electrc fiddle

electrc fiddle

I’m working on such a thing. Mainly because I think it’s great fun to give a damn on acoustics, and also because I, whithin certain limits can design it myself. I’m making it in solid wood, and I like to know if someone out there knows something about how to electrify, amplify, ie: make it sound! I have a Barcus Berry capsule made to put on the bridge on a standard violin. Can I use thisone on a solid body? Can anyone tell me where I can find answers to questions like these? AND… What is your opinion on playing amplified fiddle?

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Re: electrc fiddle

To get the desired sound you need three things:

1) A small tub of water
2) A cat
3) A toaster plugged into an electrical outlet

Put said cat in water (it may be necessary to tie weights to its paws). Toss in said toaster. Viola! The sound of an electric fiddle!

IMHO, an electric fiddle and a shrieking cat sound remarkably similar and are equally as humane. But, no worries. Just taking the p!sh.

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Thank YOU jerball! Is it something you do often? You sound so certain and convincing that you must have (had?)a lot of cats. Can I use guinea pigs as well? My daughter has 2 I think…just a moment.. no! I used them for imitating the sound of an electric flute (metallic) which killed my wife last year…or?…wait was it this year.. Anyway They are dead. The guinea pigs! ;-]
I’m still interested in replys on my initial question
FIEL

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By themselves most e-fiddles sound rather thin and "buzzy", but with a decent guitar effects processor you can get some amazing sounds out of one; anything from a well-equalized acoustic sound that’s far richer than the straight output of the fiddle (though not as rich as a good acoustic heard from up-close) to a screaming heavy-metal guitar sound — reverb, delay, echo, chorusing, wah, phasing … anything you might hear in an electric guitar works on a fiddle (though some do sound better on guitar).

Of course, you’ll get really odd looks carrying your electric fiddle into a session. ๐Ÿ™‚ And, the traditional violin-types will also be looking down on you for daring to "insult" the sacred shape of the violin.

I have one that I use for practice and just for playing around. It’s good for practice because you hear the sound coming from the amp, not right under your ear. Hearing yourself at a distance gives you a better idea of what you sound like to others without having to record-and-listen-later.

AFAIK, most commercial pickups come with the necessary plugs and wiring; all that should be necessary is attaching them to the fiddle (or bridge, if it isn’t a whole-new-bridge type of pickup).

Mine is a factory-made e-fiddle (a Rave 4-string from Southwest Strings) and the pickup is somewhere beneath the bridge; this seems to give it fairly complex tone for an inexpensive electric

Len.

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The Barcus Berry capsule sounds OK to me. Do you mean a solid body as in a solid electric guitar? If so, I don’t think you would get much of a fiddle sound. All the purpose-built electric fiddles I know of are of hollow construction, or else just a solid piece under the bridge to house the pickup and electrics. A pickup on a solid body would sound different to say the least, but it won’t be a *fiddle* sound. I play an electric Yamaha SV-120 for live gigs (and an acoustic for sessions), and it sounds very much like a well-toned acoustic, and it’s great to play.

Jim

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Having done so myself, I applaud anyones effort to make their own musical instrument - but it wouldn’t work at our pub sesh, as there is no electricity. (but there are a lot of cats).

Dave

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Get a good pre-amp to warm up the sound; any solid-body fiddle with a pickup is going to sound like a horn to some degree.. that will improve it quite a bit.

Anyone want to offer an opinion on this? Here’s mine: anyone who pulls out an electric fiddle on stage is doing it because of how it *looks* as there’s absolutely no musical reason to do it. And anyone who cares more about how the fiddle *looks* as opposed to how it sounds …. well, people still argue about whether KISS was a real band or not…. musician or wanker? You decide.

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I don’t agree that this is necessarily done for "looks". As my band’s sound guy as well as the fiddle/mandolin player, I’ve found the biggest impediment to getting a good onstage mix is the condenser mic typically used for the fiddle. It’s almost impossible to get a good mic’ed sound out of the fiddle without picking up all kinds of side noise and having severe feedback problems. The electric fiddle eliminates both problems. Of course, you can put a pickup on an acoustic fiddle too, but then you’re only amplifying the signal from the piezo, so it’s no different from an electric, might as well go the whole hog. I’ve tried several of the clip-on electret and condenser mics, and they really don’t sound any better than a piezo unless you run them through the same series of EQ and effects boxes.

