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Acoustic or Electric
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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Almost Tone Deaf
Palm Coast, FL
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September 6, 2014 - 10:32 am
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Hi again Everyone,

   OK, I hope I am not too much of a pain in the butt. Sorry if I am, my excuse, I'm just excited about the violin. 

   I am realistic about the used LH Cecilio that I picked up, not knowing if it will sound ok, after I attempt to fix her up.

   Question: Being a novice, and needing a LH violin, any thoughts or suggestions about acoustic vs electric ? Is one easier to learn on than the other.

   I have looked at the older posts about e-violins, but didn't really find anything about ease of playing vs acoustic. I have read much about the e-violin sound and effects you can use with them. And how they are a little different to play.

Thanks for putting with my questions. 

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DanielB
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September 6, 2014 - 2:53 pm
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The main playing difference I can think of is that a "solid-body" type electric seems to have less dynamic range than an acoustic.  Which means that the difference in volume between the softest and loudest notes you can play is less with an electric.

When using an electric with headphones or an amp, the pickup and amp are pretty sensitive, so even bowing fairly lightly will produce a pretty acceptable sound.  There is a bit less need to learn how much "weight" to allow the bow to get good tone.

The basic "without effects" sound of an electric violin also is somewhat simpler than an acoustic violin's sound. 

Those factors can give the impression that electric violin is "easier" or "more forgiving".  But they are really just differences, much like between acoustic guitar and solid body electric guitar.  In some ways, acoustic and solid body electric are just a different instrument.

I tend to play electric more than acoustic.  I like them both, but I am more of an electric player on both violin and guitar.

I would say that the biggest difference for a beginner would be that, unplugged, the solid body electric is much quieter than an acoustic violin.  That can encourage practice, since it doesn't really bother anyone if you play an unplugged electric at 3 in the morning if you want to.  Also, when you are working things out and they are sounding kinda rough, nobody is likely to hear the unplugged electric unless they are pretty much in the same room, and even then it won't be loud.  So any self-consciousness about sounding like a noob is considerably less.  With an acoustic violin, the whole neighborhood knows when there is a beginner in the house. LOL 

That's the good part.   The bad part is that you don't develop as much sense of the tone and you don't develop as much control over the dynamics (volume) with using just your bow as you would with acoustic.  So practising on an electric will not automatically make you sound great on an acoustic.  The converse is also true, though.  Someone who has played strictly on acoustic will not automatically sound great on an electric.  

The bottom line is that if you'd want to sound good on both, you really need to practice both.  They are similar enough that a lot of what you practice on one will also work on the other, just not everything.

Another thing to keep in mind is that I've been talking about unplugged electric.  But unplugged electric isn't a very usable musical instrument on it's own.  The amp and it's settings and the effects used and their settings make up a very large part of the sound and it's qualities when playing electric.  In that regard, playing electric becomes more complicated and also can offer sound possibilities that acoustic just can't match.  But in all fairness (again, like with electric and acoustic guitars) I have yet to hear an electric actually be able to sound the same as an acoustic.

I wouldn't call either acoustic or electric violin actually "easy".  It is more a matter of what you like in the sounds and etc, and to be able to sound good on both you have to practice at least some on both.      

"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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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 6, 2014 - 10:48 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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I would say that the biggest difference is not in how difficult it is to learn to play but in how rewarding it is to play. I get much more enjoyment out of an acoustical violin but do like to tinker with effects on electric violins. Without effects the solid body electric violins can sound pretty boring.

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

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Almost Tone Deaf
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September 7, 2014 - 12:05 am
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DanielB,

   Holy mackerel, haven't used that term in years, DanielB, thanks so much form taking all the time for your in debt explanation. Wow a lot to learn and think about.

   I know if I can learn to play just a little bit, I will want to have both acoustic and electric violins. But I guess my question is, which one in your opinion would you start out with ? Or would you try both electric and acoustic in the beginning ?

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Almost Tone Deaf
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September 7, 2014 - 12:17 am
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Fiddlerman,

   As I have asked DanielB. In your opinion, Mr Fiddlerman, for a novice like myself, would an acoustic or electric be better to learn on ? Or does it really matter. And as I said, if I can learn to play just a little, I know I will eventually have both electric and acoustic violins. But for right now, it seems to be a toss up for me.

