Most versatile instrument in the world

Posted by: Eric Iverson

Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 06:36 AM

I happened to see a book at a local bookstore: "Violin, the most versatile instrument in the world."
Now I haven't read the book, but I happen to think that the most versatile instrument is the GUITAR.
Think about it - a nylon string classical is tuned the same, usually, as a solid body electric, or a Martin dreadnaught, but it's not just about different styles and repertoire, the playing techniques are very different.
Posted by: Fred_C

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 06:44 AM

100% agreed.
Posted by: Terrell

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 07:00 AM

The keyboard forum would probably have a pretty good argument for supremacy since they can fake any instrument. However poorly it might be...

I agree that the guitar is my favorite versatile instrument.
Posted by: Caevan O'Shite

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 08:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Terrell
The keyboard forum would probably have a pretty good argument for supremacy since they can fake any instrument. However poorly it might be...

I agree that the guitar is my favorite versatile instrument.


HELLyeah... !
Posted by: Scott Fraser

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 08:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Eric Iverson
I happened to see a book at a local bookstore: "Violin, the most versatile instrument in the world."
Now I haven't read the book, but I happen to think that the most versatile instrument is the GUITAR.
Think about it - a nylon string classical is tuned the same, usually, as a solid body electric, or a Martin dreadnaught, but it's not just about different styles and repertoire, the playing techniques are very different.


Sounds like the author of that book is using a criterion of "versatile" that we may not be sharing. I'll hazard that he means stylistically, since violin is well established in the folk or informal traditions of cultures all around the world, as well as the classical or formal end of the spectrum.
Guitarists, obviously, would point to other factors favoring guitar as the more versatile instrument, such as tessitura, harmonic complexity, the ability to play melody & accompaniment simultaneously, etc., as well as Eric's mention of the existence of several variations on the basic guitar concept.
Posted by: Sharkman

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 08:20 AM

I agree wholeheartedly with Scott Fraser. While the types of music that a violin can be featured in are numerous, the guitar, is even more so. While there are literally hundreds of different types of guitars, there are basically two types of violins: the standard version, and a standard version that has been modified (such as adding a pickup to make it an electric). Guitars can be played with the bare fingers, a pick, a violin bow (like Jimmy Page), an empty beer can (Edward Van Halen on the song Intruder), and many other implements. Violins are almost always played with a bow, and only plucked with the fingers on rare occasions.

The author of that book is obviously a violin music enthusiast, and is displaying a huge bias towards his taste in music. But hey, it's his book, and he can write whatever he wants to. Just like this is my message, and I get to write what I want to.
Posted by: Larryz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 08:38 AM

Originally Posted By: Terrell
The keyboard forum would probably have a pretty good argument for supremacy since they can fake any instrument. However poorly it might be...

I agree that the guitar is my favorite versatile instrument.


+1 on the guitar as my favorite. The keyboard forum would have another good argument for supremacy as they can play chords, leads, bass, treble, etc. simultaneously, without having to be as good as Tommy Emmanuel...
Posted by: p90jr

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 09:11 AM

Eric Johnson might aurally challenge the violin supremacy at times. I was listening to "Cliffs Of Dover" a while ago and somebody walked past my office and said "oh, I love violin music."
Posted by: Scott Fraser

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 09:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Sharkman
While there are literally hundreds of different types of guitars, there are basically two types of violins: the standard version, and a standard version that has been modified (such as adding a pickup to make it an electric).


If one is including hundreds of different types of guitars, one must also include the hundreds of different folk fiddles & viols seen in indigenous settings all over the world. Look up er-hu, kemanche, hardingfele, Strohviolin, gusle, etc. It's a vast family of related instruments.

Quote:
Guitars can be played with the bare fingers, a pick, a violin bow (like Jimmy Page), an empty beer can (Edward Van Halen on the song Intruder), and many other implements. Violins are almost always played with a bow, and only plucked with the fingers on rare occasions.


