Yita T20 Violin Review

January 31, 2016 at 02:06 AM · So I got a Yita Cremoneser T20 violin! And I figured I'd write an in-depth review about it!

(feel free to share your experience with these instruments on this thread)

First impressions, it looks beautiful. The finish is good. It has what I'll call 'tasteful antiquing'.

The fittings are good too. The tailpiece is very nice, the afterlength of the string behind the bridge was 54mm and that pleased me very much because I had to adjust that on my other violins. But the pegs... I don't know, time will tell, but I'm not too confident on them. We'll see.

The chinrest was just an el-cheapo; the finish on the visible side is good but underneath it's rough and substandard. That got replaced right away because I use a custom chinrest.

The fingerboard is very nice but has that 'shoe polish' thing on it that will likely come off on my fingers with time; they do that I guess to even out the color of the ebony. The camber on it seems sufficient, but let's see what the luthier says later. The height of the nut was fine.

The bridge, on the photos they had, I thought I was going to replace it right away, but now that I see it in person it doesn't look crappy like it did on their photos. The arching is quite nice. I'll see what my luthier says when I show it to them, but the color seems a bit odd, like they oiled the bridge or something like that.

The strings... ah the strings. They are strings only in name, really! Most dreadful wires I ever had the displeasure of taking off a violin to replace with proper strings!

While I don't intend to use the fine tuner that came on the E string, I'll mention it's the first one I see with a little rubber thing on the bottom, keeping it from scratching the top of the violin should the tailpiece ever go down for some reason. Nice touch!

The 'case' it came in is also a case only in name. It's more like a fancy temporary shipping box. I got genuinely saddened imagining someone using it to store/carry their violin around. I didn't know they made cases that crappy! And it smells of chemical stuff like solvent/plastic/petroleum. I don't know if the smell on the violin was from it but the violin too had a bit of a solvent-y smell.

The whole violin feels quite light. Without a chinrest it weights 437 grams (15.5oz).

Now the sound! I apologize for I don't have samples for listening, I don't have anything that records well enough. I put some Zyex strings on it, and while they're brand new and it will take some playing to settle in, this violin definitely has a nice dark tone. I'm still trying to place it... My other two I compare them to milk chocolate and dark chocolate. This one is more like... tiramisu! (I have synesthesia with sound and flavors, by the way)

I didn't think it was very loud, but a friend said he could hear me clear across the house. It definitely has that "new violin" sound to it, it needs to be played and it needs to be played hard for a couple of months before it will sound its best, but I could draw some conclusions so far:

-The G string is very clear; on my other violins the G on one is a bit growly and the other is rather bright. This one is deep and resonant. I like it! I think it has a small wolf on the F#, that note doesn't sound very clean.

-The D I'm debating using a different string, it seems a bit lifeless. Nothing exciting at all to write about the D. Maybe the soundpost needs to be adjusted to bring it to life.

-The A on the other hand is bright and vivid! Makes me think of Irish fiddling. Might need a different string too.

-The E surprised me! It was clean and crisp and loud all the way into the high notes; I usually expect cheap violins to lose power high up on the E but this one kept it up all the way.

This violin doesn't seem to have that nasal shrill sound often associated with Chinese violins. They said their best AAA tonewoods were used on this, maybe that has to do with that.

All strings are very responsive like they advertised on the auction. They said the tone was 9 out of 10, but what's their frame of reference?

I'll post a follow up to this in a couple of months or so when the sound has hopefully matured and I've played around with different strings, but so far I'm quite pleased. For that price, this is remarkable! Did I get lucky, or are they all like this?

I can't yet classify this as a student instrument or professional or whatever, I think it needs to open up with some playing first. But it is very promising! It's very responsive, the tone is quite pleasant, the craftsmanship is very good! I was expecting to be disappointed, and to write an ironic review full of hyperbole, but I have to say, this is quite a nice violin! Well done, Liuxi!

Replies (79)

January 31, 2016 at 02:49 AM · Glad you are happy with it! I have an M20 and a T20 I bought for fun. I like them both.

But don't overthink it...it's a decent, inexpensive instrument...its not pretending to be anything more.

