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7 Best Violin Pickups to Amplify Your Instrument

For those times when you want to amplify your violin (usually when you’re playing with a band or orchestra) you’re going to need a pickup. The thing is, getting a faithful reproduction of your beloved violin isn’t always that straightforward (pickups tend to add their own tone).

To help you out, we went on the hunt for the best violin pickup to cater for most needs. Here’s what we found.

Best Violin Pickups: Product Guide

The Feather with Flexible Micro-Gooseneck

The Feather Violin Pickup with Flexible Micro-Gooseneck by Myers Pickups
193 Reviews
The Feather Violin Pickup with Flexible Micro-Gooseneck by Myers Pickups
  • Myers Pickups introduces their new lightweight powerhouse. So light that we named it The Feather. So compact that it can be positioned on a multitude of instruments without modification or permanent installation and still faithfully amplifies the natural tone and beauty of your instrument!
  • Fully equipped with an internally powered, active preamp to produce the richest sound your instrument can deliver! Power-source (included) is pre-installed and each pickup is meticulously tested before delivery. No phantom power needed! Compatible with most wireless systems!
  • Complete out of the box, plug in and play! All mounting hardware included. Instantly turn your instrument into an acoustic/electric instrument with volume! Compatible with almost any musical instrument! Made in the USA.

The Feather is a super lightweight – hence the name ‘Feather’ – pickup that’s made in the USA.

It has an internally powered, active preamp that faithfully amplifies the natural tone and beauty of your violin via its sensitive omnidirectional microphone. The clip has a flexible goose-neck, so you can adjust the microphone’s position as required.

This pre-amp has a soft rubber fluted volume knob, putting you in control of your output and allowing you to make small adjustments from the stage.

As the pickup is so small and subtle, it will barely affect your instrument’s aesthetic, making it perfect for purists or classical musicians who would like their look to remain unaltered.

Features:

  • Super lightweight and discreet pickup.
  • Internally powered, active preamp.
  • Built-in highly sensitive omnidirectional microphone.
  • Soft rubber fluted volume knob.
  • Made in the USA.

KNA VV-3 Detachable Passive Piezo Pickup

Save $8.60
KNA Pickups Portable Piezo Violin/Viola Pickup (VV-3)
  • Delivers the natural sound of your violin or viola
  • Wooden sensor casing is lightweight, unobtrusive and installs in the eye of the bridge
  • Solid ebony, cork-lined jack housing holds firmly to the instrument via an adjustable cork-lined clamp

The KNA VV-3 is a superbly priced piezo pickup with a lightweight, wood-encased sensor that’s designed to deliver the natural sound of your violin.

It clips to the bridge, then the small ebony jack output box is attached to the side of your violin’s body. The solid ebony, cork-lined 1/4″ Carpenter jack holds firmly to the instrument via a clever adjustable cork-lined clamp.

It offers a clear, warm, and transparent tone which truly amplifies what’s already there. One drawback is there are no controls – so you’ll need to adjust volume, EQ, and anything else on your amp.

It’s perfect for the beginner, or if you’re shopping on a budget.

Features:

  • easy installation without instrument modification.
  • solid ebony, cork-lined ¼” Carpenter jack sits snug to the violin with an adjustable barreled clamp.
  • clamp feet and the bottom of the pickup are lined with soft cork to protect instrument varnish.
  • superb value for money.

Fishman V-200 Classic Series

Fishman V-200 Classic Series Violin Pickup
  • Easy installation with no alteration
  • An impedance matching preamp isrecommended, but not required
  • Lightweight to minimize muting

Fishman are renowned for their expertise in acoustic amplification. The Fishman V-200, a further incarnation of their best-selling V-100, is no exception. It’s a high-quality, piezo-ceramic pickup that faithfully reproduces the violin’s sound. 

It requires no alteration when installing, and uses a Carpenter-style, 1/4″ output jack which mounts on the side of the instrument.

As it’s passive, it doesn’t require any batteries and can be either permanently fitted or attached/removed as and when suits you.

To realize its full potential, Fishman recommends you use an impedance-matching preamp such as the Platinum Stage, Platinum Pro EQ, or Powerjack (even better, one of their Aura Imaging preamps). However, if you want simple reproduction, it does the job just fine, and you always have the option of adding the preamp at a later date.

Features:

  • High-quality, piezo-ceramic pickup that produces a gorgeous, natural tone.
  • Easy installation with no alteration.
  • Pair it with an impedance-matching preamp (ideally an Aura Imaging preamp) for the ultimate tone.
  • Lightweight to minimize muting.
  • Great value for money.

Barcus Berry 3100 Clamp-On Bridge Violin Piezo Pickup

Save $15.00
Barcus Berry 3100 Clamp-On Bridge Violin Piezo Pickup
  • Clamps easily to the violin bridge and connects via cable to the 3100P output jack. Offers wide band frequency response and excellent string balance.
  • Feedback rejection feature provides excellent signal isolation for clear, true reproduction of the violin’s sound.
  • No additional tools or holes to drill – making attachment and removal a breeze.