Largely true, but with significant exceptions. My day gig is running sound for a well known, very experimental string quartet. Over the years we have utilized: chopsticks, guitar picks, bottlenecks, pencils, thimbles, guitar strings, rosined dowels, cardboard plectrums, credit card plectrums, glass rods & no doubt a few I can't recall. Add to that all the various bowing techniques available to the violinist; sul tasto, sul ponticello, col legno, spicatto, flautando, ricochet, tremolo, pizzicato, etc. The various techniques for exciting strings has to be seen as roughly equivalent for violins & guitars.
Where I see the greater versatility favoring guitar is in the ability to voice complex harmony & provide polyphonic counterpoint. That's a pretty big deal, as far as a major portion of Western music theory being essentially unavailable to the solo violin. Then again, guitars work less well in large group settings, so you win some, you lose some.
Posted by: Eric Iverson

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 10:00 AM

Yes indeed keyboards are used in many kinds of music. They are not USUALLY used in bluegrass bands or classical Indian music (the guitar IS used in the latter nowadays). Or brass marching bands, but hey, that's unfair, LOL.

When we say keyboards, are we referring to all kinds of keyboards: acoustic piano, organ, harpsichord, electronic ones?
Posted by: Scott Fraser

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 10:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Eric Iverson
Yes indeed keyboards are used in many kinds of music. They are not USUALLY used in bluegrass bands or classical Indian music (the guitar IS used in the latter nowadays).


Well, there is the harmonium, although one could make the point that its use is more a part of Indian folk song tradition than the classical tradition, but there's a much more fluid dividing line between those two than in the West.
Posted by: whitefang

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 10:43 AM

I have to agree with Scott as far as what the author meant by "versitile". Certainly the violin is easier to carry around, but the guitar, when played either correctly or incorrectly, still sounds a lot more pleasant. No pick? Use your fingers. No BOW? Well then, NOW what? Certainly, within the family of bowed, string instruments, you'll find more instruments world-wide that have similarities to the violin; ie; viola, cello, bass viola, crowd, etc. That doesn't really indicate versatility, however. Other cultures have developed both types of instruments(guitar or violin)for playing indigenous music, from ancient celtic devices to the far East. Other cultures remained largely percussive or carved out flute type instruments. The author of that article(which I haven't read)DID need to make clear what was MEANT by "versitile".
Whitefang
Posted by: Dannyalcatraz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 10:55 AM

I come from a classical background, and I have to vote guitar #1, if for no other as on than that the extra strings give its greater operational scale.

In addition, sticking purely to the acoustic models, the bracing and overall structure of the guitar is a bit more robust, meaning it can handle more radical departures from standard tuning than can a violin. A violin simply couldn't be down tuned to its equivalent of C standard. You couldn't find strings the right size to maintain tension, nor would the instrument be able to seat them properly.
Posted by: Scott Fraser

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 11:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Dannyalcatraz
In addition, sticking purely to the acoustic models, the bracing and overall structure of the guitar is a bit more robust, meaning it can handle more radical departures from standard tuning than can a violin. A violin simply couldn't be down tuned to its equivalent of C standard. You couldn't find strings the right size to maintain tension, nor would the instrument be able to seat them properly.


I'm going to disagree there. You can, & in fact Kronos has, put a viola C string on a standard scale violin. I just did a set of gigs with Laurie Anderson & she plays a 5 string electric violin/viola, a custom instrument built by Ned Steinberger, with a low C on a standard violin scale neck. Also, alternate violin tunings are common in Gypsy, Arabic & other indigenous folk traditions.
Nonetheless, guitar reaches, in standard tuning, down to 2 whole steps above the low end of the cello, & on a 24 fret model, encompasses 4 octaves of range. Violin can't do that.
Posted by: Dannyalcatraz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 11:46 AM

I stand somewhat corrected!

However, you're talking a custom instrument- possibly made with that tuning in mind. I tuned my nothing special about it production Ovation Elite to NST and all I did was use some different strings. Didn't even need a change of setup.

Hell, at first, I didn't even change the strings...
Posted by: Scott Fraser

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 12:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Dannyalcatraz
I stand somewhat corrected!
However, you're talking a custom instrument- possibly made with that tuning in mind.


Certainly. I know others with 5, 6 & 7 string electric violins.

Quote:
I tuned my nothing special about it production Ovation Elite to NST and all I did was use some different strings. Didn't even need a change of setup.
Hell, at first, I didn't even change the strings...


True also on bowed strings in classical contexts. One of the Bach Cello Suites is retuned, i.e. the low C is tuned down, to B or Bb, I forget which now. It's not common, but definitely not unheard of in classical string playing where it's referred to as scordatura. It's done occasionally for certain Kronos pieces.
Posted by: Michele C.

