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Advise on violin pickup...

Member for

11 years 11 months
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...

[="http://www.headwaymusicaudio.com/product_theband_acoustic_pickup.php"]Headway's The Band[/]="http://www.headwaymusicau…"]Headway's The Band[/]
[[url=http://="http://www.fishman.com/pr…"]Fishman's V-200[/]="http://www.fishman.com/pr…"]Fishman's V-200[/]

Thoughts? Advice? Voices of experience in this area?

Comments

Member for

11 years 11 months

vttom Fri, 12/10/2010 - 06:23
audiokid, post: 358340 wrote: Cool, please let us know what you get , how it sounds and performs?
Well, we've pretty much settled on the [[url=http://[/URL]="http://usa.yamaha.com/pro…"]Yamaha SV-200[/]="http://usa.yamaha.com/pro…"]Yamaha SV-200[/]. Before we pull the trigger on the purchase, does anyone have any experience (good or bad) with this instrument?

Member for

18 years

Jeemy Sun, 12/05/2010 - 10:37
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.

Member for

16 years 6 months

moonbaby Fri, 12/10/2010 - 09:24
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.

Member for

11 years 11 months

vttom Mon, 12/06/2010 - 11:32
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.

Member for

13 years

Didier Sat, 12/11/2010 - 12:29
audiokid, post: 358213 wrote: 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.
[="http://www.dpamicrophones.com/en/Microphone-University/product-info/live-instrument-microphones.aspx"]DPA Microphones :: Live instrument microphones for bass, cello, guitar, dobro, saxophone, trumpet, violin, mandolin and more[/]="http://www.dpamicrophones…"]DPA Microphones :: Live instrument microphones for bass, cello, guitar, dobro, saxophone, trumpet, violin, mandolin and more[/]

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 [[url=http://="http://www.medici.tv"]Medici [/]="http://www.medici.tv"]Medici [/]

Member for

21 years

Member Sat, 12/04/2010 - 13:41
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.

Member for

21 years

audiokid Sat, 12/04/2010 - 16:33
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.
[[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.dpamicrophones…"]DPA Microphones :: Live instrument microphones for bass, cello, guitar, dobro, saxophone, trumpet, violin, mandolin and more[/]="http://www.dpamicrophones…"]DPA Microphones :: Live instrument microphones for bass, cello, guitar, dobro, saxophone, trumpet, violin, mandolin and more[/]

Member for

15 years 5 months

BobRogers Sat, 12/04/2010 - 18:41
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.

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