I was in Tokyo last week and bought a YEV 105 at their Ginza shop as they were doing autumn sales with 20% off list price (!).
To my surprise, I tested 2 model - 104 black and 105 natural. Long story short, the black 104 had a rather boring thin sound, although playability was great. So out of curiosity, I tested the 5 string natural model, and to my surprise, it sounded a lot richer and significantly better. Even the staff was surprised by this. There wasn't even comparison, the 5 strings sounded a lot richer, focused, deeper especially on the C string.
But I liked the black finish more, so requested a new 105 in black. Again to my surprise, black 5 strings sounded similar to the black 4 strings. I didn't want to trouble the staff, and took the display model. It had a tiny paint chip around the edge on the outer "ring", could have asked for a new one, but I wasn't confident and didn't want to trouble the staff.
I wish I could test more, anyone had same experiences? The early thread here was archived so I can't post anything further, hence this new thread. The old thread seems to indicate that there are indeed quality variences. I wonder if it's universal issue between black and natural finish, or there are indeed quality variances even between same model and same finish.
I have a black 4-string, and two 4-string and two 5-string models in the natural wood finish in my school program.
An electric violin is really a blank slate. If you get a good preamp with tone controls you will find you have a lot of control over the tone. Amps and effects also shape your sound.
What is so surprising? Is this the 1st time to hear that varnish/coating affects the sound? Passive EV, just piece of wood. No soul, as far as I am concerned.
I guess if you pick up an electric violin (a cheap one at that) and play it straight into an amp without any preamp, eq, or effects and look for what you would look for in an acoustic then you will feel that way. Like most things, you need to spend some money and time to get a good sound.
I appreciate the replies and I wish to respond more specifically to individual comments but I don't see it will go anywhere, I will just try to stick closer to the topic - those who tested the YEV specifically, more than just 1 unit, to see if yamaha nail the consistency of this particular line of EVs.
This is proof for what people have been saying for hundreds of years -- varnish affects a violin's tone.