Instruments | Electric Violin | Electric & Electronic

Like the guitar with its electric counterparts, other members of the stringed-instrument family have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by electronic technology – namely amplification and access to a broader palette of synthesized (or sampled) sound.

Electric Stringed Instruments

Stringed instruments, such as the violin, viola, cello and double bass, can all be effectively amplified through the use of built-in microphones or, more commonly, electronic pickups. Pickups are either magnetic – which translate the vibrations of metal strings into an electrical signal – or of the piezo-electric variety, which respond to vibration in the bridge or body of the instrument.

The amplification of sound in this way removes the need for a traditional, resonating body and many examples of electric stringed instruments – such as those produced by Zeta or Steinberger – are of an innovative, minimalist design.


Amplified string sounds have a tendency to sound characteristically unnatural and ‘electric’, a fact exploited by players using external signal processors to add effects, such as delay and reverb, in the same way that an electric guitarist would.

In addition to the amplification of acoustic sound, it is possible, with the use of specialist pick-ups, to convert the vibration of strings into MIDI information. In this way, string players can use their instruments to trigger the sounds found in all MIDI synthesizer and sampler sound sources.

Introduction | Electric & Electronic Instruments
Instruments | Theremin | Electric & Electronic

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins


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