+ What is the difference between an Electric Violin and an Electro Acoustic Violin?
This is a very important consideration. The common misconception is that an Electric Violin compares directly to an Electric Guitar. However standard electric guitars use electromagnetic pickups built with permanent magnets and copper coils to generate a signal as the string vibrates within the magnetic field. All commercial available "Electric Violins" and Electro Acoustic Guitars use vibration sensors - usually piezoelectric - these generate their signal from the vibrations within the instrument.
So this means that from a technical standpoint all "Electric Violins" are in fact Electro Acoustic Violins. It follows that if you want your electro acoustic violin to sound like a violin then you should start with a traditional violin body, herein lies the fundamental principle for the Sonic Violin Range.
Using different shapes and materials for the body is akin to using a biscuit tin as a snare drum, yes you'll get a sound out of it but it may not be what anyone wants to listen too. The alluring curves of the 300 year old violin family have stood the test of time, "It 'aint broke and don't need fixing "
+ What are instrument delivery costs and payment methods?
UK delivery is by next day courier and costs £15.
Ireland, Highlands and Islands is 2-4 days depending on location and costs £25 .
Europe is 2-5 days and costs £50.
USA and rest of world is 2-5 days and costs from £60.
Cello and Double Bass are best delivered by hand or collected.
Payment may be made through the shop by credit/debit card.
Payment by Cash is very gentlemanly, and Cheques are fine.
+ Can I modify my own Acoustic Violin?
Yes - is the simple answer, why buy another one? Well your instrument may be cherished or valuable and you probably do not want to bolt, drill or glue transducers and connectors to this instrument.
The quality Chinese instruments used by Sonic Violins produce all the necessary acoustic detail to enable a rich textured amplified sound to be produced and correctly set up are a pleasure to play. In truth, the limitation to the overall sound quality will always be the amplification system and the environmental acoustics in which it is placed.
The other factor to consider in live environments is the potential for the violin to become damaged – this WILL happen – if you are lucky this may only result in minor repair costs, however the story is often far worse. With a Sonic violin the limit of damage is the replacement of the instrument and refitting of the system, this will be less than repair costs to broken necks, scrolls, or bouts on a high value instrument.
+ Why not use a microphone?
The best way to replicate the acoustic sound of any instrument is to place a high quality microphone in the optimum position for capturing its sound; this is the most common technique used for recording. However, unless you are only playing in small club environments with other low volume acoustic instruments this solution is unfortunately of limited use. In a group/band situation even a close proximity hyper-cardioid condenser microphone will pick up other instruments and be prone to feedback from the speaker systems. Also, having to position the microphone very close to the instrument will inevitably compromise the full body tone that you are attempting to capture.
+ What about feedback?
Good quality violins naturally resonate at many fundamental and harmonic frequencies. The violin structure is extremely complex and has been subject to many advanced measurement techniques in a quest to identify and understand its properties, usually driven by a desire to copy the cremonese master instruments of the late 17th century.
There is however one particular fundamental frequency that most violins will tend to resonate most – approx. D# above middle C - which is in the order of 300Hz, this is in the frequency range that contributes to the warmth within the overall sound. A good demonstration of this is to sing into your violin around this pitch and you will soon find the resonance as the D string starts to oscillate.
However, with many amplified violins frequency peaks in the transducer response are more often the cause of feedback. The transducer used on Sonic Violins has a very natural frequency response and therefore will not induce feedback; Sonic Violins are used successfully in many high-energy guitar based bands including the “punk” genre.
+ What amplifier do I need?
This system is designed with the goal of being able to be connected to any reasonable quality sound reinforcement system and produce excellent results without any further modifications.
This is one of the main objectives of the system – we have done the research and test work for you – this system is “Plug and Play” no more messing around with different components trying to find that elusive sound.
Specialist instrument amplifiers are not required with this system.
+ What effects can I use?
The only limitation is your imagination, and maybe your budget!
However whatever system is used to amplify the violin the first priority for adding effects is reverberation – this will add warmth and space to the sound.
Some people believe it is only possible to use (Skeleton) electric violins with effects as they produce less detailed sound that may be easier to control when applying large amount of processing. However, with good sound processors and correct effects chaining Sonic Violins will also produce both wild and controllable modified sounds.
It must be stated that producing good quality effected sound is an art and education in its own right – also great fun.
