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@Mouse and others. Do you think that the differences in electric instruments is sufficient to warrant a separate forum topic heading? I can see many people that would take up the violin/cello if they could practice without creating a disturbance. I can also see parents taking the same position with their children.
On another subject, I recently heard that Amazon has employees wear a bracelet which provides the user an electric shock if the arm goes in the opposite direction when picking a product from the shelf. It looks like my idea of a device which provides a shock when an off note is bowed has found a commercial application.
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. —Frank Zappa
The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed. —William Gibson
Electric instruments are a lifesaver for people like myself, who are _petrified_ of offending people with their playing / learning.
My main instrument is a home-made electric fiddle, and to afford an easy transfer to my lovely old acoustic violin once I have the confidence and competence to play it comfortably, the solid (electric) fiddle has dimensions which closely follow the acoustic instrument. Curiously, I have trouble playing vibrato on the electric, too.
The electric is an absolute joy to play, and I'm comfortable with my progress as a fiddler / violinist; I can practice anytime, confident that no-one outside of my closed room can hear me. I have the fiddle shut down even further with a rubber mute on the bridge. It has a wafer pick-up and a built-in amplifier, so if I want to hear myself play at high output, I just slip on a pair of headphones.
The amplifier is also pretty cool for use with a smartphone violin tuner, which keeps a close eye on my intonation when things sound a little 'off'. As a stand-alone practice instrument, the amplifier is largely unnecessary.
If anyone with woodcraft competence wants the rough plans, I'm willing to put a package together showing how to make one; and if any electronic hobbyists fancy making the simple amplifier, I have the design for that, too. The designs ought to be scalable for viola, cello or bass instruments, and the materials are simple and affordable.
Of course, you can buy electric violin-family instruments, as you have. I'm tightly constrained on budget, and I enjoy constructional challenges. I hope my two penny-worth hasn't shifted the topic too far astray; my main point is the use of near-silent instruments for folk like me, who are introverted and still want to practice.
"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less" - William of Ockham
"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great