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What’s the Difference Between a Silent Violin and an Electric Violin?

Easy decision-making for violinists ‘going electric’.

Yamaha Silent and Electric Violins have been designed for silent practice, live performance and studio music processing applications. The SV and YEV have set the standard for electric string instruments not only in the United States, but globally!

Naturally, the number one question we get is: “What is the difference between a Silent Violin and an Electric Violin?” We’re here to answer your questions and help you choose the right violin for you.

Both Yamaha Silent Violin and Electric Violin are considered “electric” – what’s the difference?

It comes down to function. With a Silent Violin you have two functions: practice with headphones, or you can plug it in and play out through your amp. A Yamaha Electric (YEV) Series violin has one main function – plug in and play amplified.

In short, Silent Violin (SV) = headphone option plus plug into an amp vs Electric Violin (YEV) = plug into an amp only.

Yamaha Silent Violin vs Electric Violin

Do Yamaha Silent Violins and Electric Violins sound different from each other?

Yes they do – and it’s more about how you create and control that sound. Yamaha Silent Violin ranges from having a flat, unprocessed sound, to built-in reverb – as if you were playing in a big concert hall. The output of the pickup on the Silent Violin series is extremely strong, and can easily amplify any external effects like distortion or delay. The SV features allow players a range of sound control options on the instrument, as well as the option to use external processors and effects.

The Yamaha Electric Violin is a simple, passive pickup and there is no built-in effect or tone control – it’s a straight signal output to an amp. Therefore, it has more of an open, wooden sound – thanks to the all-wooden construction and in-bridge pickup. You can further adjust tone and sounds from your amp or external pedals.

In short:

SV = flat, clean sound with more control on the instrument itself
YEV = more open sound, and more control from your amp

Young man playing Yamaha Electric Violin (YEV)

How do I know which instrument is right for me?

Ask yourself why you want to buy an electric violin. If you want to primarily practice without disturbing others, choose Silent Violin. There are professional-model Silent Violins that are great for amplified performance too, but all Silent Violins have a headphone feature built-in for listening. If your main reason to buy an electric instrument is for playing amplified – and you don’t have a big need for quiet practice – then the YEV is a great choice.


Heather Mansell is an accomplished violinist, enthusiastic traveler and a 15-year Yamaha employee. She started her career in the musical products industry in Toronto, after her orchestral stand partner offered her a job at a downtown violin shop. Heather is now based out of Southern California at Yamaha Corporation of America and is the Product Manager for Orchestral Strings. She has eagerly traveled to over a dozen countries in the pursuit of learning about people, places, and music.

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