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BillyG
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September 7, 2014 - 7:11 am
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Hi, ATD - I don't have much to add to what Dan and Pierre have said, but you might be interested in my "journey" with the fiddle.   What must be now about 5 years back, I picked up a cheap acoustic - just because I thought it would be fun to learn.  [ I have played guitar - both acoustic and electric - for more years than I care to remember, so I had a "basic" if not theoretical understanding of music, what constitutes a scale (the whole, whole, half - tone sequence etc) and to a fair extent key signatures. ]  So, I spent about 4 months "messing" with the instrument - picking out tunes in simple keys like G A D and C on occasion - but the instrument was a horrid thing - it hooted and howled - and although in retrospect I know I could have maybe done something to kill the wolf that lived within the instrument - I really just wanted to play music, not undertake luthier work.  So it was put to one side for a number of years.

Around the end of March this year, I decided to get back into it, and bought a cheap EV (and joined the FM community!).  For three months, that's all I used.  Having no actual body resonances to speak of, and little - compared to the acoustic - string-to-string resonances (although they are detectable) - I found the EV real useful for honing my intonation and bowing.  Without amplification, and without effects, sure, I agree with Pierre, and I describe the plain EV sound as "sterile".  It lacks the richness, the overtones, the soundbox resonances and so on.  But, for me, I found it a real good starting point.  It got both my finger positioning and bowing pretty much under control - without the "aural distraction" of sympathetic resonances (and the howling wolf that was my original acoustic).

I then REALLY wanted to go back to the acoustic - and I tried the old fiddle I had - my original feelings from 5 years back were justified - sure - I could pick out tunes - but the instrument just sounded horrible.  I put it down again, and ordered an FM Concert, which I received early July - and after what is now 2 months I feel "really comfortable" with the acoustic (and swap between playing both, quite happily).  Dan nailed it - the acoustic has a much wider dynamic range, it is much more "sensitive" to my bowing action, it has the wonderful resonances (string to string, and those specific to the sound-box) which make the instrument an absolute joy to play un-accompanied.

I still like the EV - and it can be nice to use even simple FX on it, a nice echo, or reverb "lifts it" from its mundane, somewhat un-inspiring sound - and I will usually play the EV against some form of backing track, where I'm maybe just improvising a piece, or inventing some kind of "fill-in" to an existing piece of music.  And - when I mention FX here - I' not even using an external FX box - simple stuff like echo, reverb and other things - can all be done after the event with freeware programs such as Audacity (there are others!) - not much use for live performances though.

Anyway, I can't really answer your question as to which would be "best" to learn on (I personally can't choose because they both brought different things to the party so to speak) - these were just my own experiences during what, in total, is still less than one full year of playing - I feel my exposure to the EV "worked" for me - but I always knew I wanted to return to the acoustic although I had to re-learn / re-educate my bowing action and pressure.    I do have one small point to make - when I say I have a cheap EV - it is indeed cheap - it was under $70 - and OK - I replaced the cheese-wire-like strings, disassembled the electronics enclosure to track down an annoying mechanical rattle - but that's easy to do compared to trying to adjust an acoustic.  I regard that as a small price to pay for what it brought-to-the-party-that-is-my-learning-experience.  

Bill

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Ferret
Byron Bay Australia
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September 7, 2014 - 8:11 am
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I can't tell you why, but it's acoustic hands down for me. It sounds 'right' hats_off

A long story, short, as they say. laugh

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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Barry
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September 7, 2014 - 8:22 am
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Ferret said
I can't tell you why, but it's acoustic hands down for me. It sounds 'right' hats_off

A long story, short, as they say. laugh

AGREED !!  though I do have a pick up I use on occasion for when I think my neighbors may enjoy the latest tune Ive butchered

violin-bang

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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Ferret
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September 7, 2014 - 8:57 am
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Barry

I have a good pickup too. And a good little amp.

