We really love applying effects to the electric violin. To help you improve your knowledge on the subject, we asked 30 electric violinists about their 3 favorite effects and the reasons why they prefer them.
For me, electric violin rhymes with effect chains. I never perform with my electric violin unless I apply effects to it. I have about ten effects chains stored in my multi-effects processors. Each chain is composed of several effects. But, my 3 favorite and most essential ones are the following:
Since I can almost imitate the human voice.
To feel like a Guitar Hero.
Le Multi Delay synchro
To be able to realize full violin accompaniments.
Currently, I use 3 multi-effects devices: the Hotone Ampero, the Boss GT-100 and the Boss GT-1.
This video is a multi violin covers: Lean on, Uptown Funk, Seven Nation Army and Highway to Hell, arranged by Laurent and done with the help of effects processors and a looper.
My favorite is Delay!
It’s such a foreign concept for the violin and the shapes and layers that you can create are just magical.
My second favorite is Wah/Pitch Shifter.
One can do wonders with those because they are so expressive and they are a crowd favorite! Specially when you chop.
And my third one is Harmonizers.
Again, the fact that we can create layers of lines playing just one is so fun and so effective to cover parts in a band situation.
I use the glitchy, stutter, delay types of effects.
I like the Eventide H9 pedal because there are so many incredible and different effects available to choose rom.
This video was recorded at the NAMM Show 2020 for a presentation of Eventide pedals, done by Laura Escudé with her 3Dvarius and Ableton.
I have been using an electric violin for 6 years, always trying to experiment with timbres and sounds, the violin is a very versatile instrument and can transmit from very melancholic to intense melodies.
I think my 2 favorite effects are: Distortion and Reverb.
I really like using distortion, because you can make the violin have a lot more intensity. I think it is important to find the perfect distortion according to what you want to transmit and with that let your creativity flow. I believe that this effect allows the violin to be more aggressive, in addition to giving you the ability to create solos resembling the sound of an electric guitar.
On the other hand, the reverberation allows the instrument to have more amplitude, the sound fills up. This effect is indispensable in all my performances, as it gives them life, a greater charge of emotion. Reverb is an effect that envelops the listener, gives depth to the sound.
Effects are cool. The possibilities that you have by combining electric violin with electronic effect devices are endless. I use the Line 6 Helix Floor and my favorites and most have effects are:
Perfect pedal to take your tone to the next level. Equalization in the purest sense makes the sound equally strong in all frequencies. Personally, I use EQ at the beginning of the chain to cut the highest frequencies as possible, trying to find a warm and less metallic sound.
Reverb + Delay
Reverb is an essential effect for electric violins. It will add color and depth to your electric violin sound.
A delay is a very interesting effect for violin. It helps you to quickly fill up a space. using a short delay time, you can create some kind of “doubling” effect.
The reverb and delay are seamlessly paired together and make a nice ambient wash that sits behind what I play without being pretentious or overstated. I needed some headroom, which is the purpose of reverb, to compensate for the limitations of an acoustically flat environment.
Jonathan H. Warren
The wah is the king of my pedalboard for sure! It is a really powerful tool that adds a whole other dimension of live tone control to playing the electric violin.
The most common (and probably, the most obvious) application would be for rhythmic playing. The wah effect enhances the crispness and punch of the standard chop and rhythmic chord comping. The resulting timbre being one that just seems to lay into any groove pocket super well.
Soloing can now be in three deminsions (left hand, right hand, and foot)! The added foot pedal, gives the violin a mouth to open and shut while singing through the instrument. Being able to shape notes like this in real time while soloing and comping just never stops inspiring me!
The 3 effects I don’t leave home without:
This is not so much as an effect as it is a different instrument. The difference between a clean sound and a distorted one is like the difference between an acoustic guitar and an electric—different instruments playing different kinds of parts.
