6 Best Electric Violins for Beginners
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Whether you’ve been playing the acoustic violin for years or if you’re learning to play the violin now, it’s a good idea to get your hands on an electric version. While they can look and sound very different from their acoustic counterparts, being able to play an electric violin can open some surprising doors for musicians.
Perhaps you’re purely a classical violinist. If so, then sticking with an acoustic violin to play with your community orchestra might be fine. If you’re already wildly successful and manage to book venues with exquisite acoustics then, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing.
However, more and more music is being created and shared via online platforms for commercial use. So musicians that can keep up with modern music trends are going to be the ones who actually get gigs and get paid. Electric violins can be incredibly practical too.
If you’re living in the heart of Nashville or Manhattan desperately trying to make it in the music industry, you most likely live in an apartment or have roommates. And every acoustic instrumentalist knows the sound of angry neighbors banging on the walls while you’re trying to hone your craft. This is just one instance when having an electric violin would come in handy.
There are so many different electric violin options out there, so we’ve broken it down to take out the guesswork. Be sure to read through the complete buying guide below to help you decide what key features will be the most important when deciding which instrument to purchase.
Runner-Up Best Overall
Runner-Up Best Budget
1.Merano Fitted Electric Silent Violin (Best Beginner Electric Violin)
While it’s not the least expensive instrument on our list, it’s still relatively cheap considering the many perks that come with it. Its style is pretty different from its acoustic counterpart, but the Merano Electric Violin is actually a great pick for beginners and intermediate players alike.
A solid body electric instrument has the advantage of zero feedback. If you’ve ever tried to just mic an acoustic violin, you’ll know what a nightmare that can be (that might even be why you’re looking for an electric violin). Luckily, this is incredibly user friendly and will make learning the audio side of this instrument very simple. The battery can quickly be swapped out on the back of the violin without the use of any tools, and you can conserve the battery with a handy-dandy on/off switch.
There are two jacks on the back; one for your preferred PA system and another for the use of headphones. This is where the value really comes in. Often when performing on stage, musicians have almost no monitor control. So being able to use an amp and hear it with headphones at the same time will give you much more control over your sound. And with the tone and volume control features on the back, you can make adjustments as needed mid concert.
Being able to have that tone control means that this is a great instrument for all different genres of music. If you want a brighter, more metallic sound then turn the tone control up. In need of a smoother, darker sound? Turn it down. That’s it! This can, of course, be coupled with different types of effects for pretty much whatever sound or style you’re going for.
The body is hand-carved maple, the pegs and chinrest are crafted with ebony wood, and, let’s be honest, it looks pretty cool. With it you’ll also get a decent bow, a 9-volt amplifier, an extra set of strings, cables and headphones. There are much more expensive violins that don’t come with these many features and perks, which easily makes this our first pick for Best Electric Violin for Beginners.
2. Bunnel Edge Electric Violin (Runner-Up Best Beginner Electric Violin)
The only reason we didn’t choose this one as our top pick for beginner electric violins is because of the price tag. Not everyone wants to shell out that kind of money for something they’re only just learning how to play. However, with the high-quality equipment it comes with you’ll have everything you need to get started. Plus, it has a lifetime warranty. So if you get it and love it, your investment is protected. And if you decide that you don’t love it, you can return it with ease.
Considering the cost of this instrument, it would be pretty disappointing if it didn’t have the tone and volume control. Luckily, the Bunnel Edge has both controls on the front face. As an added bonus it has two tone sliders so you can really hone your sound. As you become more experienced with the Electric Violin, being able to meticulously adjust the tone of your instrument will give you an advantage over other players who are either still playing an acoustic version or using an electric violin without tone control.
The ¼ output and ⅛ headphone jacks can be found on the side. That makes this instrument another great option for beginners and intermediate players alike. You can play quietly at home with headphones or you can plug into an amp with a monitor for stage performances. In terms of performance ease, it’s also quite nice that the jacks are to the left instead of being on the back of the body. This means that any cables you’re using will comfortably fall behind your left shoulder instead of possibly getting tangled underneath your feet.
