Another question for the violin-playing people-persons... Piezoelectric pickups

#1
Hey. I've opened a thread about trying to bow my guitar and the strings reacting very problematically (most points on the strings make an extremely scratchy sound, and the "good areas" are way apart between the different strings). I was mostly just looking to be able to enrich my recordings with interesting tones and ambience, but I was kind of interested in having an actual violin anyway.

I have never played the violin before so there's some learning to get done, but I still want it to be recordable on my part and I only have a LD condenser mic, which is likely not ideal, and I don't really have a room for acoustic recording anyway. So at first I tried looking for "electric violins", but there seem to be almost zero options available.

So I thought about finding some decent (or OK-yish) used acoustic violin and fitting it with a piezoelectric pickup. I found someone on eBay selling some $126 pickup-fitted LR Baggs violin bridge which a bunch of people there and on some other websites (I believe it's the same product) gave quite good reviews for, but I couldn't find any customer-posted demos of it! Only on their official website are two solo demos (audio only), which it seems were recorded completely dry and they play some rednecky fiddle stuff that I don't like anyway, and some videos from a trio (also rednecky) where it sounds better, but there are also microphones there in front of the performers and these must have captured the violin acoustically as well...

In short - is anyone here familiar with the LR Baggs pickuped-bridge? What are your thoughts about it? Or perhaps you have another suggestion?

Thanks in advance.
#2
Here's a fun idea. Why don't you actually get a violin first and spend the couple of years that it will take to get good enough to even think about recording and then worry about the pickup later? Do you honestly think that it's going to be something where you get a violin and pick it up and noodle for a week and be good enough for it to be listenable?
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#3
theogonia777I don't aim on using it to record Paganini capricci (even though I know myself and I'll probably try playing such things), but simpler things that enhance the sonic range of recordings (and would still sound better on an actual instrument than on a VST). I already have theory down and I read several people who wrote they started playing violin after playing guitar for some years and that they got the hang of it (probably not concert level) rather quickly.
#4
Look, I'm telling you. You're not going to be good enough to record anything that sounds decent without putting in a lot more time than you are hoping. It doesn't matter what kind of theory you know. Technique wise, violin is really not like guitar at all. You're getting way ahead of yourself here.
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#5
I dont think it's that hard to pickup (aye), i played it in primary school. Obviously i was shitty but i could at least get some decent sound out of the thing. I had lessons though.

also dont the piezos normally go under the bridge
Like this
https://reverb.com/au/news/electrifying-your-violin-mics-vs-pickups-vs-electric-instruments
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Last edited by Gatecrasher53 at Jun 18, 2017,
#6
theogonia777Well, it doesn't really matter. Getting a decent violin is a thing which could be for both recording and practicing (I know what "decent" could actually mean for "record worthy", but I'm not all that a believer of how good instruments are only those which cost a fortune), and fitting it with a $100-200 pickup in a pretty straightforward process is not what's going to kill me.
#7
Gatecrasher53The one I mentioned simply seems to be a bridge with the pickup drilled into. Why did they do it like this? I don't know, perhaps they thought it captures the vibrations better? But I guess it kind of makes it less appealing for usage with really expensive violins. I mean, I don't know whether any violin bridges are regarded as special or from some higher-quality material, but either way people with expensive violins probably wouldn't want to switch their bridge just like that.
#8
If you dont want to swap out your brodge im sure you can find others that simply clip on to it.
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#9
Gatecrasher53The clip-on one in that article actually came up in my search, but I found more divided reviews of it. On one thread on some fiddle forum, a person asked about it and people actually recommended the embedded ones instead, including the LR Baggs one.

I assume it comes with its own bridge so a person wouldn't have to drill a hole into their violin's regular bridge, but how well could a violin's bridge be when it's included in a $126 purchase? (I mean, it shouldn't cost much material wise, but we all know how instrument parts tend to be priced)
#10
Quote by TLGuitar
I'm not all that a believer of how good instruments are only those which cost a fortune
i mean good instruments aren't only those which cost a fortune, but violins aren't easy to mass produce in the way that guitars are and the fact that you're already getting defensive your choice is somewhat concerning

just don't go getting yourself some £50 plywood stagg and then insisting to everyone that it's just as good as something ten or a hundred times the price

Quote by TLGuitar
but either way people with expensive violins probably wouldn't want to switch their bridge just like that.
it's a pretty low-level maintenance job

you need to know your way around a piece of sandpaper and you need to know where to put it but it doesn't really constitute a "modification", given that the bridge is held under string tension
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Jun 20, 2017,
#11
Quote by theogonia777
Look, I'm telling you.  You're not going to be good enough to record anything that sounds decent without putting in a lot more time than you are hoping.  It doesn't matter what kind of theory you know.  Technique wise, violin is really not like guitar at all.  You're getting way ahead of yourself here.