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 01:01 PM

Hmmm, have you considered that the literature existing for guitar in the classical world is negligible confronted to how much violin there is?
The violin has been the Strat of the eighteenth century and that has been enough to make it dominate.
The scales are balancing, but they have been for no more than a century.
Posted by: Dannyalcatraz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 01:55 PM

Quote:
True also on bowed strings in classical contexts. One of the Bach Cello Suites is retuned, i.e. the low C is tuned down, to B or Bb, I forget which now. It's not common, but definitely not unheard of in classical string playing where it's referred to as scordatura.


Yes, downtuning can be done on classical strings.

But I'm talking going from E down to C on a guitar in NST- on a cello, that's like going from C down to, what, G#? You'd have the issue of the larger string to accommodate- not just in would it fit, but also for maintaining the proper string tension to keep the bridge properly seated.

I'm not us a standard cello would be up to it...and mine's on loan so I'm not in a position to try it out!
Posted by: Larryz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 04:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Eric Iverson
Yes indeed keyboards are used in many kinds of music. They are not USUALLY used in bluegrass bands or classical Indian music (the guitar IS used in the latter nowadays). Or brass marching bands, but hey, that's unfair, LOL.

When we say keyboards, are we referring to all kinds of keyboards: acoustic piano, organ, harpsichord, electronic ones?


The electronic keyboards can emulate many sounds to include piano, organ, acoustic piano, harpsichord, strings, horns, space effects, and other instruments using samplers, etc. The electrics are mostly 88 keys played in 440 and the acoustics and other keyboard type instruments are all playing the same way with the same basic notes but with different dynamics.

To narrow the playing field let's just take an acoustic piano, guitar and violin...

1st thing to consider whether it's a violin or anyother instrument is that it's going to have a hard time standing up to a chord instrument like a guitar or a piano when it comes to being versatile. It's hard to play and sing while playing the violin at the same time. It can be done on any stringed instrument but not as easy as a guitar or a piano and definately not on wind instruments. I agree that none of them will fit in with a marching band and the piano gets left out of Bluegrass for some reason? But, violins get left out of other genres as well. If I were to write music and chord changes in any genre, I would prefer a piano or a guitar over a violin. I'm sure there have been great composers that play the violin as their main instrument but most play pianos. Violins are great in many ways, but they are not considered stand-alone instruments. You can play chords and bass lines along with the melodies much easier on a guitar or piano as a solo instrument covering many genres. One must admit, it's harder to pack an acoustic piano to a gig though...
Posted by: Scott Fraser

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 06:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Dannyalcatraz
Yes, downtuning can be done on classical strings.
But I'm talking going from E down to C on a guitar in NST- on a cello, that's like going from C down to, what, G#? You'd have the issue of the larger string to accommodate- not just in would it fit, but also for maintaining the proper string tension to keep the bridge properly seated.
I'm not us a standard cello would be up to it...and mine's on loan so I'm not in a position to try it out!


I'm agreeing that guitar is ultimately a more versatile instrument than violin, but just disagreeing that certain characteristics are exclusive to guitar, or really meaningful signifiers of that versatility. The truly great advantage guitar has over violin, in terms of versatility, I believe, is the ability to play fully realized polyphonic music.
Posted by: Minte

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 06:41 PM

Originally Posted By: p90jr
Eric Johnson might aurally challenge the violin supremacy at times. I was listening to "Cliffs Of Dover" a while ago and somebody walked past my office and said "oh, I love violin music."


I finally am going to see him live. He is playing at a small venue in Madison on March 1 and I am really looking forward to this concert.
Posted by: Dannyalcatraz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 07:36 PM

Scott, I know you were agreeing, but my point was that even many of those things that both instruments do- such as handle alternative tunings- the guitar still has the advantage.

OTOH, the classical stringed instruments can do things no acoustic guitar (assuming normal exemplars, of course) can do. By virtue of their being constructed for being bowed, they can sustain a note far longer. Some members of the classical family can also drown out any guitar.

My last instructor had a cello that was several hundred years old. Its wood was unimaginably thin, and when he hit an open C with any vigor, he could rattle things on the shelves and piano in the practice room.
Posted by: Dannyalcatraz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 07:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Minte
Originally Posted By: p90jr
Eric Johnson might aurally challenge the violin supremacy at times. I was listening to "Cliffs Of Dover" a while ago and somebody walked past my office and said "oh, I love violin music."


