After the appearance of pickups in the 1920s, experiments began to introduce them into musical instruments. The most important and popular invention of those years was the electric guitar. But at the same time, the electric violin was developed, which is still actively used today.
What is an electric violin
An electric violin is a violin equipped with an electric sound output. The term refers to instruments originally with pickups built into the body. This is sometimes referred to as violins with manually hooked pickups, but the term “amplified violin” or “electro-acoustic instrument” is more accurate in this case.
The first electric violinist is considered to be the jazz and blues performer Staff Smith. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Vega Company, National String, and Electro Stringed Instrument Corporation began mass production of amplified instruments. Modern versions appeared in the 80s.
The main design repeats the acoustics. The body is characterized by a rounded shape. Consists of upper and lower decks, shells, corners and stand. The neck is a long wooden plank equipped with nut, neck, curl and box for tuning pegs. The musician uses a bow to produce sound.
The main difference between the electronic version and the acoustic one is the pickup. There are 2 types – magnetic and piezoelectric.
Magnetic is used when setting special strings. Such strings are based on steel, iron or ferromagnetism.
Piezoelectric are the most common. They pick up sound waves from the body, strings and bridge.
Standard options are divided into many types. The differences are the structure of the body, the number of strings, the type of connection.
The frame body is distinguished by the lack of influence on the extracted sound. The resonating body amplifies the power of the sound through the installed resonators. Outwardly, such a case is similar to an acoustic instrument. The difference from acoustics is the lack of F-shaped cutouts, which is why the sound will be quiet without connecting to an amplifier.
The number of strings is 4-10. Four strings are the most popular. The reason is that there is no need to retrain acoustic violinists. Serially produced and made to order.
For 5-10-strings, the installation of an electronic sound amplifier is typical. Because of this element, the player does not need to press hard on the strings to make them sound, the amplification does it for him. As a result, the sound appears due to a small force over the strings.
Separate from the standard options, there is a MIDI model. It is a violin that outputs data in MIDI format. Thus, the instrument acts as a synthesizer. MIDI guitar works the same way.
The sound of an electric violin without effects is almost identical to an acoustic one. The quality and saturation of the sound depends on the components of the design: strings, resonator, pickup type.
When connected to an amplifier, you can turn on effects that greatly change the sound of a musical instrument. In the same way, they change the sound on an electric guitar.
Use of the electric violin
The electric violin is often used in popular genres of music. Examples: metal, rock, hip-hop, electronic, pop, jazz, country. Famous violinists of popular music: David Cross of the rock band King Crimson, Noel Webb, Mick Kaminsky of the Electric Light Orchestra, Jenny Bay, Taylor Davis. Violinist Emily Autumn mixes heavy metal and industrial in her compositions, calling the style “Victorian industrial”.
The electric violin was widely used in symphonic and folk metal. Metal band from Finland Korpiklaani actively use the instrument in their compositions. The band’s violinist is Henry Sorvali.
Another area of application is modern classical music. Electric violinist Ben Lee from the musical duo FUSE is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. His title is “the fastest electric violinist”. Lee performed “Flight of the Bumblebee” in 58.515 seconds in London on November 14, 2010, playing a 5-string instrument.