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What's wrong with this picture?

If this is an electric guitar, then it's an odd one. But perhaps it isn't a guitar at all...


Firstly let me credit the photo to the Yinfente Musical Instrument Company, so you know where to go should you want to buy one.

If you study the photo closely you will soon realize that this is an electric violin. Some might say that the electric violin is an abomination, but perhaps they haven't heard Nigel Kennedy play one!

Clearly this model is intended to look rather like an electric guitar, and in giving the instrument this look the designer has copied a feature that the electric guitar absolutely needs but the violin does not.

Have a guess before you read on.

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Got it?

Yes, it is the horn-shaped projection on the upper side of the body of the instrument, which, for want of a better word, I shall call simply a horn. On an electric guitar, a strap button would be positioned at the tip of the horn. Why here? So that the guitar balances easily without having to be supported by the left hand. Without a horn, the guitar would have a tendency to droop down on the left.

Since the violin is held in an entirely different way, it doesn't need a strap, nor a strap button, nor a horn.

I could raise a similar point about the cutaway on the other side. The electric guitar is shaped like this so that it can be played comfortably seated, without a strap. The cutaway allows left-hand access to the higher frets. A violin doesn't need to be shaped in such a way.

Having said that, it looks like a fun instrument and I'd like to try it out. I guess I'll have to take a slow boat to China...

By David Mellor Thursday November 10, 2011