Electric violin is a very in-your-face kind of sound, due to the intensity of the bow and the fact that we are not hearing that sound acoustically from a distance, but from a pickup. Delay helps to recreate that illusion of distance (All live venues already have natural reverb). I also use delay to add a rhythmic element which reinforces the subdivision (aka Groovon.)
I use pretty sparingly but almost all the time just to fatten things up a bit and keep it sounding electric and modern and not too fiddley.
Distortion, delay, and wah! They give me those giant, lush, screaming solos!
This Matt’s performance was done at the NAMM Show 2020 (Anaheim, California).
I started working with the electric violin more than ten years ago, and since I created a duo called Landscape Magazine 5 years ago, I have been working on sounds in a much more precise and creative way. Even with my strictly classical training, I have always been fascinated by pop, rock and jazz. Having listened to Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd among others in my youth, I was clearly putting myself on the path of using effects as well. I used to live with a jazz guitarist, he gave me my first effects, a distortion and a volume pedal. That was the beginning of it…
For me, the ideal thing to do is to start with very few pedals, just to get acquainted with the available sounds. This way, not only do you take the time to get to understand the sounds of each pedal, but also their interaction, which in some cases can differ a lot.
The wah-wah, for example, will not have the same effect on a distortion if it is placed before or after it. Personally, I prefer to place it before the distortion, it allows me to “crunch” the sound a bit more. This pedal is quite difficult to master as a violinist since desynchronizing the bow and the foot is not an easy task. It’s a very attractive and expressive combination that wah-wah distortion. You go far in expressivity, the sensitivity of the strings goes to the extreme, it’ s like driving a powerful car, there is a feeling of total freedom. Personally, I’m crazy about MXR, and having tried a massive amount of distortions, I can assure you that it’s great, it’s precise in the EQ and you can make a lot of crazy things with this brand, their spectrum is wide and deep.
What could be trippier than exploring delays and reverbs! Although I’m more of a fan of simplicity (Boss DD6), when it comes to reverbs, I really like Strymon which is awesome. The developed harmonics are quite impressive! I’m a great fan of reverbs! In fact, the basic sound of an electric violin is quite disappointing when dry, especially if compared to a guitar for example.
It has an inherently softer sound. The violin always has some sort of acidity, which often has to be compensated using reverbs, EQ and a very good preamp.
Since I’m a classical violinist and I always want to keep it in parallel with my electric side, I remain, for the moment at least, on 4 strings. There is an effect that is a must have to lower or color the sound even more on these instruments, the Octaver! And here, Electro Harmonix hits hard with its Pog or Hog series, it’s digital but it doesn’t trigger the note, the sound remains authentic. I personally use the Pog 2, wicked! When using a tube amp with a 12 inch, you can make the walls shake with a sound as deep as an abyss. I abuse this in almost all my productions.
That coupled with a harmonizer and you feel like you have an orchestra right at your feet! An interesting pedal for the violin. I use the PS6 from Boss, a rather complete and nice pedal to use, it reaches its full potential when combined with an expression pedal. This was a quick glimpse of my favorite pedals! Recently I acquired a doctorQ nano from EHX. I’m still in the learning stage! It looks promising with a nice wah-wah touch.
Volt W. Jingjit
RNDI Active Di – Rupert Neve Designs
This is one of the best DI box I ever use. It’s really good for acoustic instrumentals. I put it after all pedals and go direct to the mixer. Sometime I just use it directly from my Line electric violin and direct to mixer board, it’s sound very clear and the low is still full and enough. If you’re using pickup, this is one of the best DI you must try.
Tremolo and Reverb – Flint Strymon
Flint is an incredibly wide range reverb and I also have been using it as a shimmer sometime, it’s work really well! especially the quality of the verb is reliable.
Dual Delay – Dig Strymon
Dig is very special delay with dual system, so you can choose a bouncing of second delay in many variation with a nice quality sound.