The 9-volt battery (included) is accessible on the back of the instrument and it powers a piezo ceramic pick-up. The case includes a hygrometer for humidity monitoring and while it comes with just one bow, there is a place for a second. Also included are headphones, rosin, cables, strings, polishing cloth and a surprisingly handy amp.
The included Bunnel Mini Amp is a decent starter amp for acoustic players who aren’t familiar with the equipment. It has tone and volume controls for even more sound control, and an overdrive feature which creates a fantastic Jimi Hendrix sound. It takes a 9-volt battery and it has a clip on the back making it portable. Having a portable, battery powered amp means that your cables can fall perfectly over your left shoulder to plug right into the amp which you can have clipped to a belt. This set-up makes outdoor and stage performances quick and efficient.
The cost of this may deter those who are picking up the instrument on a whim. However, if you seriously want to learn to play the electric violin then the Bunnel Edge will set you up with everything you need to get started.
3. Kinglos Colored Electric Violin Kit with Ebony Fittings (Honorable Mention)
At first glance it may look like it’s all flash, but the great sound outweighs the unique style. On their website Kinglos even says that, “quality first” is their key principle. Kinglos has only been around since 2009, but this Shanghai based company is always looking for the perfect marriage of tradition and innovation.
We can’t talk about this instrument without addressing the artistic appeal of the body. A patented coloring technology is used to create a unique aesthetic and tone quality. It comes in several different styles meaning that beginner and intermediate players alike can get a boutique look without sacrificing an ounce of quality.
The battery, volume and tone controls, on/off switch and jacks are all accessible on the back of the instrument. While it can be used with headphones and an amp, it’s not completely silent without the headphones. It’s certainly not as loud as an acoustic, but if you’re worried about making too much noise while practicing at home this may not be the best option.
The bow that’s included is good for beginners, but intermediate players may quickly want to upgrade it for one that feels more balanced for faster bow work and a richer timbre. Also included are a case, DV-9 active pick-up, cables, shoulder rest, an extra set of strings and an additional bridge. The 9-volt battery that’s required isn’t included, but with everything else it seems a small loss.
While something this flashy might not be welcome in a classical concert hall, it’s definitely a statement piece for smaller or solo performances.
The Crescent EV is an excellent option for children or someone who is a complete beginner to violins in general. As one of the most inexpensive options, it also comes with a bow, padded case, rosin, headphones, batteries and a CrescentTM Digital E-Tuner.
If you’re purchasing this for a child then the additional color options are a nice bonus. As expected with something this inexpensive though, it might need some modifications either right away or over time. As with many brand new violins, it will take some time to season the instrument so that it stays tuned. However, applying a compound to keep the pegs in place will help quite a bit. It’s recommended to give it at least a week before applying any additional compounds though so that the instrument has time to acclimate to your home climate.
The balance point of the bow is more towards the frog as opposed to the center where it might feel more comfortable. For children this could be a good or a bad thing. If they practice on a heavier bow and then switch to one that feels lighter; their bowing muscles will be well prepared. On the other hand , a heavier bow can mean sloppy intonation at first too. So that’s up to you.
The included E-Tuner is a must for beginners who are also trying to train their ears, so its addition in the kit is a fantastic bonus. Tone, volume and power controls are on the front face of the violin and the two jacks are on either side of the body. If you’re a complete beginner to the violin in general or if you have a child wanting to learn then the Crescent EV will give you all the basics you need without breaking the bank.
It’s not as inexpensive as our Best Budget winner, but we awarded it second place because it still has a surprisingly bright sound. The kit includes case, bow, rosin, aux cable, and headphones. The freebies are pretty basic which will be perfectly adequate for beginners, while intermediate players may want to upgrade some of the equipment. It definitely doesn’t need as many modifications as other less expensive options, but anyone who plans to advance as a violinist will need to make some modifications over time no matter what.
The quality of the included strings and bow isn’t fantastic, but once those are replaced the already bright sound of this instrument becomes even more dynamic. If you like to add effects to your electric instrument, you’ll be quite pleased with the range of finished sound you can get from this inexpensive instrument.
Both tone and volume controls are on the back alongside the line-out, mic and headphone jacks. While it is advertised as a silent electric violin, the silent feature is more comparable to an acoustic violin that’s been muted twice. So you definitely won’t irritate your neighbors.