I finally am going to see him live. He is playing at a small venue in Madison on March 1 and I am really looking forward to this concert.


I've only seen him once, and I will remember it forever. The man really brings it.
Posted by: russclan

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 07:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Minte


I finally am going to see him live. He is playing at a small venue in Madison on March 1 and I am really looking forward to this concert.


You're in for a treat. I've seen EJ twice...first time in '91 when he opened for Rush on their "Roll The Bones" tour. It was funny to listen to the people sitting around us before the show started. Most of them were like "Who the hell is Eric Johnson?". Once he hit the stage and started playing, they were all like "Hell Yeah!"

The second time was better, though. It was the first Alien Love Child tour, with Derek Trucks opening. That was probably the best live show I've seen.
Posted by: Dannyalcatraz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/05/13 07:45 PM

I saw him at a multi-day open-air festival in San Antonio- the day after SRV played- and it is the one and only show I've attended at which the drunks were shushing everyone around them when EJ was talking between songs.
Posted by: Eric Iverson

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/08/13 05:59 AM

In 1986, GP had an issue that said, "who is Eric Johnson and why is he on our cover?" This was before "Tones" and "A Via Musicom" and his mass popularity, at least among guitarists.

In that article Eric stated that he really liked listening to violinists, "their tones... that royalty of sound" and how he wanted to bring some of that class into rock guitar.

Back to the topic of versatility, EJ plays a lot of different guitar styles very well indeed. He's not a great singer or songwriter,especially his lyrics, but most guitarists are mainly interested in the great playing anyway!
Posted by: SEHpicker

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/08/13 06:27 AM

Saw EJ in Aspen in the late 90s - And Yes, Derek Trucks opened for him. It was in a little nightclub below street level called the Black Diamond. The place only holds about 200 people. I got there early and got a table 6 feet from the stage. Fantastic show.
Posted by: CEB

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/08/13 06:58 AM

The keyboard stuff is getting really good. I don't carry a banjo or mandolin anymore. The new Yamaha Motif library can pretty much nail those sounds it sonically. I've thought about using a Tele to trigger the sounds but my rig is already complex enough.

Guitar has it advantages and disadvantages. Main disadvantage is limited polyphany and a limited range to spread your voicings, it is a 6 voice instrument unless you use some variation with more strings.

In piano we talk about playing between the cracks, using crush notes and touch to get the feel of playing between the notes. With guitar it is easy you have bends.
Posted by: whitefang

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/08/13 10:00 AM

It's kind of hard to do ANYTHING when you have the "bends". Oh, wait...I get what you mean.

Sorry.

I STILL think of, when this kind of topic arises, that old "Far Side" cartoon that shows a bunch of cowboys sitting around a fire. One of them has a HUGE grand piano sticking out of his back pocket. The caption reads: "Say, Jeb. Why don't you pull that thing out and play us a few tunes?"
Whitefang
Posted by: Winston Psmith

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/10/13 11:11 AM

Originally Posted By: CEB
The keyboard stuff is getting really good. I don't carry a banjo or mandolin anymore. The new Yamaha Motif library can pretty much nail those sounds it sonically. I've thought about using a Tele to trigger the sounds but my rig is already complex enough.

Guitar has it advantages and disadvantages. Main disadvantage is limited polyphany and a limited range to spread your voicings, it is a 6 voice instrument unless you use some variation with more strings.


I would respectfully argue that once we bring MIDI into this discussion, limited polyphony is no longer the issue. My guitar only has six strings, true, but if I plug into just one of my guitar synths, the synth engine allows me to use two of its internal tones to construct a sound - tones I can set to very different pitch values from my original guitar signal, so right now, I'm up to 18 possible notes; if I patch in my other GR unit, we're at 30. Add in my outboard synths & modules, and MIDI patchbays . . . well, you get the point. Loopers, sequencers, and effects like Pitch Shifting & Ring Modulation allow for self-accompaniment, harmonizing, and even micro-tonality.

