Zeta JV44 Jazz Fusion violin, 4-string. $2,250.
From Zeta, here’s the electric violin made famous by Jean-Luc Ponty and a host of others: the JV44! Ostensibly JV is for jazz violin. I know these were introduced in the 1980s, but I haven’t followed Zeta very closely and don’t have a real strong guess as to when it was made.
     Lightweight, semihollow body, reportedly made of either mahogany or basswood. It has extreme cutaways but also has a detachable upper bout in case your left hand is accustomed to using the bout to find its way in upper positions. The finish is a glossy Darth Vader black, which is cool if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s highly responsive and has a distinctive tone—I doubt it would be mistaken for an acoustic, but it’s impressive nonetheless. It has a custom Zeta bridge with two pickups for each string, blended into both a standard 1/4" jack and a MIDI output jack. This proprietary pickup system offers punchiness and presence with minimal feedback. This instrument is from a period when Zeta was using funky space-age "Imbus pegs" that have to be turned with an Allen wrench (said wrench is included, of course), but there’s also a full set of fine tuners. The pegs might help date the violin if you happen to know the period when they were in use.
     Zeta has seen some ups and downs, but the company was acquired by well-known luthier Steve Carlson (of Flatiron mandolin fame) some years back, and it resumed production in Montana. This violin needed some help when I bought it, so I sent it to Steve, who has refurbished the electronics; installed a new back plate, chinrest, and detachable bout; and replaced all the tuners (both Imbus pegs and fine tuners) and the 1/4" jack. It’s just about as good as new. There’s a small depression on the top plate, underneath the finish, you’ll find a little wear along the side of the fingerboard, and the lower right bout is a bit chewed up along the edge; my guess is that a previous owner wasn’t very careful in choosing whatever they used for a shoulder rest.
     It’s been freshly restrung with D’Addario Helicores and comes with a hardshell case (and a bow if you need one). New, a gloss black JV44 will set you back $3,440. Given that this one has been around the block, I’m letting it go for substantially less. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. 48-hour approval period. $2,250 plus shipping.