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Electric vs Acoustic for beginner
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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Nikktune
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December 20, 2012 - 8:09 am
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Hi all.  I need some help.  I used to take violin lessons almost ten years ago.  The thing that slowed my progress most was the fact that I lived in an apartment and my neighbors could hear me practice...being a beginner it was not pretty.  Sadly this eventually slowed me to a stop and I sold my student violin.

I know....lame.  However, I'd like to pick up a bow again.  I have an ear for music and know I will catch on quick if I have the right violin.  I still need to practice quietly since my neighbors are close.  Would an electric violin be the answer?   

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DanielB
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December 20, 2012 - 9:32 am
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It is certainly one answer.  From what I understand there are also mutes for acoustic violins that can be used to bring their sound level down. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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AdverseD
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December 20, 2012 - 8:55 pm
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I've had great results with the mutes on fiddler shop. I use the heavy rubber one most, and I gotta say I haven't gotten a complaint from anyone yet. It could still be quieter though, so I would say in your situation if they (your neighbors) are very uptight I would get the metal one. I believe fiddlerman has a review on them somewhere, probably on the page for the mutes on the fiddlershop.

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Nikktune
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December 20, 2012 - 10:27 pm
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Thank you for the recommendations.  I've got more options then I realized. 🙂 

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cdennyb
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December 20, 2012 - 10:51 pm
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you could consider moving...cheers

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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HatefulPain
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December 21, 2012 - 9:13 am
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Sound isolate the apartment, if that's possible. Mute on a acoustic also work pretty good. But if you got very uptight neighbors I would consider a metal mute instead of a rubber one. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 21, 2012 - 1:28 pm
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I like the idea of having an acoustical violin first with a heavy steel mute which dampens the violin plenty for your neighbors. Gives you more options without needing a lot of equipment.
Later, there is a world of fun for those with the patience and desire to get into the world of electric violin, effects, loop pedals, etc....

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Mad_Wed
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December 22, 2012 - 2:20 pm
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Hi, Nikktune!

I have both acoustic and electric. Play mostly on acoustic one with rubber mute. We have very small appartment, so i've recently ordered a metal mute to expand time available for practice =)

Welcome to the forums! =)party

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Crazymotive
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December 22, 2012 - 3:44 pm
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Fiddlerman said
I like the idea of having an acoustical violin first with a heavy steel mute which dampens the violin plenty for your neighbors. Gives you more options without needing a lot of equipment.
Later, there is a world of fun for those with the patience and desire to get into the world of electric violin, effects, loop pedals, etc....

I tend to favor Fiddlerman's suggestions. Go with an acoustic for starters. Use a mute, make a sound dampening "practice room". 

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Kevin M.
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December 22, 2012 - 5:02 pm
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Mad_Wed said
Hi, Nikktune!

I have both acoustic and electric. Play mostly on acoustic one with rubber mute. We have very small appartment, so i've recently ordered a metal mute to expand time available for practice =)

Welcome to the forums! =)party

 

Naska, your nieghbors should pay you to listen to you when you practice.

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DanielB
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December 22, 2012 - 9:54 pm
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I have both an electric and an acoustic.  I play the electric the most, usually unamplified. 

I've never tried a mute on the acoustic but I've seen demos of mutes and they seem to change the sound quite a lot.  What would be the point of playing the acoustic if it can't sound like an acoustic? 

So far as electric taking more gear, they don't need anything but just the violin for practice.  It is for jamming with others or playing out in public that it would need an amp or etc.  They are also easy to record audio tracks with because they have an output and as such don't need mic-ing.  To mic up an acoustic and get anything even close to the way the violin actually sounds isn't impossible, but it does take more messing around than "plug it in and it works".

Personally, I think the best way to decide between acoustic and electric (if you have to pick just one and can't have both right now) is which do you really want to play?  Myself, I like electric.  Even with just some reverb to make it sound like you are playing in a location with nice acoustics, I like the sound.  I like acoustic too, but I often wish for a bit of reverb or "room emulation" on it.  I enjoy both of them, but electric fits better with my musical personality 9for lack of a better term).  

One place where I don't like acoustic violin as well as acoustic guitar is that you can play an acoustic guitar very quietly and it has an excellent warm intimate sound.  Violin seems to have more of a minimum volume to be able to have it's tone (or at least as a noob that's all I can manage at present).  If you play a violin very softly, using very light bow pressure and shorter strokes you just can't get the same sounds. 

