to others. Purists will appreciate many of the electric violins that maintain the shape of a classical instrument, while perhaps the younger, more freewheeling musicians will like the unique, minimalist "cut away" look many electric violins feature.
And any musician will appreciate the inherent durability and longevity of a decent electric violin. Consider the potential for years of use when considering how much you are willing to spend on this and any other musical instrument.