The violin mkII was my first attempt to build a solid body electric violin ; I needed a replacement for my original violin, which had been accidentally smashed in a bar in Amsterdam!
I built it from walnut, maple and American oak, with an ebony fingerboard and a Barcus-Berry bridge pickup. The dimensions and angle of the neck were taken from my old violin, to make it feel similar to play. I built an active pre-amp into the body, and added a switch and red led next to the volume and tone controls.
It was not painted purple, but left with a natural wood finish. I played it for the first time at one of Richard Branson’s birthday parties at the Manor recording studios, and soon after I was asked back there to record violin on New Model Army’s single, ‘Vagabonds’. I used this violin for the next couple of years, on the ‘Thunder and Consolation’ album, the ‘Top of the Pops’ video and the New Model Army tours.For most of that time it sported a celtic knot sticker which had come free with the ‘Vagabonds’ single.
It got badly damaged in the cargo hold on the way to a festival in Sweden; the head-stock snapped right off, and I had to carry out emergency repairs on the ferry with some boat-building adhesive, a Swiss army knife and a clamp. The adhesive had only just set when we arrived at the gig, and miraculously it held together when I tightened up the strings and played fine for the concert.
This incident led me to build my 5-string purple electric violin so that I’d have a spare to fall back on!