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Amplifying violins?

Richard Bridge 04 Jun 12 - 04:00 AM
Will Fly 04 Jun 12 - 04:08 AM
treewind 04 Jun 12 - 04:53 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jun 12 - 05:09 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jun 12 - 05:19 AM
Will Fly 04 Jun 12 - 06:32 AM
treewind 04 Jun 12 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,Ray 04 Jun 12 - 07:47 AM
Girl Friday 04 Jun 12 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,Stan 04 Jun 12 - 09:13 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jun 12 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Ray 04 Jun 12 - 11:28 AM
GUEST 04 Jun 12 - 11:37 AM
Chris Partington 04 Jun 12 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,Stan 04 Jun 12 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 04 Jun 12 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Ray 04 Jun 12 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Stan 04 Jun 12 - 08:05 PM
Richard Bridge 05 Jun 12 - 01:09 AM
GUEST,Stan 05 Jun 12 - 08:35 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Jun 12 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 Jun 12 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,Captain Swing 05 Jun 12 - 09:46 AM
Jane of 'ull 05 Jun 12 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Stan 05 Jun 12 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 05 Jun 12 - 01:13 PM
Richard Bridge 05 Jun 12 - 02:14 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 05 Jun 12 - 03:07 PM
Richard Bridge 05 Jun 12 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 06 Jun 12 - 04:06 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Jun 12 - 04:35 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Jun 12 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 06 Jun 12 - 04:58 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Jun 12 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,Fiddler 06 Jun 12 - 06:10 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Jun 12 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 06 Jun 12 - 06:21 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Jun 12 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 06 Jun 12 - 10:03 AM
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Subject: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 04:00 AM

Take one nice sounding violin - with owner who does not want to stand still under a microphone. Apply perfectly decent Fishman pickup, have it fitted by competent fiddle tech. Alternatively apply nasty Belcat pickup and allow owner who does not want stickum on his fiddle to hold it on with rubber bands (!).

Result when amplified - nasty screeching sound.

Cure?

Possibly decent DI box (and my cheap Behringer DI400 that I just paid out to have fixed has gone belly up AGAIN) - or maybe there is a thing for fiddles a bit like the LR Baggs paracoustic that would help solve the problem - preferably with at least an 11 band EQ with preferably more than 12db boost/cut.

Suggestions for next time? I like my long grey hair and do not wish to continue tearing it out in handfuls.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 04:08 AM

Richard, my own preference for amplification is a short, flexible stalk mic which can attach to the violin body, rather than a pickup. As for Behringer DI boxes, I used one for about 3 gigs before dumping it on eBay and buying a much more expensive and high quality one - which cost me about £100 but is excellent quality. Where tone's concerned, I rely on amp/PA settings to get it as I want it.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: treewind
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 04:53 AM

We're going out tonight as a scratch band with a fiddle player who has recently acquired a Fishman pickup. Last time we played together I had to put a mic on a stand for him. I shall observe with interest. Well, not just observe, but do my best to make it sound right.

I'm not sure how a DI box will help. All they do is interface a jack cable to an XLR cable, and in doing so convert an unbalanced connection to some approximation of a balanced connection. More pricey DIs might provide isolation though a transformer, which could help solve severe interference problems, but in terms of sound quality they should be more or less transparent.

In another band, our fiddle has a clip on mic (AKG, I think) which is naturally incredibly screechy, but lots of treble cut on the mixer channel tames it nicely.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 05:09 AM

Most active DI boxes have a reasonably high input impedance. I think I was hearing the sort of sound that low-quality piezos provide into low impedance inputs. A Paracoustic I think has an input impedance in the megohms.

I was also plagued with hum on the two acoustic fiddles (the electric-only Bridge fiddle was fine) - as soon as I plugged the fiddles into the jack-to-Cannon adaptors in the stage box hum appeared and a DI box would have given me the opportunity of a ground lift which might have cured the hum.

