Which single or multi-effects pedals should I choose for my electric violin?

multi-effects or effect pedal violin

Electric violin rhymes logically with sound transformation and therefore effects. There are dozens of effects that will allow you to change the sound of your electric violin. We have listed a few here.

You have just acquired your first electric violin and the universe of effects may be unknown to you. It’s quite normal, when we learn classical violin, we are neither trained nor prepared to get into the electric.

For everything related to effects, you will have to go through:

  • either single effect pedals placed in a row and attached to a pedalboard
  • or a multi-effects pedal

Note that you can also use your mobile phone or tablet to create effects. But this solution is not really professional; the effects are not of a high quality. However, this is a very good solution for a beginner or if you just want to try using effects with an electric violin.

The difference between single and multi-effects pedals

Both elements are usually designed for electric guitars (and not for electric violins, which will require some adjustments) Multi-effects and single-effects pedals have the same goal: transform the sound of an instrument by applying effects. But they will have more or less different characteristics.

Multi-effects pedals / Multi-effects processor

Multi-effects pedal

A multi-effects pedal looks like the one on the picture on the right. It groups all the effects into one single big pedal. All the effects contained in the multi-effects pedal can be used and associated with any other to create new effects.

The first advantage will be its cost. In fact, investing in a multi-effects pedal will be much cheaper than buying dozens of single-effect pedals. Small precision, a single-effect pedal is not excessively expensive. But if you want to have the same number of effects as those contained in a multi-effects pedal with single-effect pedals, then you will need a large budget.

For a price lower than a bunch of single-effect pedals put in a row, multi-effects processor will allow you to create dozens of effects: distortion, wah wah (if there is a wah wah pedal on your multi-effects pedal) delay, reverb, equalizer, etc.

The effects are already recorded into the multi-effects processor. Unfortunately, these effects are rather designed for electric guitars. Electric violins have different frequencies. As a result, some effects are difficult to exploit. It will be necessary to rework some of them.

To do this, always favor a multi-effects pedal with a USB socket in order to be able to create effects in your computer, save them and transfer them to the multi-effects processor. You can also download ready-to-use effects created by other electric violinists and insert them into the multi-effects pedal.

Single-effect pedals in a row

Single effects pedal

These are much smaller pedals. Each will play a role in your effect chain. One will be to adjust the distortion, the second for the overdrive, the third for the delay, etc.

As long as you only use 2 or 3 pedals, everything is easy to handle. But as soon as you accumulate pedals, everything becomes more complicated.

The pedals must be positioned in a certain order to obtain a clear and interference-free sound. It is necessary to have some knowledge to know in what order to place them. And the more there is, the more there is a risk of blast at the end of the sound chain.

Each single-effect pedal costs less than a multi-effects pedal. But if you want to find all the effects offered by a multi-effects pedal, you will need a large budget! In addition, you will need to invest in a support on which all pedals will be attached. Which complicates moving around: the weight will become a real discouragement when traveling…

However, these effects pedals have the advantage of being adjustable live. The buttons are on the pedal and you will just have to bend over to add gain for example. This can be more complex to achieve with a multi-effects pedal since sometimes you have to enter the settings of the multi-effects processor to change an effect. It’s an impossible task in the middle of a concert!

So, multi-effects or single-effect pedals for a beginner?

Quite frankly, if you’re new to the electric violin and its effects, look no further and favor a multi-effects pedal. It will certainly be difficult to handle at first because of its many buttons and settings. But once you have read the user’s manual and made some tests, you should find very interesting effects.

Unless you are interested in only one or two effects in order to round off the sound of your electric violin. In that case, combining two small single-effect pedals in a row will be easier to implement.

Some tips for you to consider when choosing a multi-effects pedal:

  • Check its material structure (plastic or metal)
  • If you’re going to use it with your feet and maybe use it in concerts, then prefer a metal structure. It will be more resistant and its service life will be increased tenfold …

  • With push pedals
  • If you have to play live, these little push pedals will allow you to change effects with the foot without the need to touch any button.

  • With a USB connection
  • The USB plug is essential to record or create new effects!

And for a professional violinist?

If you are a professional and want to perform on stage, then it will be a matter of knowledge and personal choice. Some violinists prefer the single-effect pedals, others find them superfluous and prefer the multi-effects processor.

The transportation should also be considered. If you have to fly, you may be limited by the weight of your luggage. A multi-effects processor weighs about 5kg and each single-effect pedal about 500g. This weight problem has led us to use multi-effects pedals in many of our trips. Several models generally make a comeback: the BOSS ME-80 and the GT-100, or the Line6 Helix. At 3Dvarius, we currently use the BOSS GT-100 and the Zoom G5n.

We will not recommend any single-effect pedals, there are so many… Feel free to watch videos on the Internet, even if the tests are done with an electric guitar. You can always change the settings to suit your electric violin.


Images: BOSS, Line6, Zoom, Unsplash – @hfranke, @gabrielgurrola