Octaver – Pogs 2
If you want to add more octave on your playing, Pogs 2 is a good choice to try out, with 5 octave adjustable (2 above, 2 below, dry) MUST TRY! also don’t forget to simulate Organ with this pedal!
Harmonizer – H9 Max Eventide
H9 is a very special modulation. A ton of sounds to try on with your bow string instrumental. When I’m on the gig, I alway have my phone with H9 application open and ready to choose whatever sound I want, also have a preset for easier control with the outstanding modern sound.
Booster – Katana Keeley
Very easy and useful booster, with dual mode you can choose between clean boost & tube like gain boost!
Distorsion – Karen Vemuram
The tone of Marshall amp is here! I like how thick and rock sound on this pedal, you won’t have a too much trouble with your violin with this pedal!
Tuner – Polytune 2 mini Noir
When I looking for tuner for my pedalboard, definitely I have to looking for the most accurate tuner and I found this one. This one is not just only accurate but super fast and precise tune. With this small size is save me a lot of space on my pedalboard.
Wah & Volume – Hotone Quad Press
If you looking for a small volume pedal and able to switch to wah-wah easily with your foot, Quad Press is very good choice! So far it’s a very stable pedal I ever use! also can use it with expression as well!
So obviously every gig is different: some effects are a lot more “necessary” for getting the right sound, whereas others are more like icing on the cake. But if I had to pick my three favorite effects, regardless of the particular show or the style, I would probably have to say…
It’s absolutely one of the most iconic sounds that sets modern music apart from everything that came before. A lot of effects can be mimicked without pedals by messing with the tone settings on your amp or adjusting your left/right hand playing technique, but not a wah pedal. Either you have it or you don’t, and given the option I will always opt to have that tool in my kit.
There’s also something to the tactile relationship between phrasing with your hands and with your foot on that pedal that just makes you phrase your playing differently, and I love bringing that flavor not just to my tone, but also to the notes & rhythms that I’m playing. Favorite pedal in this category: Dunlop MC404 CAE Wah.
Probably the one effect I’ll never do a gig without. It’s the simplest way to thicken up your tone without overpowering the mix, and one of the most versatile effects on your board. At the shortest intervals you can create a stereo doubling effect, mid-length for slapback and echo, or fire up those long tap-tempo sequences to add sustain to your legato and arpeggiation to your pizz & spiccatto licks.
I’m particularly a huge fan of the fancier delay engines that bring filters, reverse echoes, and pitch shifting into the mix so that I can make myself sound more like a string section on those ambient, sweeping melodies. Favorite pedals in this category: Strymon Timeline, Eventide H9.
As I said before, it’s definitely not necessary for every gig I play, but even just a little bit of amp saturation is a huge part of setting a modern “electric” tone apart from the traditional violin sound. As much as I love my acoustic violin tone, when you get up on a loud stage with a band sometimes you just have to grab another gear to get yourself out front in the mix, and there’s no better way to do that than with a little bit of GAIN baby!!
Personally, I don’t think anything beats the raw sound of really CRANKING a tube amp and hitting the preamp with a simple boost pedal, which is why I have my gain staged in some capacity on most of my rigs, but there are a few pedals that get the job done as well. Favorite pedals in this category: Klon centaur, TrueTone XO, Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire.
My favorite effects have always been ones that don’t make my sound “smaller”, both live and in studio.
I think that’s a very important prerequisite, because in my career I’ve experimented with lot of cool chain combinations that are fine to play along with a backing track or to have fun with at home, but that in the end didn’t help me to stand out in a mix, both live on stage or in studio production.
The issue of feeling my sound “bouncing back” has happened mostly with distortion and overdrive, that’s why I excluded them from my chain: if I want a special make up for some solos I add octaver, wah or a second, more complex delay, but in the end I love to craft one sound and try to be recognizable through that unique “recipe”.
My secret for a “big sound” is a gainer at the beginning of the chain: not the proper position but is the solution I found. My fave is the Spark by TC.
