Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I wanted to buy some pickups for my accoustic violin and I was looking on and see these two models that seems interesting with the same price:

I am quite unable to make a choice between the two since they seem to be of the same quality range (regarding their prices). I am looking for help or advice concerning what could be determinant in such a choice.

Are there any objective criterion that could allow me to choose? Has anyone tried either of these pickups?

share|improve this question
Shopping recommendations are off-topic, so I tweaked the question slightly to make sure the focus was on the objective criteria/guidelines you asked for. Hope that's OK. – Matthew Read Jan 10 '12 at 17:07
While shopping recommendations are off-topic, I take that to mean one shouldn't be asking questions about where to shop or how to get the best deal. Asking what violin pickups are typically available for less than some amount and how they differ technically is surely setting objective criteria. – MετάEd Jan 10 '12 at 19:08

I have the The Realist on my cello (not the violin version obviously, but it should be comparable) and I'm content with it. It reliably picks up the string tone with quite good precision and has very good electrical characteristics. Like probably every bridge pickup design, it lacks the resonant qualities of the instrument's body, i.e. sounds somewhat dull on its own; but in those context where you need a pickup it's usually ok.

Can't say much about the Fishman. It seems to be a similar construction, so I doubt it can perform much better than the The Realist when it comes to body sound. But I really don't know.

share|improve this answer

Finding the ideal pickup for an acoustic instrument can quickly become a tedious, expensive, frustrating pursuit.

You can learn a lot online, but you'll soon fine that everyone has their opinion, and what works for them may not work for you. I often look to the quantity of positive reviews for pickups, rather than one or two opinions, as expert as they may be.

The best online resource then may be any sound comparisons you can find, ideally done in a controlled way (that is, using the same instrument, pre-amp, mic, etc - just changing the pickup). Another idea is to find players whose sound you like, and see if you can figure out what they use.

If I hear an acoustic instrument in a show that sounds particularly good, I do my best to ask the sound man (or the artist, if I can get to them) what kind of setup they are using.

Finally, be aware that a pickup is only one part of what can be a long signal path. The preamp can make a huge difference, as can eq and other effects. And of course whether you are ultimately going into an amplifier or house PA, etc.

Have fun!

share|improve this answer

See if you can find a good music shop near you where you can go and try different pickups that they have in stock - ring around first because you may well need a string specialist shop that have different ones in stock, but this is possibly the most reliable way to try different ones out. You'll often end up paying a bit more than if you purchased online, but in my experience the ability to try the models out makes it more than worth it. Whatever you do, don't go and try them all out in a shop then buy online for slightly cheaper - that's just rude!

In my experience, if you're playing a nice violin a clip on microphone actually often does a much better job at picking up the natural sound of the instrument rather than a contact based design. I've found the ATM350 to be a nice fit, they cost around £150 and give a good sound without picking up too much background noise - so that would be my personal recommendation.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.