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Violin/Fiddle Pickup/Microphone


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Hi Guys,


I'm possibly going to be looking for a new microphone for my fiddle,


can anyone recommend one? it needs to be a violin specific one (i.e. I need to be able to walk around stage with it).


budget is not too much, cheaper is better (max would be £200ish)


it'll also be wanting to plug into a wireless beltpack, but that's a different story

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Is this a very good instrument to start with? For A-grade instruments a non-contact approach is best, with some instruments being older than most of us and more expensive than the purchase price of the whole sound system it's being amplified through! If it's what I call B-grade (excellent sound & finish, but not one you'd have to mortgage your house to replace) and used for classical music, then I’d still go for a microphone on a clamp attached to the violin. For folk and band style playing, especially with amplified instruments, you are better off with a bug transducer, or a bridge transducer. Ashworth's website says it better than I ever could, so, edited to remove reference to products...

Stick-on transducers ('bugs') may be used inside or outside the instrument, and are particularly easy to fit in many different places for subtle variations in tone. The most natural sound normally comes from a position as close as possible to the bridge saddle. The quality can be very close to that of a good microphone, but is much less prone to feedback - especially if EQ facilities are available.

Bridge types are for very high volume levels. A problem with bridge transducers has been the artificial quality of sound...

These can be terminated in a "Carpenter's Jack", which clips on in a similar way to a chin rest, so bug types can be removed if needed. Bridge types (where you replace the current bridge with one containing the pick up) are a more permanent option.


If the fiddle is a cheapie / can be modified (C-grade) then I would defiantly recommend a bridge pick up, especially if it's for a folk rock group. You can "dead-en" the acoustic properties of the violin with expanding foam (increasing gain before feedback), and terminate the jack connection neatly on the side of the fiddle. Obvious disclaimer about not doing this to a Stradivarius!


I modified quite a few fiddles this way for various bandmates, and even built a few by hand from scratch.


So, a few options:


Clip on microphone -

Audio Technica ATM350 http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired_mi...6978/index.html

Countryman Isomax 2 http://www.countryman.com

SD Systems Mic110 http://www.sdsystems.com/mic110.htm


Bug type -

LR Baggs http://www.lrbaggs.com/html/products/pickups_violin.shtml

Fishman V200 http://www.fishman.com/products/details.asp?id=60

Ashworth AJ11/AJ111 http://www.ashworthelectronics.co.uk/

Barcus Berry 3100 http://barcusberry.com/product_html/3100.cfm


Bridge type -

Barcus Berry 1320 http://barcusberry.com/product_html/1320_1320B.cfm

Ashworth AJ411 http://www.ashworthelectronics.co.uk/


As for recommendations it's been a while since I used a bug, but I always had great results with the Ashworth AJ411 bridge. Most of these fall into your budget. What is the style of music? How much value (not in pounds...) do you place on your instrument?

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Hey, you sass that hoopy James Remo? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is. (Sorry...I've been re-reading some Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.)


Seriously, there's some very comprehensive advice from James who has certainly had experience with a wider range of violin pickups/mics than I have!


The only comments I can add are that, of the mics he suggests, a big favourite of mine for this application is the Countryman Isomax 2. I find it gives a good neutral-to-slightly-warm sound and nicely avoids the harshness that you can get sometimes. Otherwise (don't laugh) I've had pretty reasonable results with a Sennheiser MKE2. Using this has always been an "emergency" so it's always been taped to the bottom of the neck with the mic just poking out, facing the violinist. However, I won't suggest that as a permanent solution!


As for "bugs" I've used the Ashworth AJ11 on a number of occasions and have a love/hate relationship with it. In my experience, left to it's own devices, the sound is shrill and (quoting Douglas Adams again) "almost, but not quite completely, unlike the sound of a violin". However, with a LOT of EQ it can actually sound rather nice...and the good thing is, once you've found the EQ that works for you, you can just keep using the same settings. I have an "Ashworth" preset saved somewhere in my DM1000.



