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Cecilio Electric Violin Set Up
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 7, 2014 - 2:49 pm
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@ Kevin - where on the string should they measure the height from the fingerboard to the string? Are you referring to after laying a straight edge on the fingerboard and where it touches the bridge?

"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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August 7, 2014 - 4:46 pm
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One other thing I'll mention on tuning with pegs.  Even if the starting pitch of the string is higher than what it needs to be, don't just tune down to the pitch.  Take it down below the pitch and tune up to it. 

With violin or other peg tuned instruments, when you are loosening the peg to go below the pitch before tuning up to it, you'll be able to tell if the peg is trying to stick, because it is maybe in too tight.  If it is too tight, then it holds, but it will tend to move in big jumps instead of going up smoothly in pitch. 

So I usually pull it out just slightly while tuning down below the pitch, to make sure it is moving freely enough to tune good.  Then as I bring it up to pitch, I press the peg into the pegbox a bit more, experimenting with it to figure out just how hard it needs to be pressed in to just hold well, but not be so tight that it will be hard to move later.  Just how much the peg needs to be pressed into the box will change a bit with humidity and temperature, so it is one of those things you kind of learn to do by feel. But I didn't personally find it took long to develop the "touch" or "knack" for it. 

That's an "extra" thing to do with friction pegs like on violin though.  

Pretty much *any* stringed instrument (guitar, bass guitar, dulcimer, whatever), even if it has geared tuners, you save yourself some headaches if you tune down below the pitch and then come up to perfect tune.  If you tune up for some strings but just tune down for others, it does wierd things with the tension from string to string and what part of the instrument it is on, and it will fall out of tune easier when you're playing.

I also tune every string, even if it already was in tune when I picked up the instrument.  I was told years ago that is good practice, since it somehow is supposed to regularize the string tensions that may have been affected as the instruments sat, due to changes in humidity, temperature, or slight settling of mechanical parts.  My usual guitar tech told me years ago that it was a good idea, to keep the tuning more stable and also to reduce the chances of the neck warping or twisting over time.  

Probably not an attractive notion to beginners who are struggling with tuning, but when you get past the point where tuning pegs or machines hold any terror, you might want to consider it. 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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Kevin M.
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August 7, 2014 - 8:55 pm
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Fiddlerman said
@ Kevin - where on the string should they measure the height from the fingerboard to the string? Are you referring to after laying a straight edge on the fingerboard and where it touches the bridge?

The measurement should be taken at the very end of the fingerboard. from the fingerboard to the bottom of the string.

insstringheight.gif

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 8, 2014 - 2:12 pm
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Thanks Kevin. That is very helpful. :)

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

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peterl
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August 9, 2014 - 8:28 am
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Just bought a Cecilio silent electric violin for virtually no money from Fiddlerman. Below a little story and what changes I made to the CEVN  I believe Cecilio CEVN-4 is  one of the cheapest e violins on the market and that's what it sounds like to my ears. But read on... I quite like it after making one or two minor changes.

Introduction

I have been playing several acoustic violins since I was 6 years and eventually got my own, a relatively expensive violin with a full, rich sound. Several years later, someone dropped my poor expensive violin and from then on nobody was able to could get the good sound back. So the poor thing was initially neglected and then mothballed. - I didn't have the money to buy a new one and I didn't want to bother my new neighbours. I kept playing every now and then, but of course I got worse and worse.  Nevertheless after 16 years of fiddling I felt confident enough to assess what's wrong with a cheap electric violin and make it work for an additional 50 USD. 

Assessment

This is my take on the CEVN. The violin body was made in a hurry. - No wonder what I paid won't get you very far in terms of work hours . At least not in the UK. The fingerboard and chin rest have scratch marks and the fingerboard has not been sanded well on one end, but I don't really care. I believe you can get the pickup, pre-amp, and cables used in the Cecilio from ebay for less than 14 bucks including shipping from China. If you are an average skilled amateur player like me, it will take some time to get used to the horrible bow and the strings, which are equally bad. The intonation sounds more like a detonation. I believe a piece of string from a sewing kit that one for one reason or another occasionally gets for free in some Hotels would sound exactly the same. The strings are sort of a hybrid of a highwire paired with a slackline: too high and no tension (even when tuned correctly). The bridge is so thick that it can serve as a door wedge. I won't go into detail about rosin and case. All I will say is that thankfully the manufacturer spent what little money I paid on something more relevant.