The Barcus Berry 3100 is another budget-friendly piezo that works after it’s clipped onto the bridge and then connected to a jack output, although – unlike the KNA VV3 – this isn’t in a stylish, wooden casing. Rather, there’s a small, black case that holds the jack output socket.

It includes a ‘feedback rejection’ feature, ensuring a clear, isolated signal that’s true to your violin’s original sound. There’s also a wideband frequency response in the device, adding to the clarity and transparency of the sound.

Price-wise, it costs a little more than the KNA model. However, the clarity of sound is superior and it’s extremely easy to connect to your instrument. Removing it isn’t too difficult, either, as it’s clipped on with a no-tools-needed holder, and the output jack is connected via a metal clip that fits easily onto the violin’s body.

Its looks are a little subtler than either of the other products, making it a good choice for those who are keen not to alter their instrument’s aesthetic. However, it isn’t the most invisible accessory out there.

The Barcus Berry will suit those looking for something not too costly that will amplify decently and transparently, which can also be applied with little trouble. Like the other two budget models, there are no volume or EQ controls here, so it might not be suited to more advanced players who require immediate control over these settings.

Features:

  • Easily fitted with no tools or drills needed.
  • ‘Feedback rejection’ feature.
  • Includes an output that you can plug your own jack into.

Headway’s ‘The Band’ Violin Pickup System

Headway The Band Violin Pickup System
72 Reviews
Headway The Band Violin Pickup System
  • Easy instant fitting and transferability
  • Warmth and clarity of tone
  • Reduced feedback and body boom

The Band by Headway is an easy-to-use system that sounds great. It’s an instant, passive, magnetic pickup system that attaches using velcro around the body of the violin (as opposed to a clamp or mount). This enables it to pick up the full, natural sound of the instrument that’s very intuitive, with a large dynamic range.

As it’s passive, no batteries are required, and the way it’s fastened means that no tools are necessary for attachment.

Obvious downfalls to the Headway system are the velcro fastening – which wears out over time – and how it dominates the instrument’s looks. The Headway goes across the width of the instrument, with a logo on the front. The jack output is also on the top, so you’ll have a lead sticking out of the side of the instrument. This won’t bother everybody, but it’s far from subtle.

The good sound quality and dynamic capabilities make it appropriate for professional and semi-professional performers who want something easy to put on and take off to instantly amplify their instrument. Its bulkiness will make it unsuited to those who wish to keep their fiddle’s traditional aesthetic.

Features:

  • Easy to apply and requires no tools or drilling.
  • An intuitive sound that’s true to the instrument in all its dynamics.
  • Passive and magnetic, so no batteries are required.

LR Baggs Violin Pickup with External Jack Mount

LR Baggs Violin Pickup with External Jack Mount
43 Reviews
LR Baggs Violin Pickup with External Jack Mount
  • Superieur Despiau “Two Tree” maple bridge
  • Even string-to-string balance
  • Highly feedback-resistant

This bridge pickup from LR Baggs looks very discreet and sounds great. The bridge has multi-directional sensors built-in, which enable a natural sound that comes from your violin and nothing else. As it’s a bridge, you might need to get it fitted professionally, and even trimmed, but once it’s there, you can leave it be.

Linked up is a small jack output that can be clipped to the edge of your violin. This has a protective cork casing to protect your instrument, but getting the jack in place will require soldering, which you might prefer to ask a professional to do.

This includes transducers that reject unwanted sounds such as finger noise and feedback, encouraging only the musical sounds you would like to project.

It’s a little pricey, but not as much as a high-quality electric violin would be, making it still a bargain for what you get. It’s the top choice of many professionals, especially in classical music due to its nonintrusive looks and sensitivity of sound.

This is perfect for classical musicians who need to amplify themselves without feedback, and want something that’s permanently fitted. At this price, it won’t be appropriate for those who are looking for something as an alternative to getting an electric violin.

Features:

  • Extremely subtle and can be permanently fitted.
  • It has a natural sound whilst also eliminating feedback.
  • Multi-directional sensors make the tone even truer.

Carpenter Jack Pickup with Micro-Gooseneck by Myers Pickups

Violin Pickup Carpenter Jack with Micro-Gooseneck by Myers Pickups
  • Violin Pickup with flexible micro-gooseneck! Includes the new carpenter jack mount!!
  • The smallest (all-in-one) active/preamp pickup on the market today!
  • Instantly turn your instrument into an acoustic/electric instrument! Compatible with almost any musical instrument! Perfect for string instruments!

The Carpenter Jack (love the name!) is a small, active, all-in-one choice that’s versatile, easy to use, and quick to install. This unobtrusive little black box with a thin microphone is easy to forget it’s there while you’re playing – ideal!