I think it's like when someone picks up a fretless bass for the first time. They build up confidence playing alone, but as soon as a backing track starts, or they try to play with a band, the weaknesses in their technique really show up.

And they don't even have to learn anything much new for the picking hand.
#12
K33nbl4d3I obviously didn't mean something that cheap but I was looking to spend maybe $300-400 (and getting that piezoelectric bridge which seems to be ok would cost about $150 with shipping). I know that old violins tend to be swap hands for decades and more, so I don't really know whether a "used violin" (which isn't regarded as special, of course) is actually cheaper than an equivalent new one.

Regarding the bridge - I didn't mean that it's a difficult modification, but rather that the bridge probably affects the acoustic tone of the violin and expensive violins probably have bridges that are regarded as more expensive and of higher quality?

I presume they supply their own bridge with the pickup so you wouldn't need to route your violin's original bridge; also, I read they switched the bridge supplied to one by a different manufacturer at some point because they felt the previous one went down in quality. In case they didn't just switch to a cheaper supplier, it does point to how there are concerns over a bridge's quality.
#13
Quote by TLGuitar
K33nbl4d3I obviously didn't mean something that cheap but I was looking to spend maybe $300-400 (and getting that piezoelectric bridge which seems to be ok would cost about $150 with shipping).
That's more sensible.
Quote by TLGuitar
I know that old violins tend to be swap hands for decades and more, so I don't really know whether a "used violin" (which isn't regarded as special, of course) is actually cheaper than an equivalent new one.
Think again. Any "level" of violin can be found used and, unless it's something very rare and valuable, can be found used cheaper than an equivalent new one. That doesn't really change between markets.
Quote by TLGuitar
Regarding the bridge - I didn't mean that it's a difficult modification, but rather that the bridge probably affects the acoustic tone of the violin and expensive violins probably have bridges that are regarded as more expensive and of higher quality?

I presume they supply their own bridge with the pickup so you wouldn't need to route your violin's original bridge; also, I read they switched the bridge supplied to one by a different manufacturer at some point because they felt the previous one went down in quality. In case they didn't just switch to a cheaper supplier, it does point to how there are concerns over a bridge's quality.
Sure, I mean you don't necessarily want to put a very cheap bridge on a very expensive instrument, but for the most part (I'm sure there are exceptions) I don't think bridges really get so expensive that anyone feels the need to "cheap out".
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
Youre officially uber shit now.

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3d9310rd is far more upset than i 

Quote by Bladez22
I'm a moron tho apparently and everyone should listen to you oh wise pretentious one
#14
Quote by TLGuitar
 K33nbl4d3I obviously didn't mean something that cheap but I was looking to spend maybe $300-400 (and getting that piezoelectric bridge which seems to be ok would cost about $150 with shipping). I know that old violins tend to be swap hands for decades and more, so I don't really know whether a "used violin" (which isn't regarded as special, of course) is actually cheaper than an equivalent new one.

You're getting all ridiculous about a pickup when you don't seem to have much of an idea as to what to even get in a violin.  Do you know what to actually look for in a violin, especially a used instrument?  Also $300-$400 is a lot to spend on an instrument that you may not even keep up with if you find it more difficult than you think.  And let me tell you.  While you may keep it up despite the difficulty, you will absolutely find it to be much more difficult than you think you will right now.  

And again, you're getting waaay ahead of yourself on the pickup.  It's a bit silly to start thinking about non-necessary accessories for an instrument you neither have nor play.  Have you even thought about the accessories that are actually necessary like bows, rosin, strings, a case, etc that may or may not come with the instrument (and if they do come in a "set" they accessories may be garbage anyway, especially cheap rosin and strings that are usually included).
Quote by slapsymcdougal
I think it's like when someone picks up a fretless bass for the first time. They build up confidence playing alone, but as soon as a backing track starts, or they try to play with a band, the weaknesses in their technique really show up.

And they don't even have to learn anything much new for the picking hand.

That's a fair analogy.  With violin, even with left hand technique, you're shifting tremendously from guitar.  Sure, it's fretless, which means learning to finger notes precisely and requiring good ears for accurate intonation, but it's beyond that.  Vibrato is different (and good vibrato is essential), fingering is different (each finger is responsible for two positions instead of one fret and scales are fingered four notes per string rather than three), etc.  And then there is bowing which in itself is a whole mess of difficulties.

