Vitar violins

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Vitar violin front view.jpg

The Vi-tar (or Vitar) was a musical instrument produced by the Exinde/Xinde Corporation in the early 1970s. Advertised as a cross between a violin and guitar, it was essentially a fiberglass bodied electric violin with some very advanced internal electronics for the time.

History[edit]

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The Vi-Tar was designed and marketed by Spencer Lee Larrison of the Exinde Corporation (Later the Xinde Corporation) in the early 1970s. Advertised as being designed "by a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology", it incorporated very advanced onboard electronics with active volume control for each string, a 'mute-tone' control and a built-in distortion called the "DynaFUZZ". Exact production dates and quantities are unknown. The basic design was patented in September 1972.[1]

Construction[edit]

Vitar violin bridge and controls.jpg

The body of the Vi-tar is a hand molded fiberglass shell with roughly the same footprint as a standard violin. The upper 2 bouts are cut away to allow easier access to higher positions. It was designed to allow any standard chinrest and shoulder rest to be used. It was available in either a 4 string version, or a 5 string violin/viola combination in a variety of color combinations.

The controls include separate volume controls for each string, a 'mute-tone', master volume and "DynaFUZZ" control. The bridge is a solid piece of acrylic and the magnetic pickups are built into fingerboard, allowing for the individual volume controls. The DynaFUZZ is an onboard distortion circuit.

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The electronics are powered by an external 18v battery box and the power is sent through the cable using a 4 conductor cable terminating in U174/U (TP120) connectors. The battery box also has the output to run to an amplifier or headphones.

Players[edit]

The Vi-tar is listed on many album credits, but by far the most well known player was John Franklin "Ellington" Blair. John Blair was an improvisational jazz violinist who primarily used a Vi-tar violin throughout his career. He released 4 albums of his own, but also played on many others with artists such as Leon Thomas, Richie Havens and Lalo Schifrin.[2] His 2 main Vi-tars were a white 4 string model he named 'Cleopatra' and a black 5 string named 'Nefertiti'.

Other known Vi-tar players:

References[edit]

External links[edit]