When I started learning the violin in the late 1960s, you were expected to play the more traditional instrument. If you wanted to buy an electric violin, you had a hard time finding one on the market, and when you did, they were extremely expensive. The next best thing was to buy a pickup, stuff the inside of the violin with cotton to avoid feedback, and find a suitable amp. Inevitably you had to buy a preamplifier, and since all amps were designed for guitars, you were never able to produce a sound that was even close to what a violin should sound like.
In the 21st century this has all changed and we are now spoiled for choice when it comes to electric violins. Technology has advanced so much in this area that you don’t need to spend thousands of pounds to get a reasonable quality violin. The Harley Benson Electric Violin will set you back no more than around £130.00, but is it worth the money? Here are some important points to give you an idea.
The Harley Benton uses an Active Shadow Nanoflex bridge pickup system and has headphone as well as amp outputs. There are bass, treble and volume controls, and the price includes a bow, rosin and battery for the active system. The violin weighs about 700 grams. Colors include black, white, blue and Ferrari red.
The sound you get out of the violin will depend a lot on what you put it through and what effect pedal (if any) you intend to use. Because the Harley Benton can be played with headphones if you live in a house with other people, it’s quiet enough to play anytime without disturbing anyone. I suggest you invest in a really good acoustic amp like the Roland Cube which will really improve the sound. For an effects pedal, you can’t go wrong with the Zoom GX1.
There are some negatives to this violin such as the weight and the slight hiss you get from the pickup. The weight issue can be solved with a chin rest, and hiss can be greatly reduced by fiddling with the tone and volume controls.
I like the Harley Benton and for the price I think it’s worth a look.