+ Can I read the full Music Mart Magazine review?
MUSIC MART March 2005
A review of the Full Sonic range by David Etheridge
David Etheridge rosins up and gets scrubbing with a new range of electric violins.
Electric violins have changed completely over the decades. In the bad old days legendary players like Fairport Conventions Dave Swarbrick used to have to stuff the violin body with cotton wool to avoid feedback problems, and expensive hi-tech models used by Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music, UK) and Jerry Goodman (The Flock, Mahavishnu Orchestra) didn't always balance out very well, as well as having an unnatural sound to some ears.
While electric violins developments has moved on light years since those early days, some players have wistfully wished for a combination of traditional and modern approaches: a violin that you can plug in and play, but also feels, weighs and balances like an acoustic model, and can be played purely acoustically if the desire is there. Well with Sonic Violins you can do all this, without breaking the bank balance.
Sonic Violins start out as Chinese models. In days of yore, this would have been synonymous with cheapness and naffness, but as we all know, modern Chinese instruments (of any persuasion) are the equal of the best in the business. So Sonic models are high quality hand crafted instruments carefully selected and imported from Beijing . They comprise a spruce top, figured one or two piece maple backs with inlaid purfling, maple ribs and scrolls, and ebony fingerboards, pegs and endpins, and a 4 way adjustable tailpiece. The quality often exceeds European violins priced at five times the price here.
Sonic offer a wide range of models and options. If you want to talk custom fittings, special paint jobs and radio systems, they'll listen.
The Sonic Attack is the base model, with all the advantages of a fully playable hand crafted violin allied with the superb electronics. The Super Sonic is the cordless version which uses a Samson Airline UHF system with selectable radio frequency, and also has a -15dB pad circuit. The Sub Sonic is the baritone model, tuned an octave lower than a standard violin. Here the low G is the same pitch as the high G on a bass. This uses a viola body ½” longer than the violin body, but the playing scale stays the same, so ensuring an easy transition for players who wish to try something different.
The Sonic Classic is just that: the highest quality acoustic violin for players who want to play acoustically regularly as well as plug in and blast away. This model features a two piece maple back, matching ribs and scroll, and an even grained spruce top plate, handcrafted and finished neck, handmade and applied spirit varnish, antique finish with boxwood fittings and a Pusch adjustable tailpiece. The finish is superb and oozes quality. This one is relatively high priced, and is the only one that doesn't come with a case and bow as standard. A cordless version is also available.
The Custom range are the ‘rock 'n' roll' models, available in specialised paint finishes. This uses ‘flip paint' technology where the colour changes according to the viewing angle. The effect is excellent and eye catching, to say the least. Other options are Metalflake, Two-Tone and Graphics. Special connectors and positioning can be provided, and the custom can be provided without preamp, or with active volume and tone controls. You ask for it and Sonic will probably provide it!
If you are already playing an acoustic instrument and are quite happy with the piezo pickup, Sonic can provide an all in one preamp, which is the same as fitted to the individual models. This has 1/4” unbalance jacks, Volume and a concentric EQ pot for control of low/mid and high frequencies, and the output can be linked to tuners as well. Sonic claim that it can be used with everything from a bass to a banjo (I thought banjo players had enough trouble with muso's banjo jokes, but there we are…).
I was sent four models to review: The Attack, Custom, Classic and Octave models, together with the pre amp and radio system. The good news is that they do everything Sonic claim. They're all beautifully playable, with a nice acoustic sound that really comes to life through a desk and/or amp. The Attack model looks very nice indeed, has a naturally warm tone, and through a desk presents a nice healthy signal. Adding FX makes the sound really come to life! There are no vices with any of these violins. The Custom performs just as well, and my review model changed colour startlingly from purple to green as you changed viewing position. It'll look superb under stage lights!
The Classic surely lives up to its name: the finish is just beautiful and you would gain the respect of any player just from the looks. But the classics beauty isn't just skin deep. The higher price is reflected in the tone here (whether played acoustically or electrically) that the others don't have reflecting the care that's gone into the construction, just a gorgeous model!
My personal favourite was the Octave model. Here the extra octave range plus the viola body produces an instrument with a formidable tone and is simply incredible fun to play! Through the desk, the extra tone manifests in a much hotter sound, and I had to back off the gain to stop the signal distorting slightly, so rich and full is the tone. Add FX and you can rock out with the best of them!