And the bow police will be out to get you, regardless of if you explain it was to avoid peaking the meter levels into the red.  LOL

Acoustic violin is a great instrument, with an amazing sound.  I just don't see the advantage to playing it with mute unless maybe one wants that muted sound or all one can have is an acoustic violin.  One of the reasons I like electric is I like an instrument I can play with full power technique and have at any volume level I need.  But unlike most violinists, I already had guitar amps and speakers around, so for me it wasn't an extra expense to have gear for playing out when I get to that.  Well, or having to rely on the judgement of somebody sitting at the PA mixing console. LOL

They make mutes for acoustic guitars, btw.  They work by covering all or most of the soundhole to being down the volume.  They also mess up the sound so the pretty instrument just doesn't really "sing" like it should.  I haven't ever seen the point in getting something to produce a similar effect on my acoustic violin, I just play it when it won't be bothering anyone.  But my electric is the anytime, anywhere, just grab it and play instrument for me.

We are all different, though.  But I do think that which instrument you choose to put money into is probably best decided by which you really want to play.  If volume control is the only reason for buying an electric, that kinda sucks, since the best reason would be you like electric better or find it more fun.  If what you really want to be playing is the acoustic, then maybe mutes are an acceptable compromise for you.  I'll pass on it though.  LOL

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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AdverseD
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December 23, 2012 - 3:12 am
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You're correct that the mute does change the sound of the instrument, but comparing the sound of a muted acoustic to an un-amplified electric would simply be a personal type of preference. I feel indifferent about the two muted sounds myself, but I have a preference towards the way the acoustic FEELS, since it feels like a violin, and with the solid body electric I am required to wear a shoulder rest since it's thinner around the center, it's heavier, and it just doesn't feel like an acoustic violin. 

Don't get me wrong though, I like the electric for what it is when it is amped with effects, but it is not very fun in my opinion without effects, where the OP would be required to buy/have the correct output (amp, computer, effect pedal, whatever.) It just feels like a totally different instrument to me that I can transfer my ability over to for different sound. 

 

It's really going to boil down to preference. I prefer to practice with the acoustic since it will yield the most result anyway when the mute is removed for me, and picking one of the two just for the sake of practicing quietly as DB stated is not what you should aim for, but what you want to play when you can play out loud.

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DanielB
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December 23, 2012 - 4:33 am
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I would agree that in many regards they are really two different instruments, much like solid body electric guitar and acoustic guitar are. 

Similar situation to AdverseD, since my electric is not only thin enough but heavy enough (around 900 grams) and of a somewhat eccentric shape, so a shoulder rest and chin rest pretty much are necessary to play it comfortably.

On acoustic, I find a shoulder rest to make it feel more awkward rather than more comfortable, and actually I don't much like a chin rest on it either.   

Agreed also that it is simply much more fun to play an electric with some amplification and maybe some effects.  But there were many years in my life where there have been children asleep in the house at night and etc, so I got used to playing an unamplified electric guitar to work things out and do most of my practising. 

There are differences between electric violin and acoustic, and they can be sufficient to make it necessary to adapt to one after you've been playing the other.  I started with electric and have spent more time playing electric, so I had to get used to playing acoustic, since bowing angles, balance, how much bow pressure it takes to get a good sound and etc are all a bit different.  Some techniques and bits that sound good on one also just don't sound as good on the other, in my opinion.  Probably people that start on acoustic have to get used to playing on electric a bit as well.

That's why I feel it best, when starting out, to go for which one you really would rather play.  When you're starting out, things are difficult enough at first without having to cope with playing on an instrument that doesn't have the feel or sounds you are trying for.  If someone wanted to play in (for example) a metal band, then getting a beginner acoustic guitar and figuring it would be good enough to learn the basics on would be a rather poor idea and more likely to discourage than help.  By the same logic, if someone wants to play folk or classical guitar, then handing them an electric (especially with no amp) also is going to be far from optimal.   If, for some reason or another, it is the best you can do, then it is better than nothing.  But it will still make it harder in the long run.  It is just not a sensible way for a beginner to spend their money.

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Nikktune
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December 24, 2012 - 4:48 pm
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@DanielB....since you play both, I really appreciate your in depth comparison between electric vs acoustic.  Got a lot to think about. 

Thank you to everyone for your comments.  I will take in all the advise and decide. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Nikktune
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December 24, 2012 - 4:51 pm
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Mad_Wed said
Hi, Nikktune!

I have both acoustic and electric. Play mostly on acoustic one with rubber mute. We have very small appartment, so i've recently ordered a metal mute to expand time available for practice =)

Welcome to the forums! =)party

 

Thanks for the tip and the welcome.  :)

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