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Cecilio electric interest, new forum member and prospective fiddler
Thinking of a Cecilio electric violin, and have a few observations and questions.
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jviss
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February 23, 2014 - 1:21 am
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First post, just joined today.

I saw an Irish group yesterday, the Merry Ploughboys, from Dublin, and one member, Dermot Daly, played an electric violin.  I've played guitar, but always wanted to learn violin, and this performance renewed my interest.  

I figured I could get a decent, playable electric for considerable less than an acoustic, and the silent practice mode and amplification effects possible appealed to me.  Taking it on business trips would be cool, too, mostly because of the silent play aspect.

Searching eBay and other sites I quickly discovered the Cecilio electric family.  I next found Pierre's excellent youtube video review.  This was quite valuable as it showed the Cecilio was actually playable, and not just a toy, despite the snobbery in evidence on sites selling more expensive electric violins.  Thanks!

I plan on using this through a vintage Fender Princeton Reverb tube amp, along with several guitar effects boxes I have. 

I like the edgy look of the Cecliio type 4, but was wondering: will all, or most shoulder rests work on this body style?  Or, need I get on of the more traditional body shapes?

What do you think the sound might be like with the Princeton Reverb?

Of course, based on what I've read here, I wonder about the strings.  What relatively inexpensive set of strings would you recommend?  (I'm shocked at home much violin string sets cost compared to guitar strings). 

Thanks for putting up such a wonderful site, videos, and the forum.

jv

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Shell
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February 23, 2014 - 12:49 pm
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Hi jviss,

 

I purchased my first violin 2.5 months ago.  I chose the CEVN-1 from fiddlershop.com and am super happy with the decision.  I hadn't played an instrument in 33 years, didn't know if I'd like it or be able to develop any skill, so I didn't want to invest too much.  I also liked the 'silent' aspect.  I'm kind of a rocker/metalhead and so the electric drew me.  It was money well spent and I have a new passion from the decision :)

 

I took it on a business trip to Spain a few weeks back and it's going back there with me later this month.  It travels really well partly due to the bridge is in a bit of a 'holder' for lack of a better term.  The case that comes with it is a good snug fit as well.

 

I use headphones but also bought a little Orange Crush micro amp, and an effects pedal last week.  I'm looking forward to delving into the sound varieties that can be produced.  

 

Only yesterday I finally changed the strings from the factory strings to a set of Dominants.  I wish I'd done this a few weeks ago and highly recommend making this one change early.  What a difference!  The next upgrade I'd recommend eventually is a better bow, but honestly I found the bow that comes with it is just fine for a beginner like me.  I recently bought the fiddlerman carbon fibre bow when I invested in a higher end acoustic violin, and the bow is a nice step up.

 

I'm not certain about using a shoulder rest on the 4, but I'm using a Kun on mine that has the more classic shape.  @Fiddlerman  would be able to advise you on what to use if you go with the 4.  

 

I personally also can't say enough good about the personalized exceptional service from fiddlershop team.  (No I'm not affiliated with them, but I sure do enjoy this community!!)  I really recommend this as a starter kit as it's an amazing bargain and a solid good sounding violin.  Looks great too.  

 

Best of luck with your decision :)

 

Michelle

 

Blogging my beginner journey and progress...Diary of a Fumbling New Violinist:  http://learningviolin.ca/

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jviss
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February 23, 2014 - 8:59 pm
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Thank you, Michelle, for your very thoughtful reply!  I'm John.

I still haven't decided to make the commitment to learning violin, though I may just pull the trigger tonight, and order a Cecilio.  I really should wait and see if Fiddlerman chimes in about the shoulder rest. 

Regarding strings, I play classical guitar, and had become obsessive about strings, and appreciate good ones, and ones that suit my tastes and style.  I tried just about every major classical guitar string, and I liked a few of them.  I found D'Dario and La Bella fine.  

How did you settle on Dominants?  I really like Thomastik-Infield products, but they are pricey, as you know.  How long do violin strings last?  I was going through two sets per month on the guitar when playing a lot.  Also, I assume composite, wound strings are preferred over plain steel?

I get it about bows, after hearing of folks paying multiple thousands for special bows.  I have an older, traditional bow that I believe is pernambuco, that I can try.  The fiddler man bows look like a good value.  

May I ask what you use for amplification, and how you like it?