One of the acoustic fiddlers has his own nasty mic adapter - a little active mic from I think Maplins that he puts (carefully, with padding) into the round bit on one of the F-holes, but it sounds very muddy and feeds back (at about 300 Hz) at the slightest opportunity so I can't use that and at the same time get him up to the same level as other instruments.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 05:19 AM

Stuff about preamps

http://adagio.calarts.edu/~chung/gear/vioamp3.html


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 06:32 AM

Expensive - but very, very good:

http://www.themicstore.co.uk/violin-mics/dpa-4099v-violinviola-microphone.html


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: treewind
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 06:39 AM

I'd assumed that a piezo pickup came with it own high-Z preamp designed to work with it, and for the player using a piezo pickup to own and use his own preamp. It's not a safe assumption that a high-z input will be available on a random PA system.

Stuffing a mic into the F hole of a fiddle will produce a terrible sound. That's just wrong, like putting a mic too close to the sound hold of a guitar - very loud but much too boomy. Putting it anywhere close to the belly of the instrument will sound better, ideally with careful experimenting on choice of position, and you'll get less feedback because one narrow range of frequencies won't be emphasised.
You might be able to mitigate it with a carefully set mid-band EQ on the mixer, but it's much better for your sound source to be right in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 07:47 AM

Another vote for the DPA 4099V; although I use one on mandolin and not fiddle.

I remember having had decent results on fiddle with an ancient (1970s) Barcus Berry pickup attached to the bridge rather than the top. You might also like to try attaching a wire mute http://www.thestringzone.co.uk/roth-sihon-violin-mute to the fiddle to restrict the top end.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Girl Friday
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 08:10 AM

My other half has suggested this - not too techie....

1/Aquire redundant Red phone box.

2/ Mic. up inside of same, alll around

3/ Put fiddle in same, and close door.


Problem solved !


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Stan
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 09:13 AM

Maplins sell a piezo transducer for 99p. They are intended to produce a beeping sound if you input a 3 volt square wave. They can also work very well as a pick up. To sound anywhere near normal they need a preamp with an impedance of at least 2 meg ohms. Circuits for these are available online. They come as a copper disk soldered with a black wire and on this is a smaller ceramic disk soldered with a red wire. This second solder joint is very fragile. To protect this joint I glue pieces of spruce (I use front offcuts but any decent wood should do) on both sides. I make a small cut out to surround the top solder joint and later fill this with epoxy or epoxy plus wood dust. When all the glue is set it can be cut to shape on a band saw or with a junior hacksaw. Solder the red wire to the core of a coaxial cable and the black wire to the shield. (best done before the glueing)

I trim the wood so it is a comfortable push fit under the bridge. (Piezo pickups always sound better when under some pressure) The pick up could be hard wired to a belt fixed preamp with standard jack socket connections to an amp or mixing desk. If you are into electronics this can be a nice weekend project.

Some guitar effect pedals have a suitably high input impedence. The effect doesn't have to be turned on. A bit of advance trial and error could be useful.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 09:47 AM

The Fishman used by the person in question has no preamp.

For my future experiments if any, does anyone know where I can get a carpenter jack socket on its own, cheap?


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 11:28 AM

A luthier friend told me about using one of the Maplins buzzers in reverse several years ago. If you want to be a real cheapskate, you can carefully saw them into several pieces and attach your own lead to each. That way you can get at least 4 pickups for 99p.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 11:37 AM

If the Fishman is piezo it will sound better with the right preamp. It will also sound better if it is held in place under some kind of pressure. I have seen good clamps made of the turnbuckle type fittings that hold a violin chin rest in place. They are simple to fit and remove. The best position would be at one of the points of the waist where there are small internal blocks.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Chris Partington
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 11:55 AM

I've been waiting for someone to point out that you could save money on the PA end of the thing too, by getting hold of some old transistor radios from the council skip, or old record players might do, they've got amplifiers in them. And instead of using expensive mic leads, what about second hand wire coathangers? How about getting ex-RAF throat mics for the singers? Next thing you know someone will recommend two cocoa tins and a length of string and a fiddle made out of cigar boxes.
For sensible discussion go here -
http://www.fiddleforum.com/fiddleforum/index.php?board=4.0


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Stan
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 01:07 PM

Oh dear me. How could I be so stupid to think it a good idea to make something which I could easily buy for no less than ten times the price. Why on earth should I waste an hour or two of my time when in no less than 5 working days I could get the same thing in the post. There would be no difference in quality and if it did break down I could always pay a technician to fix it. The fact that this applies to both the pickup and the jack socket makes no difference. Silly me.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 04:03 PM

I've just bought a Shadow SV1 pickup for my fiddle; cost peanuts, fitted in seconds, no need for pre-amps, sounds amazing amplified & in the studio:

http://soundcloud.com/sedayne/pendle-sonata-1st-june-2012

Tried it on stage last night for the first time at the Lunar Festival. Simply awesome. It even picks up the tone of whatever sort of mute you're using.