I build guitars, fiddles, and mandolins on the side and have also built a solid body electric fiddle. I used a Baggs pickup/bridge and it works very well, as long as as preamp and some EQ and effects are used with it. Without the preamp it sounds very thin and whiny. The EQ is an absolute must because most piezoelectric pickups will greatly favor the lower frequencies. You’ll also need some delay and reverb to get it to sound anything like an acoustic fiddle. The nice thing is, you can play it anywhere you like with headphones and not annoy your neighbors. I take mine on business trips and practice in the hotel room.

All that said, if you show up at a session with one, don’t be surprised if you’re treated like the proverbial Person from Porlock.

-Scott

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I play a Yamaha SV-110 as opposed to Jim Doran’s SV-120. The 120 is supposed to be a much improved version of the 110. However, the 110 still sounds pretty good and is a breeze for recording. Great for practicing too, in the middle of a caravan park, from its 2 AA batteries and earphones.

Jim: Have you had a chance to pit your 120 against a 110? If so, is there quite a big difference. What strings are on your 120?

Ed

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I also don’t think an e-fiddle is just for looks. From my limited experience in a band context, I see three advantages:

1) they cut down or eliminate the risk of acoustic feedback through the body of an acoustic instrument in the presence of high foldback levels.

2) in a band, I prefer to hear my sound from the monitors or the amp without my perception of the mix or post-effects sound confused by a different sound source under my ear.

3) it’s sooo easy to have accidents "on stage" and whatever else you might think about ‘em, e-fiddles tend to be robust and replaceable.

I would see having no feedback risk, an easier time hearing what I sound like and being less jumpy about instrument damage as things that contribute to a better performance.

ScottC makes a good point about going the whole hog once you’ve got to the point of using a pickup. Taking pragmatism one step further, I’d add that if I have to play through a PA that I personally have to cart up and down the stairs… the PA ain’t going to be so wonderful that there’s any point me getting *too* snooty over tonal quality, even if it were possible to mike up an a-fiddle without the problems ScottC mentions. If you’re in that situation, why waste effort (and create potential problems for yourself) producing a sexier electron flow into the desk if it’s all going to sound pretty much the same anyway once it comes out of the speakers?

All that said, I personally don’t see any musical reason why an e-fiddle should look like a Flying V - that *is* just pose value 8>)

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Glenn - I use an electric fiddle on stage *purely* for musical reasons - as I said before, it’s sounds great, and it sounds like a fiddle should. It was designed and built to do exactly just that. As to its looks, well it looks good too, but that’s just icing on the cake.

Ed - I originally went for the SV110 and played it in the shop through a quality amp. I liked it, and would have bought it, only for slight cosmetic damage. As it was the only one in the shop and would have taken a while to order another, I tried the SV-120 in the same shop, and found quite an improvement. Overall sound was noticably better, a perfectly balanced tone, and it was *much* more responsive to ‘thrown’ bowings. It was more comfortable to play, as its shape takes any type of shoulder rest, as opposed to the SV-110. As it was the shop demo model, I got it for a reduced price.

It had Helicore strings on it, and I changed to a set of Dominants, and I liked the sound even better. It’s great in every way!

Jim

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Thak you everybody for your swift and clever responses. I’ll check out those links a.s.a.p, ED Thanks

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I never suggested using a mike on an accoustic - that only works obviously for low-volume performance. But a good pickup on an accoustic still sounds a million times better than a pickup on a solid-body instrument (in my opinion). Anything you can do with sound equipment over a solidbody instrument you can do *better* with an pickuped accoustic.

I have to be honest; I’ve played with an electric once: it was in the hot Texas sun over a period of 7 hours…. I would never have risked a real fiddle to those conditions. So I think there might be circumstances where using an electric doesn’t automatically scream to the audience: ‘don’t pay attention to my playing, look at my badass instrument’.. but not many.

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Re: electric fiddle

I’m surprised that anyone would assume that an electric fiddle is more visually impressive than an acoustic. And that anyone would risk taking a decent fiddle to a gig.

Someone I know who sometimes plays electric reckons she always finds her tone needs working on when she goes back to acoustic. But that would presumably go for an amplified acoustic fiddle, as well.