Thanks,

jv

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Uzi
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February 23, 2014 - 10:10 pm
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I'll toss in a couple of cents worth about amps.  Sure you can play it through the Princeton (pretty nice amp btw).  Having said that, there are a lot of options available.  It partly depends on what you're trying to accomplish -- just playing, recording, stage perfomance, etc.  At 15 watts the Princeton can get a bit loud and it will sound like whatever it ends up sounding like.  Another option is a small amp like the Roland Micro Cube, for example, at 5 watts (I think.) It is pretty good for playing in the house, plus it has some built in effects like reverb and tremelo, chorus, etc.,  plus several different amp styles that it can imitate pretty well.  And/Or with a USB audio interface you can go directly from your instrument to your computer, if you have some sort of music studio software, like Cakewalk on a PC or Garage Band/Logic Pro, etc. on a Mac -- so that's an option as well. There are lots of ways to go with audio on electric instruments these days. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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DanielB
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February 24, 2014 - 6:56 am
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The Cecilio type 4 looks like you could *probably* use some sort of a standard shoulder rest on it.  I'd suggest asking Pierre about that, as soon as he's back from his sailing trip.

There's a lot of options with electric.

If you have a Princeton and some FX to play with already, then you're in better shape than most beginners for electric violin.

As Uzi mentions, you can also get a USB audio interface to connect directly to the computer or use the soundcard line-in, if your system has one, and that can be easier sometimes for recording.  It all depends on what gear you have onhand and what sounds you want.

While the "solid body" electric violins of course aren't 100% "silent", they are still pretty darn quiet.  Definitely quiet enough to not bother anyone reasonable, if you play unplugged or with headphones.

Upgrades I found good to do early on for electric were strings, rosin, bow.  In about that order.  The strings they come with from the factory are usually pretty awful.  The rosin usually isn't very good either.  Those two items make a lot of difference in the sound, even unplugged.  The "free" bow they come with..Often a bit warped, usually rather heavy and "dead".  But I wouldn't upgrade that until you're ready to spend around 50$ or so for something like a CF bow.  

On strings, I'll talk a little and risk getting a few rotten tomatoes thrown.  What makes a great or good violin string for acoustic violins may or may not be good on electric as well.  Try to keep that in mind when you're deciding what kind of strings to try on your electric.

I've only been playing a couple years on violin, so I haven't tried a lot of strings personally.  But I have tried some.  I tried Helicores, which are a multicore steel string that some very good players (mostly of acoustic fiddle) swear by.  I could tell they were well-made.. But I didn't like the sound they gave on my electric.  To me and some others, it sounded more like a sax or horn than a violin.  Some people might love that, but I didn't. 

I tried Overture Ultras, which are a moderately priced synthetic core.  They sound pretty ok on acoustic violin.  Kind of a warm, complex sound, not real powerful, but tolerably nice.  On electric, they just didn't seem to have enough focus, and they also seemed to be lacking in response a lot more than they had on acoustic.

Ok, so what do I usually use?  Well, for at least most of the past year, electric guitar strings that have been cut down.  Ernie Ball regulars, to be specific.  Single electric guitar replacement strings are fairly cheap at most music shops.  The same gauges as steel violin strings will give approximately the same tension.  When I started doing that, I was warned by quite a few people that the roundwound guitar strings would result in breaking a lot of bow hairs.  Which yeah, I can see where that would make perfect sense.  Obvious logic.  Except they haven't.  LOL  They haven't been any harder on my bow hairs than regular violin strings (usually flatwound) were. 

So for cutting down electric guitar strings, I will rate it with a def thumbs-up for something to try on electric violin.  They're not expensive.  So far as I can tell, they haven't hurt anything.  And I've been playing the same set for about 10 months now and I'm just beginning to think they maybe are starting to need replaced.  At least the E string.  But it's "iffy", since they still respond well and they still have reasonable brightness and play harmonics ok.  I just think that maybe they aren't *quite* as good sounding as they were in the first months.  Not sure, though, it's a close thing.  But hey, considering the 4 strings totalled something like 3$ and change at my local music shop and I've gotten a good 10 months out of them with playing at least a couple hours a day.. No complaints.

But if you want something that actually comes in a package marked "violin strings", I can recommend another low cost item that I also feel worked well for me.  Rotosound violin strings.  Their "beginner" strings are silver plate/wrap, and they sounded decent (to my tastes anyway) and also held up well.  You can find those on amazon for under 10$.  They also make a chrome wrapped "pro" set, that I didn't like as well as the "beginners".  I thought the "pro" ones sounded too harsh.  But if you want to try those, they don't cost much more.

 

"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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jviss
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February 24, 2014 - 9:35 am
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Thanks, Daniel, for the detailed reply.

I confess I'd considered the guitar string idea, but I didn't want to risk sounding foolish suggesting it; thanks for breaking the ice. 

I wonder how classical guitar strings would work - nylon plain and bronze wound?

Anyway, I still haven't decided on this whole thing.... :)

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rockinglr33
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February 24, 2014 - 9:58 am
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@jviss 

I just wanted to say welcome! and as to deciding weather or not to play, the good thing about getting that cecilio electric is its pretty cheap and with everything that comes with it you can do a good test without really having to upgrade anything unless you decide to stick with it. I just started roughly a year ago. Originally i really wanted to learn the cello but i travel and move a lot due to being in the navy so it wasn't quite so feasible and i settled on the violin. All i can say is its been a very fun and amazing journey, and I'm barely still a beginner since i don't have tons of time to practice. Why not give it a go? most places will even refund your purchase if you haven't had it very long. you'd have to ask fiddler man but i think their return policy is pretty nice. 

