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Since the 20th Century, the world of stringed instruments has offered the musician a choice between the traditional acoustic violin and its more contemporary electric counterpart. As the electric violins have gained more popularity, there are some musicians who favour the new instrument and some who prefer to stick to the classical violin that has been around for centuries. We are all different, therefore, I have compared the two based on reviews and opinions of other musicians to help you choose the right one for you.

Acoustic violins

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Acoustic violins are the hollow-bodied, traditional looking and sounding violins, usually made of wood and produce the sound through f-holes located on both sides of the instrument. There is no need for amplification, although it is possible to do on an acoustic instrument.

Pros

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No doubt, acoustic violins offer the best representation of the real sound of a violin. Some better quality electric violins come close, however, you will always be able to tell the difference. This is the main reason why teachers and beginners recommend the acoustic instrument to start with so that you know exactly how a violin is supposed to sound and get the correct feel of the instrument. A decent acoustic violin will also be much cheaper than a good quality electric violin that will be comfortable to hold and represent a sound that is very similar to the acoustic violin.

Within an orchestral setting, traditional recital and school performances, the acoustic violin will have the upper hand in terms of representation of the bright, resonant sound. Another great thing about an acoustic violin is that there’s no need to carry an amp with you – set up is extremely easy, once you have ensured your violin is in order you’re good to go! This is also great within a traditional setting as sometimes, there may be no facility to amplify your electric violin.

Cons

If experimenting with sounds and amplification is what truly excites you, acoustic violins probably would not be the best choice for you. You can certainly still amplify your violin through a pick up, however, it takes longer to set up and you will not be able to achieve a number of creative tones and options as you would with an electric violin on the spot.

Electric violins

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These are the solid bodied instruments, that are mainly made for added creativity and will have a more artificial sound than their acoustic counterparts. The electric violin is amplified through jack output and also allows for silent practice through an inbuilt headphone amp.

Pros

Ideal for performances within more contemporary genres of music such as jazz or rock, where the classical tone is not as crucial, the electric violins offer a range of creative features and world of experiments for the violinist who is looking to expand their range. The e-violin offers you the ability to amplify your instrument easily using a jack to jack instrument cable to let it rip, or, using the inbuilt headphone amp, you can practice silently. Some violins will offer the option to practice along to a backing track. You can also use things like various effects and loop pedals, similar to an electric guitar, that will further expand your options and range of sounds.

Recording and amplification is made easy with these violins and some of the e-violin models offer a very unique, eye-catching look that is a great spin on the classical instrument. Most electric violins will be quieter than a muted acoustic during silent practice and some will even produce no sound at all.

Cons

Most musicians will not recommend electric violins as a beginner instrument and most teachers would rather teach you on an acoustic. This is because electric violins will not produce the same, resonant sound of an acoustic violin purely because the sound travels through wires and technology rather than resonates itself from a hollow wooden body. The feel of an electric violin also will not be the same. Unamplified, electric violins will produce a very muted, tinny sound that is not great for practicing. If you are looking to perform in a very traditional environment and your repertoire consists of mainly classical music, you are better off opting for an acoustic violin that will fit in much better in terms of its sound, looks and also will not require amplification, making the set up much and transportation easier.

The happy medium – Electro Acoustic violins? 

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For those of you who can’t choose between the two or have limited funds, electro acoustic violins would be an excellent choice to combine the traditional looks and sound of an acoustic instrument with creative opportunities and options of an electric. These are hollow-bodied, traditionally crafted instruments with the option to amplify them through a jack output. Although an electro-acoustic violin does not offer a silent practice through headphones, it is great for those who would like the best of both worlds. An electro-acoustic instrument will be suitable for beginners and students and open to creative experiments, amplification, looping and different effects same as the electric violin without losing that natural sound. Very versatile for use in different environments and settings.

Click here for: 

3 Of The Best Electric Violins

Student Violins – Stentor vs Forenza

Musical Terms Glossary – Strings

About the author

Diana was Normans Piano & Strings specialist for a number of years. She is a singer songwriter, plays piano and speaks 3 languages. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling as well as blogging about anything.

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Comments

  • morchele 13/10/2015 at 8:07 pm

    what are your opinion on an electric/acoustic violin. I want both instruments but I thought about buying one instead of two separate instruments.

    Reply
    • Diana Stone 14/10/2015 at 10:03 am

      Hi,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. I think it is definitely a great option to go for to get the best of both – the natural sound of an acoustic violin wouldn’t be compromised by the on-board electronics and you will be able to record much easier and get creative with the instrument. The only downside is that if you wanted to practice silently, unfortunately, an electro acoustic instrument wouldn’t provide that option.

      I hope this helps.

      Best wishes,

      Diana

      Reply
  • Amanda S. 17/10/2015 at 5:43 am

    Hi, I really want to learn violin but I live in a house where my room is right above someone downstairs so I’m worried that me learning the violin will be loud. Would you recommend me getting an electric violin, and does the electric sound like a acoustic? I really like the fact that the electric is quieter and you could plug in headphone.

    Reply
    • Diana Stone 19/10/2015 at 8:57 am

      Hi Amanda,

      An electric violin will not sound exactly like an acoustic, however, it still makes a great alternative if practicing on an acoustic isn’t an option. Most teachers do recommend learning on an acoustic at least at the start and you can dampen the sound slightly with a violin mute >> http://www.normans.co.uk/p-466-stentor-1173-violin-tonwolf-mute.aspx, but an electric violin would still be a great option if you are looking to practice silently.

      I hope this helps.

      Best wishes,

      Diana

      Reply
  • Michael Keft 24/11/2015 at 11:23 am

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    Reply
  • nikki 14/12/2015 at 3:40 pm

    Our 10yo daughter is working towards her grade 2 and for Christmas has asked for an Electric Violin. Because she would like to play around with the different sounds and she likes the idea of headphones. Would you recommend an electric one as sideline next to the acoustic which will come first. Thanks

    Reply
    • Diana Stone 16/12/2015 at 9:18 am

      Hi Nikki,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. While an acoustic violin is always the recommended option for learning, I think an electric instrument would be great to have, especially if your daughter is interested in all the creative aspects of it! Electric violins can be really fun to play and get creative with, so I think it’s definitely worth going for. For a beginner, we would recommend the Rocket or Stagg electric violins (both exactly the same) as they come in different colours and are supplied with a complete outfit without being too expensive.

      I hope this helps.

      Best wishes,

      Diana

      Reply