In fairness, a fully-equipped kb MIDI rig clearly has all the same sonic potential, and, yes, you can use all ten of your fingers & thumbs. The guitar is still the most versatile instrument for me, because it's the one I have the most skill with. YEMV. . . .
Posted by: Guitarzan

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/10/13 03:05 PM

i don't see how any other instrument can be more versatile than a guitar.
guitar can cover so many genres of music and so easily accessible. it can be as easy or hard as you want. considering some players now who use tapping, thumping etc it really can do more than a piano or violin IMHO.
nothing against piano or violin but there is a lot more work involved to play those, where you can show someone a few chords and then they are banging away at a campfire.

to be really versatile you would need to be able to cover a lot of genres, something violin and piano doesn't.
really..heavy metal piano?

c'mon guitar just plain has it. Chords (in multiple) places, single note lines, percussive playing tapping, harmonics, trem stunts etc.

come to think of it isn't it cool that you can play the exact same chord voicings in multiple places? not to mention double the exact same note. try that on piano, and it can be tuned easily
Posted by: Larryz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/10/13 04:47 PM

Originally Posted By: CEB
The keyboard stuff is getting really good. I don't carry a banjo or mandolin anymore. The new Yamaha Motif library can pretty much nail those sounds it sonically. I've thought about using a Tele to trigger the sounds but my rig is already complex enough.

Guitar has it advantages and disadvantages. Main disadvantage is limited polyphany and a limited range to spread your voicings, it is a 6 voice instrument unless you use some variation with more strings.

In piano we talk about playing between the cracks, using crush notes and touch to get the feel of playing between the notes. With guitar it is easy you have bends.


I don't really think that the lack of polyphany gives the piano (or keys) an advantage over guitar...My old Juno 60 was only about a 6 note poly and I could cover just about anything I needed to do. I do admit I would rather have a 10 note if I was trying to play full chords with both hands on the same keyboard (ie. to cover a full string or horn section or combination thereof). But most of the time you can do with just 6 notes simultaneously as you chord with the left and lead with the right. Or play 2 note bass octaves with the left and chord with the right, or play bass boogie runs while chirping 5 note chords with the right, etc. The guitar is a 6 note polyphony (unless it's a 12 string then it has 10). But, the guitar has 30 notes available within a 5 fret span while the keyboard only has 24 notes available with both hands stretching over 2 octaves...both have their advantages to include cheater bars (ie. capo for guitar and a transpose button for keys)...just throwing out some food for thought and not trying to make points, but I love'em both but I still pick the guitar over the keyboards for my own special interest.

Getting back to the OP, I think the violin is perhaps the most versatile instrument in the orchestra and can be used in more genres(ie. jazz, country, classical, etc.) than say an oboe or a picolo. If rating the most versatile solo buy an acoustic guitar, violin or piano, I think I would pick the violin, then the guitar and then the piano for the expression factor. Violins have more tear jerking expression than just about any instrument. Then again, I think we can name a specific artist on the guitar in fewer notes like BB King, Buddy Guy, Clapton, Knofler, SRV, Emmanuel, Travis, Atkins, etc. You would need a trained ear and more classical experience to pick out piano and violin greats doing their leads in the same limited amount of notes. Someone once pointed out that a child can walk up to a piano a play a C note and you can't tell if it was a child or a master as a quality of the piano will sound the same note, no matter who plays it...again, just some food for thought, not trying to make any real points here... cool
Posted by: A McLeod III

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/10/13 07:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith

In fairness, a fully-equipped kb MIDI rig clearly has all the same sonic potential, and, yes, you can use all ten of your fingers & thumbs. The guitar is still the most versatile instrument for me, because it's the one I have the most skill with. YEMV. . . .


Though I am also a pianist/synthesist, I would have to say that synths and midi as opposed to a singular instrument doesn't pose a fair comparison. That's kind of like a fight between Optimus Prime and Wall-E. laugh

Guitar and Piano I think are quite close. The piano in the hands of the right player can literally produce a symphony by itself and look at all the styles and avenues it can (and has covered) The guitar, well to me it is the "portable" orchestra. The various timbres that it's capable of make it a "go to" in terms of versatiliy. cool
Posted by: Guitarzan

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/10/13 07:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Larryz
Originally Posted By: CEB
The keyboard stuff is getting really good. I don't carry a banjo or mandolin anymore. The new Yamaha Motif library can pretty much nail those sounds it sonically. I've thought about using a Tele to trigger the sounds but my rig is already complex enough.

