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Friday, February 13, 2009

Local Electric Violin Shop Makes Worldwide Sound

The other day I stopped in to visit the world's only electric violin specialty shop, right here in Durham!

Electric Violin Shop grew out of owner Blaise Kielar's love of the instrument, and has expanded to serve a niche market providing expertise and service worldwide. Today Blaise and his team answer a few questions about the Electric Violin Shop.

How did the shop begin and how have you grown over the years?

When I still had my "normal" violin shop (Hillmusic in Chapel Hill), we added Zeta electric violins about 1986, so it has been over 20 years with electrics and 30 years with acoustic violins. After I retired from bow rehairing and left the violin shop, I did other jobs until the idea hit to start Music Explorium. First located on Weaver Street in Carrboro, it was full of a variety of instruments to inspire improvisational music making, even without musical training. Amongst the hand drums were a few electric violins, just because I liked them. As we promoted all the electric bowed stringed instruments on the Web, that part of the business grew into the specialty shop you see today.

I see you actually have a wide variety of instruments and equipment. What is the full range of offerings at the store?
We carry solid body electric violins, violas, cellos and upright basses, as well as amplifiers, effects pedals, computer interfaces, and pickups for acoustic instruments. Because we tend to attract innovative players, we have a sub-specialty in colorful bows and cases, for those who really want to be noticed! Recently we added PA mixers and sound systems, including the Bose L1 System, because our customers need to be heard even in large venues.

When I visited the store I heard some fascinating stories of how you truly have a global business. Tell us about some of the far off clients you have served.
We have a young player in Zambia who has become one of her country’s most well-known performers, and quite a few players in Eastern Europe who perform in all styles from rock to traditional Arabic styles. Because our selection is unique, some players fly into RDU just to try all the different brands in one place. We have 2 electric violins and an electric cello in a Trinidad and Tobago calypso band after one member flew here to visit Electric Violin Shop

I understand you have some notable customers in the US as well.
We have provided gear for players on America’s Got Talent, an actor on the TV show House, the duo Nuttin’ But Stringz, and in various touring bands, like Arlo Guthrie.

What would you suggest to string players looking to take their first step into electrifying their music?
First thing is to admit that it is a little like learning a new instrument - it is not plug and play. As the player learns about how a signal flows through all the different pieces of gear, they can modify their sound in unexpectedly creative ways - and have lots of fun too! Buying a quality instrument is just as important as with your acoustic violin - you don’t want to fight a poorly set up instrument or deal with bad tone. Establishing a relationship with a shop of qualified specialists is important also, so as your needs develop, you can be assured of appropriate advice.

Tell us a bit about the other side of the business, the Music Explorium.
My wife Cathy has taken over Music Explorium, with a focus on facilitating drum circles for community building, in all sorts of settings, from schools to corporations to street festivals. She also does musical birthday parties that get everyone drumming.

Where are you located and what are your hours?
Electric Violin Shop is at 5314 Highway 55, about a mile south of I-40 in the Kitt Creek office park. We are open Monday to Friday 10 to 6, and 10 to 5 on Saturday. 919-806-3311

Thanks for the info Blaise!

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