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Advise on violin pickup...

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by vttom, Dec 4, 2010.

  1. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but it seemed the closest...

    My wife plays violin and, increasingly, she's finding opportunities to play it in a rock band setting. She'd like to experiment with lead-guitar-type effects, but doesn't want to put the money into a solid-body electric violin (at least no yet). So.... We thought we could try putting a pickup on her acoustic violin and play around with the idea before making the jump to a real electric violin.

    The most popular pickups appear to be piezoelectric. Can you use a piezoelectric pickup with electric guitar kit (eg. effects pedals, amps, etc.) without any additional stuff, or will I need to pre-amp it? Impedance-match it?

    Online reviews and such seem non-existent in this area. They mainly address how accurately the pickups reproduce the acoustic tone of the violin, which is not what we're after.

    From poking around on the web, I've come up with these 2 examples of something I'm hoping will work...

    Headway's The Band
    Fishman's V-200

    Thoughts? Advice? Voices of experience in this area?
     
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You can use any of those pickups with any sort of fx pedals etc. Just like a guitar, all of those things come prior to the amp head. If you are not using an amp head then you would need a preamp or simply the preamp in the FOH console.
     
  3. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    As you note vttom, the vast majority of discussion about violin pickups relates to how well they reproduce the natural sound of a violin. Truth be told, regardless of the hype for particular products, there is no one pickup that accurately reproduces the sound of the violin. All have liabilities, even though strong proponents of this or that model can be found. The pro players I know tend to use bridge embedded piezo pickups in conjunction with a violin mounted miniature goose neck microphone, and the signals are blended for optimum sound. This is fine, if you happen to have a soundman who can configure the system at a gig. Mics are great for reproducing natural violin sound, but feedback in live settings is problematic, which is why the bulk of the signal is bolstered by the use of a piezo pickup.

    But back to your question, most if not all violin pickups should be run through a preamp of some sort, like a K&K pure preamp, although some manufacturers say this is not necessary for their products. In fact, often they give vague statements like this one for the headway: "Passive device, which does not usually require a pre-amp to amplify effectively" emphasis mine.

    My preference for violin pickups is L.R. Baggs, with the piezo element built into the bridge, but they are more expensive because they need to be installed by a qualified violin luthier (emphasis mine, because guitar techs know nothing about the finer points of bridge installation and tuning). All other designs impinge on proper violin acoustic function in one way or another. The Headway goes around the instrument and constrains top movement to some degree. The Fishman, goes in between the bridge wing, and constrains certain bridge motion. The Fishman sometimes requires a minor bit of reworking to the wing gap.

    So, in summary, from a tonal perspective, I cannot recommend any one pickup over another, but the Headway will not require any modifications, and can be put on and removed from the instrument at will, whereas the Fishman might require a minor mod depending on how your bridge was cut, and is a bit more difficult to remove. If you want to post a pic of the bridge close up, I could tell you whether it will need any reworking.
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Maybe a bit over priced for the OP but well worth checking into for future reference and others that find this thread, DPA is definitely on track for acoustic instruments and the Violin.
    DPA Microphones :: Live instrument microphones for bass, cello, guitar, dobro, saxophone, trumpet, violin, mandolin and more
     
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I use a K&K BassMax for my upright bass and I had no problem installing it myself. It looks like the Fishman would be about the same degree of difficulty. If you don't own the appropriate files or just are not comfortable with this, you may want to take it to a luthier. I would not think it would be that big a charge.

    I know it's not what you are interested in, but we have a violin player this year in my church's praise band. I have been micing her with a Cascade Fat Head ribbon mic. Very nice sound for a mic in that price range. But it's a figure 8, so placement is critical and gain before feedback is definitely a concern.
     
  6. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Look into the Schertler contact mics as well, I think these are truly wonderful and although they are delineated as V for Violin and M for mandolin etc I'm 99% sure that in the majority of cases this just refers to the cable length! So they are useful on many instruments including gutstrung instruments.
     
  7. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Thanks for the advice on pickups. However, now we're sort of leaning away from electrifying her acoustic violin and getting an electric violin after all. Our main concern is that the acoustic violin puts out lots of sound all by itself. If we were to amp it and add effects, we wouldn't have anyway of controlling the amount of sound coming off the instrument itself. Since we mainly play small venues with only a small amount of amplification required, I think we'd have a hard time getting the sound we want.
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Cool, please let us know what you get , how it sounds and performs?
     
  9. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Well, we've pretty much settled on the Yamaha SV-200. Before we pull the trigger on the purchase, does anyone have any experience (good or bad) with this instrument?
     
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I have worked with a violinist with the "silent violin" at a church I work with. It can be a bit harsh, tonally, to deal with unles the bowing technique of the player is not top-notch. Unfortunately, this player did not possess this skill...LOL!
    I have LOTS of experience with the Fender elec violin, which is an acoustic instrument with a decent pick-up in it. This is probably not good for you with the effects processing issue, but it has better "natural" timbre when amplified.
     
  11. Didier

    Didier Active Member

    DPA 4099 used on both violin and the alto for live performance of Ébène Quartett playing with drums in a non-classical program to be looked at and listened to on Medici
     

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