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I don’t think I’m making any judgement on whether an electric fiddle will look cool or not. I’m saying that whoever whips one out on stage *thinks* it looks cool and that this in itself is a problem.

It’s the attitude of the person who whips out the plastic sparkly v-neck fiddle that I’m questioning: is this a serious musician? Or is this someone who thinks a plastic sparkly v-neck fiddle is *impressive*?

I didn’t suggest taking a decent fiddle to a gig either. I suggest that when you’re at the store wondering what kind of gig fiddle to pick up for the night what might motivations might push a person to get the v-neck sparkly purple fiddle over the same-priced accoustic.

Of course, I’ve seen these amazing redwood artistic fiddle bodies on the web that look very attractive… I understand not everyone goes for the purple job. Point still is: it’s about how it *looks*.

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Obviously, Glenn, you don’t have to compensate with an electric fiddle because you’re so d4mn sexy to begin with. Do you pick out your wardrobe thinking, "Will this make people think I’m a better musician?"

Ha. Ha. What’s the craic?!! Email me or call some time, ya big billix! We’re just playin’ mad tunes and trying to stay slobber. Kevin’s tearin’ away like a tinker’s britches!

Re: electric fiddle

Well, I think there’s a pretty good chance that anybody using an electric fiddle on stage is doing it for practical reasons, which have already been gone into.

Maybe those few who ARE seduced by the idea that it’s perceived as a cool thing to do, rather than ask themselves "does everybody else in the audience realise how cool I am with my efiddle?", should instead worry "will Glenn think I’m a wanker?"

Of course not.

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Jerball-

The gossip is making its way all the way back to Dallas, new stories every weekend. I’ll be in touch…

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Hey nastyweegirl -

I’m not trying to change your mind or anyone else’s - just expressing myself ๐Ÿ™‚

If someone pulls out an electric fiddle they can worry about whatever they want to, and I’ll probably give them a chance to show me and everyone else they’re performing for they know how to play it.

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Re: electrc fiddle

Fiel, herre are some links to electric fiddle maker
sites. The Jensen’s (the halcyon url) come highly recommended by a few terrific players I know. But surf them all—each maker has a different approach to body design.

http://www.jordanmusic.com/

http://www.heys.com/

http://www.tbviolins.com/

http://www.halcyon.com/jensmus/violin.htm

And an excellent general site about electric fiddles, their makers and players, is at:

http://www.lightbubble.com/bowed/

Incidentally, I don’t understand why Glenn has his knickers in a bunch. It’s amazing to me that he can read the minds of other fiddlers, knowing for instance what Eileen Ivers is thinking when she plays her blue fiddle. I wish I could do that….

You may not like her sound or style, but that’s personal taste. To say that she’s not a master musician and that she cares more about using an impressive instrument borders on libelous. It also is no help at all to Fiel and anyone else here who might be interested in amping up (for reasons completely unrelated to ego or making an impression).

Personally, every time I’ve struggled with an acoustic fiddle played into a sound system, I’ve wished I had a dedicated electric in my hands. And I second Jim Dorans’ review—the Yamaha 120 I tried was wonderful—full rich tone, great response, and a solid authentic acoustic sound.

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Hi, Will-

Thanks for your concern about my knickers; they’re fine! Sexy, too, as Jerball will tell you.

I’m going to stop defending myself; every time I write someone writes: Why does Glenn think X? X is absurd! And I respond - I am not talking about X I just meant Y!

Well whatever - play electric fiddles, go mad. I’ll save this discussion for a group over pints, where hopefully we’ll all understand each other … or eventually none of us will! ๐Ÿ™‚

g

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Likewise Will!
I have a Yamaha also and it gives great sound (through a Fender 85 Amp and Boss Equalizer). I have recorded it AND my French (circa 1890) fiddle and it is VERY difficult to tell them apart. I’m probably equally crap on both.

Funny enough..

As I started this thread, I think I will be a little more elaborate on why I’m building an efiddle: Consider and combine these facts:

1)I like to work in wood
2)We also have fairly long winterdays here in Denmark, which gives me some time to do 1)
3) I play the fiddle and have done so for about 24 years
4) The outcome is alowed to look beautiful (metallic purple, with Zebra stribes!)
5) My surroundings will only judge the sound I produce (at least the blind ones)

It is funny to make my own design, and the entertainment I have while doing so is the main motivation for me.
Thanks again everyone!!

