My first professional fiddle job was in Cody, Wyoming and we played an hour a night for 120 nights in a row for the tourists headed to Yellowstone National Park.
When I started back then I used a Fishman violin pickup that slid into the space in the bridge of the violin (I do not recommend this). It sounded harsh and wasn’t the best option.
My Favorite Piezo Violin Bridge Pickup And Pre-Amp Combo
After a few months of research and asking every fiddle player I knew, this is the best violin or fiddle pickup I could find. People are constantly asking me what I use, because it truly sounds amazing, so here I’ve written a guide on fiddle and violin pickups, and how I chose mine.
What I, and most of my fiddle playing friends in the alternative country music scene use for on-stage, is an L.R. Baggs bridge pickup.
I also run my signal through an L.R. Baggs pre-amp to get the smoothest and most natural tone.
With those two elements, I’ve been able to successfully make my violin sound like a natural, clean, acoustic instrument when it used to sound harsh, thin, and fake.
However, you do need to take into account the violin you’re using. This makes a huge difference in your amplified sound. I am using a fairly new violin built in 2005 and has a deep, rich tone. It’s definitely not an antique, and in my opinion, sometimes the older violins can be harsher.
This fiddle pickup is road tested and after I had it installed on my violin, I’ve basically never touched it again. It always works, stays tight on the body of my fiddle, and always sounds great.
While researching for this post, I’ve also discovered that Sara Watkins, Mark O’Connor, and Lindsey Sterling all use the same setup.
Other Violin Pickup Options
If that setup isn’t what you’re looking for, you do have other options that might suit your situation better. I’ve jotted them down here for your reference.
The Band Violin Pickup – I’ve never used one of these styles and I’ve never known someone who has, but I believe they’re used more in the classical violin area. They may sound fine, but they definitely detract from the look of your violin.
Microphone Violin Pickup – This type of pickup is suited best for quiet environments for perhaps classical or bluegrass settings. I’ve seen a few people use these to get a very accurate sound from their instrument, but they do create issues with feedback in loud environments.
Let me know if I’ve missed anything here or if you have any questions about my setup. I’d love to chat!