A lot of people are shocked when they hear about just how much electric violins have grown in popularity in recent years. There are loads of reasons why electric violins are so popular. In this guide, we’re looking at some of the best electric violins out there as well as providing you with a short guide to this type of instrument, and exploring why you might move over to electric after learning how to play an acoustic violin.
In the list of products, there are some brands that you might recognize as well as some new and interesting violins on the market. As well as fully electric violins, there are some acoustic-electric models that have a more traditional violin look compared to many of the electric models in our violin reviews.
In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
Before we get into the reviews of the best electric violin models, we have created a buying guide to help you to understand all of the different features and functions. What do you want from your violin? What features are the most important when you are going to buy a new violin with an electric output?
Is Electric Violin Easier?
This is one of the most popular questions when people want to know about electric violins. Some people are unsure about why these products would exist if not to make life easier. While the electric violin is not necessarily easier to learn how to play, there are some other benefits. It might be easier to tune and have other benefits regarding maintenance. The ease certainly doesn’t come from making lessons simpler, but these instruments are more of a simple task to maintain.
Are Electric Violins Good for Beginners?
Are electric violins an option for people who are just getting started? The answer is a definite “yes”. Why would you opt for an electric violin over an acoustic, though? For beginners, what are the benefits?
We’ve already discussed briefly the fact that they are better for maintenance, but one of the key benefits might not be for the players, but it might be a fantastic benefit to those who live in the same house! Electric violins don’t generate much sound without amplification, which means that you won’t annoy the friends and family. On top of this, you can listen privately to your practice via headphones so you don’t embarrass yourself. A lot of people would rather have a “silent violin” that doesn’t generate a lot of noise. If you are in the market for one of these then you might also get the added benefit of being able to practice late at night or early in the morning without having to worry about frustrating the neighbors.
Next, we will go into more detail on one of the reasons an electric violin right be a great option for those who are just getting started; the price. Electric violins are surprisingly affordable…
Price of Electric Violins
There are a lot of relatively affordable electric violins out there. Being an electric instrument, the wood used is not so important when it comes to getting a great sound. This means that you can get a good, reliable violin without having to pay a lot of cash. Many of the beginner options on the market cost $100 to $200.
There are some beginner acoustic violins out there for under $100, but not a huge number of them, and they tend to be pretty low in quality. There are fewer materials used on an electric instrument. This means that for those who are looking for an affordable violin, the negative impact of spending under $200 is nowhere near as high as having to get a cheap acoustic violin.
Of all the instruments out there, the violin is one of the most expensive out there when you get to the “high end” of the market. Violins, particularly antique ones, can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. This isn’t a fair comparison with electric violins, but remember that you don’t need to have such a focus on the violin materials when buying an electric violin.
What is an Electric/Acoustic Violin
You will see this term used a lot when you are looking for an electric violin. These are not marketed as electric silent violin models, instead, they do generate sound on their own just like any other acoustic instrument. However, an electric-acoustic model (or an acoustic-electric model) has both the capacity to generate sound without electronics, and also electronics inbuilt, including pickups to allow you to treat this as an electric violin.
An electric-acoustic violin comes with a flavor of both, so you can still use these for acoustic performances and shows, and you don’t have to amplify it in order to make a sound. This negates the electric silent violin benefits (you won’t be able to play and have nobody hear what errors you make). However, this means you have everything you need for both types of performance, and you can play electric, hooked up to a PA system. Alternatively, you can play acoustically, in an environment such as busking.
Adding Your Own Pickups
A quick side note on the fact that you can in fact add your own electrics to an acoustic violin. Many people do this when they want to perform with their violin as it makes it far easier to connect to the PA system or to amplification. This is one of the benefits of these musical instruments, as the output jack can also allow you to plug them into big PA systems easily. The best electric violins are incredibly well-made, but if you already have an acoustic model and you are happy with the sound it generates, you might be able to get a high quality pickup to convert the acoustic model and make the violin electronic, making it easier to record at home.
Adding pickups to your own violin to create an electric violin can give you a bit more control, and ensure that you retain the sound quality to get the best violin tone either live, or in the studio. It is a tough job if you don’t understand modifying instruments, and the electrics aren’t always easy to put in place or get right. A lot of people would rather just opt for an electric violin to start with.
Many electric violins use the fantastic Piezo pickups. These can be added and retrofitted to many violins, but if your instrument has a high-value or you aren’t overly confident in the process of installing, don’t dive in without checking with the pros.
Design and Materials
There are a lot of different types of electric violins out there, so they do often have a slightly different look to them. Some utilize a solid wood design, others are more “out there” with the way they look. A violin body doesn’t have to look like an acoustic model if it has a full system of electrics inside, so you are likely to be struck by some of the more unusual designs when you start looking for an electric violin.
Most of the designs are slimline and quite “skeletal” in the way they look. Many still have a rough outline look of a violin, as they still have the shoulder rest. The best electric violin designs keep this outline so that you can switch between acoustic and electric violin playing with ease and don’t have to worry too much about adjusting your technique. A lot of people buy an electric violin as a way to practice in silence but still plan to move over to a more traditional violin design. The best electric violins are designed in a way that is simple to switch between the two.
