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1to1 Tips - Choosing the Perfect Pickup

There are a number of considerations you must take into account when selecting a pickup. Do you want a permanent pickup solution or something that is removable?  Is how quickly and easily the pickup can be installed and removed an important factor? Beyond volume, how important to you is tone reproduction? What are you willing to spend on a pickup?

Pickup types for bowed string instruments can be divided into two main categories: permanent pickups (usually bridge replacements) and removable pickups. As we will see, there are several different types of removable pickup, which suit different performance needs.


Removable pickups

Removable pickups come in a wide variety of styles and options, which vary greatly in terms of price, ease of use and tone quality.  Many players have only one instrument and rely on it for performing both amplified and un-amplified. For these players a removable pickup is often the best or most convenient solution. There are several different types of removable pickups. In general, the more expensive the pickup, the better the tone, and the better the tone, the more delicate installation procedure.

The Band Pickup

The Band is an instant-fit pick-up which Velcro’s to itself around the the body of the instrument. It requires no alteration of the instrument itself and generates a strong passive (no batteries required) signal which can usually be plugged straight into a mixing desk or combo amp. The multiple pick-up elements, of the Violin version of The Band, are tuned specifically for Violin and deliver a lively, tailored passive signal. The Band is used equally in folk/rock and classical situations and is a favourite with sound engineers and players alike, as it offers far greater volume levels before feedback, compared to mics. You can avoid being tied down to mic stands and The Band cuts feedback, bowing noise, body noise and excessive treble by acoustic filter.


Bridge mounted pickups

bridge-mounted violin pickup

These style of pickup typically wedge in your bridge’s wing slot or clip on to the side of the bridge. These are still relatively quick to install and remove but provide better, stronger and more reliable tone than the ‘easy fit’ pickups. Our most popular bridge mounted pickup is the Headway VL3 Passive Violin Bridge Pickup


Under the bridge pickups

The Realist brand pickups* offer great amplified tone because they collect vibrations from both the bridge and top of your instrument. However, installation and removal is a little tricky, so while they are not “permanent” pickups you will likely leave them on most of the time. Please contact us for a quote.

(*The Realist SoundClip for cello and bass is a bridge clamp-on pickup.)


Clip-on microphones

Attachable microphones can offer excellent tonal fidelity and are relatively easy to install and remove. Their two drawbacks are 1) mic direction and placement must be precise for optimal tone and 2) they can be prone to feedback too close to amplification sources or in a particularly loud playing environment.That said, our Violin Mic w/Clip DPA d:vote 4099V produces a gorgeous acoustic tone, clip-on microphones are one of the best options! 

Contact microphones

These pickups are the best of both worlds between mics and pickups. They are safely installed and easily removed even on expensive fine acoustic instruments and provide excellent tone reproduction. As with clip-on mics, placement is key for optimal tone and feedback is occasionally an issue. Also, to get all the benefits of contact mics you should expect to pay more.



Permanent pickups

Schatten V-02-PRO Violin Bridge Pickup with 1/4" jack

Permanent pickups integrate with your instrument and provide a reliable, ready-to-go amplification source that can sound great.  For anyone who has an instrument they can designate for permanent amplification, a bridge replacement pickup tends to offer excellent tone and hassle-free amplification every time you pick up the violin (just plug and play!).

Most bridge replacement pickups are simply standard maple violin bridges with embedded piezo pickups and wire connecting to an output jack. As such they do not significantly alter the acoustic (unplugged) tone of the instrument and you can therefore still use the converted violin for acoustic performance purposes.  The only caveat here is that the presence of a wire and in some cases attached output jack might visually prohibit one from performing on their acoustic-electric in, say, a classical orchestral setting.

These bridges are typically priced mid-range relative to other pickup options, but require the expertise of a luthier for installation, the additional cost of which must be factored in to the price.  Consult with your luthier about the cost of bridge crowning/fitting or contact us for some advice.

Some bridge replacement pickups, offer multiple piezo elements for a more balanced amplified tone and greater signal output, but as they are larger bridges they may sacrifice some of the tone quality of the unamplified instrument.


We carry a wide selection of all different types of pickups to meet the amplification needs of almost any string playing scenario. With prices starting around £100, we’re sure we can help any player on any budget sound great and be heard!  If you need assistance picking the perfect pickup for your needs and budget, don’t hesitate to contact 1to1Music by calling +442890814855 or emailing