Electric Violas
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Electric Violas at Shar
Selecting an electric instrument is a daunting process with many different designs to choose from. To make the right choice, first consider what you intend to do with it.

One option for violists to also consider in addition to an electric viola, is using a 5-string electric violin. There are some significant differences, but our electric instruments specialists can help you!

A beginning violist who would like to experiment with their friends in a band setting might want to dip their toe in with the Plug 'n Play 5 String which is a quality instrument at an affordable price. An intermediate student violist, who is attending a music camp or is on their way to a college dorm, will be very interested in instruments like the Plug 'n Play, or the Yamaha Silent Viola for their silent practice features (like headphone jack and CD/auxiliary input) since they will need to spend longer hours honing their craft.

Traditional players who are "gigging" in Churches, weddings and festivals will prefer the warm mellow tone of the Plug 'n Play, and the Yamaha Silent models for their attempts to faithfully reproduce the acoustic tone of a violin in an electric setting.

Professional performers who are very active and experienced will want to consider an instrument by NS Design.

Consider how you will most likely be using your electric instrument and then browse our selection online. Our Electric Instrument Specialists are available to help as well, just call us at 866.742.7898.
Getting Started
Stepping into the amplified arena of music performance can be as easy as installing a pickup on your current instrument. A piezo transducer responds to pressure on the instrument's bridge (either in the wing slot, under the bridge feet, or from within the bridge itself). This makes piezo pickups the optimal choice for bowed string instruments.

The standard pickups offered by Kremona and Fishman attach to the wing slot of the instrument's bridge and usually require no alteration to the instrument. The Kremona Pickup is a budget piezo model with low output gain, but the piezo is encased in a small soft piece of wood that seems to take some of the edge off of bow "attack" noise. The Fishman V100 has more output gain and is popular with more professional players.

For the more active performer who is willing to invest in a more ambitious setup which will involve alteration of the instrument, the LR Baggs bridge pickup offers a design that has the piezo carved inside an Aubert #7 Mirecourt bridge. This provides more balance, greater output, and less attack noise, but the bridge requires installation by a qualified technician. Another professional pickup is the Realist pickup designed by David Gage in collaboration with NS Design. The Realist is a transducer in a vinyl sleeve and rests between the bridge feet and the violin top, which puts it exactly where the sound is transferred from the strings to the sound board. It's mounting hardware is extremely compact and with such a high output gain it requires no external preamp. Though installation is relatively easy and can be done by the customer, the transducer raises the bridge height by about 1mm and some players may want to have their bridge height lowered by a qualified technician.

All piezo pickups require the use of a preamp to match the impedance of the pickup with the amplifier being used as well as to boost the pickup's signal. Features that tend to vary the most include the number of EQ controls and the existence of notch filters, compression, XLR outputs, and even 2-channel mixing capabilities and phantom power. Fishman preamps tend to have a smoother, more ambient sound while the LR Baggs preamp leans toward a tighter, more focused quality.

The small but powerful SHAR amps are included in our own outfits. They are portable, and are perfect for practicing in the home or studio at low volumes. Bowed string instruments have such a wide range of frequencies and dynamics that we recommend an "acoustic" instrument amplifier for live performances. Violins and violas enjoy the best results with amps that have a tweeter to accommodate the higher frequencies, while cellos and basses should use bass amplifiers.

Compare Electric Violas
Use our handy chart to compare the features of Electric violas at Shar.
Shar Item # YSA16 ZNA4 ZEAM
Model Yamaha SVV-200 Silent Viola Zeta Ensemble Series Zeta Educator
Selling Points Acoustic Feel & Tone, Professional Preamp, EQ, Silent Practice, Price Feedback Free, Acoustic Tone, Price, Silent Practice MIDI Compatible, Accompaniment Input, Price, Silent Practice
Body / Soundboard Spruce Basswood Basswood
Neck / Scroll Maple (unfinished) Bolt-On Maple Bolt-On Maple
Fingerboard Ebony Ebony Ebony
Tailpiece Ebony Zeta w/4 Tuners Zeta w/4 Tuners
Chin Rest Ebony (standard) Ebony Ebony
Tuning Pegs Ebony Ebony Ebony
Shape / Bouts Molded Plastic "Modern" Body Style "Modern" Body Style
Pickup System Piezo (dual) Zeta E-Series Zeta Jazz
Tone Enhancement EQ Modes (2 pre-sets) N/A N/A
Pre-amp Professional Zeta Preamp Zeta Preamp
Outputs 1/4" Line Out, Mini Headphone-Out 1/4" Analog, Mini Headphone-Out 1/4" Analog, 13-pin Digital, Mini Headphone-Out
Input N/A Auxiliary Input Auxiliary Input
Player Controls Master Volume Volume Volume
Standard Strings D'Addario Zyex Zeta Zeta
Color Choices Medium Brown Traditional Brown Traditional Brown
Sold As Instrument Only Instrument w/sculpted SKB Zeta Case Instrument w/sculpted SKB Zeta Case
Country of Origin Japan USA USA
MSRP $1,595 $1,495 $1,795
Shar Retail $1,207.50 $1,199 $1,436

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Have Questions? Call our Electric Instrument Specialists at 866.742.7898