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Electric Violin vs Electro Acoustic Violin Showdown and Violin Effects - YouTube

Since I was little, even smaller than I am today, I have always wanted to play "Electric Violin".

Back in the day when I was starting out there were few "Electric Violins" commercially available, now they are everywhere...but they are not truely Electric, the vast majority are Electro - Acoustic.

An electric guitar uses a solid (non resonant) body with coil pickups, an electro acoustic uses a resonant body with vibration transducers (Typically Piezo). However most "Electric Violins" incorrectly combine solid non resonant bodies with vibration transducers, that's not logical, it is equivalent to putting an under-saddle transducer on a Fender Strat and expecting it to sound like a Martin OM-28, and that matters when you use them...it matters a lot.

To find out what I mean and to hear the differences please watch this video, it goes on a bit (15mins) as it is quite an involved subject, but I have added a few little pockets of humour to elevate the monotony of listening to me rabbiting on.

 

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Electric Octave Violin and Viola Description and Demo - YouTube

What are they?
An Octave Violin is an instrument tuned one octave below a standard violin and is sometimes called a baritone violin.
An Octave Viola is tuned one octave below a standard viola, which is the same tuning as a Cello.

The body of the instrument is typically larger than that of a standard violin to help reproduce the lower frequencies. This can be achieved using a bespoke body design or more simply and cost effectively by using a viola body that has deeper ribs. For violin players using a large viola is often not a practical option, I use a 14 1/2" viola which gives a very similar string playing length to that of most standard violins.

What Strings do they use?
The strings are specifically designed to play at the lower frequencies. I fit Super-Sensitive Sensicore strings which are metal wound Perlon cored strings. The tension is similar to standard violin strings so there is no additional load placed on the instrument, the mass is greatly increased so these strings look more like Cello strings and you have the feeling of you finger sitting much more on the string rather than the fingerboard. You can fit these strings to convert any violin, however the peg string holes, nut grooves and bridge grooves will all need enlarging; often the bridge will need to be higher and/or the fingerboard given more relief. All these adjustments will prevent premature failure of the strings and rattles and buzzes. Strings are available from the SHOP.

What do they sound like?
If you watch the video I play both the octave violin and viola, both acoustically and amplified.
The octave violin works surprisingly well acoustically, however the low C string on the octave viola is realistically beyond the capability of a violin size instrument as it is difficult to generate enough power to balance against the other strings. If you wish to use an octave viola acoustically then a larger body is required - typically at least 16".

What about amplification?
These instruments really start to make a lot of sense when amplified, the need for a large body to project the sound is replaced by the PA system and the deep tones inside the body are fully captured and released, even the low C string comes alive with a little hard work with the bow. Do not think though that you can use a solid bodied "Electric Violin", the acoustic body is needed to generate a full tone, I had played "Electric Octave Violins" before starting Sonic Violins back in 2003, those experiences gave me little hope of success when I built my first Sub Sonic Octave Violin, but I was blown away by the amplified sound and could barely believe what came out of the Sonic Chincello. My instruments are available in the SHOP

 

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13th October
Adrian Dwyer - a good friend of mine and Jazz Bass Player - asked me to set up and repair his old violin in readiness to send to a project on the Greek Island of Lesvos (Lesbos) founded by Maria Francisca Rocca Arbelaez and her mother.

This inspiration project prompted me to approach one of my suppliers - The Sound Post Ltd in Wiltshire. I knew that a good number of new violins are returned because of damage or imperfections, and thought we could maximise the shipment with instruments that I could bring back to life with a few repairs and TLC.

24th October
Justin Wagstaff responded brilliantly and kindly donate seven violins, two full size, three 3/4 size and two half size. To these I added a 1/4 size instrument that I had in stock gathering dust, so along with Adrian's own full size violin that made up a case of nine violins to send.

10th November
Having got the violins up to playing standard we filmed this short video below and sent the violins to their new home via UPS.

To be continued...

ART Angels Violins - YouTube

Violins arrived on Monday 21st November - Reaction from ART Angels as follows:

We are very proud of solidarity and inspiring actions. Look at this, Sonic Violins, The Sound Post and Adrian Dwyer from the UK donated 9 student Violins to ART Angels Relief Team and send us a very touching message of support. Thank you to The Sound Post, Sonic Violins and Adrian Dwyer <3 .
https://www.sonicviolins.co.uk/electric-violin-blog/
Violins of Hope, violins of Peace .Giving tools for a better today and future for Children and Youth living in Refugee Camps in... Greece.
MUSIC CONNECTS US

 

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This is a 24bit digital 2.4Ghz (ISM unlicensed) 4 channel system comprising physically identical 1/4" jack "Bugs" with fully articulated angled joints. More details here:

www.xviveaudio.com

The system is supplied in a sturdy foam lined cardboard case which would stand a gentle life on the road assisted by occasional gaffer tape repairs, but you may well easily store them in your case as they measure just 75 x 45mm when folded.