After that, a good 6 band eq shapes my sound the way I want; I close the chain with delay and reverb.
Last year I added a new “secret”, which I learned from guitarists and bass-players: using a custom IR with a compatible pedal board. This means that I have my patches based on my own acoustic violin sound shaped on my electric one, all extremely custom. I suggest to everyone to try this solution with electric violins: this is the ultimate frontier in creating an awesome and rich sound out of our piezo’s transducers, enhancing the unique qualities of our instruments.
The harmonizer effect because it’s very satisfying to play chords in such an easy way when you’re a violinist!
The bass effect (octaver), very useful for accompaniment and looping.
And, distortion to imagine you’re Jimmy Page.
This video is a violin duet with Pauline and Laurent Bernadac shot in the famous hall venue La Halle Aux Grains, Toulouse.
There are a lot of trippy effects available on the market, but not all of them work well on a violin. And I’ve tried so many of them… Here is a small sample of the ones I regularly use.
I play a lot with temporal effects, especially with reverb and delay. The Strymon pedals (the Timeline for the delay and the Big sky for the reverb) are among my favorites. These are extremely versatile effect pedals that provide a complete and wonderful sound. I also really like the G system from TC Electronic. It offers a lot of quality temporal effects and its 4 external loops allow you to add more pedals. It’s pretty much the “brain” of my whole effect system and it’s very efficient when I change my presets during live performances.
Then we have the pitch effects, like the Octaver, which also work very well with the violin. When it comes to distortion and heavy sounds, I love Blackcat’s super fuzz and Wampler’s Plextortion. It delivers a Jimi Hendrix kind of sound as well as the classic rock sound of the Plexi at the same time!
In order to travel light and keep everything in the same box, I play with an Ax8 multi-effects from Fractal Audio. This pedal is a real blast! You have amp and cabinet simulators as well as every conceivable effect. But be careful, the sound has to be polished to be really good on the violin, after that you can really do everything you want with it. You can even download your own IRs to achieve a signature sound.
Reverb, Delay, and Pitch shifter, with the electric violin it has a tendency to sound nasal or bumble bee 🐝 like because of the pickup and the bowed nature of the instrument.
Real violins need space and room to produce their beautiful tones. Reverb and delay provide this digital room.
I also like pitch shifters because they provide other pitches that can be played simultaneously giving the sound of 2 or 3 instruments.
Favorite effects are overdrive, wah and reverb. I use a lot of different effects but I gravitate towards these the most.
I love the overdrive for rock violin and solos. It also sounds awesome with electronic music!
I like a reverb pedal for when I want more ambient sound, or to sound farther away. It’s sounds really cool when you’re trying to almost fade out the violin at the end of a song or in a breakdown.
The wah is just a fun one to throw in randomly because people love it 😄
Sometimes I use phaser and reverb pedal together to make it sound really distant. Cool sound!
My favourite effects to use (outside of having my EQ/Tone set) would be either reverb or harmonizing effects.
I like a realistic sound for an electric violin and primarily I want to replicate that tone and the natural reverb that you find in an acoustic instrument. So a reverb effect that serves the song / gig is my go to effect.
I also enjoy harmonizer effects. In scenarios where you want to sit in a different frequency / fill the space of a string patch or an orchestra, harmonizers / octave down effects are a great addition!
Since childhood, I trained in Indian classical music and started playing concerts mostly on 4-string violin.
After some time I started playing 5-string violin with an added C from the viola. I am playing my double neck violin for the past 15 years which has a wide range of violin, viola, cello, and contrabass which gives me more ideas and more space and creativity for playing experimental, jazz, or fusion music.
Of course, for this kind of experiment I have to apply some effects like reverb, delay, chorus, and sometimes looper too.
Since the sound from an electric string instrument is very dry powerful and straight forward, it is better to apply some effects on it to make it pleasing for the listeners.
