Headless Electric Violin




Introduction: Headless Electric Violin

About: Mechanical Engineer, coder, electronics hacker. Aficionado of the little things in life.

I had made an electric violin before, and armed with the lessons learned from that build, this is the 2nd, cooler version of this:



approx 2 feet of 2*2 inch hardwood (Mahogany, Maple, Teak)

One pre-made violin fingerboard (Ebay)

One pre-made violin chinrest (Ebay)

Four guitar tuning pegs

One piezoelectric violin pickup (Ebay)

One violin Bridge

One 1/4 inch guitar cable

Strings and Bow - obviously


Tenon saw

Table saw (optional, helps with removing bulk material)

Chisel, 1/2 inch

Rasp (wood, crosshatched)

Fine rasp (optional)

Sandpaper from 60 to 600 grit (60, 80, 120, 220, 600)

Aerosol Paint and wood varnish (spray cans available in Hardware Stores)



or mixer connected to speaker (in my case)

Step 1: Plan

I had originally planned to make the design in the images, but later switched to a design much like a modern guitar headstock.

I used dimensions from my own acoustic violin for this build, but

you can get a free violin plan from BlueStem Instruments, and modify it as you please:


The most important things to keep in mind are

1) the angle of the neck to the bridge

2) the angle of the chinrest position (player's chin) to the neck and bridge

3) be aware of the scale length (distance from the 0th fret or nut to the bridge). This is your primary design parameter, depending on how large or small the person is.

Usually, a 5'5" plus person goes for a 325mm scale length, and a 5 foot person goes for 304-310mm scale length.

I suggest you take a printout of the bluestem plans, and copy the drawing to a full size paper, modifying all dimensions according to your scale length.

Then you can modify it to be headless, while preserving key angles.

Step 2: Transfer Drawings Onto Wood

Essential: Get your wood cut by machine so that you have right angled corners, and straight sides.

Essential: Use a setsquare to draw perfect parallel and perpendicular lines. This is not a place to go freehand :).


1) Draw your top view centre line. You must not erase this under any circumstances.

2) Mark position of nut, bridge, and bottom of violin body

3) Draw wings, neck profile and body profile of the top view


Essential: When you're drawing the side view, keep the top gluing surface of the fingerboard flush with the top surface of your timber. This part of the wood will not me machined or cut at all.

1) transfer nut, bridge and bottom of violin body FROM THE TOP VIEW. How to do this? Just align your setsquare with any edge on the TOP surface of your wood piece, and draw a line perpendicular to the axis of the wood at, say the nut.

Now, using the ends of this line, you can draw lines on the adjacent surfaces , and transfer that exact position of the nut to the side view.

2) Draw the neck profile, keeping the fingerboard gluing surface flush with the top edge of the side view.

3) Draw the rest of the body

4) Rough-draw the head of the violin.

Other sides:

You can make a rough copy on the other two sides of the wood, for ease.

Step 3: Rough Cutting


Using the tenon saw, cut along the top view of the neck, keeping a 1-1.5mm margin from the drawn lines. Make sure you go as straight as possible, though the tenon saw will make this naturally easy.


Using a table saw or regular handsaw, cut down to within 1-1.5mm of the SIDE VIEW lines


Use the chisel to deliver sharp taps at the sides of the cuts you just made. because of the way the wood grain runs, and how hard it is, it will pop off really easily.

Step 4: Finish Cutting, Rasping Neck


Using the chisel, shape the curves of your violin as you please, making sure you stay true to your side and top profiles. Cut off wood with the chisel in layers of 1mm at most, and follow the grain of the wood. This will ensure that you don't gouge or tear the wood.

Keep the beveled side of the cutting edge against the wood, and gently guide the chisel while tapping lightly.

NOTE: Do not cut the neck's top profile down to the drawn line yet. That will be done after it's glued.


This is the most important part of the violin from the player's perspective, so go slow.

1) Do some approximate cuts with the chisel. Go layer by layer, as being too ambitious with the chisel may result in deep gouges and tears in the wood.

2) Using the rasp, shape the neck to a nice radius on both ends. It should be comfortable to hold. Don't worry, you can fine tune it later.

Step 5: Chisel Pockets, Drill Holes


Use the chisel to cut pockets for the chinrest (if you're bolting it to the wood) and tuners (tuners need a flat surface to mount onto).

You may use a brad type drill bit to remove excess wood to make your chiseling easier.

To learn the technique for chiseling pockets in wood, search youtube for "chisel pockets wood"


Carefully mark and drill holes for the tuners and for the pickup cable.

My tuner holes were 6mm diameter, and cable hole was 3mm.

Drill small guide holes for the tuner screws using a hand tool, or an old screwdriver. remember, these screws are tiny, usually 3mm diameter.

Step 6: Align and Glue Fingerboard, Finish Neck


Follow the instructions in the video to make the positioning pins for the fingerboard so that it does not slip while gluing.