Like The Feather, it can be used on a variety of instruments and it also has a micro-goose neck which is adjustable so that the miniature microphone picks up from an angle that you think sounds best.

The Carpenter Jack’s pre-amp is clipped on to the edge of your violin along with the built-in jack output. This will need a battery to work but there is one included and pre-installed. It’s probably the most subtle, effective, and easy-to-use pickup here, as once it’s installed, all you can see is the small black box on the side of your instrument and a tiny microphone pointing wherever you choose to point it.

Sound-wise, expect a transparent, high-quality tone with no feedback. This is truly a fantastic device, with the only downside being that the micro-goose neck might be difficult to fit permanently into place.

The Carpenter Jack will suit those who require a versatile, flexible source of amplification, that they can adjust themselves mid-performance. It will be less suited to those who need a ‘permanently-in-place’ one.

Features:

  • Easy to install and to adjust.
  • Nonintrusive to the design of the violin.
  • Feedback-eliminating features.

Benefits

Alternative to an Electric

One of the main reasons you might be considering one of these is as an alternative to buying an electric violin. Perhaps you play in a folk or rock band and have a nice acoustic model that’s proving impossible to mic up at gigs.

You could buy an electric, but decent ones are pretty expensive, and you might lose some of your acoustic tone.

Could a pickup be a cheaper, better option? You bet! Even some of the high-quality options, as we’ll see, cost significantly less than a new instrument would.

Lead Parts in an Ensemble Performance

Perhaps you are a classical musician or a teacher of classical musicians, and you’re wondering how you can make solo parts stand out above an ensemble. These are perfect for that, as they can be quickly and easily fitted and transferred to different members of a band, to amplify sections when necessary in order to help them stand out from the backing instruments.

Solo Performances

It might be the case that you’re a performer, who needs a louder sound than you can get acoustically, or with a mic before it feeds back. Installing a pickup will boost your volume infinitely, without any unwanted feedback.

It’s the only real option besides buying a different type of violin such as an electric violin, which could be expensive (and may not be the sound you’re going for).

Buyer’s Guide – Key Considerations

So, now let’s have a look at some of the different types out there, and features you’d expect to see.

Types of Pickup

There are four main kinds: piezo, magnetic, micro-goose, and bridge pickups.

  • Piezo – Piezos are extremely common, available at all price points. They work by picking up vibrations from your instrument to create a high output and bright sound. Many people deem the bright sound that they create ‘too harsh’, but this isn’t always the case. Fitting a piezo close to the f-hole will produce a deeper sound to one that’s positioned behind the bridge.
  • Magnetic – Magnetic pickups are similar to piezos, but they’re more sensitive to dynamics and produce a warmer sound. Unlike piezos, which convert vibrations immediately into a high output signal, magnetic pickups are modulated by the vibrations of the string balance, depending on the dynamics of the playing. They tend to be more expensive than piezos, but are favored by the pros.
  • Micro-goose – Micro-goose style pickups are very versatile and natural-sounding. They are tiny microphones that are attached to little pre-amps so that you can control the sound. The micro-goose fitting means they are omnidirectional, so you’re able to experiment with different positions.
  • Bridge – Some pickups come as full bridges that you will need to install as your permanent bridge. These bridges contain transducers that pick up the sound and convert to signals. They’re are the least noticeable of all the pickups, so great if you don’t want to mess with the aesthetics of the instrument. However, they’ll typically need a professional to install, and they’re usually on the expensive side.

Passive vs. Active

Pickups are either passive or active, both of which have their benefits.

The passive type is called so because they require no batteries. Their magnets and transducers produce electrical currents themselves, so you can plug them in straight away. These then pass over the job of further shaping the sound to the amplifier or preamp they’re plugged into.

The active sort requires a battery, but they also work as a mini amp in themselves, some of them even including a pre-amp. The output is higher, so your tone will be more consistent and will require less external shaping.

Positions

While some are designed to clip onto bridges, or even come as full bridges, there are others that have more versatility.

Stick on piezos can be stuck wherever you please, while others clip onto or inside the ‘f’ holes (the f-holes are cut into the front panel of the violin’s body).

f-holes

Micro-goose pickups are by nature extremely flexible, so you’re able to experiment with positioning until you find the perfect, richest and most transparent tone. One downside here is that it might take a bit of fiddling to find that again, and again.

Generally speaking, for a louder, deeper sound you will position the mini mic towards the f-holes, while beneath the bridge is more likely to give a natural sound, though that can seem ‘harsh’ to some people.

Removable vs. Permanent

How often are you likely to use your violin plugged in? For those who are rarely going to require the feature, it might be best to opt for one that’s easy to remove as well as to install. Many can be clipped (or clamped) on and off effortlessly, with obvious positioning and no alteration at all to the instruments.

More permanent options are the bridges that include transducers. These are perfect for those who regularly perform plugged in, and want something that’s consistently high quality.

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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