The cut-out design and selection of color make it an edgy-looking instrument that’s still inexpensive while offering a surprisingly bright, natural sound. Plus, the complete kit is great for beginners who are still gathering equipment.
With a heftier price tag, this is recommended for beginners who plan to invest a good deal of time practicing their craft to improve their playing. As far as beginner electric violins go, this one has some fantastic, unique features.
A piezo pick-up combined with a rosewood bridge gives this instrument a warm, natural sound. With the volume and tone controls you can adjust the sound even more. Be aware when using your own cables that the line-out and headphone jacks are ⅛ in.
The design of this instrument is sleek which has the added benefit of creating more space for bowing. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing. If you’re a complete beginner to the violin, then learning bowing fundamentals on this may make it harder to play on a more traditional violin in the future. However, if you plan to stick with violins that have a similar body then that’s not something you’ll need to worry about.
That being said, fiddlers will love the extra range of motion on this instrument, while classical players may find the extra space a bit daunting. Violinists of all skill levels and styles will appreciate the range and depth of sound you get from the rosewood bridge plus the volume and tone controls located on the back of the instrument.
The bout was specifically designed to be used with multiple chinrests and shoulder pads, which is nice for younger players who need to upgrade their equipment as they grow. If you’re curious about the electric violin but mostly a lover of the acoustic, the sound of this will make you feel right at home. And, of course, it’s a phenomenal choice for beginner students who are serious about improving as a violinist.
Beginner Electric Violin Buying Guide
Before making your purchase, there are several key factors you should consider. Luthiers, or violin makers, take great pride in their work and sometimes use distinct manufacturing techniques or styles to create their masterpieces. This means there’s a lot to choose from. Sometimes the wide array of choices can be overwhelming though. If that’s the case, keep reading to help you figure out what factors will be most important for you.
Fiddle vs. Violin
One of the most common questions from beginner violinists is “what’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle?” Surprisingly, there is absolutely no difference between the two instruments. Those words refer to the style of playing and don’t actually have anything to do with the instrument itself. Generally, the word “violin” is used when the instrument is being used to play classical music, in symphonies, orchestras or chamber music. The word “fiddle” is used when someone is playing a variety of other musical styles such as country, jazz, bluegrass, etc.
There are, however, some instrument items that fiddlers or violinists may choose to alter to better cater to their playing styles. Some fiddlers prefer to use steel-core strings for their sharper sound, while violinists prefer the warmer sounding synthetic-core strings. Some fiddlers also choose to have a flatter bridge which makes it easier to play several strings at once. This lends itself quite well to musical styles, such as bluegrass or cajun, that often require several strings to be played at once.
The biggest difference between the two would be when someone chooses to purchase a five-string violin. Admittedly, these do need to be specially made because adding a fifth string to a standard instrument would be incredibly difficult. The additional string is a lower C-string found to the left of the G-string.
Traditional violinists tend to prefer the precision of the original instrument because they need to play exactly what they’re told to as part of a larger group. Fiddlers, on the other hand, often have a bit more freedom in how they interpret a piece of music. The alterations that fiddlers can make to their instruments give them the ability to play with more variety.
Even when it comes to acoustic violins, there are different size options. And since it’s recommended (but not required) that people begin learning the violin at a young age, violins actually come in 9 different sizes.
The smallest size is 1/32 with the largest size being the full 4/4. Most adults are comfortable on a full size, but if your frame is smaller you might want to go down a size or two.
If you’re unsure, measure the distance between the middle of your left-hand palm and your neck. Make sure that your hand is fully extended and that your arm is perpendicular to your body. If it measures 23 inches or more, then a full size will be perfect. If it’s shorter than 23 inches then you may be more comfortable with a smaller size.
Remember that when purchasing a violin for someone younger that their arms will, inevitably, get longer. This is when purchasing a less-expensive instrument might come in handy.
One of the many perks of electric violins is that they come in unique shapes and colors. If you’re a veteran violinist, you might be more comfortable with an electric version that doesn’t feel too different from what you’re used to. Plus, some of these instruments can weigh much more or less than what you’re used to. So definitely take that into consideration as well.