My husband loves the electric violin (we started learning roughly the same time) and i've been told the Helicore(http://fiddlershop.com/strings.....nsion.html) strings are great for electric violins.I personally like acoustic better but thats just my personal preferences coming into play. any who, i hope you do decide one way or another on the violin and if you do go for violin this community is the best! 

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

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Uzi
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February 24, 2014 - 11:47 am
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@jviss, @DanielB has discovered something that makes sense.  That is, steel strings (or steel core strings) may sound better/cooler/more electric than synthetic strings on an electric violin.  Rather than go the route of cutting down guitar strings though, it might be worth a try to get some of the less expensive steel-core violin strings, which will probably last a lot longer, and be easier on the violin and bow than guitar strings.  For example, the D'Addario Preludes or a set of Red Label will run you about $15 and are steel core with a steel E string. I'll bet either of those would do the trick and should probably last several months to a year depending on how much you play.  Like guitar strings, you'll notice when they are getting dead.

 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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Fiddlerman
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February 24, 2014 - 3:20 pm
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Hey John,
Welcome to the forum.
Any guitar effects or amps you have will work great with the CEVN. You don't really need to change anything to begin with and you would probably be more comfortable with a shoulder-rest seeing that the instrument is slightly thinner than a standard violin. Especially if your neck is long. And yes, most shoulder rests will fit because of the standard width.

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

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Shell
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February 24, 2014 - 3:22 pm
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I'm not certain but I think the default strings that come with it are steel core.  @Fiddlerman  would know.

Blogging my beginner journey and progress...Diary of a Fumbling New Violinist:  http://learningviolin.ca/

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Fiddlerman
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February 24, 2014 - 3:24 pm
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Chinese steel core strings.

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

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DanielB
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February 24, 2014 - 5:03 pm
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jviss said

I wonder how classical guitar strings would work - nylon plain and bronze wound?

 

I haven't tried actual classical guitar strings.  But I did try Martin Silk&Steels on my acoustic violin, and I liked how they played and sounded.  The wound strings of the Martins are a steel core, that is silk wrapped and then wrapped again with silver plated copper.  Unwound strings are silver plated steel.

I didn't try them on electric, though, so I can't say if they are a good match there or not.

I only used those for about 4 months before changing to a set of actual violin strings I wanted to try.  But the Martins were showing no sign of wear or of going "dead" yet.  The Ernie Balls on my electric have been on there for about 10 months now, and *maybe* the E string is starting to fade a little.  I'm not sure, but I'll probably replace it in the not too distant future and then I'll know for certain. 

Of the two types, guitar strings are probably the more durable.  Violin strings aren't designed to be played by being struck with a pick.  Bowing gets a powerful vibration going, but is gentler on a string, I think.  I've had none of them break, but I've only had a couple of violin strings break, for that matter.  Any string goes dead eventually, though, as it gets stretched out and loses some of it's ability to rebound from being fingered or vibrated regardless of the means used to excite vibration.

I would say that using cut-down guitar strings has one point that may be a drawback for some folks.  The thread wrapping at the end that goes into the tuning peg on regular violin strings makes them a little easier to put on.  It's not a big thing to add a thread wrapping to a string, but guitar strings that have been cut down obviously won't come "stock" with them.

My point isn't so much to promote the use of guitar strings on violin (I don't own stock or anything LOL), as to point out that it is a rather different instrument than acoustic violin, and as such one may find some nice tricks with a bit of experimentation.  Violin strings are a bit pricey when compared to something like guitar strings, and just because a type/brand sounds great on acoustic violin doesn't mean it will sound equally good for electric.  I think it's good to try some stuff and see.

 

"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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jviss
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February 24, 2014 - 7:53 pm
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Fiddlerman said
Hey John,
Welcome to the forum.
Any guitar effects or amps you have will work great with the CEVN. You don't really need to change anything to begin with and you would probably be more comfortable with a shoulder-rest seeing that the instrument is slightly thinner than a standard violin. Especially if your neck is long. And yes, most shoulder rests will fit because of the standard width.

Thanks.  Just wanted to check - do you think standard shoulder rests would go on the style 4 body?  

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jviss
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February 24, 2014 - 8:04 pm
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Thanks again, Daniel.  Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself on strings.  I should buy a reasonable, name-brand set and go with that. 

When I was seriously into the guitar I lamented the inability to buy strings in bulk, i.e., 6 spools each of E,A,D,G,B,E.  🙂

 

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Fiddlerman
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February 24, 2014 - 8:50 pm
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Yes I do John. As long as you don't slide it down too much. :-)

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

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