My favorite pedal effects are the looper and the harmonists.
Because they allow me to sound like an string ensemble all by myself.
For my jazz violin work I’ll try to keep it very simple in regards of FX pedals, just a bit reverb and delay.
In a pop and more adventurous setting I add chorus sometimes.
Wah-Wah and distortion are used very sparingly because they transform the violin sound too much into the electric guitar soundscape. For me it looses character a bit, but it is certainly a lot of fun !
My absolute favorite effect, bar none, is Distortion! As the Creator and Lead Electric Violinist for The Violution, I always use Distortion to give my sound on rhythms and leads an edge.
We play hard rock and metal tunes, so it’s pretty much a given to use Distortion in songs written for these genres, but I use Distortion across the board because I LOVE it.
Whether using a Distortion pedal with an electric guitar or an electric violin, one really has to dial in the tone so as not to sound too harsh or shrill or buzzy, and more so using digital Distortion versus analog, so you really have to take your time with getting your sound, but once you do, it can really inspire creativity.
Another of my favorite effects is an analog pedal called the “TWA Triskelion” and it’s a Harmonic Energizer that I use in conjunction with my Distortion pedal, made by Godlyke (shoutout to Kevin!). I will admit that I get mesmerized by the pulsating lights on the front of the pedal but, in all seriousness, the sound that comes out makes for an absolutely gorgeous lead tone and I’ve used it in many, many recordings and live.
Last but not least, is the ever so popular “Whammy” made by Digitech. I use this pedal for pitch bending and also for harmonizing which sounds fantastic on electric violin, and have used this pedal all over The Violution’s recordings, almost every song. I still have a First Generation model! Wouldn’t let go of this pedal for all the tea in China! If you haven’t yet heard an electric violin through this pedal, go ahead and plug in, you’ll have a blast!
I like a clean powerful sound, entering full into a quality preamp and out again with a pinch of delay.
I’d say Hall of fame or any kind of big reverb is definately my favourite effect. I really love that big hall sound combined with a very natural violin sound. It inspires me to improvise and ”paint with my soul”.
But I’m also super into a distorted rock sound. I think those two represent my inner life well too, hah! We reached a super nice painting sound and a rock sound with our sound guys at Volta (Cirque Du Soleil) with a Kemper. Also very quirky sounds that fit the electronic music of M83. So there’s a lot of options with in a Kemper. But in my personal pedal board I have a Timmy.
O yea and I’m super into harmonies, a world that I’m still exploring.
The funny thing is I am not a technical wizzard at all but I’m just super into and open to new sounds, ambients and instruments. Always looking for new ways to get inspired!
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@camilla_backman visited us at last @thenammshow time. Laurent was presenting her our new Prism electric violin using LEDs. Camilla is playing as violinist for @cirquedusoleil Currently, she is the violinist and singer of the Volta show. She invited us to the Volta's premiere in Los Angeles; it was amazing! Thank you Camilla 🙂 📷 Pic took by @amandasmithphotos during the show! #electricviolin #electricviolinist #violinista #violinist #violoniste #violon #nammshow #thenammshow #fiddle #fiddleplayer #violonelectrique #geige #geiger #violino #violini #biola #keman #viulu #fiolin #skrzypce #violinelectrico #скрипка #viool #3dvarius #ledviolin #violinled
As an electric violinist with various gigs in many different settings, I sought out a portable pedal system and looper that would allow me to travel between gigs more easily.
After trying several products, I became a fan of the “GT1” by BOSS Fx Pedals. This amazing unit is unbelievably small enough to fit in a gig bag or large purse and contains 99 preset and 99 user patches, which are each built from a chain of blocks that can access 108 effects!
It also comes with a 32-second looper and distortion properties, which adds an interesting layer to my performances! There are 3 footswitches on the bottom: the first 2 scroll through the patches and the last one allows you to turn effects off or on. The treadle, of course, functions for wah and volume, but also has some pitch bending capabilities.