January 31, 2016 at 11:36 AM · I have a T20 that I was very pleased with, and gambled on a Master violin made by Liu Xi. Since then, two colleagues have also bought similar master violins, and we're all delighted with them. It's what I play on semi-professionally.

(Original pictures from Yita which are pretty accurate)

February 1, 2016 at 05:02 AM · Which "master" level did you buy , and is there a price that is Titans non-auction price? I am very interested in their next step beyond the M/T 20+

Thanks

February 1, 2016 at 12:57 PM · I wasn't too impressed by my Yitamusic T20 Canon copy.

February 1, 2016 at 04:28 PM · I snagged an X20+ viola from Yita that was on special and I've been quite happy with it. Based on what I've read, I don't know that I would buy less than T/M/X 20, but I consider my viola to be an excellent bargain. I had low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised by its warmth and playability. I found the worksmanship to be quite good as well.

I also changed the strings pretty much as soon as I got home from the post office. I'm also considering taking it in to see if it would benefit from any minor adjustments (it sings quite well as is, but I'm one of THOSE people :p). Like you, I didn't really consider the thing it came in to be an adequate case (interestingly, it appears to be exactly the same foam case that Shar sells for about $40 and ships their trial instruments in), so I replaced that quickly, too.

In addition to the viola, I bid on and won a master-level viola bow, which again seems to have been a great deal for the price (less than $150 shipped). The hair on it is a little too tight right now (could be a climate thing, we were in the middle of a blizzard when it arrived), so I'll have that redone when I send in my good violin bow this month.

February 1, 2016 at 05:34 PM · Fox : if your new violin still smells of varnish then do not put it back in its case for a few months. Leave it out to dry thoroughly. I put my freshly varnished violin from China back in its case after practise each day and I ended up with marks on the back. It was the case lining leaving its imprint on the varnish. The extreme hot weather here does not help such matters either.

I always leave new violin cases open for a few weeks to get rid of that chemical smell. You never know what will react with violin varnish : better to be safe than sorry !

February 1, 2016 at 06:18 PM · Duly noted, Brian. I've stored it hanging to air it since I got it, because of the smell. That should in turn prevent any fresh varnish marring. :)

N.A. Mohr, I'm a compulsive overthinker! ;)

Kevin, I was actually aiming for one of their "Il Cannone" copies, but for some reason those are selling much higher than the regular M/T20's!

In the few days I've had and played this one I got, I can already say this is better than a student quality instrument by a long shot. Sound-wise and responsiveness-wise it leaves nothing to wish for, though the sound still feels like it needs to open up, but it might actually become my new favorite violin for one simple detail: I love the way the neck feels between my index and thumb! Both my other violins feel bulky there in comparison to this one.

February 1, 2016 at 07:19 PM · It was just advertised as a "Master Violin" and cost around $1200 - but that was around 6 years ago.

February 1, 2016 at 08:25 PM · I'm pretty sure that is their "buy it now" price for their master level instruments.

February 1, 2016 at 10:23 PM · I bought a T20 about nine months ago. Yes, the strings had to go immediately. Yes, it appears to be well made, and it looks fine.

The sound went "foggy" for a few weeks, two or three, and before I knew it, the violin sounded "round, heading toward dark". After about four months, it settled into quite a strong, rich and darkish tone, (dominant strings), and this is even across the strings.

The top register continues the "substantial" sound characteristics.

I am quite surprised by this instrument. It plays well, and sounds as good as many instruments.

My other violins are a Heinrich Roth, 1926, 1714 Strad, which has a richer, darker tone than the T20, but it loses its manners when played strongly (and barks, almost, on B, any higher B); and of course, my DXKY DV-850, which is louder, even, plays beautifully, but does not have quite the richness of the other two, but then it is only four months old.

I have no illusions that my T20 is a soloist's instrument, but it is very good. "Decent, inexpensive instrument", thank you, sums it up well.

February 1, 2016 at 11:39 PM · Yes, it was a buy it now. One of the best decisions I've made.

February 10, 2016 at 04:18 AM · I have been trying to win an auction on a Yita M20 or T20 viola so far not quite successful. Are there anyone who have experiences with any of their M20 or T20 viola? They have so many models to choose from. Thanks.

February 10, 2016 at 05:34 PM · I've had 4 of them.

Pick one you like and bid on it.