For those who’ve never played the violin at all, it can be very tempting to purchase an edgier looking instrument. And honestly, for complete newbies, they won’t know the difference anyway. So for those individuals, just make sure you get an instrument that feels comfortable.
While the shape and size of the violin’s body is incredibly important, the bow is equally important. You could have the most exquisite violin, but a poorly manufactured or a poorly maintained bow will ruin the sound. Traditionally, bows are made from horse hair. However, the newer synthetic options are slowly making their way into mainstream orchestras.
Due to the organic nature of horse hair, it can be prone to irregularities, decay and even something called “bow bugs.” Horsehair also reacts to changes in the environment (changes in humidity or temperature) which is why those bows continually need to be tightened or loosened. Synthetic hair doesn’t have that same issue because it’s not affected by the issues that plague horse hairs.
While synthetic bow hair isn’t as widely used, it’s low cost and effectiveness make it a contender to replace the traditional horse hair bows. For a bow made of horsehair, luthiers recommend re-hairing them after three months of hard playing (for people who don’t play as often you can extend that length of time to six months or longer). And luckily, with the exception of needing to reapply rosin more frequently, the maintenance for each type is exactly the same.
If you need to tighten the hair on your bow, you will twist the screw at the bottom of the bow to the right. To loosen it, just twist it to the left. Traditional horsehair should be left slightly looser once you’re finished playing to avoid unexpected temperature changes that may naturally tighten the bow too much. If a bow is left too tight and a temperature change naturally tightens the bow even further, the bow stick can actually snap. When that happens it will need to be replaced.
Rosin is used to coat the hairs so that they’re better able to grip the violin strings. That friction is what enables the instruments to create sound. If there isn’t enough rosin on the bow, the sound will be quiet and weak. Too much rosin will create additional scratchy noises.
The two factors that determine how often you should rosin your bow are how often you play and the type of rosin you use. Both of these items will be unique to you. Some people rosin their bows every day, and others need several days. Continually paying attention to the horsehair gip and the sound it creates, will help you develop a sense for when it needs more rosin.
Tuning and Playing
For complete beginners, watching the fingers of an expert fly effortlessly along the fingerboard can be intimidating. Even the masters had to start with the basics though, so don’t rush ahead. The fundamentals of playing the violin are ultimately what will build your skills and shape your style.
There’s no point in practicing if your instrument isn’t in tune. The four strings are G, D, A and E and each of them must be perfectly tuned if you want to develop the ear required to play the violin professionally. For beginners it’s recommended to use a tuner of some kind to help you adjust your strings to reach the desired note.
The larger pegs will help you raise and lower the pitch of a string. Once you’ve gotten the note as close as possible, switch to using the fine-tuners at the other end. These will help you truly match the strings to the correct pitch. Learning how to tune a violin takes time and finesse. Every beginner player has snapped a string at least once. The best thing you can do is make small adjustments and make them slowly. Once your violin is in tune, you can move on to actually playing.
While many styles do require multiple notes to be played at once, the majority of violin instructors emphasize scales over chords. So if you can recite the alphabet from A to G, then you’re already on your way to understanding scales. Once a scale reaches a G, if it continues on into the higher octave the letters still start over with A.
There are seven hand positions on the violin, with the first position being far back on the fingerboard closest to the pegs. As an example, to play an F natural, the bow would be placed on the D string while you press your second finger on the fingerboard and hold it a bit lower than normal (about a half step closer to your first finger).
The lack of frets will leave some players bewildered. Many beginners will have an instructor apply tape where their fingers belong in first position. This is actually a fantastic way to develop the necessary muscle memory in your fingers, and soon you won’t need the tape at all.
You might think that as you learn to play, you would move from the first position to the second position. However, doing so will drastically change the required spacing between your fingers and it’s actually quite tricky. Most instructors will progress from the first position directly to the third position. It’s a relatively easy transition too. Your hand will slide towards the bridge and you’ll simply place your first finger where your third finger was. Switching hand positions allows you a greater range of notes and the option to simplify your bowing when a piece of music is particularly complex.
Keeping your violin clean will ensure that it stays healthy for as long as possible. Considering the cost of some of these instruments, you’ll want to do everything you can to increase the longevity of your violin.