Many of the top electric models still use some of the best materials. A lot of the materials used include Maple/Mahogany/Spruce/Walnut and Maple woods. These are the same tonewoods as the acoustic models, and they do have an influence on the tone of electric models, too. Some electric violin makers even include resonant sections to try and give a more accurate replica of the tone made in an acoustic instrument, as some violin players will always search for a more natural sound from their electric violin model.
Added Performance Options With Electric Violins
Having an electrical signal running from a violin means that you can do more with it. Think of the difference between acoustic and electric guitars. An electric guitar is far easier to add lots of effects to, and the same can be said of a violin. Okay, so a violin might not sound quite as good when put through a distortion pedal but there is a lot you can do, adding delay, reverb or even just using a tuning pedal to get a reliable violin tuning. There are many more options for what you can do with the signal.
This goes for recording, too, including the option to record at home. If you are looking to record your violin recordings, you can simply use an audio interface and connect your violin via a 1/4 inch cable. This can make it far simpler to record a track or even lay down some new ideas.
Can I Use Regular Violin Strings on an Electric Violin?
If you are a guitarist as well, or know anything about guitars, you will know that acoustic and electric guitars are quite different and both have their own sets of strings that do a different job of projecting tone. In fact, there are many types of acoustic strings and many types of electric strings, too. With violins, there are plenty of varieties of strings that produce a different sound, but you don’t need to switch between them when you are playing an electric violin. The same strings used for an acoustic model are absolutely fine for use on an electric. If you want to, there is no reason why you can’t experiment somewhat with the strings and play with some of the other types available, such as the classical strings designed to give a more orchestral feel.
Electric Violin Reviews
Below we provide our top violin reviews. We’ve gathered the best electric violins for a variety of different budgets and with different strengths and weaknesses. There’s bound to be something for you.
Best Electric Violins Reviewed
1. Yamaha Electric Violin - YEV104 – Best Electric Violin Overall
This is an incredibly good electric violin which sits somewhere in the “midrange” when it comes to price. Naturally, the majority of people have heard of the brand Yamaha, and they feature heavily on our list as they make some of the best electric violin models out there.
The YEV-104 by Yamaha is available with a few different finishes, and this has a five layered body with a blend of loads of different woods including solid maple, mahogany and spruce wood, these are all supposed to have their own tonal qualities and the walnut frame gives the structural integrity of the model as well as allowing a resonance that doesn’t sound unlike an acoustic model.
The electronics are as good as we’ve come to expect from Yamaha, and at the price tag you will struggle to find a better pickup. The signal can be controlled, too, you can either use the instrument’s inbuilt volume dial or you can use “direct output” when plugging into other devices such as PA systems. The final sound you get is definitely true to the original violin tone and the solid wood used in the production means that this has a fairly traditional sound, as electric models go.
This model from Yamaha give you a fantastic electric violin at a price that is comparable to some reasonable, midrange acoustic options. It also allows you to play as a silent violin or to hook up to other electric systems and amplify the sound so that you can fill out big practice halls. There are some extremely high-end models by Yamaha, but this comes in considerably cheaper than these, even though the quality is not hugely compromised.
2. Stagg EVN 4/4 BK Silent Violin Set with Case – Best Silent Violin with Case
Stagg has long been a manufacturer of fairly basic imitation instruments or more affordable options than the biggest brands on the market. The EVN range is available at an affordable price, and surprisingly, the Stagg EVN 4/4 even comes with its own case, which further adds to the value on offer.
Another thing that jumps out at a lot of people when considering this violin is the design, which is undeniably pretty cool. The “S shape” is very unusual and bound to get people talking when you turn up to gigs. It has a solid maple body, and as you would expect, it comes with four tuners and the added bonus of the case.
Interestingly, there is also an input for using an MP3 player or another device for playback, and there is also a 1/4 inch output that runs alongside a mini-jack, so you can easily listen on your headphones if you wish. The soft case that is included even comes with straps. It’s easy to pick up the EVN and take it out and about to gigs.
Though this is not the most impressive electric violin when it comes to tone, it is very popular among people who are looking to buy a second, practice model of violin or those who want something that is a bit of fun with a cool, unusual design. It gives you the option of a silent violin with a case to take it out and about, and it isn’t overly expensive for this type of electric instrument.
3. Cecilio CEVN-2BK Style 2 Silent Electric Solid Wood Violin – Best Beginner Model
If you are a beginner on a budget and you are looking to take your first steps into violin playing then you probably don’t want to spend too much. Luckily, the Cecilio CEVN has you covered with a great option for people looking for inexpensive but fairly high-quality instruments.
One of the great things about this violin is the fact that you can buy it in the full size, 4/4, or you can opt for a 3/4 model if you need something for a smaller learner or a youngster getting started. Both different types are fairly well designed and don’t have too many differences apart from the size itself.
The violin is hand-carved with a maple body. It also has fairly high-quality components including nickel-plated tuners, chin rest, and an ebony fingerboard. It does require a battery in order to operate. There’s a one year warranty to protect your purchase in spite of the relatively cheap design.