On the plus side, the chinrest, fine tuners, pegs, neck, fingerboard and tail piece are useable.

Set up

So I figured the materials required are initially just a set of strings. I went for D'Addario Helicore medium. While I was replacing the strings (30 USD) I took the opportunity to take 2mm off the height of the bridge, which is for free, if you have sandpaper. I also made the bridge a bit thinner. Then I took the bow and put so much tension on that it hurt looking at it ...and I was impressed. It's like day and night. It sounds alright! 

Now I have about 20 USD left of my budget and will spend it on some new hair for my old reasonably good bow.

Question

Next steps are to replace the pickup and pre amp. You may argue that this is why I dared to buy the violin in the first place. I have no idea whatsoever about pickups or pre amps so if anyone has an idea, I am all ears.

At the end of the day...

I buy it again. It is excellent value for money, if you are not afraid to make some small mods. And you won't hurt anyone else's ears with a silent violin, which is a plus.

 

OK, time for everyone to tell me that I'm all wrong :)

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
August 9, 2014 - 9:20 am
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Hi @peterl - welcome!  And sorry to hear about the demise of your fine acoustic!  Anyway - I can't talk about the Cecilio - but I found very a similar situation with my own cheap EV  ( Harley Benton HBVFR ) - original strings a bit like cheese-wire.  Unstoppable whistling on E string.  Rattles from the electronics enclosure when playing forte... Supplied bow pretty horrid, but just passable, rosin so hard (and fragile - the cake shattered when I accidentally drove the ferrule of the frog into it) I threw it out ...  Nice solid case with it though

I went for the D'Addario Prelude strings, a Kaplan rosin, opened up the enclosure and rooted out the cause of the rattle ( unused, spare pins with no connections on the stereo (lol, yes) 1/4-inch jack.  Solved with a spot of epoxy resin. 

Everything else was largely fine, although the paint-work is a bit "fragile" - doesn't take much to knock a chip out of it ... (my own fault - I never carry my acoustic around without its case - but I tend to just lug-the-EV-around)

It now sounds "much as you would expect" - not too bad actually (when I remember to clean the strings!)

So, I agree with you - you pays your money and makes your choice.  Glad you achieved what you set out to do - it is certainly a lot easier to "re-engineer" and upgrade a solid body EV to your liking than to do something similar with a poor / cheap acoustic....

Can't answer your question though - and I'm thinking much along the same lines.  I know the piezo pickup is good, and has a fairly linear response (from the data sheet), but, the rest of the electronics is a bit lacking - the pre-amp has two sliders for bass/treble boost and cut - as far as I can tell their effect is minimal - and if I'm recording something I'll just do a post-capture equalization if needed.

Anyway, welcome again, and enjoy the forum!

Bill

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

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

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peterl
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August 9, 2014 - 6:12 pm
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Thanks, Bill!

Your reply was actually really helpful for me!

You made me think about the pickup a little more. I didn't expect the it to be worth keeping.

If I had a response curve from the piezo sensor and the spectral data that the violin will generate, I might be able to match a pre-amp. - I have no idea about hifi whatsoever. I work (in my day job) with signals that are too high frequency to be audible. But I can learn. It's worth a try and it's cheap, if I find a sufficiently slow spectrum analyser.

I wonder if a standard sound card can resolve the piezo signals without a preamp... a 16 bit sound card should be able to resolve 18microVolts... (1.2V/2^16) that should be good enough to measure the piezo response, but the front end of any sound card is probably pretty bad, so that I will get a lot of noise and need to record a crazy amount of averages... so it is possible, unless I am missing something. Now I "just" need to find a free software that can produce a time-resolved spectrum from the line input or can average like crazy. How hard can it be? - I will let you know once I fail.

Please, if you get the chance, could you let me know where to find the data sheet for the pickup? 

Cheers,

Peter

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
August 10, 2014 - 2:26 am
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Hi Peter -

peterl said .... I work (in my day job) with signals that are too high frequency to be audible. 