Simply put, on a scale of 1 through 10 with 1 being the least similar, as far as string instruments go, violin is probably a 3 or 4 compared to guitar.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
i mean good instruments aren't only those which cost a fortune, but violins aren't easy to mass produce in the way that guitars are and the fact that you're already getting defensive your choice is somewhat concerning

just don't go getting yourself some £50 plywood stagg and then insisting to everyone that it's just as good as something ten or a hundred times the price

This is a very point for acoustic instruments where construction and materials are everything in terms of tone.  Electric guitar players take for granted that while a more expensive guitar might have more features and play better, the amp and pedals factor in more in terms of sound.  You can get away playing a $300 electric through a DSL or Triple Rec of Rockerverb or whatever, but you can't get away with playing a $2000 guitar through the crushing overdrive of an MG or the Insane channel of a Spider.  

Acoustic instruments are not the same though.  Even when playing acoustic-electric, it's still pretty much all on the instrument whether or not it sounds good.  I mean, you can pick up a solid intermediate level vintage violin for $400 if you luck out on a bargain... but most instruments in that range are not going to be great.  I play a $60 violin (and that price is all in) and it sounds pretty dreadful in terms of tone (though it does sound better than a lot of $200+ "student" instruments that I have heard.  I mean, I don't play with anyone or record with it.  I could justify upgrading to a high three figure instrument, but it's not a priority.  But if I was serious about recording anything more than a very raw demo or novelty song, I would not even consider recording with mine.

Violins are just more expensive and really vary significantly in tone depending on wood and construction and age.  There's a reason why you see most professional guitarists playing instruments in the $1000-$3000 range and professional violinists playing instruments costing many times as much as that.  That being said, in bluegrass and Celtic music, it's more common to see high level musicians playing instruments that are in the low 4s rather than the 5s.
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#15
K33nbl4d3There problem is that I'm lookin at a local second hand website and almost every violin which is not in the range of thousands is small scale. I'm an adult so I obviously see no reason in buying anything but a 4/4, which probably has better tonal qualities (and maybe is even more comfortable for non-children).
#16
theogonia777I can spare that amount of cash. I also have some 92' Floyd Rose Classic MIA Stratocaster I haven't played in years and should probably sell. In the local market it might go for $1,000.

And as I said, for recording I'm really not looking at the moment to go with any sort of serious lead playing. I'm thinking more of "drone notes" and more simple embellishments to the harmony. That obviously still requires practice but I'm not thinking of recording any bluegrass fiddling or whatever. I'd obviously practice on more difficult stuff as well, but that's not what I'm looking to record.

And I already have a bow and rosin. It is on the cheap side. The bow from eBay cost me about $26, down from $45, and the rosin is D'Addario.
Last edited by TLGuitar at Jun 20, 2017,
#19
Quote by TLGuitar
slapsymcdougalI know this exists. It sounds cool, but it doesn't really sound much like a violin.

But it will be far more consistent until you've had a few months practice with a violin.
#21
I really don't think you're getting the message on this. It's not like going from guitar to bass; the learning curve is steep, and you will sound terrible for quite some time.
#22
Quote by slapsymcdougal
I really don't think you're getting the message on this. It's not like going from guitar to bass; the learning curve is steep, and you will sound terrible for quite some time.


And some time isn't a month or two. More like a year or so at least. You're learning fretless, learning a bow, relearning your fingerboard, relearning how to finger notes, relearning vibrato, etc. You have to learn like 90% of the instrument. And it's a much harder instrument to learn than guitar.
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#23
Quote by TLGuitar
slapsymcdougalOK? Then I'll not attempt to record my violin playing for the first couple of months.
You won't sound good in a few months if you've never played a classical stringed instrument with a bow.


"Every day I wonder how many things I am dead wrong about."
#24
seanlang01Maybe, but that's for me to find out. Some of you people take a crusade on making points that aren't there to be made. If I'll find myself sounding terrible on the violin after a too-short a time of practicing, I won't record myself, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't even consider buying a violin. Who the hell gets an instrument only if it's guaranteed you would sound amazing as soon as you pick it up?

And getting that piezoelectric pickup won't break my bank, even if making use of it for recoding isn't likely for at least several months.
#25
We're just saying you should temper your expectations and not get too ahead of yourself with purchases because a violin is much more difficult to gain proficiency at than guitar, speaking as people who have played both. But if you're committed then yah, go for it, get lessons and work at it everyday.


"Every day I wonder how many things I am dead wrong about."