Drawback? Well, finding someplace to stick the jack socket is always going to be an issue, but after some deliberation I fixed mine to the tailpiece & tied it up with nice folksy jute...


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 05:46 PM

I'm with you there Stan. My luthier friend has built instruments for Gordon Giltrap, John Renbourne and George Harrison, amongst others, so he does know what he's talking about.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Stan
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 08:05 PM

Thanks Ray. To be fair, the link in Chris Partington's post has lots of useful information regarding piezo transducers. I was particularly interested to learn that several pick ups connected in parallel require a lower input impedance than just one. There is also a link to a '1$ pick up' page.   

If you have the right tools, the right skills and the right information you can make all the components in the Pick up - Carpenter jack - Impedance matching/pre amp chain for less than £20. Without the skills, tools or information you'll be best off buying guaranteed stuff.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 01:09 AM

Does anyone know where best to get a carpenter jack cheap?


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Stan
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 08:35 AM

If these ads are still current then these are the best two I,ve seen.

https://www.theviolinshop.com/view_products.php?cat=3&&subCat=22

and

http://www.acousticon.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=AC&Product_Code=MCI-cjv&Category_Code=A-mci

Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 09:25 AM

Thank you. Dearie me what a price! And then there would be shipping to the UK as well.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 09:46 AM

For a few quid more, Richard, you could get yourself a Shadow SV1, though I like the idea of the chin-rest type clamps.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 09:46 AM

I used a Fishman fiddle pickup for 15 years. All it needs is a small guitar foot pedal preamp with 5 band graphic. Put a gentle 'smile' shape on the graphic and plug in and play.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 11:18 AM

I've often wondered how you overcome this (pardon the pun) fiddly problem. I've thought about acquiring an electric violin, but I don't like the look, feel or sound of them so not an option!


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Stan
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 01:08 PM

Richard, if your violin playing friend has a spare chin rest you are 3/4 of the way there. Disassemble the clamp part and the metal bits should unscrew from the rest. Devise a way of attaching an in-line jack socket to the clamp and wire it up to the pick up and you are done.

The cheapest violin chin rest I've found on line is

http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?hl=en&rlz=1C1AVSA_en-GBGB441GB441&q=violin+chin+rest&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb

I've seen others just under £5.

Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 01:13 PM

Jane, if you were thinking of buying an electric violin you couldn't buy better than Sonic http://www.sonicviolins.co.uk. They are real acoustic violins but with top quality electrics inside. The sound without preamp is extremely close to the natural sound. With a preamp and a bit of reverb it's superb. Also, you can play it in sessions. I was lucky enough to one second hand from Dave Swarbrick, it's the best musical instrument purchase I've made.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 02:14 PM

Fishman into guitar graphic is exactly what does not work - one variation at least.   

Belcat into guitar graphic is the other.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 03:07 PM

Worked well for me for 15 years.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 03:17 PM

I think my next step will be to try the Fishman into some different DI/buffer amp possibilities and to cut up the Belcat and make my own carpenter jack from some old chinrest clamps, a little bit of wood, and a guitar endpin socket - and then connect it to a DI box/buffer amp. If it works I can use the other half of the Belcat to make another one!

I notice that many of the pickup systems over at that sensible place mentioned above use in effect blu-tak to attack the sensors.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 04:06 AM

Fecking hell, man - just buy the Shadow. Problem solved. It was praised to the hilt by our seasoned sound guy the other night...

http://www.shadow-electronics.com/viewpro.html?lang_id=&id=31&PHPSESSID=fbd1cb197ede91bf3cb8bb0c592c9ec5


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 04:35 AM

I might buy the Shadow if it came with a carpenter jack, but it doesn't.