You’ll want to keep several microfiber cloths in your case for cleaning purposes. Many kits come with these included, but if not they’re easily found at any music store. If you’re in a pinch, just find something soft and non-abrasive and you should be fine.
After each playing session take one of your cloths and wipe any residual rosin from the strings to avoid build-up that could alter the sound. If there’s already build-up that’s tricky to remove, a few drops of alcohol on your wipe will help remove it. Don’t let the alcohol touch any other part of the instrument though, as it will damage the beautiful varnish on the wood. Don’t forget to wipe excess rosin off the stick of your bow too.
With a different cloth wipe away dust and rosin residue from the face and back of the violin. Do your best to get underneath the fingerboard and below the chinrest, but be cautious around the F-holes. If the cloth gets caught there, it could damage the holes which could change or ruin the sound.
A violin will need to be polished every so often, but it depends on how much you play. If the color and shine seems quite dull, then it could be time to give it a polish. Only use polish specifically designed for violins. Anything else could be too harsh and cause discoloration or damage.
There are some violinists who discourage polishing, especially on antique instruments. If you’re concerned, it’s recommended to take it to a luthier or technician to get their opinion on whether or not your instrument needs to be polished. If you do decide to polish your instrument, use a cloth to evenly distribute the product on the wooden back and front face of the violin.
Lastly, if you want to truly deep clean your instrument there are two methods you can try from home. Of course, you can always take your violin to a professional to have it cleaned. But if you’d rather save yourself the cost, then the home methods will do the trick too.
Gently pour half a cup of dry rice through the F-holes and then gently move your violin so that you can feel the rice moving around. As the rice moves it will collect any dust that may be affecting the sound quality of your instrument. Afterwards, turn your violin upside down and slowly shake the rice out through the F-holes. You’ll be surprised at how much stuff can accumulate inside your violin.
The other method is to simply take compressed air and gently blow it through the f-holes. This method is risky though because it could damage the inner label and it doesn’t necessarily remove the dust, it just displaces it.
Already Play the Violin?
In some ways, being familiar with the acoustic violin makes playing the electric version easier. Your grasp of scale work, intonation, and bowing will put you leaps and bounds ahead of people whose first introduction to the instrument was the electric version. However, there are some subtle differences that may take some getting used to.
Experienced acoustic players are very sensitive to the vibrations that come from their instruments. With electric violins, the sound originates from somewhere different than you’re used to. So while many aspects are the same, your ears will go through an adjustment period. Luckily, most experienced players can adapt to this quite quickly. The new audio equipment and technology might be pretty new though.
Unless you’re already experienced with attaching a pick-up to your acoustic instrument, the added audio technology can be a bit intimidating. In that aspect, you’re no different from the newbies. Do you want an electric violin with a piezo pick-up mounted under the bridge? Or maybe you’d prefer an electrodynamic or magnetic pick-up for their warmer sound?
If you could answer those last couple questions with ease, then no worries. But if these new audio terms throw you for a loop, then humbly take your place among the beginners and prepare to learn.
Price can vary wildly with electric violins and many people hesitate to spend lots of money on an instrument for younger players. It’s important to remember though, that when you’re learning an instrument you’re not just training your body--you’re training your EARS.
Less expensive options just won’t have the same sound quality. Some of them can even have issues staying in tune. That will increase the amount of time it takes for someone to master an instrument. However, if you have a reliable music shop in town with someone qualified to modify an instrument then purchasing a less expensive option could be the way to go. We made sure to only include less-expensive options on our list that needed minimum modifications just for that purpose.
Beginner Electric Violin Wrap-Up
Whether you want to shred with your local alt-rock band, learn a completely new instrument or if you just want to make commercial recordings for your violin a little easier, having an electric violin can really come in handy. But before making your purchase, think long and hard about which option will be right for you.
Think about your lifestyle, your musical style, and maybe even your performance style. If you tend to be the only violin on stage amongst electric guitars and drums, you pretty much have no choice but to find a way to amplify your sound. And don’t even think about using a mic; it’s just not the same.Trust us. Your band mates will thank you when you can finally ditch the mic with all its sound bleed and just plug-in with the rest of them.