It’s a common, modern-day question: Can you use regular violin strings on an electric violin?
Some electric violins look like regular instruments fitted with extra electronics, others have futuristic designs that are very different from the traditional shape.
Moreover, electric violins represent a fantastic opportunity to blend the classic beauty of the violin sound, with modern tools and musical technicians to create music with a unique sound.
But are they easy to learn? What are the differences?
In this article we’ll give you the best answers to you most popular questions about these amazing instruments.
Top 6 Questions About Electric Violins
1. What is the Difference Between an Electric Violin and a Regular Violin?
The differences between an electric violin and a regular violin are almost exactly the same differences as between an electric and an acoustic guitar.
Typically, an electric violin has a solid body with no resonant sound box. Instead, sound is sent down a cable to an amplifier.
Electric and acoustic violins have a very different sound, which is best demonstrated in this great video from TwoSetViolin.
The change from a hollow and to solid body in the violin also leads to a number of critical differences between the two instruments:
Weight and Shape
In order to produce sound correctly, a classical violin has a very specific shape, determined by the way the strings and bridge interact with the resonant sound box
The structure is so closely linked to the sound that there are very slight differences between different models of acoustic violins.
Electric violins, because they are solid and don’t have to produce resonance, have no pre-determined design.
A solid-body electric violin may be heavier than an acoustic one, or it may have a lighter structural frame instead of a solid body. It may be made out of a wide range of materials and have a wide variety of shapes.
Number of Strings
An acoustic violin always has four strings, but an electric violin often has five, and sometimes more.
Like an electric guitar, an electric violin is capable of a wider range of sound effects. Adding pedals to the instrument enables reverb, distortion, and other sound effects that an acoustic violin isn’t capable of.
Most people who are accustomed to playing an acoustic violin require an adjustment to an electric one. They are used to feeling the resonant vibration of the instrument in their hands and having the sound source come from the instrument next to their ear.
When playing an electric violin for the first time, they have to get used to the lack of physical response from the instrument itself, and the split-second delay for sound to travel to an amplifier.
2. Can You Use Regular Violin Strings on an Electric Violin?
In short, yes, you can use regular violin strings on most electric violins
As long as you pay attention to the string ends and use either the ball end or the loop end your instrument calls for.
However, some electric violins now have a magnetic pickup, and require steel strings.
3. Is an Electric Violin Good for a Beginner?
Generally speaking, beginners should learn on an acoustic violin. The acoustic violin has physical vibrations and tactile feedback that helps beginners learn more quickly.
For beginners, acoustic violins are more portable, without the need for electricity and cables.
However, the electric violin does have the advantage of allowing you to practice silently, by simply connecting headphones to the instrument instead of an amplifier.
Many beginners feel more confident when they can practice with privacy.
4. Is an Electric Violin Easier?
The electric violin is easier for most contemporary forms of music. It’s an instrument that lends itself more easily to rock, jazz, and other modern styles of music.
An electric violin is a great instrument for experimenting with pedals, sound effects, and current music technologies.
When performing or recording, it’s easy to simply plug in an electric violin to an amplifier and play: it can be much more difficult to mic and amplify a traditional violin.
5. Do You Need Rosin for an Electric Violin?
Yes, you need rosin for an electric violin. The rosin creates the friction on the strings that produces sound, and it’s needed for any fretted stringed instrument.
6. Are Electric Violins Worth It?
Every player has to decide for themselves whether an electric violin is worth it.
For many people, the acoustic violin has a wonderful depth, clarity, and purity of sound that even the best electric violins can’t replicate.
For others, the electric violin is more convenient and lower maintenance, and enables a much wider range of musical experimentation and expression.
Electric violins offer more convenience, lower maintenance, and enable a wider range of musical experimentation.
It’s not a question of whether an electric violin is worth it: it’s a question of what music you enjoy and want to create.
The electric violin is an extremely innovative instrument, and we are just beginning to learn what its capable of.
For those people who want to explore, experiment, and play contemporary music, it’s an excellent choice to learn.