I haven't yet met any fiddle player who will let me stick something sticky on their fiddle.

No point buying a Shadow if no-one will let me use it on their fiddle.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 04:38 AM

I also can't see many let me slacken the strings on their fiddle enough to get the Shadow under the G foot of the bridge...

And of course as far as the fiddle with the Fishman is concerned - well, it has a Fishman on and the owner won't want me taking that off.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 04:58 AM

Not wanting the sticky to ruin the aged patina of my antique fiddle I've lashed the socket to the tailpiece with jute. Looks pretty cool & folksy as Macrame Beat. Considering I was seriously thinking of getting one from Pick Up The World I think I've done pretty well here. And I fitted it whilst giving my ax it's annual change of strings.

Now I've got to figure the best best option for both crwth & kemence.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 05:14 AM

Have you a picture of how you attach it to the tailpiece? Would there be enough room to stick the socket on the inside of the tailpiece?


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Fiddler
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 06:10 AM

I have found that the best way to pick up the sound of an acoustic violin so that it can be amplified is to use a microphone. Contact pick-ups just squash and colour the sound to much, they just sound too "electric" in my view. The problem with using microphones is the frequent feedback issues that can arise due to the high levels of "gain" that have to be used to pick up the sound of an acoustic fiddle. Problem also come due to the restrictions to movement of the player that come with using a floor mounted mike stand. The only way to overcome the worst of the feedback issues when using a microphone is to close-mike which means attaching a microphone to the violin body some way. Anything that touches or restricts the movement and vibration of the sound board (top) of the fiddle will impact on the sound, as will anything that fastens to the tail piece.......unless it is very light weight, as any significant additional mass will serve to dampen those all important "little vibrations" which is what give each violin its individual character. This means that there has to be some kind of compromise. A lot of professionals use a mini microphone mounted on a goose neck fitting and clamped in the same way as a chin rest to the side of the violin. This allows it to be positioned in any of several locations near the bridge. This works well but can be expensive. For the amateur musician or as a tool for the sound tec who has to find a solution to amplifying an acoustic fiddle at short notice, one of the best ways is to use a Sony Lavalier lapel microphone which are very small and light weight. I use an old ECM55 which I picked up used from ebay. These were the industry standard "newsreader" microphones and come with a battery powered preamp/xlr connection so can go straight into the desk. Their sound characteristics lend themselves to string instruments and I use the same microphone for fiddle, cello and double bass. I rarely have feedback problems and always get a very natural sound. The optimum position for the microphone seems to be just under the strings behind the bridge. There are light weight "rubber type" mounts available which clip to the strings which you can see on Aly Bain`s fiddle on the "Transatlantic Sessions" programmes if you look carefully. I tend to use either the tie clip which comes with the microphone, (quick release but not very secure) or a simple strip of Velcro above and below the strings behind the bridge with the mike pushed in between, (fiddly but more stable). Other good quality lapel microphones may work just as well but it is the Sony that I have experience of using. Just remember to have spare batteries and to remove the battery after each use.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 06:17 AM

Thank you Fiddler.

One of the problem fiddles I encounter does use a small powered mic (presumably a condenser) but attaching it is a problem - he tucks it in the F-hole which is an acoustic nightmare - and then connecting it to a lead to the stage box is another problem


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 06:21 AM

I've posted a pic on Facebook:

http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/255475_415483125141687_618242823_n.jpg

If you can't get it, PM me an email address & I'll post it over.


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 09:06 AM

Thank you Sweeney. And I see you have put the transducer not under the foot of the bridge but in the slot. Did that take much woodwork, or is the sensor squidgy enough to push in easily?


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Subject: RE: Amplifying violins?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 10:03 AM

That's the manufacturer's recommended position, Richard - no woodwork involved & once the strings are tuned up it clamps in place. The SV-2 has two transducers - one for the other side, but the single one works well enough for my purposes, even with my heavy droning style. I'm happy it doesn't have that Electric Violin Sound either, even when I've got it hooked up through various FX it still plays with a responsive & natural dynamic.


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