You're right. I should try it out on the neighbours.

roflol

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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Barry
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September 7, 2014 - 10:47 am
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I have a line 6 amp with all sorts of effects, distortion with chours can get pretty wild, think Hendrix

jimi-hendrix

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 7, 2014 - 7:51 pm
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Probably an acoustic, but I believe you have already purchased a violin right?
You can learn on either.

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

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Almost Tone Deaf
Palm Coast, FL
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September 7, 2014 - 9:31 pm
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Mad Bill,

   So good to hear from you. And Thanks for taking the time to explain your reasons of playing the EV vs. Acoustic. You have given me much food for thought.

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Almost Tone Deaf
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September 7, 2014 - 9:34 pm
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Ferret,

   Okay, thanks for your opinion regarding your acoustic violin. 

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Almost Tone Deaf
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September 7, 2014 - 9:36 pm
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Barry,

   Okay, it seems to be leaning towards the acoustic violin.

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Almost Tone Deaf
Palm Coast, FL
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September 7, 2014 - 9:45 pm
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Fiddlerman,

   Yes sir, I purchased the used Cecilio CVN-320L for 40 bucks. 

   I was just asking if one or the other was the violin of choice, for beginners like me.

   From the responses I received it seems that my LH Cecilio acoustic has won out

   Thanks to all who have responded. This is such a great forum, and I am learning so      much from all you violinist out there in Internet land.

   

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 8, 2014 - 9:19 am
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ATD, Left hand violins are kind of rare. Almost all left handed people actually play on right hand violins. I've played in professional orchestras over the world and have never seen a left hand violinist. Usually the reason to play on a left hand violin is that there is a problem with some fingers on the left hand. Right handed people need to be dominant with their left hand fingers as well, which is also strange when you think of it. :)

My only point is that you have very few choices for now. Later if you would like to get a better instrument we can have one built for you. Cheap instruments can be harder to play, making it more difficult to achieve a great result. As a first step I think what you did is perfect. If you have a luthier look over your instrument to give you advice on what can improve the sound, you can come a long way. :)

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

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Almost Tone Deaf
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September 8, 2014 - 10:16 am
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Mr Fiddlerman,

   Thanks for your reply.

   I posted under new members, introduce yourself, about my problem with my left hand, I even posted pictures.

   I guess further explanation is in order: I got shot up in Vietnam, ( I am not complaining, just explaining ) I caught shrapnel on my left side, leg, groin, arm, shoulder and hand. My thumb and index finger work pretty good, middle finger is deformed, ring finger no feeling, pinky finger no feeling.

   I walk with a cain, and when I shoot archery I have to wear a heavy leg brace, that allows me to stand for about 10 minutes.

  I have always loved the violin, but I have been told all my adult life, give it up, they don't make LH violins or if they do it has to be custom made and will cost many thousands of dollars.

   I came to your web site and saw the LH Cecilio, and the LH e violin, and I thought,  maybe I can try an affordable violin, to see if I can even play.

   That is why I also posted about e violin vs acoustic, with my handicap, would one be better than the other.

   I even purchased a bow a month ago and made the glove to help me hold the bow.    Yes it is very difficult for me and painful but I am trying the best I can. 

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Fiddlerman
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September 8, 2014 - 7:16 pm
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I did read your introduction and I do realize that you need to use a left hand violin. I just wanted to explain how uncommon they are and why.

It's admirable to see your determination for doing things that are normally difficult with your handicap such as the archery and playing the violin.

I am rooting for you :)

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

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Almost Tone Deaf
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September 8, 2014 - 7:55 pm
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Thank You Fiddlerman.

I appreciate you explaining about the LH violins, and when I progress with the violin, it may take longer than most people, but I am determined.

What type of LH violin can I purchase, for example, could I get the Fiddlerman Concert violin in a LH version? If not could you maybe give me an example of what a good beginner or maybe a intermediate LH violin would be and a ball park figure on the cost. If I know of at least a few LH violins with a decent sound, which you would recommend, it would be a good motivation factor for me. Thank You.

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Crazymotive
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September 8, 2014 - 9:36 pm
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if you are a beginner I wuld suggest and acoustic.

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