February 10, 2016 at 07:05 PM · Yes...it took me a while to get the models I wanted too...

Darned bid snipers...

February 10, 2016 at 07:34 PM · Yeah I think word has spread about Yita. Took me a few tries before I got this one and they are selling higher than I remember they used to!

Checking out the bidding history on this and others, I noticed 3 or 4 bidders seem to be always getting these, so must be some shop owners somewhere stocking up on inexpensive instruments and selling them for a profit. That's what I think!

Reporting on the violin after 2 week, still haven't got the luthier's opinion, but I still like it. Love the sound of the G, the D and the E. The A I dunno, the sound is very bright with a bit of a metallic bite to it; need to try a different string.

Despite my suspicion about the pegs, they hold up well and the violin stays well in tune. But the decorative little ring on the G peg is loose; nothing a drop of glue won't fix, though.

Still doesn't seem too loud under the ear, but people hear it well and clear from far away, so I guess it has good projection?

February 10, 2016 at 10:24 PM ·

February 10, 2016 at 10:27 PM · Yes, there are always the same people bidding on these instruments and this really frustrates me. I am interested in the 15.75 inch wide body G.B.Guadagnini 1785 Copy. Is there any one out there who can share your experiences on this viola? Thank you.

February 11, 2016 at 01:38 AM · I purchased one of those and traded it to my teacher for extended lessons. My teacher has been very pleased with that particular viola.

February 11, 2016 at 09:47 PM · Hi Fox,

I noted this in your last post: "Still doesn't seem too loud under the ear, but people hear it well and clear from far away, so I guess it has good projection?"

Actually, I think this is one area where the T20 is just average: the volume produced by the instruments is a little under what we might want, from time to time.

They are not "weak", or "under-powered", and have more oomph than Gliga instruments, for example, but my T20 is capable of less volume than my other instruments.

None-the-less, I still like that term a member offered in this thread: decent, inexpensive instrument.

February 12, 2016 at 05:08 AM · "I think this is one area where the T20 is just average: the volume produced"

I think you're right there! Specially because all other elements seem rather remarkable (for a violin of this price), you kinda expect the volume also to be remarkable, but it's just 'average'.

Went to the luthier today! They were rather impressed by it (for what it is)! Didn't even think it needed any adjustments. So once again, well done, Chinese folks! :)

February 12, 2016 at 09:39 AM · My T20 Il Cannone doesn't have much volume either. But it has a sweet deep mellow tone that is perfect for lullabies and quiet salon pieces.

February 13, 2016 at 12:41 AM · "My T20 Il Cannone doesn't have much volume either"

I can't help but find that ironic, since Il Cannone was dubbed that because Paganini thought it was loud as a cannon! ;)

February 13, 2016 at 01:43 AM · It wasn't just ironic. It was downright disappointing!

February 13, 2016 at 02:42 AM · Sound post adjust?

February 14, 2016 at 01:12 PM · I'm researching a new violin for myself and wondered what the difference is between the T20 and M20 models? Are the instruments in the '20' considered advanced student instruments or something more refined?

I play on a Eastman 305 and was looking at my options for a better instrument.

February 14, 2016 at 01:42 PM · Until recently the T violin was better than the M violin. Now, the M is as good, if not better that the T violin. There is a 20+ model also.

I have bought quite a few Yita violins and have found the Kruse Model to be excellent.

February 14, 2016 at 02:51 PM · The T (Liuxi) and the M (Ma Zhibin) indicate instruments from the workshops of two master luthiers...

There is a third workshop listed on their site (Xuxin)...and also the workshop of a bow maker (Yin Guohua).

The 20 indicates the quality level. So the 20s are better than the 19s.

Your Eastman 305 is likely as good as, if not a little better, than the T and M20 lines.

February 14, 2016 at 05:19 PM · I don't think the Yita would be an upgrade to your Eastman 305.

It makes for an affordable alternative for someone looking for a violin in about that quality range. But it would not surpass it, unless you got really lucky.

February 14, 2016 at 07:34 PM · A properly constructed and set up Eastman 305 is almost impossible to beat in its price range.

