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For those interested in eviolin gear (the toys)
I first used a Barcus Berry electric bridge pickup on an acoustic violin. When I started to get into playing eviolin again after many years on hiatus,I realized that this was not the sound I was looking for. Of course one never achieves this goal, but the search is the fun part. My first major purchase in this quest was my Eric Jensen violin. Hand made by Eric to my specifications, I opted for a 5 string with pretty standard woods, a curly maple body and an ebony fingerboard. On Eric's recommendation I got it with the Rich Barbera electronics. I love this violin dearly and it never fails to get comments and/or questions.
A few years back I considered getting another violin from Eric, perhaps a 6 string, but partly out of curiosity, party because they are the "fender" of the violin world, party because my son pointed out that our idols all use this brand, and partly because I got a great price on a new one....... I purchased a Zeta. This is a very nice instrument and makes a more than adequate "backup". I play it in the "country" band and I do like certain features, but if my son ever runs off with it, I would probably call Eric up again.
Over the years I have had a number of amplifiers. Some good, some bad, some big, some small. I bought a Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket a few years back and I really liked it. Then about a year ago, swayed by the Fender advertisement campaign for the Acoustasonic Jr., I bought one mostly for use as a backup. Unfortunately, the Fender was not giving me a sound that I had become accustomed to and although it did a good job on acoustic electric guitar, I was not happy with the eviolin tone. It sounded too different and was not as loud as my little rocket. So we parted ways and I sold it on EBay. Recently I decided to try another Mesa Boogie and got one of their new Nomad models since the Subway line has been discontinued. So far, only a few weeks, it seems like a wise choice. I sometimes play with some pretty loud bands, but I opted to stick with the smaller single 12" speaker combo since low weight and portability are important to me. I would highly recommend that eviolinist, who aren't satisfied with their sound, go out and try a Boogie. The additional channels and built in reverb of the Nomad series makes if more versatile than the Subway, with a small increase in size and weight. But any of the smaller 20 to 50 watt Boogies should work well. A friend who has the same Zeta as me likes his Fender Blues Jr, which is pretty similar to the Subway. I've had a lot of solid state amps and I never thought I would go back to tubes...... what can i tell you. Vote with your ears.
And a close-up of the included foot switch: (CH1, CH2, CH3, Solo, Rev)
I love to play around with effects units. I also wish that these toys maintained their value, but like all synths, computers, and electronic gizmos, they depreciate faster than Internet IPOs. The Boss pedals (I still own a bunch) are about the only things that you can sell on EBay and get back part of your investment. In any case, I can't bear to not own the latest gizmo that will adulterate the pure sound of the violin. After all, that's the main difference between an electric violin and an acoustic violin. My classical teachers would be spinning in their graves, but I love the sound of a nasty effect used tastefully. But please, don't duct tape the wha-wha pedal to your foot and abuse it all night...... everything in moderation. After owning too many effects units to mention, I finally got the current Holy Grail of E-Gizmos, the incredible TC Electronics G-Force. (btw, TC is a Danish company, Fyhr is Danish and so is Jensen.... coincidence.... i think not)
In order to properly manipulate a rack device you must of course have a midi-controller. So I now own two midi foot controllers, a BIG one and a SMALL one.The Roland FC-200 is a high end unit with a built in pedal for continuous control. You can add 6 more continuous controller pedals via 1/4 inch tip/ring connections. I actually have 4 of the very nice Ernie Ball pedals but I usually only bring one of them to a gig. They are built like tanks and start to scare my bandmates when they multiply on stage. I find that I can make do with one Ernie Ball controlling the master volume and the built in pedal for controlling the effect mix. The G-force is crazy in that you can add continuous control to EVERYTHING. I programmed the G-Force to use the CTL pedal as the tempo tap, a very useful feature. This thing runs on batteries too, so you can control all this stuff with ONE midi cable.
And the Ernie Ball volume pedals ( I should get an endorsement contract)
Since I do fill in on mandolin now and then, I broke down and looked for a decent axe. I got a great deal on a used Aria Mandolin at Musical Discount Center in Garwood, NJ. Its a pretty copy of the Gibson F5, to which I added a Fishman bridge piezio pickup. A decent sound and look for a few hundred dollars, not a few thousand.
After many years of thinking that wirelesses were either really cool or really expensive and stupid, I again gave in to temptation when I saw an AudioTechnica DR-R3 on sale at the local Guitar Center. With my wife's encouragement, I though that at this price, I could give it a try without much risk. Well I'm now addicted to this thing and I really should buy another one since this unit has taken a beating and is starting to flake out. The body pack eats up 9 volts which can get expensive. I keep a cable next to my amp for a quick swap if the battery dies, if it gets interference, or if it starts shorting out on me.
Violinists should really appreciate not being tethered. We spend years using a regular violin with no cord. I always found the cable near my neck felt a bit like a dog collar and leash. Again, I highly recommend trying one of these things. The use of shorter cables actually seems to improve the signal to the amp.
No rig section would be complete without at least a mention of my acoustic instruments. Keep in mind that 3 of my 4 children play the violin. I currenly have 6 full size violins, as well as a 3/4 violin and a 1/2 size. We also have a full size viola and cello. None of these instruments are anything to brag about. My son has adopted my best violin so until he "upgrades" I use a really lovely instrument built by a friend who took up violin making as a hobby after he retired. He made a dozen or so violins and entered some competitions with them in the 80s. I use to test them for him and I eventually got to like one in particular so I offered to buy it. He had a hard time parting with his creation, but he knew it would have a nice home. He only charged me $500, a small amount for a handmade instrument these days.
Well that's it for now.
I have an index with some more pictures.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me: Ray Fyhr
My links page has some of the best internet eviolin URLs.
If you would like to hear this stuff being used and/or abused, keep checking my page for gig dates.
I have helped a few internet buddies make violin buying decisions. Your average music shop will not have one of these babies, so if you want to take one for a spin, let me know and come to a gig.