If all of that isn’t enough to make this sound appealing, the accessories might tip the balance. You get a rosin cake, bridge, aux cable, and even some free headphones, plus a bow made with Brazilian wood and unbleached horsehair.
Generally, there is an element of getting what you pay for with this sort of product, and this is no different with the Cecilio model. It is very cheap when compared to a lot of the other electric models on the market but this doesn’t mean it can’t do the business for you, and for beginners, being able to invest $100-200 and still get a fairly good electric violin is a big bonus. Don’t expect to be using this on stage, but it is still a decent affordable model.
4. Cecilio 4/4 CVNAE Fitted Acoustic/Electric Violin – Best Affordable Electric Acoustic Violin
If you are looking for a model that can do both the job of projecting acoustically or being easy to play through a PA system then this affordable model from Cecilio could be for you. It is similar in many ways to the Cecilio CEVN-2BK Style 2, but this one has everything you need to play without amplification, too. For the price, it is a pretty impressive instrument.
It is full-sized with a 4/4 design and has a very striking solid spruce and maple design, it is a matt black design that you are likely to either love or hate. The violin has some very high-quality components as well as decent, solid tonewoods, like many of the top musical instruments can boast. There is a decent chin rest and quality fingerboard, along with nickel-plated tuners and ebony pegs.
Like the other Cecilio models out there, this comes with the adjustable and light case, further adding to the value for such an inexpensive electric violin. It also has an aux cable and quality rosin included. Cecilio has extended the one-year warranty to this violin, too.
If you are looking for an acoustic electric instrument that can do both jobs well then this could be the violin for you, especially on a budget. Unfortunately, there is no silent playing option, but this is not something that other acoustic electric models can offer either. It’s on the cheaper end but still has some fairly good components, although some of the accessories feel a little flimsy.
5. Yamaha Silent Series SV-250 Electric Violin – Best High-End Silent Violin
A lot of people who are looking for the very best electric violins turn to the Yamaha brand. They know musical instruments better than a lot of other manufacturers, and the SV-250 proves that they can cut it when it comes to the electric violin, too.
This is a great option if you are recording and using your instrument in a professional environment. It has a solid body made of a number of tonewoods and gives a very realistic tone due to the fact that it has an added hollow chamber, enabling you to create sounds reminiscent of acoustic options.
It comes with a control box, which gives you an EX, line output and an XLR output as well as the option to plug in headphones. This gives you a lot of control over the audio signal, but also provides an added extra to your electric silent violin and something more to carry around.
There are multiple Piezo pickups, giving exceptional sound reproduction. You can choose between the sound of the two pickups by using the tone control switch, too. As you would expect, the components, such as the shoulder rest, are very well-made in this elite instrument.
If you are looking for the very best electric violin and money is not really an object, this could be the model for you. The Yamaha Silent Series SV-250 Electric Violin may cost thousands, but that is for a good reason. The hand carved, high-quality design as well as flexible and professional connections means that this is a violin you could use for any pro performance. As you would expect, you get true Yamaha quality.
6. Barcus Berry BAR-AET Vibrato - AE Series Acoustic-Electric Violin – Best High End Acoustic Electric Model
A lot of people want a violin that can do a great job as both acoustic or electric, and if you want a high-end instrument made of solid wood, that can do both jobs, the BAR-AET could be for you. This model from Barcus Berry is made in Romania, which might not sound impressive, but the country has a centuries-long affinity with instrument like these and has even chosen incredible Maple and Spruce woods to make violins.
On top of the great sound and brilliant woods is great build-quality with a complete violin outfit, Glaser bow, hand-rubbed finish, and Witter tuners. The Red Label strings are also great for both recordings and for live use. This violin comes with other accessories including a dark rosin. It s available in a number of different finishes, too, so you can choose the look which is best for you.
Barcus Berry is one of the brands to truly embrace the shift to digital and it shows with this excellent model.
Want something that does both an electric and acoustic instrument’s job just as well, but that is good enough for stage use and has professional quality? This model, the BAR-AET is definitely hard to beat on both fronts. Though not as cheap as some of the great budget models we’ve discussed, it certainly doesn’t cost the earth, either. This instrument has a great maple body and is available in many different finishes so you can even get the look you are in the market for.
Conclusion – Finding the Best Violins For You
Once you’ve decided to get a violin, electric or otherwise, there are a number of decisions to make and it is a case of matching up your own needs to what is on the market. As you can see from our list, there are electric violin options for $100 and other models costing many thousands. Which one you end up going for will not just come down to personal preference, but budget and features. Do you need an acoustic and electric model or is just electric fine? Do you need an instrument that can allow silent practice? Do you care how your electric violin looks?
Our guide is designed to help you match up the ideal model for you. A high-end, pro model like the Yamaha Silent Series SV-250 Electric Violin might be ideal, but one of the Cecilio electric violins might be better for someone who is unsure if they will stick with the hobby or wants something a little cheaper (or a lot cheaper, as these electric violin models tend to be).