Last September I was performing at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival and someone asked me, “How do you amplify your violin to get such a natural sound?”
I get that question a lot online, but this time, I had everything set up in position to shoot a quick video showing you exactly what I use. It’s actually quite a simple set-up.
The video explains how everything works together, and you can also follow links to the exact equipment I use along with some alternative options depending on your situation.
It all begins with the pick-up on my violin which is the Baggs Bridge made by LR Baggs:
It’s a transducer style pickup that is embedded in the wood of a high quality violin bridge with a side mounted 1/4 inch jack, also known as a carpenter jack. This all needs to be installed by an experienced violin luthier, because the bridge will replace your old bridge and needs to be custom carved to fit your violin.
The Baggs Bridge has no on-board pre-amp so you’ll need a piece of gear to boost the signal a bit before going to your PA mixing board. I explain two options here:
Option 1 (which I use when playing at outdoor festivals)
A wireless transmitter which boosts the signal and sends it magically through the air to the corresponding receiver:
For some reason on Amazon it is only available with the additional hand held mic. Unless having the mic as another option looks like fun, I recommend getting a better price for just the Audio-Technica 4000 Unipak transmitter and receiver by calling these guys: http://www.northernsound.net/
And this is the unique cable that will plug into your violin and into the unique jack on the Audio-Technica transmitter pack:
Staying with an entirely cabled system. If you don’t really need to hide cables (as in a Renaissance Faire setting), you can save a lot of money and get a slightly better sound this way. When I’m playing indoors on a small stage and don’t plan to run out into the audience and dance on tables while playing, I use a 1/4 inch instrument cable like this:
I like having the “right angle” connector to plug into my violin because it’s less visible and hugs the side of the violin instead of sticking straight out of the violin under my left ear.
Then simply plug the other end into a DI box or preamp. I use this one, also made by Baggs:
Whether you send your signal to a wireless receiver, or plug right into a DI box, you will use an XLR cable to take the signal to the mixing board or amp:
This covers everything to get you from violin to the board. If you’re putting together an entire PA system, and are curious about the rest of the PA gear that I use with my band Circa Paleo, here ya go.
We use this board:
JBL powered front speakers:
And a sub woofer for the drums and bass:
For new players, I hope this helps you to get out there and start performing!
If you already amplify your violin, please let us know your fave gear in the comments below.