Overall, the GT1 won’t give you some of the detail you would find in a higher end pedal, but it will get you close, and it works great for me!
My favorite is Loop. Because the Loop is a time-machine which enables me to co-star with myselves!
Other favorite effects are delay, and sometimes, distortion.
Delay makes the sound of the violin more brilliant.
And, distortion can change the violin into different instrument.
Vincenzo Di Silvestro
I am an Italian violinist and I have two pedalboards. One is made up of many individual effects and I carry it with me every time I can travel by car, van or train. The other is a digital pedal which I have 2 single pedals next to and I carry it when I have to travel by plane. It is very important to work with analog pedals to then reproduce everything digitally.
On my large analogical pedalboard, you can find: harmonizer, EQ, compressor, pitch shifter, delay, reverb, overdrive, looper, volume pedal and tremolo.
On my pocket pedalboard: a multi-effects processor (Zoom G3xn), harmonizer and delay.
I have been following Carnatic music (Indian Classical) as the base for my vocals and violin. Carnatic music isn’t based on harmony but the notes and the space between them; hence the purity and clarity of what played matters a lot!
For my compositions, I use the stock violin preset that comes with Logic Pro X under Studio Instruments category which contains a compressor and a great reverb. I use this, because it gives me a true tone of the instrument.
However, I always had this craving for an extra acoustic reverb and my search for the same found it’s end once I started using Valhalla Room with its cathedral presets and with slight modifications on the decay time as I required. Those are deep and noticeable even when kept minimum in the mix, while preserving the natural tone of the instrument which in my opinion is very important in Indian style of playing.
The reasoning for all my pedals is the same. They have the best tone of the ones I’ve tried and are easy to use, and reliable.
- Reverb – Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail (the big original one; it actually sounds better than the new mini one)
- Delay – Boss DD-3 Digital
- Looper – Boss RC-20
- Distortions – Digitech X-series metal master (really wicked sounding distortion)
- Wah! – Xotic (best tone, no apparent tone suck, true bypass, easy to use pedal switch)
I do like the sound of the classic Dunlop wahs but they break SO easily. I’ve had two new ones before I gave up. Tried the Darrell Dimebag specialty Dunlop wah but that sounded awful and it also broke!
Favorite effect Delay by Source Audio Nemesis.
It has everything you could need and more. With a community based effects build mode you can build and share effects for a truly unique sound.
I use it a lot as almost a reverb and the preset Slap back effect allows me to layer parts really nicely.
I love reverb and delay!
We received Joe Deninzo’s answer after the publication of our article. But, his answer can be helpful for every one. So, you can find his answer below.
One of my favorite topics to talk about! Hard to choose what my 3 faves are.
Top one, I would say, is Delay. You can do so much with it! It can create ambience and make any solo sound larger than life. It can be used to create a cool groove when the clean to wet mix is 50/50. You can get a great slapback sound as well. I would say its one of the most versatile effects out there.
I also love using whammy pedals for doing dive bombs, octave doubling, or quick octave slides with speed and accuracy that would be physically impossible on an acoustic violin. I also love using wah combined with distortion during heavy solos, or when doing a Hendrixian “Voodoo Chile” kind of thing.
Here is the assessment of this very long effects list. 19 effects have been quoted by these violinists. And 5 effects are stand out from this list, with no surprise, they are:
You have now 5 effects to add in your list if you do not use them currently 😉
Keep in mind that you do not need to use them for all your performances, it will be function of the music style, your own style and more.
You can find below a diagram and a table listing all effects, their family and their number of quotations.
|Effect||Type||Number of quotations|
|Pitch Shifter||Modulation effect||4|
|Pitch bend||Modulation effect||2|
|Booster||Efecto de ganancia||2|
|Impulse Response (IR)||Simulation effect||1|
Thanks to all these violinists for their time and answers!