Electric violins have been growing in popularity. The ability to practice silently and run your sound through different effects has attracted a younger crowd of musicians. They make the perfect entry-level violin for a young student or something different for the seasoned professional.
While not as diverse, the stock of electric violins to choose from is growing with the increase in popularity. If you are unfamiliar with the electric violin, I've have written a basic buyer's guide to help you select the best electric violin for your needs.
We'll quickly discuss a few features of the electric violin that you should consider and then we will get straight to the reviews.
This article was written for those who are just getting into electric violin but will act as a good refresher for the more experienced players. You're in luck if you are transitioning from the conventional acoustic realm - they aren't that much different! Let's get started.
Considerations For Choosing Your Electric Violin
The quality of your electric violin will be largely depended on price. However, there are a few features that you should be aware of so you make the best decision.
The electronics of your violin will play a large role in determining the sound quality and tone. As you increase in price range, the quality and number of pick-ups will increase. The power requirements will also differ with price range. Many high-end violins use what is called 'passive electronics' - meaning there is no battery or power connection required (similar to a passive pickup on a guitar).
These passive instruments will require a headphone amp in order to use headphones. The lower price point violins usually use a 9V battery with a built in preamp.
These are best for beginners because you can plug your headphones directly into the violin without the need for a headphone amp.
- EQ and Volume Adjustment
Some electric violins will come with a volume and 2-Band EQ adjustment.
The volume adjustment is great for beginners who need to adjust their playing volume, or for someone looking to play along with band members. The 2-Band EQ will help you get the sound you are looking for.
- Strings and Bow
Similar to an acoustic violin, the strings and bow will play a large role in the overall dynamics and tonality of your electric violin.
If you are a beginner, it may be hard to distinguish between good quality bows and strings. As you begin to develop, keep in mind that an upgrade to a intermediate bow and strings will give your sound quality the needed boost you will be looking for.
For now, try to stick with D'Addario strings and a horsehair bow.
- Build Quality
The action (how far your strings are from the fingerboard) is largely determined through manufacturing. Violins on the lower end of the price spectrum will most likely need to be tuned to get the optimal action.
Having the correct action will significantly increase the playability of the instrument. You can expect that electric violin on the higher end of the spectrum will be tuned straight out of the box.
The ability to stay in tune, as well as the overall durability, of the electric violin is also determined through build quality. Usually, the less plastic the better. However, for the beginner, having some plastic on your violin will reduce the price and allow a lower threshold for entry.
The weight of the violin can also be a consideration. Electric violins tend to be much heavier than acoustic violins (weighing up to 5lbs). However, the more expensive violins will have outboard controls to cut down on weight.
- Look for a powered violin (9V) for the beginner.
- Upgrade your strings and bow if you are unsatisfied with the factory violin.
- Get the action tuned if you find it difficult to play.
- AUX in and headphone out are both great features for the beginner.
If you're also considering taking a more traditional route I've covered beginner violins here.
Cecilio 4/4 CEVN-2BL
- Budget friendly
- Entry level full package
- 1-year warranty
- Bow is only suitable for beginners
- No EQ adjustments
- Hand-carved solid maple wood body with ebony fingerboard
- Powered by a 9V battery
- 1 Year Warranty
- Includes hard case, wood bow, rosin cake, a bridge, aux cable, and headphone
- Output and Input jacks with volume control
The Cecilio 4/4 CEVN-2BL is a great entry-level violin package. It focuses on all the necessary features one will need when just starting out. It provides an input jack for playing along with any audio track. The output jack can be used to connect to a PA or amplifier and the headphone jack is great for silent playing.
The included bow will be a good offering for beginners, but as you progress you will want to upgrade your bow. The action tends to be a little high (typical for this price range) making it slightly more difficult to play.
The sound is surprisingly good for the budget price range. While it doesn't replicate the depth of tone of an acoustic violin, the sound is unique and has a character of it's own. You can upgrade to D'Addario Prelude strings for a better sound.
Bottom Line: Perfect for someone who who wants to purchase the entire package for under $150. The quality is better than expected.