1) Use a plane to give a final leveling to the gluing surface.

2) carefully fit the two mating surfaces together such that they fit together almost perfectly. Use the chalk contact method to find out where to sand/level the surfaces.

(rub chalk on the fingerboard, touch it against the gluing surface, and see where the chalk transfers. This are the places where you need to sand a bit more)

3) Apply a thin, even layer of glue, and place the fingerboard on. the positioning pins should slide into place.

4) Apply pressure using a clamp or a heavy weight.

Finish Neck

Using a Chisel, cut the sides of the neck down to the edges of the fingerboard. If you glued correctly, there should be a flush, straight line connecting the wood to the fingerboard. Finish the final profile of the neck with the rasp. Shape the head.

Step 7: Paint and Varnish, Mount Tuners

Essential: Do not paint or varnish the neck. Neck is oiled lightly with tung oil.

Varnish and paint the body to your liking.

Step 8: Set Up the Violin (fitting)

1) Cut grooves with a knife, or fine file, at the top edge of the fingerboard.

2) Put on the strings, and wind up to small tension

3) Cut the bridge down to size, checking string height frequently. Usually I keep the strings about 4mm off the bottom-most edge of the fingerboard.

4) tighten it up, checking tuning by ear or by app (un-amplified, this violin will still make a low volume noise).

Step 9: Wiring

The lead of my piezo pickup was attached to 2.5mm audio jack. I needed a 1/4" standard audio jack.

The signal is mono, so you would choose a mono guitar cable for this.

Wiring instruction:

Tip to tip

Shield to shield

Step 10: Final Product

You can hook it up to an amplifier.

I don't have one at the moment, so I connected it to my mixer, which pre-amplifies and feeds the signal to a speaker system.

I would imagine that directly wiring it to a speaker would already work.

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    4 years ago

    awesome job i am going to try to make this. the link for the bluestem electric violin plans is no longer working do you have a copy of them? can you post them or email me?

    H. ElwoodG
    H. ElwoodG

    6 years ago

    kewl beans, but can you demo your work with a video of you playing?


    6 years ago

    this is absolutly awesome.... love it.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Have you considered making 4-post pick-ups (like an electric guitar) for an electric violin? I'm not sure, but it may give you more options for creative uses with different pedals.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    True. However, the strings of a violin are at different heights, unlike in a guitar, so the pickup design would be a little complicated.

    But I plan to get started on one, and will report back on my experiments.

    Toms Workshop


    Lovely project. The shape of the body is quality, currently working on one of a similar shape but you've given me a few ideas that I would like to incorporate. Thank you :)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. I was browsing designs before drawing, and came across your's (with a frame), thought it looked great.

    How is the shoulder comfort on your previous design, btw? Do you use a separate shoulder rest?


    6 years ago on Step 10

    Awesome- and I like how it controls the background warping at the same time in the video! If you play it loud enough, do you end up in another universe?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Haha, that's youtube's video processor at work doing anti-shake. I didn't expect it to track my headbanging lol.

    Another universe, heheheh.

    <possible trolling/mindblow>

    Assuming wobbler believes in infinite parallel universes, then there are an infinite number of possible universes where a human very close in material makeup to wobbler exists. I've theorized for some time now that information exchange between these infinite wobblers is possible, and happens all the time, especially when we're sleeping.

    Let us assume this is possible. Now, take my case, for example. Out of the infinite universes where a human very close in quantum makeup to me exists, there is a subset where "I" have built this electric violin. Now, if "I" am playing loud, and really rocking with the music (remember, I'll be joined by 1000s of other "me"s in parallel universe in playing as well), the feeling will propagate through the millions of other "me"s and compel them to build one. And while they're planning how to build their own, guess what will guide their hand through the veil that is the subconscious?

    After reading this paragraph, if you have read Carl Jung, and his theories of synchronicity, you would even begin to question why your username is wobbler.
    </possible trolling/midblow>


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    If there are an infinite number of universes, then by implication there will be a subset of these which are you. However,by implication , it won't be thousands, it will be an infinite number because there is a finite chance of you being in one of them. Therefore, infinity divided by a finite number is still infinity, just a subset of it.

    As a consequence of this, I would dread there are infinite Wobblers- one is bad enough. Therefore I discount parallel universes on the grounds that it's safer. It may not be a scientific position, but it stops my head exploding (or has done up until now).

    On the other hand, maybe YouTube is controlled by aliens and they are using it to warp you into another parallel universe using "anti-shake" which in reality opens up a worm hole and transports you through it to another universe. Who'd ever suspect YouTube of being alien inter-universe transport technology?

    As an aside, welcome to this universe. I'll bet you weren't expecting your violin to travel quite so far when you built it.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    wow, amazing, I love diy instruments and i have to do this.

    thanks you