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The DPA 4060 & 4061 Microphones make excellent string microphones. Though I must say, these instruments aren't meant to be close mic'd so IMO nothing ever sounds quite right.


DPA make handy mounts for string instruments which hold the mic just behind the bridge. There are adaptors that will allow you to work with almost any wireless system you can dream of, or plain old phantom powered XLR.


I have no idea if they are in your budget (I can't think in pounds, see).





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I've had good experiences with (I think)Audio Technica AT35 - DV247 have Pro-35 and 350 models listed which clip onto the chin rest and then point into an F-hole - used with great success in various ceilidh bands.


Eliza Carthy uses one (and it's much better to work with than some of the other pic ups she tries to make people work with!) and Tim VE usees one on the bass end of his box. Although I think one of them uses a 35X and the other just uses the 35. There's a small freq response difference IIRC.


I'll try andremember to check later and let you know



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We have Just started to sell Schertler microphones and not a bad price for the 'basic' system PM for more info etc...


To follow up on this one, here is a linky to the relevant Schertler products for Violin/Fiddle.


The BASIK range is sub £100 and the excellent STAT series comes in sub £200.



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thanks guys, its a "B" standard instrument by James' list, although its going to be used primarily for folk/Cehlidh scenarios,


Obviously the best option of course is for me to try them out, however finding time in my Diary between now and the 25th of January may prove troublesome!



edit: can anyone recommend a brand of thin cable for mono Jack to Mono Jack (or to XLR) that isn't going to make it feel like the fiddle's being weighed down on one side? this is just for going to the fiddle to belt pack so not v. long

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Well my fiddle playing friend also has a just sub mortgage fiddle and he has a bridge mic with a thin wire down the tailpiece and under the chinrest. There there is an SMA (I think) very small connector and he has the wireless inside the shoulder rest with a small fx unit
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I have used various mics from Microvox - http://www.microvox.co.uk/ - who specialise in mics for acoustic instruments - especially the ceilidh/folk market. I own one of their accordion units. I have never used their violin/viola unit, but I was speaking to someone who uses one regularly and it got a good reports.


Alan from Microvox was very helpful when I spoke to him...


There are a couple of mounting options - either via a velcro wrap or pad around the tailpiece, or via a cork-faced clamp to mount the mic above the f-hole.




The mics are electret, and require an external PSU. Microvox have a couple of battery-powered models. I recently bought a phantom-powered one from "mixermend" on this forum - it's rather good, but obviously not ideal if you're using a radio pack.

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I forgot to mention that in an emergency situation recently I was quite surprised with a Sure WL93 capsule. This was not in a high ambient noise situation, and it picked up a fair amount of breathing (that was reduced by using a wind sheild).


Other points of interest (but possibly off topic?)

Backline - One of the bands I was in was so loud on stage the fiddler decided to start using an amp for backline. He started with a Vox AC30 (so much buzz!!!) before trying a whole range of amps. We found that bass amps gave a cleaner, more natural sound, especially if using a 4x10 with a HF element in the cabs. When the fiddler started playing with stereo fx, he moved to a pair of 10"+horn pa cabs, each driven by a 70's peavey bass valve preamp, and one side of a Crown 1201. His backline rack was 14u! (Racklight, tuner, dual Sure premier UHF reciever, 7u of fx units, 2u of preamps, 2u of amp!) Thankfuly now he's using a Line 6 pod xt (2u) and only using a house monitor wherever he plays.


On the subject of the pod, I did a corporate gig last year where they had Stringfeaver http://www.stringfever.co.uk/ as the after dinner entertainment. A fully electric quartet that used Violectra Violins http://www.violectra.co.uk and had a nice rack of 4 pods, 4 senheiser em500's and a mixer, giving the house system a stereo feed. Turn around was 10 mins and an amazingly fast soundcheck, with excellent results. A very entertaining act too!

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