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Spinel's avatar

Electric violin vs. the traditional violin. How do you feel about each and which do you like best?

Asked by Spinel (3215 points ) February 8th, 2010

By traditional violin, I mean the basic kind that has been used for centuries, with no electricity necessary, the acoustic kind. By electric violin, I mean any modern type that requires electricity or amps.

Which kind to you like the best? Why? How do you feel about the other kind? Which has the best sound, in your opinion?

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24 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I love both – I get off on talented people playing either.

wenn's avatar

I prefer acoustic violin, the tones that come from pure craftsmanship are what I like.

Electric violins have their niche, I saw a video of a classically trained violinist who now only plays alternative renditions of songs on electric violin running through Marshall full stacks with overdrive. Awesome.

tamkli3's avatar

I mean I’ve played an electric and I own a traditional, it depends really on what you’re using it for mostly… See, I would’ve done a whole lot better with an electric violin since I’m living in a dorm and I barely can get out to the music building…

But i also love how beautiful the sound of a traditional acoustic violin sounds… It’s very refreshing…

Although… Electric violins are pretty kick but… ESPECIALLY when i went to go see Trans- Siberian Orchestra…. B-E-A- UUUUUTIFUL music…
and also the group Bond which consists of two electric violins, and electric viola, and an electric cello…

Trillian's avatar

Itzhak Perlman rocks! That said, I don’t believe that I’ve ever heard an electric violin. I don;t suppose you have a link that would allow me to get a good listen? How ya been @Spinel?

njnyjobs's avatar

@Trillian checkout BOND here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUXWQI5pJIs

I saw them at a concert in Atlantic City about 5 years ago and they were FANTASTIC!!!

Spinel's avatar

@Trillian http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPCmERgVAO0. This is Escala performing Kashmir, my favorite electric violin song. :)

Any way, how am I doin’? I’m just trying to balance my plate. Activites are piled up on each side and it might tip any day now. I can’t wait till next month…when I have an empty plate of time again. ;)

Trillian's avatar

Ooo, now that I think of it, I think that Andrew Bird uses an electric violin. He’s amazing! I’ll check the link though, thanks @njnyjobs & @Spinel! Look up Andrew Bird if you get a chance.

Arisztid's avatar

Acoustic violin. They just have a distinct sound to them. There is nothing like a high quality, old acoustic violin strung with gut.

I have heard performances on electric violins that are excellent and, in fact, sound better on electrics than they would on acoustic, however, overall I say traditional.

Trans Siberian is one of the few bands I know where I cannot imagine anything better than electric.

@Spinel That is fantastic… thankyou for posting that!

njnyjobs's avatar

Here’s a great brother duo that’s excellent on traditional violin playing crossover music… http://www.nuttinbutstringz.com/

Trillian's avatar

Wow. Bond was good, Escala was incredible. That’s always been one of my favorite songs, on a favorite album of a favorite group. They made that song all that it could be, without the haunting vocals of Mr Robert Plant. Absolutely amazing.

Arisztid's avatar

Oh most people are familiar with Itzhak Perlman and other classical violin, bluegrass, and others, so I am linking to another way acoustic violin is used:

the legendary Taraf De Haidouks

Trillian's avatar

I found a link to Andrew Bird. Talk about a diverse performance.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP2OBmJJr-I

Spinel's avatar

@Trillian He is amazing – plucking a violin like that while singing and not looking. He has a bouncy, vibrant charm. And he can actually sing – a rare talent among many bands today. ;)

@Arisztid Amazing speed, and sound (not to mention all the sifts)! :)

Trillian's avatar

@Arisztid Wow. I have a comment or two. First, I thought it was way cool that everyone shared the spotlight for a bit. i generally think of bass players as a dime a dozen, but this guy really earned his bread. And what was the giy playing that was sitting down? i also really liked the det up, like a bunch og bad guys pulling in there to do a drug deal or something, and whipping out their instruments instead. Cool. And that guy never broke a sweat, and he was sawing that thing.
Thank you.

njnyjobs's avatar

here’s one that the devil couldn’t beat . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnepPZChA5U

Trillian's avatar

@njnyjobs I beat that one on my Guitar Hero game. But I can;t get it to just play. i think I have to beat all the songs on “Hard” first, and I can’t get that stupid orange button.

Arisztid's avatar

@Spinel and @Trillian I am glad you enjoyed. :D Taraf De Haidouks is a multigenerational band discovered by an ethnomusicologist who was studying music in Clejani… that is when the band actually officially formed with that name but they are a family that has been playing for nobody knows how long. The band is, literally, ageless. Sadly the last of those from the previous generation passed.

The instrument you are asking about is a cimbalom . It is not used much in western music.

They have no formal training, learning from generation to generation. That is also how they have their instruments. Every member of that band works hard and is terrifyingly skilled

susanc's avatar

lurve @Arisztid for “terrifyingly skilled”
(true)

Arisztid's avatar

If you want to see strange and hear haunting, here is one of the old members of the band, singing and playing his violin with, at one part of it, one bow hair. I have no clue how he did it, he must have many hairs tied together and pulled tight across the body of the violin. The sound in the video is shaky at best and this fellow died soon after filming.

downtide's avatar

I was discussing this exact same question on Sunday night with a friend whilst we were at a live music gig with an Irish rock band. One of the members was playing an electric violin and we both agreed that while the quality was superb, that it didn’t sound as nice as a traditional one.

Arp's avatar

Dave Matthews changed my views on what the traditional violin could do, so I would say the traditional.

Leanne1986's avatar

That’s a hard choice becasue I love both. I guess it all depends on the piece of music as to which one works best. I really wish that I had learnt to play the violin at an earlier age.

tamkli3's avatar

Oh, and David Garrett… beautiful violin playing also

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Each have their place, and it depends on the genre. For the traditional violin, the woodwork provides the deep rich overtones spoken of above. This is the sound you want if you are playing a traditional interpretation of the classics.

The electr(on)ic violin, on the other hand, can be used in an infinite ways. You could even use an electric violin played through a sampler, sampling the tone of a Strad.

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