An electric violin is certainly an intriguing instrument. When we think of violins we often think of an antique instrument, or at least one with a rich history, and rightly so. Violins and other stringed instruments have been a mainstay of music for hundreds of years, and some purists are even against the notion of electric violins. The truth is, an electric violin can be a very convenient way to learn the instrument, and also has a lot of benefits over playing an ‘acoustic’ alternative. Just like the difference between acoustic and electric guitars, different styles suit different players, songs and circumstances.
Electric violins have grown massively in popularity and are used in everything from schools to bands to orchestras. This means that there is a lot more choice, and navigating the pitfalls when choosing which model to buy can be tough. We have many electric violin reviews here to help you, and recommendations on which is the best violin for your own unique needs.
Benefits of Electric Violins
There is little point in discussing whether an electric or acoustic violin is ‘better’. The truth is that your own needs will dictate that. What we have done, is look at some of the benefits of electric violins. Naturally, there are pros and cons when making your choice of instrument, and the pros are quite considerable when it comes to the best electric violins.
- Control the output (and the volume). Being able to control what happens to the sound in terms of where it is sent to and amplified is a big positive. Electric violins mean that you can plug in some headphones or a mini amp and play quietly for practice, or you can plug into a powerful amplifier and play a big concert. The control of the output is not just great for volume, it also means you can process through amplifiers, effects pedals and even loop pedals, creating a whole new sound from your violin.
- They come in all different shapes and sizes. The way an electric violin looks can be very different to a traditional wooden model. Many of the models are available in some very cool looking designs, and whether you want a traditional look or something that will turn heads, there is likely a design you’ll be keen on.
Criteria – What Makes a Good Electric Violin?
It is important when creating a list of top instruments that there is some criteria set out for what we are judging on. The violins have been judged on numerous criteria.
- Price – models at different prices have been included, but value for money is definitely considered.
- Ease of use – electric violins should be convenient and easy, and we have taken this into account.
- Sound quality – of course, this is vital for any instrument and the sound quality should be as good as possible.
The prices of electric violins vary greatly. If you want a budget model for beginners then there are some good options out there which will let you start to get to grips with the instrument. There are also some very expensive models, which tend to produce an amazing quality of sound which will sound at home in any band or orchestra setup.
There are electric violins under $100. A lot of these are for absolute beginners, and just like when you’re spending this kind of money on a guitar, you shouldn’t expect the most reliable, high quality model for the cheapest price available. The mid range is anywhere from around $200-700 and there are some models that go into the thousands of dollars in terms of price, thee are the very elite products.
The Electric Violin for Beginners
Cecilio 4/4 CEVN Solid Wood Electric/Silent Violin
If we are looking at the absolute best, top level products, then perhaps the Cecilio CEVN isn’t quite in the league of some of the competitors and models from Yamaha and other top violin brands, but this is a great little kit and beginners model. If you are planning to start learning violin or want to buy one for a child to start taking lessons, this is a great product. The Cecilio 4/4 CEVN-1BK or 2BK is even one of the top selling violins on the market due to its value for money and popularity with those just getting started, or perhaps who want an interesting new toy to play with!
Another reason this is popular with beginners is the fact that it is sold as a set. The Cecilio electric “silent” violin comes with all you need to get started, including a case, a bow, and even headphones that will plug straight in, great for silent practice. This is a popular choice in terms of parents buying their children a silent model in order to avoid the hours of questionable sounds from practices!
The Cecilio violin comes in multiple sizes, which further cements it as a good option for young people and those starting to learn to play. You can choose the size which suits you by following this exceptional guide.
This comes with the 9 volt battery it needs to work, and also has a one year manufacturer warranty. The truth is that it is a budget model, but it is also a very good one for those who don’t need the absolute highest quality sound. This is the cheapest model of electric violin we consider worthy of the list.
It was inevitable that Yamaha would have some of their products on our list of the best electric violins. A leading manufacturer of violins for some time, they have really pushed the envelope when creating an electronic instrument. The SV-130 is described as the “original concert silent” meaning that it is a silent model for practice but can also be cranked to high volumes and cope exceptionally.
The Yamaha SV-130 is not cheap, but its exceptional sound quality and amazing, next-level features mean that it is truly a great choice for even the best musician.
