Barcus Berry Vibrato BAR-AEG Acoustic-Electric Violin Review

Acoustic-electric violins occupy an interesting space because they can perform in two different roles. They combine the warm, rich tone of a wooden violin with the ability to magnify, modify, and record the sound through an audio jack. The BAR-AEG from Barcus Barry is an intermediate electric violin worth a look.

Things To Consider When Buying An Acoustic-Electric Violin

Acoustic-electric violins have two main determinants of their sound: the wood and body frame for the live sound and the pickups for the digital sound. Many acoustic electrics emphasize either one or the other. Some also have extra features like equalizers or tone control. Like other violins, they can be quite expensive, and the bow and strings cost money as well, not to mention an amp.

The BAR-AEG

The BAR-AEG is in the intermediate range of the market because it costs under $1000. In terms of features, it is on the simple side. There is no equalizer or other knobs to affect the tone, so all sound shaping is done at the amp. The pickups, which are desinged in-house by Barcus Berry, are probably the most attractive aspect of the BAR-AEG because their tone is even, consistent, and strong with good detail. The violin is built in Romania with local Carpathian woods- maple and spruce. It comes in five finish options: piano black, berry blue, metallic green, passion pink, and red-berry burst. The instrument ships with a soft case, a fiberglass bow, and rosin. It has some concerns with construction and occasional damage from being shipped from Romania to the US or other destinations, so the BAR-AEG might need a tune-up at a local shop.

Pros

  • Great pickups
  • Attractive finishes
  • Strong tone

Cons

  • Lack of features
  • Craftsmanship issues
  • Bow might need to be replaced

Features and Benefits

Pickups

Barcus Berry Vibrato BAR-AEG Acoustic-Electric Violin

The pickup is a 1320 piezoelectric piece set into the bridge, which itself is made of German maple. In some violins the sound can be "colored", meaning that it acquires undertones or distortions as a result of being processed by the pickup. That isn't the case here- Barcus Berry designed a clean pickup that won't introduce its own influence. It reproduces tone and detail accurately and has enough power to drive an amp or PA system for live play.

Sound

The acoustic sound of the BAR-AEG falls a little short of the electric sound, but it is still acceptable. The tone is warm and clean thanks to the maple and spruce construction. It doesn't have the penetrating quality of a truly great violin but it is noticeably better than an introductory or student's instrument.

Design

The BAR-AEG strongly resembles a standard acoustic violin, with the pickup being subtle and difficult to see. The finishes are very nice. The pink one in particular stands out for its bold, bright color and because pink is an unusual color choice in general. The blue and red burst are also striking, with the mint and black being somewhat more conservative by comparison. The headstock also takes on the finish color, which is a nice touch.

Value

At $700, the BAR-AEG is not cheap, but it is not as expensive as some of the competition. For this price point it would be nice to see the acoustic tone be a little bit better or to have an included EQ or preamp, but as it stands the value is still good.

Rating

Design

5

Performance

4

Construction

4

Value for the Money

4

User Satisfaction

5

Alternatives

Realist RV-4 E Series

Realist RV-4 E Series

The RV-4 from Realist is an upgrade. At $1150 it costs a little over $400 more than the BAR-AEG, but it comes with a better pickup, a professional tuneup before shipping, and a hardshell case with accessories. If you have the money to get an upgrade, this is much higher up in the market but still qualifies as an intermediate acoustic electric violin.

Comparison

Realist RV-4 E Series

Price: $1150

Construction: Carpathian spruce and maple

Features: Professional setup, Thomastik Vision heavy-gauge strings, hard case with full suspension, four bow holders, hygrometer, humistat, and string tube

Barcus Berry BAR-AEG

Price: $700

Construction: Carpathian spruce and maple

Features: 1320 piezo pickup

Bunnel EDGE Electric Violin

Bunnel EDGE Electric Violin

Bunnel's EDGE is a very popular basic electric violin that comes with an amp, headphones, a hard case, and more. These make it essentially a starter kit, a self-contained exploratory choice for learning the silent violin. It also performs well on the road, especially when you need to stay quiet and you can just use the headphones for a tiny fraction of the sound an acoustic violin makes.

Comparison

 Bunnel Edge Electric 

Price: $300

Construction: Carpathian spruce and maple

Features: Amp, headphones

Barcus Berry BAR-AEG

Price: $700

Construction: Carpathian spruce and maple

Features: 1320 piezo pickup

Cecilio 4/4 CEVN-2BK

Cecilio 4/4 CEVN-2BK

Cecilio's CEVN-2BK is a less expensive option for those who really want a silent electric violin. It comes with headphones, a bow, and a case, but the quality of the tone is noticeably lower. This is closer to being a beginner instrument and it is best suited to someone who wants to try out the electric violin but is not sure if they will like it or not.

Comparison

Cecilio 4/4 CEVN-2BK

Price: $120

Construction: Carpathian spruce and maple

Features: Active pickup

Barcus Berry BAR-AEG

Price: $700

Construction: Carpathian spruce and maple

Features: 1320 piezo pickup

Final Thoughts

Shopping for an electric violin can be stressful because they are expensive and there are many makes and models. However, this article shows a selection of some violins that offer great value at approachable prices whether you want a pure electric or an acoustic-electric. Any of the instruments listed in this review will do well as a main piece, because they can hold their own and they are an upgrade over a beginner electric violin. For additional ideas in buying a violin check our best electric violin guide.

Stephanie Su
 

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