The units are well designed and finished and appear as robust as can be expected for a lightweight plastic product, there should be no reason for breakage in normal use for the transmitter, likewise the receiver if plugged into an amp or desk. However if the receiver is plugged into a floor pedalboard then it will require some protection if there is any chance of it being "stomped" on. The switches and the articulated joint all appear robust but only continued use will tell. The units charge via USB mini - A USB A-Type to twin USB mini cable is supplied. Tested battery life is in excess of the 5 hours quoted, recharge time is about 1.5 Hours from a USB2 Socket.

Sound quality is quite simply perfect - no degradation, the same as the Line 6 products that I have been using for many years. I have taken it to 100ft (30m) with no drop outs, which is way beyond anything practical in a live band situation. latency is quoted at <6ms - I will check this but certainly no problems could be heard.

The only intermittent problem that I found, but have now solved on my active Sonic Violin range, is a low level, high frequency (2kHz)  interference with some orientations of the transmitter. This noise was getting into the pre-amp through the power leads, re-routing them inside the instrument helps as does adding a grounded shield to the leads. This problem will exist on all active instruments and will be dependant on internal configurations, A Yamahaha (comparison demo) electric violin I tested was found to exhibit the noise, a solution for that may be hard to find with all the on board circuitry.

Conclusion:

I will take the system on a gig to double check the interference when in typical stage and PA environment but I don't foresee any problems and will most likely be recommending this product, especially considering its £125 Price Tag.

Update:

I have done more than a dozen gigs now with this system and had no audible issues. My bass player is also using one with similar success. The lack of dual diversity does not seem to be an issue, but that would be my one potential concern and if you are playing a high value, high pressure gig where any chance of a drop out would be devastating then maybe a licenced, dual diversity, fully encode (bolts and braces) solution would be advisable, but that goes for other more expensive  unlicensed systems too.

Buy Now

 

 

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What is a Pre Amplifier?

“Pre Amps” are always being spoken about in connection with amplifying violins.
It is important to understand what function they perform as part of your system.

“Pre Amps” are mysterious, often miss-understood and therefore miss-used. The reason for the confusion is that the title “Pre Amp” is often generically used to describe a box of tricks that provides many functions, the pre amp being just one. Here is a typical, but not exhaustive, list of functions built into many popular “Pre Amps”.

  • Buffer Amplifier – Impedance matching circuit.
  • Pre Amplifier
  • Frequency Equalisation
  • Harmonic Enhancement
  • Effects loop
  • Direct Injection (DI)

The sole function of the pre amp stage is to increase the signal from a transducer (pick up or microphone) to a standard level know as “Line Level”. It is often said that a particular pick up does not need a pre amp. This is a false statement. At some point in any set up your signal must be raised to line level. For microphones in live sound engineering this is typically done at the mixing desk as the first stage of the channel strip.

So why can’t we just plug everything straight into the desk?

The simple answer is that all signals are not equal – far from it. I use the analogy of a water tap. If the water is the signal then it varies from just a drip to a deluge. To raise pressure against this flow with your hand will require a different amount of force from just getting close to the deluge to almost completely stopping the drip…. This is impedance matching (sort of) and is performed by the buffer amplifier.

Most violin transducers are piezo based (not Pizza Base) these devices produce a drip of a signal and require very high impedance matching circuits, this is the most important stage of any “pre amp” that you chose to use, and should ideally be designed to suit the individual transducer.

Once all signals are at line level they are mixed and sent to the power amplifiers to drive the speakers – simple, because this can now be done with industry standard equipment.

So what “pre amp” do you need? Well you certainly need one and it is best placed as close to the transducer as possible, the drip can't travel far before becoming just a "damp squib", and must be the first stage of your system. The simplest solution is to have it built into the violin and matched to your transducer. This need not be expensive, the cost of most “Pre Amps” comprises of a fancy case and most of the additional functions listed above, many of which may just be duplicating other equipment in your system. Selecting or designing a pre amp is not something a violinist should be doing, you would not expect an electronics engineer to play Orange Blossom Special on the fiddle, although I’m sure one or two can.

I hope this helps clarify what can be a very technical subject.

Richard Roberts
Sonic Violins

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Since I was little, even smaller than I am today, I have always wanted to play "Electric Violin".

Back in the day when I was starting out there were few "Electric Violins" commercially available, now they are everywhere...but they are not truely Electric, the vast majority are Electro - Acoustic.

An electric guitar uses a solid (non resonant) body with coil pickups, an electro acoustic uses a resonant body with vibration transducers (Typically Piezo). However most "Electric Violins" incorrectly combine solid non resonant bodies with vibration transducers, that's not logical, it is equivalent to putting an under-saddle transducer on a Fender Strat and expecting it to sound like a Martin OM-28, and that matters when you use them...it matters a lot.

To find out what I mean and to hear the differences please watch this video, it goes on a bit (15mins) as it is quite an involved subject, but I have added a few little pockets of humour to elevate the monotony of listening to me rabbiting on.

 

Electric Violin vs Electro Acoustic Violin Showdown and Violin Effects - YouTube
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