Amplification For Your Violin.
For public violin performances, and especially where there are other loud e.g. drums/brass or instruments that are amplified you may decide that you need to have the sound of your violin amplified. You can of course buy an electric violin, but these can sound ‘electric’ rather than acoustic but louder, if you would simply like to amplify your acoustic violin here are some of the main options:
Adding a Microphone
For minimal alterations to the instrument you could use a clip-on or a contact microphone. Clip-on microphones are easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and can be very effective at capturing acoustic tones. Care does have to be taken though to make sure that the microphone isn’t too close to the amp when you play as this could produce feedback.
A contact microphone fits to the top plate of the violin and is actually half way between a pickup and a microphone. These are also sometimes referred to as electro-dynamic transducers. Like the clip-on they are easy to attach, but because they fit onto the body of the instrument they capture a great depth of tone, and you can move around with the instrument more than with a clip-on. Although they fit onto the body they can be attached and removed without damage to the varnish using special putty.
Adding Temporary Pickups
If you don’t want / need to commit to permanent pick-ups you can choose temporary options. These can include a band-style version which is wrapped around the body just below the bridge, or bridge-mounted pick-ups.
Bridge-mounted pickups fit into the wing slots of the bridge, or they clip on to the side of it. These are easy to install and are certainly not short on tone.
Pickups mounted under the bridge could still be classed as temporary but are obviously more difficult to install / uninstall. This difficulty is offset however by the quality of the tone that you can get from them.
Adding Permanent Pick-ups
Permanent pickups take the form of a replacement bridge which has embedded pickups which link via a wire to the output jack. The Fishman V-300 Concert pickup for example has Piezo-ceramic pickups installed inside a Despiau bridge or the excellent Vio model by L R Baggs and made famous by fiddle virtuoso Mark O’Connor.
These permanent pickups give great acoustic sound and tone quality and can benefit from the use of a pre-amp (see further down).
What Is A Piezo Pickup?
Piezo / piezoelectric pickups use pressure to create a voltage / current. These differ from magnetic / electro-magnetic pick-ups which create signals from induction currents in metals coils based on how the vibration of a metal string affects the field created by the magnets.
This ‘pressure’ that creates the current in Piezo pickups is the physical vibration of the instrument. Since Piezo pickups work on just this vibration the voltage that they generate to create the signal is generally quite small and tends to require a pre-amp.
Pre-amps boost, shape and allow you to add tonal differences to the signal that your microphone / pick-up has generated. They therefore work between your instrument and your amplifier (hence the name pre-amp) making it ‘active’ and different pre-amps offer different amounts and types of tonal shaping, generally pickups that have a decent amount of output won’t require these e.g. The Realist, L R Baggs, V-300 Fishman.
These are used to shape and then project the sound through speakers, or the amplifier signal can be directly input from the amp into PA systems to project the sound to the audience but keep lower volume levels on the stage. Amplifiers vary in size, wattage, speaker size, effects, tone shaping, and other features.
For more information about electrifying your violin visit our shop, visit the accessories section on the website, contact us online here, or call us on 020 7249 9398.