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For amplified string playing, there is no better solution than a solid body electric. A fully electric instrument takes the issue of feedback out of the equation. An acoustic violin will only project so far, whereas an electric’s range is only limited by the power of your speakers! While we do not advocate rough treatment of electric instruments, they are more robust than acoustics. The level of jostling that would debilitate your fragile “eggshell” acoustic instrument may not affect the playability of your electric at all. And did we mention they come in many colors? Read this article to learn more.
Modern, ever-changing string technology allows string manufacturers to make good sounding short scale strings that allow string instruments to dip into lower ranges. Adding a fifth string to a violin gives it the added lower range of a viola C. A sixth string goes a fifth lower to F, and a seventh string lower still to B-flat. There is even such a thing as an E-flat string for violin, that goes a half-step lower in range than the double bass! Cellists can explore extended range as well, adding a low F string, or a high E string on top, to lessen the need to go into thumb-position. If you like the tuning of your violin just the way it is, but still want to delve into deeper ranges, consider octave strings, which are designed to fit your instrument’s scale length but sound a full octave lower. Read our article on 5-string to learn more.
The Yamaha will look more like your acoustic violin, but both are quite ergonomic. In fact, one might argue the NS Design WAV is a bit more ergonomic, despite its unique shape. This is because it has a very advanced shoulder rest system that allows adjustment of height, tilt and angle! The Yamaha SV-130 comes with a detachable Kun-style shoulder rest that is only adjustable by angle and height, and only about half an inch for either.
As for tone, both sound quite good. The NS Design WAV comes with very poor strings, so an upgrade is required there to maximize tonal potential. The WAV is passive (no preamp), whereas the Yamaha SV-130 has on-board electronics that power a headphone output (for ‘silent’ practice). The SV-130 also accepts an auxiliary input, so you can play (or practice through headphones) along with prerecorded accompaniment, or your favorite tunes!
For a quiet headphone practice solution, the Yamaha has the edge for the convenience of a headphone jack, though the NS Design can be plugged into another device with a headphone output (such as amp or effects processor) for quiet practice as well. For ergonomics the NS Design has a slight edge due to the more adjustable design and removable upper bout (for unimpeded shifting). In terms of tone and price they are both in the same ballpark. It really depends on your intended use for the instrument, your level of pickiness over shoulder rests and your preference for looks.
NS Design’s three series share in common Ned Steinberger’s ingenious instrument design aesthetics yet differ somewhat in price, functionality and overall build quality.
The top of the line from NS is the ‘CR-series,’ so named for their production by master craftsmen in the Czech Republic. These instruments feature high quality rock maple bodies and precision machined metal hardware and parts. All four violin family instruments are included within the CR series and all include a powerful and highly functional onboard preamp with volume control, treble and bass cut and boost, and a three position toggle for acoustic tone, electric tone and sustained pizzicato.
The NXT series includes only cello and bass instruments. While considerably lower priced, they are produced in the same facilities with the same excellent materials in the Czech Republic. The NXT’s are available in amber and black stained maple finishes. While they use the same Polar™ pickup technology as the CR-series, they are passive instruments, meaning they do not have a preamp. There are, however, passive volume and tone control knobs.
The WAV-series includes only the violin and is the most affordable NS Design instrument. Like the NXT it is passive, with only volume knob and treble cut tone control. The same fantastic ergonomic design and precision tuning mechanism as the CR-series are employed. The maple and metal, well sturdy and reliable, are of a somewhat lesser quality than the Czech-made counterparts. The WAV violin is available in gloss amber, red and black finishes.
No electric violin is truly silent. If you’ve ever strummed the strings of an unplugged electric guitar, you have a sense of the level of sound generated by drawing a bow across the strings of a solid body string instrument. So-called “silent practice” is made possible when a solid body instrument is equipped with a headphone jack. This allows the player to hear the amplified tone of the instrument privately, while the small amount of sound generated by bowing the strings cannot be heard outside the practice room. Read our article on ‘silent’ instrument loudness comparisons to learn more.
Mics or pickups each work well for separate applications. A pickup generates an electrical signal by amplifying vibrations passed from the strings through the bridge, whereas microphone amplifies the actual sound of the violin. A microphone will therefore generally provide a more accurate reproduction of the violin’s tone, but is more subject to issues such as “boominess” and feedback. Many pickup options are less expensive than microphones and will actually work better than microphones in louder environments, such as on-stage with a band, where extraneous sounds may be picked up by a microphone and higher noise levels can create feedback. If you’re still unsure, check out our article on choosing mics and pickups.
Please read this brief article to learn how to amplify your instrument wirelessly.
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In short, any way you want it to sound! Through use of EQ and effects, you can drastically alter the tone and sound of your playing, from mild…to wild. One important point to note is that no electric will sound exactly like your acoustic. We often describe electric instruments to customers as “acoustic sounding,” but this term is quite relative, and you should keep in mind that even the most natural sounding electric is still an electric. Use the purchase of your electric instrument as an opportunity to explore new sounds!
Adding effects can be as simple as adding reverb to warm up your tone. They can also change your sound drastically through use of distortion, delay and modulation. You can buy individual effects as stomp-boxes, but for most players we recommend a multi-effects processor that will allow you to explore and even create scores of different tones. The effects processors we carry start at $79 and range up to $499. Read our article for more information about choosing an effects processor.
Yes. Yes. YES! Electric instruments use normal strings under normal tension. Therefore, any traditional horsehair bow and rosin combo will work. That said, there is tremendous variation in bow quality, which will affect your tone and technique greatly. We deal exclusively in synthetic bows, ranging from beginner level fiberglass, to carbon composite, to professional level braided carbon fiber bows. These bows are highly durable and provide excellent tone production and feel while saving money compared to the expense of comparable quality wood bows.
To find out if an instrument you are interested in has a preamp already refer to the description of the instrument in question. Instruments described as ‘active’ are already equipped with a preamp. Instruments described as ‘passive,’ do not have a preamp. Passive instruments may not require an external preamp though, depending on the type of pickup, the quality of its signal, and the amp it is paired with. Having a preamp can never hurt though, and if nothing else will give you better control over volume, gain and possibly tone. Read this article to learn more about choosing a preamp.
If your only intention is silent practice, than a set of headphones will be sufficient, provided your instrument has a headphone jack. If not, you will need some other device, such as an amp or effects processor that does have a headphone jack, which will then require a cable.
If you want to be heard by others, you will need amplifier, or the ability to connect to a PA (Public Address) system through a soundboard. This will require at least one cable. Each preamp stage you add between yourself and the speaker will require the addition of one cable. Contact us for assistance with determining the number, type and length of cables required for your performance application.
Some instruments do and others don’t. Please refer to the description of the instrument in question.
We do ship worldwide, and have sold to customers in 43 countries and counting. For more information about making a purchase from outside the United States, please visit our Customer Service page.
Please refer to the description of the product in question. Some manufacturer warranties, with links to their pages are provided here. If you are having an issue with your instrument, call us right away for guidance. The solution may be a simple one!