- Available in four different colors
- High quality piezo pickup for the best in sound quality when amplified.
- Has an aux input so you can play along with backing tracks or your favorite songs as practice, or even in performances.
- Comes with three iterations of studio quality reverbs to add effects while playing.
- Comfortable and well made shoulder rest.
If you’re looking for a violin with all of the amazing sound quality that you get from many of the acoustic models out there, but with the versatility of being electric, and being able to mix easily with other instruments and sound systems, or even effects and amps, the Yamaha SV-130 is well worth a look. Crystal clear and amazingly high quality with all the flexibility of a modern instrument.
A quick look at Yamaha SV-130 reviews elsewhere online will show you all you need to know about the immense quality on offer here, with the vast majority of reviewers giving this five stars, complimenting its clarity and ease of use among other features.
Bunnel EDGE Electric Violin
The Bunnel EDGE is more of a mid range violin in terms of price. It is not up there with the Yamaha models in terms of price, and is sold as a kit with everything you need to get up and running. It offers less of a flimsy and cheap feel that some of the beginners models give, and is definitely good enough to gig with. A huge amount of the reviews on Amazon or music stores online have spoken very highly of the Bunnel EDGE, and in spite of not being one of the biggest brands in the world of musical instruments, it holds its own.
The EDGE is assembled in the US and the craftsmanship is very good. We were very surprised at the quality and audio clarity considering the price point of this product, and the features are impressive.
• Made from solid, high quality maple
• Quality piezo pickup delivers excellent audio
• Comes with D’Addario Strings already installed and ready to use.
• Sliders to control both tone and volume of the violin
• Tailpiece including four tuners for the strings
It comes with all of the accessories you need to get going, including a high quality bow made from real mongolian Horse hair, a mini amp which packs a punch whilst on the go, headphones for silent practice and even a carry case. For someone wanting to buy an all in one package which is more of an intermediate or professional model of violin which doesn’t cost the earth.
NS Design WAV4 or WAV5 Electric Violin
NS Design are another brand operating at the higher echelons of the market. These products come with something of a price tag, and are aimed at high level musicians. The quirky, modern designs are certainly eye catching, but that isn’t the only thing going for the WAV series of electric violins, which provide some of the best quality audio you can imagine from an electric model of violin. The modern feel of this certainly fits with the modern capabilities of the violin. It can be easily plugged into any sound system or into an audio interface or straight into a computer to record the violin.
It has an adjustable maple bridge which means you can adjust it to the playing style or action you would like. Some people play it like a traditional violin but others are developing their own style and playing it a bit lower.
The pickup system is so important to why the NS electric violin is so great. They have an amazing polar pickup system which is able to brilliantly transmit the sound to any amp or speaker. The tone of the NS Design Wav 4 or Wav 5 can rival any acoustic.
NS Design CR4 and CR5
If budget is really not the main issue and you are looking for the creme de la creme when it comes to your instruments, the NS Design WAV series has a more expensive sibling. The CR4 and CR5, are possibly the very best electric violins money can buy.
These have preamps for both the bass and treble frequencies for the utmost in control. You can also change the frequency response of the pickup. The tones you can get from this are wonderful, and vary from an acoustic violin sound to a more electric, almost guitar-like quality.
Made of high quality maple and coming with a five year warranty, the NS electric violins are a relatively new brand, but one which is coming to the fore and becoming a pro choice for pro musicians and violinists.
Electric Violins can add a huge amount to your playing. There is a reason why their sales have grown significantly in recent years.
Musical snobbery is an issue, and there are purists who will tell you that the electric violins may never be the same as acoustic. They might have a point in some ways, and the beautiful antique models should certainly be treasured, but the convenience of an electric instrument is undeniable.
Some violin players have bought electric models to be able to quickly lay down demos and be able to plug straight into PA systems at band practice or into a laptop for producing music at home. The ‘silence’ aspect is another big draw, and if you’re in a spot where you can’t make much noise, or don’t want to listen to your kids hit a million bum notes while they practice, this can be the perfect solution.
As with any instrument, it isn’t a quick and easy decision, and it is vital to give a little consideration to what you plan to buy, finding something to suit not only your budget, but your needs. The above models have provided cheap electric violins that do a decent job, all the way up to the very best, with something for every budget.