Guitar has it advantages and disadvantages. Main disadvantage is limited polyphany and a limited range to spread your voicings, it is a 6 voice instrument unless you use some variation with more strings.

In piano we talk about playing between the cracks, using crush notes and touch to get the feel of playing between the notes. With guitar it is easy you have bends.


I don't really think that the lack of polyphany gives the piano (or keys) an advantage over guitar...My old Juno 60 was only about a 6 note poly and I could cover just about anything I needed to do. I do admit I would rather have a 10 note if I was trying to play full chords with both hands on the same keyboard (ie. to cover a full string or horn section or combination thereof). But most of the time you can do with just 6 notes simultaneously as you chord with the left and lead with the right. Or play 2 note bass octaves with the left and chord with the right, or play bass boogie runs while chirping 5 note chords with the right, etc. The guitar is a 6 note polyphony (unless it's a 12 string then it has 10). But, the guitar has 30 notes available within a 5 fret span while the keyboard only has 24 notes available with both hands stretching over 2 octaves...both have their advantages to include cheater bars (ie. capo for guitar and a transpose button for keys)...just throwing out some food for thought and not trying to make points, but I love'em both but I still pick the guitar over the keyboards for my own special interest.

Getting back to the OP, I think the violin is perhaps the most versatile instrument in the orchestra and can be used in more genres(ie. jazz, country, classical, etc.) than say an oboe or a picolo. If rating the most versatile solo buy an acoustic guitar, violin or piano, I think I would pick the violin, then the guitar and then the piano for the expression factor. Violins have more tear jerking expression than just about any instrument. Then again, I think we can name a specific artist on the guitar in fewer notes like BB King, Buddy Guy, Clapton, Knofler, SRV, Emmanuel, Travis, Atkins, etc. You would need a trained ear and more classical experience to pick out piano and violin greats doing their leads in the same limited amount of notes. Someone once pointed out that a child can walk up to a piano a play a C note and you can't tell if it was a child or a master as a quality of the piano will sound the same note, no matter who plays it...again, just some food for thought, not trying to make any real points here... cool


good points. i bet in the right hands a sustainer equipped Strat would get some cool violin like expression. makes me want a sustainer.
Posted by: Dannyalcatraz

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/10/13 08:15 PM

I have a Fernandes Ravelle Elite with a sustainer- its pickups are a bit hot for a true "violin "type tone- but I bet you're right. An eBow might do the trick, too.
Posted by: Winston Psmith

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/11/13 09:11 AM

E-Bow + Volume pedal will give you some really nice string swell sounds. You can try a "Slow Gear"-style Attack Delay effect, but the Volume Pedal gives you more dynamic control.
Posted by: Eric Iverson

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/11/13 09:50 AM

I have an E-bow which I didn't use a LOT, but it was fun. The tape that comes with it shows all the things you can do with it, including a fabulous cello imitation!
There's a certain of volume control with the E-bow itself, based on how close to the pickup(s) it is, so you can swell into notes, which is characteristic of bowed and blowed /wind, LOL/ instruments, whereas a guitar note is loudest when you first strike it and then it decays.

I remember Roy Buchanan doing volume swells with his volume control, on "Sweet Dreams"; I doubt if he was the first to do it, but he surely did it well. I have known to do it with the volume control on my Di Marzio acoustic pickup.
Posted by: Terrell

Re: Most versatile instrument in the world - 02/12/13 09:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Scott Fraser

My day gig is running sound for a well known, very experimental string quartet. Over the years we have utilized: chopsticks, guitar picks, bottlenecks, pencils, thimbles, guitar strings, rosined dowels, cardboard plectrums, credit card plectrums, glass rods & no doubt a few I can't recall. Add to that all the various bowing techniques available to the violinist; sul tasto, sul ponticello, col legno, spicatto, flautando, ricochet, tremolo, pizzicato, etc. The various techniques for exciting strings has to be seen as roughly equivalent for violins & guitars.
Where I see the greater versatility favoring guitar is in the ability to voice complex harmony & provide polyphonic counterpoint. That's a pretty big deal, as far as a major portion of Western music theory being essentially unavailable to the solo violin. Then again, guitars work less well in large group settings, so you win some, you lose some.


This takes me back to a class I took at the Shepherd School of Music. It was an entire semester dedicated to making music on a piano without the keys and without destroying the Düsseldorf. I loved that class! I've never worked harder for an A- in my life...