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I got one of the Cecilio electric violins, the white CEVN-1W, and figured I'd post my thoughts and experience with it so far. It came in before christmas, but time and the wife wouldn't allow me to mess with it yet. The only experience I've had with violins were visually seeing them in the store, while getting guitar strings or something. My first impression of this violin was it appears cheaply made. This is coming from a guitar perspective though I guess, looking at the overall build quality. In those terms, it's probably more like a low end First Act guitar from wal-mart; it's a real instrument built well enough to play. There are imperfections in the body and paint and the fingerboard could have been done better, but it was decent enough and having paid only $120 for the whole package, I wasn't expecting a high end instrument. I was more concerned about whether it could play or not. But oh yeah, I don't know how to play a violin!
I've been watching a bunch of the vids here and reading through the forums, so I had a general idea of where to start. My first obstacle was figuring out how to hold it and that went on longer than it probably should have. I ordered a shoulder rest at the same time and I'm glad I did, because there's no way I can hold it otherwise. Once I had a few idiot moments and figured out how to get that situated right, I then had to deal with the chinrest. I quickly found I need something taller and to the center. The only way I can really hold it well is by putting my chin on the part that goes over the bridge tail piece. I was reading in another thread here that a lot of people end up doing that. I'm still struggling with it and I'm ordering a ohrenform/berber type one that hopefully works better for me.
Next came trying to tune it. This part got a little scary for me. Holding this violin seemed almost like a holding a toy. As I began to tighten the tension in the strings I kept thinking, "somethings gonna snap- a string, the neck, something- I just know it". After realizing it wasn't going to break, I was able to get it more or less tuned. Then it became a battle with the tuning pegs, the bridge fine tuners, and the strings to keep them in tune. I have to assume they use the cheapest strings they make and that probably accounts for them going out of tune so much on me. I got some Helicore's to replace them, but haven't gotten that far yet.
After applying probably too much rosin to the bow, I was able to draw it across the strings for the first time. Yay! It makes sound! I don't know anything about violin bows. However, I do know the one it came with sucks. Aside from the few broken hairs out of the package, once tightened up it appears warped or something to me. It still works, but not as well as the carbon fiber bow I decided to order too. I practiced holding the bow right and getting used to bowing up and down on each string. Learning how to do that was pretty easy, but I still have issues playing too close to the bridge and the bow bouncing. Then I attempted to put my finger on the fingerboard and things got ugly. Having played the mandolin, I was used to the tuning, but that was the extent of help that provided. The first thing I had to get over was the lack of frets or any markers. Also I had to remember to stop supporting the neck like a guitar or mandolin. Then it seemed like not all the notes were coming through and I had to apply more bow pressure to hear them. Then I remembered it's an electric and I should probably amplify the sound. That made a huge difference and the idiot moments kept adding up.
Once I got it amplified I found it much easier. I could actually hear the notes I thought I wasn't bowing strong enough. I'm going through the same setup I use for guitar. I mainly use a Zoom G2, the same one Fiddlerman mentions using, but I also split the signal into an older Zoom GFX-8 pedalboard too. Both feed into separate channels on an audio interface going into the pc. I haven't tried playing through my amp or p.a. yet, mostly to spare my family and neighbors. It sounds a lot nicer with effects added though. I can make all kinds of cool crazy sounds with the different effects, but ultimately that's just making noise and freaking the dog out. So I used the vids here, went through the notes of the different strings, getting used to the finger placement, and got up to playing Twinkle Little Star. Adding distortion and a pitch shifter makes evil sounding baby music by the way. I was even able to play along with a few songs I had written. So far, so good, but I still got a long fricking way to go. I am very happy with this violin though. For the price it's a nice, very functional instrument. It's certainly not high end in quality, but at $120 it leaves room to buy stuff I think you'll need, like another bow and strings. The case seems pretty nice too, but since I'm not taking it anywhere I'm using a wall hanger. Other than the cable, I haven't used the headphones, etc., but they're still nice extras to have. Overall it's very worth the price and I'd recommend it.
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