Electric Violin

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The electric violin is a string instrument with four strings that are usually picked or bowed. It is a modern version of the traditional violin, equipped with pickups to amplify sound, often instead of a resonator body. Instead of traditional orchestral music, the electric violin is more commonly heard in contemporary classical music and various music genres such as metal, rock and jazz.
History of the Electric Violin
It was in the 1920s that the first electric violin was created, over 400 years after the first wooden acoustic violins were designed in Milano Italy. This creation converged with the growing interest in amplification and electrification of musical instruments at this time. The increase in volume that could be achieved with an electric violin, especially as a soloist, was something that musicians in the United States and beyond were craving with the increase in the popularity of jazz bands. Electro Stringed Instrument Corporation released their bakelite electric violin which saw production through the early 1930s and 40s. Stuff Smith was among the first violinists to use an electric violin on record with songs like his 1930s jazz song “You’se a Viper” In the 1940s and 50s, skeletal body electric violins began to be released to varied success. Some reports suggest these early models suffered from a lack of tone and feedback was also a problem. Fender guitars entered the electric violin market in the late 1950s which would start a series of manufacturers producing new and improved models. The electric violin became a popular addition to metal and rock records during the late 1980s and has frequently been heard in folk-rock, jazz, hip hop and contemporary classical music.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

$200 - $2,000

Hear the Electric Violin

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How to Play

A violin that is amplified electronically, played in a similar way to a traditional violin.

In Popular Music

The electric violin has featured prominently in songs by The Electric Light Orchestra and can be heard strongly in songs like ‘Do Ya’ from 1977. Frank Zappa used the instrument on his album Hot Rats. The electric violin is also heard sparingly at the start of ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ by U2 from 1983.

Famous Players

Jean-Luc Ponty, Tracy Silverman, Mark Wood

Close Relations

Electric Cello, Electric Viola
Video Credit: Mia Asano Music
Understanding the Electric Violin
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