  Aha!  An RF or microwave guy - man - that's just plumbing.... LOL

  Anyway, I can no longer locate the web-site (it was a Chinese / Hong-Kong supplier) - but this link covers most of what I uncovered during my earlier investigations

http://www.meas-spec.com/downl.....Manual.pdf

- the transducer in my EV is not the solid ceramic type, rather, piezo film, and if not identical to some on the above site, it must be pretty darned close.

Out of interest, you'll find a number of keen engineers on this site as well - just to let you see how "daft" (meant in the nicest way possible, Dan!) we sometimes are, let me point you at @DanielB 's 2$ piezo pickup for an acoustic....  

https://fiddlerman.com/forum/r.....ss/page-2/

Also - check out the freeware "Audacity" software - we have folks here experimenting with different bridge material, and using Audacity for a bridge @Ferret was making, ran a spectral plot - here -

https://fiddlerman.com/forum/f.....ridge-lol/

And yes, I would advocate the use of a pre-amp local to the EV if for no other reason than to provide a reasonable impedance match and to reduce unwanted hum/noise pickup - get that soldering-iron out !

Bill

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

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

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peterl
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August 11, 2014 - 4:10 pm
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 Thanks, Bill!

Finally had time to read through the threads and pdf in your links, including @Ferret 's fourier tansform of the time resolved data.

I did something similar, essentially based on the method outlined in here with the following changes.

I recorded directly into a line input of a Zoom H2N at 48KHz (uncompressed) and saved the wav file directly on an SD card. Loaded it into Audacity, did the fourier transform. I played more or less the same thing three times, once with the adjustable filter of the violin pre-amp set to minimum, then half way and then maximum.

This is what I got. Seems there is a relatively flat frequency response between 200Hz and 12KHz. Overall not too shabby compared to these violin spectra (same article). I was actually surprised to see the narrow frequency band that they got. The shape of the response if obviously key here. I don't think I need to extend the frequency range in any direction.

Don't get me wrong I didn't do anything scientific here. Just some fiddling around.

Maybe the preamp and pickup is not actually a problem. The signal just needs some digital signal processing (DSP) after or before the preamp - not sure yet where the best place is... I am slowly getting an idea of my requirements for real time DSP. 

Thanks for all your awesome help above! - I'd still be trying to improve the pickup or amp without your help, while both are apparently decent.

 

Thanks,

Peterspectrum_cevn_zoomh2n_zoom.pngImage Enlarger

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 12, 2014 - 9:33 am
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Welcome to the forum peterl,
We like people who dare experiment with their equipment thus turning this into a great learning site in all areas. :)
Interesting take on the instrument. I can understand your wanting a better sound from the pickup and on-board preamp but a word of caution when buying a different one would be not to expect that much improvement from it. A solid body electric violin really never has a good sound unless you can achieve that using good effects, reverb, chorus.... etc.
Even the more expensive pickups sound like sewing machines on those solid bodies. We are just miking the strings vibrations.
Very curious to hear the outcome and happy to have you here.

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

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peterl
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August 12, 2014 - 1:55 pm
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Thanks! 

I completely agree with you. Effects reverb and chorus, etc. is what's required and the pickup and amp are decent. Effects can be designed with relative ease... a nd yes, there are millions of them available. The challenge here is to know what I want and to translate it into code. Hearing is one thing, but it takes a lot of trial and error to engineer a filter or effect by hearing... at least for me.

I have no idea about audio things at all (I just know what I want my violin to sound like) and when I read your post I laughed out loud when I realised that I called what you call "effects" "digital signal processing" and what should be called "spectrum" a "Fourier transform of time resolved data". - If my wife finds this post, she will rightfully call me a nerd.

The sewing machine behaviour is probably almost impossible to suppress because it is such a complex signal.

Anyway, I will keep at it and generate some nice effects for the CEVN.

Just to make this absolutely clear, I do not regret the purchase a single bit. This was intended to be a fun development project for me. I do signal processing for a living (and as a hobby), used to be fairly decent at the violin and this is turns out to be one more way to interconnect two hobbies and work 🙂

Everyone else may just go ahead and actually play the violin.... which is probably what I am shying away from a bit because I know I am a lot worse at the violin than I used to be.

Cheers,

Peter

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Fiddlerman
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August 13, 2014 - 7:41 am
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I guess you'll be the guy to turn to when we need help with finding a good audio spectrum to suite our needs. LOL
Thanks

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

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