The Preamp works exactly as you would expect (the volume goes to11!) and the concentric 2-band EQ controls 45-450Hz, and 1.4-11 KHz. This is set very well for these violins; with the high EQ backed off you get a very restrained sound that is very appealing, while the high EQ doesn't sound harsh at high settings. Basically, it does what it says on the tin!
The same can be said of the Samson Radio system. It works perfectly, and the plug in transmitter module is deal for boogying around on stage, or even playing a violin from a control room through a stack set up elsewhere in the studio, if that's what you desire. I had no problems trying it out, and neither should you.
Essentially, Sonic Violins have triumphantly achieved what they set out to do; to combine the best of traditional and modern technology in instruments that anyone would be proud to own and play, and all at very affordable prices. If you're a string player, these are the instruments you've been waiting for!
+ Can I read Simon Swarbrick's review?
Initial investigation was prompted by a requirement for a natural sounding electric violin. Although I own an electric violin already I find there are plenty of times when a non electric sound is needed even in a high volume setting such as a rock band. The Sonic Violin is technically not an electric violin in the modern sense but an acoustic violin with a pick-up and pre-amp built in.
Acoustic Tonal Qualities:
As the violin was designed to be played as an electric the acoustic qualities are of secondary importance. I think that Richard Roberts presumed that a customer would already have an adequate acoustic violin and would only use the Sonic in an amplified situation. For this reason the violin is a low cost Chinese instrument. However it is not of the really cheap and nasty variety often found being played in schools. The tone is not harsh or brittle and overall is quite warm with no unpleasant metallic tones. As one might expect for a violin in this price range, the sound is not particularly big and open, and projection is limited. That said, there is no reason why the instrument could not double as an acoustic as it does not sound bad, it's just that I think that a good microphone would be required with good separation and any accompaniment may have to be quite low volume.
Amplified Tonal Qualities:
Any amplified instrument will be affected tonally by the choice of amplifier so I will say that I have primarily used the violin with a Trace Elliot TA100 acoustic instrument combo amp. Overall I have been very pleased with the tone as it possesses that great combination of authentic sound and power. In a rock band the violin cuts through like a knife but not at the expense of the lower and mid-range. A good meaty sound can be obtained which is perfect for any loud band. Best of all the violin has to be forced to feedback, it really is very stable. I have also used the violin in a modern jazz band at lower volume and I think this is where it is at its best. Even here a microphone would still be out of the question, there are still a drum kit, bass guitar and maybe brass and reed to contend with. The Sonic however still competes for power but really does sound like a ‘proper' violin- and that's why I bought it.
I felt comfortable playing the Sonic immediately. It is well setup, feels well proportioned and is generally easy to play.
Richard offers a number of options such as a radio transmitter, eq and effects rack but I guess these kinds of extras can be bought elsewhere according to taste and requirements. He also offers a higher quality Chinese instrument (‘The Classic') as well as an Octave (Baritone) violin.
Setup and available adjustments:
The pick-up is the ISI Aceto/Violect twin transducer bridge. This comprises only the lower half of a standard violin bridge facilitating the fitting of a top half of the player's choice.
Thoughts and recommendations:
I bought this instrument for one reason only- I wanted a natural acoustic sound which could perform at high volume but with no feedback. It does a great job. Of course if anyone needed a purely electric violin with effects etc then it will do that too. If you also take into account the limited but not unpleasant acoustic capabilities this becomes an instrument which is a remarkably cost effective solution for professional and novice alike. For a professional why spend thousands of pounds on a natural sounding electric when for £495 this will do the job? For a novice why not buy a violin which can be used in any situation?
+ Where can I play a Sonic Violin?
Sonic Violins will be exhibiting at the following venues in 2017:
Please confirm prior to the event before traveling, as situations can change faster than this website!
February 26th - London Fiddle Convention - Cecil Sharp House
At Mosley Violins - Birmingham
Check store for availability first.
By arrangement with a Sonic player in your area:
Contact us to see if this is possible.
Visiting Sonic Studio 20:
This is the best solution as you get free coffee and biscuits!
Remember that all standard Sonic Violins are sent with a 14 Day trial period giving you plenty of playing time to evaluate the full potential of these instruments in the comfort of your own space.