Founded in 1887, the Yamaha company was initially called Nippon Gakki Ltd before being renamed Yamaha Corporation in honor of its founder Torakusu Yamaha. The brand started in the manufacture of musical instruments before extending its production to a wide range of very different products, including Yamaha motorcycles. Initially, Yamaha did not produce electric violins, but different wind instruments. During the Second World War, Yamaha had completely stopped producing musical instruments and participated in the war effort by manufacturing airplane propellers and even fuel tanks. The company revived its main activity at the end of the war by producing harmonicas, organs and accordions. The 3Dvarius brand was founded by two young French people in 2016. Its creators rely on research in mechanical physics to design tailor-made, customizable and morphologically adapted electric violins. The companies Yamaha and 3Dvarius both sell electric violins of different qualities, so which brand should you choose?
Features of Yamaha electric violins and 3Dvarius electric violins
For many decades, Yamaha has produced numerous musical instruments. It was only in the mid-90s that it entered the market for bowed string instruments, including electric violins. Yamaha has produced several ranges of electric violins, most of which have been withdrawn from the market following new launches. Released in 1997, the ‘Silent’ SV-100 was Yamaha’s first electric violin. It had a headphone jack for silent practice at home, hence the origin of its name. This idea of a silent violin comes from a Japanese social observation. The Japanese live very close to each other and the sound of violins could be unpleasant for neighbors. On the other hand, when it arrived in other markets, violinists did not embrace the idea of the ‘Silent’ violin and instead sought to use it loudly by plugging it into an amp! The sound result was not really there because the sound produced was inconsistent with the desired goal (the sound was distorted). This was one of the turning points for Yamaha, which completely reoriented its production to manufacture electric violins intended for stage and pro use.
This is how they launched the ‘Silent’ SV-110 , then the ‘Silent’ SV-120 which offered a more advanced integrated electronic card and a 1/4 jack connection (and not 1/8 as it was the case on previous models). For a period of time, Yamaha offered the non-renewed EV-104 and EV-105 electric violins in their ranges. The brand had opted for a pickup system which did not convince the violinists.
Then, in the early 2010s, the ‘Silent’ SV-250 and SV-255 were offered for professional performance purposes to meet the demands of violinists whose primary job is performing. In this context, the choice of materials was reviewed, notably with the adoption of more quality wood. A reduction in the weight of the instrument had also been implemented.
In June 2016, Yamaha released the YSV and YEV, continuing to improve sound production, limiting the weight of the instrument and making a more ergonomic shape. The YSV is the replacement for the old ‘Silent’ SV which offers a headphone jack for silent playing. They also have a mini jack input to connect an MP3 player to practice with music. The YEV must be plugged into an amp and does not have a headphone jack. It uses a two-sensor passive pickup. Today, Yamaha electric violins are manufactured in their Chinese factory in Xiaoshan.
At 3Dvarius, the making objective is different. The French brand has chosen to focus its productions on four key points: sound quality, weight optimization, innovative design and customization. Electric violins are intended for stage performances and not for silent practice, although this remains possible if the violinist wishes. Their musical instruments are made exclusively from quality wood such as ash or walnut and others benefit from the micron-precision qualities offered by the 3D printing technology. All 3Dvarius electric violins can be personalized: choice of color and finish, number of strings, colors of tuners and other accessories, harness, insertion of a logo or name, etc. All 3Dvarius electric violins are manufactured exclusively in France in the Occitanie region.
Yamaha electric violins or 3Dvarius electric violins: which one to choose?
The first elements to take into consideration are the sound production, the need for a headphone jack and the desire to personalize your instrument. For the first point, Yamaha electric violins use pickups with one or two sensors depending on the model. 3Dvarius electric violins have one sensor per string. In terms of sound, these are electric instruments whose sound cannot be acoustic. It is moving towards an electric sound whatever the instrument of the two brands. For the second point, the headphone jack can be useful for practicing at home. Only the YSV and SV250/255 models have one. However, the Yamaha YEV or 3Dvarius electric violins can be plugged into an amp or effects processor having a headphone jack. These are devices offering much higher sound quality than an electronic card integrated into a violin. Finally, regarding customization, only 3Dvarius electric violins can meet this need, because Yamaha electric violins are mass-produced and do not offer any customization. 3Dvarius electric violins are produced one by one. A part of the process is done by using a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine, but the finishing and final assembly are entirely done by hand.