- Full package
- Lifetime warranty
- EQ and volume control
- D'Addario Prelude strings
- Lifetime warranty and 45-day money-back guarantee
- Solid maple body
- 100% ebony fittings & piezo ceramic pickup
- Includes mini-amp, headphones, power cables, professional case, bow, rosin, D'Addario Prelude strings, and polishing cloth.
- Powered by 9V battery
- EQ and volume controls
The Bunnel EDGE is a great option for the beginner to intermediate level player. It is a very highly rated electric violin and for good reason. The most decisive factor is the sound quality. While still within the beginner to intermediate price range, the sound quality competes with violins twice the price. Each violin is handcrafted in Vancouver and Washington and is held to high standards.
The package includes everything you need to start playing. Including an amp, headphones, and a professional case. The electric violin comes with factory strung D'Addario Prelude strings - one of the most popular strings on the market.
It also comes with a 2-band EQ adjustment and volume control.
Bottom Line: Check out the Amazon reviews if you are not convinced. It is hard to argue with nearly 100% five star reviews. We highly recommend this option for anyone wanting a good quality beginner to intermediate level violin.
- 2-Band EQ and volume
- Comes with case, bow and heapdhones
- Less expensive options with similar quality
- Solid Bodied Lacquered Maple
- 2-Band EQ and volume
- Comes with headphones and hardcase
The Stagg EVN is an additional option for the beginner to intermediate level player. We should mention right at the start that you can find better quality for a lower price (Bunnel EDGE). While the electric violin isn't terrible, there have been a few complaints about build quality and durability. You will want to replace the bow, strings, and potentially the bridge to get a really nice sounding electric violin.
The headphones aren't fantastic, but they will work for at-home practice. It does come with a 2-Band EQ and volume adjustment. Once the strings and bow have been replace the violin sounds much better.
You are also able to have a line in, which is great for playing along to recorded tracks.
Bottom Line: If you are considering an electric violin in the price range we suggest going with the Bunnel EDGE over this one.
- Passive electronics
- Visually striking
- No EQ controls
- Made from 6 different woods
- No batteries, no headphones, no preamps necessary
- Passive electronics
Moving into the intermediate to advanced price range with the Yamaha YEV104BL. A huge attraction here is the passive electronics. No battery, no headphones, no preamps necessary. Just plug into an amp and play. This can also be seen as a downside for the beginner player who wants to practice in silence. You will need to either have an amp with a headphone jack, or use a headphone amplifier.
Take note this does not come with a bow or a case. As such, this is best suited for the intermediate player who already has a collection of bows and cases.
The sound quality is very strong. Yamaha puts a lot of thought and detail into the sound quality of their instruments. The tone is usually described as warm and strong over the entire frequency range. It's one of the few electric violins on our list that can replicate the sound of an acoustic violin.
Bottom Line: For the intermediate player who wants great sound quality. Use with a high quality bow for best results.
- Dual pickups
- Acoustic quality
- Dual pickups (Bridge, Body)
- Lightweight at 14 oz
- Silent Practice/In-ear monitor feature with separate headphone volume control
- Case and bow not included
- Maple flame finish
For the advanced player. If you are searching for an electric violin that will replicate the subtleties of a high-end acoustic violin, this is your best option. This is the only option on our list that will match the dynamic range and variety of tone qualities of a high-end acoustic.
It comes with a 2-Band EQ adjustment and a volume control. Bow and case are not included. For the best results, you are going to want to use a high quality bow. There have been a few comments on the factory string quality. You may want to consider replacing the factory strings for something like a Larsen Virtuoso for the most dynamic range.
This is also one of the only violins on our list that offers a balanced out (XLR). This removes and noise or interference from the output signal. Keep in mind that the control box is external. This feature was added to reduce the overall weight of the violin to around 500 grams.
Similar to the Yamaha YEV104BL you will need a headphone amp to practice with headphones.
Bottom Line: If you want an electric violin that can replicate the tone and dynamics of a high-end acoustic, this is your best option.