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Fiel, I can’t think of any better reasons to make your own fiddle!
Trevor

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Glenn, I will admit that on occasion I’ve used an instrument (not a fiddle) of, how shall we say, "dramatically non-traditional appearance" purely for looks, not musical reasons, although of course I wouldn’t have done so if the instrument wasn’t musically up to the job.

My reason for doing it was to irritate a pretentious stuffed-shirt in the group that I knew it would bug the hell out of and who roundly deserved a good bit of persecuting >8>)

I thought it was a good discussion topic and it’s been interesting to read the responses.

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Re: electrc fiddle

A wealth of info is available at the Musical Instrument Makers Forum at http://www.mimf.org

You’ll find info on fiddle making, acoustic and electric as well as info on pick-ups.

Re: electrc fiddle

Geoff: Don’t do yourself down, you are the best american old time style fiddler that I have ever heard ๐Ÿ˜‰ (HEE HEE HE)

Jim: Thanks for the feedback on the SV-120 versus the SV-110. The biggest drawback for me with the SV-110 is its weight. It is 660gms and 720gms with its KUN shoulder rest. I also find it hard to shift up and down the neck with precision, because of its heavy varnish coating. Under certain conditions of temp/humidity it seems to acquire more drag.

I have tried a ‘playonair’ (the one that you can blow up like a lilo mattress) shoulder rest and with a bit of judicious filing of flats at its contact points on the fiddle, it could do the trick and save nearly 60gms extra weight.

Have you ever had the SV-120 on the scales? and is the neck heavily varnished?

Ed.

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Thank you Ed….the fiver’s in the post!
Like Tanya, I am immune to irony ๐Ÿ™‚

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Geoff: I don’t think that you would have enjoyed dodging about up here on the sea just now, as it has turned very cold. There is snow down to about 800 feet tonight, with a northerly wind.

Shall we start a bring back Tanya campaign?

Regards,

Ed.

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Yes! She has been sadly missed. She has been in a sulk for far too long.

I’m paddling on the Thames tomorrow …much safer I agree…but distinctly lacking in seals, Basking sharks and a decent view….can’t wait to get back up to the Islands.

Cheers

Geoff

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But bring that fiddle though!

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Sorry sorry sorry folks ! It’s actually the SV-200 I have (not the SV-120). I’ve just dug out the manual. Ed - I hated the KUN shoulder rest, and it is named KUN for a good reason! ๐Ÿ™‚ I hated the idea of being restricted to an uncomfortable shoulder rest, and retrospectively another reason for going for the SV-200. I don’t have scales to weigh it, but the tech/spec in the manual quotes 620g. To me it doesn’t feel any heavier than my acoustic. The weight in the 200 is more evenly distributed than in the 110, another reason why it feels more natural to play.

The fingerboard is polished unvarnished ebony and smooth to the touch, neck is hard maple, body spruce, Aubert bridge is hard maple. Hope this helps.

Jim

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Will - The other week, I was listening to a fiddle player struggling with an acoustic played through a sound system, and I certainly wished he’d had a decent electric! I didn’t get the chance to ask him, so *I don’t know what he was thinking*.

Is this web site any use?

http://www.musicexplorium.com - sell eviolins enthusiastically; offer discounts as a matter of routine; proffer advice whole-heartedly.

It seems glenn is suffering the same fate as the anonymous wielder of the onstage eviolin; somebody assuming they know what’s going on in his/her head. Not to mention knickers!

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I forgot to mention, I saw this tiny "bug" mic by DPA, the MK 4061 (

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I have just bought a Yamaha Swan neck microphone (complete with waist pack pre-amp), designed for Brass instruments, for my acoustic fiddle, which I have clipped on to the chin rest…it gives a wonderful authentic (not muted) sound….the problem with transducers is that they will inevitably mute the sound as they are compressing the bridge however slightly…especially the Fishman ones. The problem with condenser mikes is feedback but if you know where the feedback spots are they can be avoided.

P.S. The whole thing, mike and pre-amp, cost about

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Nasty: A scraper’s string twixt bridge and tailpiece is often called ‘the afterlength’. I think that this is a misnomer. After all it doesn’t droop does it ๐Ÿ˜‰. I think that it then should be called ‘the before length’ ๐Ÿ˜‰ due to its rigidity!

Re: electric fiddle

sauce!