February 14, 2016 at 09:12 PM · If the attributes of the T20s are consistent from one violin to another, I agree with the others here, a T20 would at best be a slight improvement on the Eastman 305, if an improvement at all. If you have $300 or so to burn, in hopes of getting a violin that is slightly better than what you currently have, go for it, but you probably will find more of an improvement on Yita's 'master' models.

February 15, 2016 at 06:42 PM · I should be receiving a M20 violin soon from Yita so I'll post about it as well.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Amzing-1PC-Back-Antique-Varnish-A-M20-Strad-model-Solo-violin-Aubert-bridge-/311536907796?nma=true&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&si=3%252BKDbnF97Um2H8pgQ2MpU%252FJfxRA%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

It looks beautiful in the pictures.

February 15, 2016 at 06:43 PM · Welcome to the club!

February 15, 2016 at 06:46 PM · Thank you! I'm hoping it'll be a nice upgrade from a cheap school rental.

February 15, 2016 at 08:30 PM · Thanks for letting me know about the T/M models and its comparison to a my Eastman305. I'll have to turn my attention to other 'brands'.

February 15, 2016 at 10:42 PM · Hi Kimberly, I read with interest your decision to "turn to other brands".

From this thread alone, a casual reader should probably have the impression that the Yita Music instruments discussed are (I can't help but repeat this observation someone else made), "decent, inexpensive instruments".

And other contributors suggest your current instrument is every bit as good.

The next step up is "a big dollar" upgrade. You are unlikely to find a considerably better instrument for less than ten times the cost of the Yita T20, for example.

Even though there is no direct relationship between the quality of an instrument and its price, people are not silly (in the main). Instruments that sound significantly better (whatever that means to you), play significantly better, etc, will have a price tag of a new car (again, a huge variable, I know).

To make it worth your while to upgrade from your current instrument, you might choose to commit to a future "use", study program, lifestyle, even.

I know of several people who have simply spent a few thousand dollars on new (or older) instruments, and have bought "the same thing" again and again.

I am at the edge of that bind, myself: I have the Yita T20, (good, but of "average power"; the DXKY DV-850 (very good, powerful, but still settling into its true tonal character); and a 1926 Roth, (very good, powerful, but the B irritates me with its harshness). My point is, to get a considerably better instrument I would have to pay tens of thousands of dollars (or get very, very lucky).

Sometimes we need to be content with what we have(or see ourselves at the early stages of a big up-swing of musical growth).

I don't mean to discourage you: just review your goals, and current resources thoughtfully.

February 19, 2016 at 07:05 AM · Got a second opinion (the other luthier I like around here) on the Yita today. They were still impressed with it for what it cost, but less so than the previous luthier. But loved the violin's 'sweet delicate voice'.

To their dismay, I asked if adjusting the soundpost could make it louder. ;)

Indeed, adjusting the soundpost made it louder, although less sweet. I like the louder volume, but I'm thinking the violin might have lost its character, its sweet voice it had before. I might have them put the soundpost back where it was next time I go there.

Now that the strings have settled in, the pegs which I was skeptical about at first are holding up pretty good, but I had to put the fine tuner on the E again because I was wasting too much time tuning it with the peg only.

The more I mess with it the more I'm starting to think that (not counting the strings) the way this violin came from Yita was as good as it gets.

March 2, 2016 at 05:51 AM · Past the tailpiece, bridge (their Aubert deLuxe) strings and sound post adjustments, my greatest improvement on the T/M 20 violins has been the "play in" device. I am using a

Air Pump Two Outlets Adjustable Upto 120 Gallon Aquarium 48GPH

and alternating the rubber brass covered mute and a "ebony" mute that are attached to the pump as a break in advancer. The small ebony mute really changed the game after the "tone rite" and heavier mutes. At first I did a minor scientific experiment with tone measurements, sustain etc.

When I heard the results I immediately knew that measuring the enormous gains in tone and projection were superfluous. They work . $20 and about 4 months of play in my Dan Sun Master doubled in proficient sound production (sold!) My T/M 20 violins cook and I adjust them.

It still, at best, makes them sound like a played in Scott Cao or a not so played in MJZ 909.

As an aside, as my fiddle stock went down and I had "players" waiting - I put one on my 1994 Collings OMH2C and my Martin , - delicately mind you. Pow - the collings really came into that piano and sustain quality of their best. The Martin just got a little bigger.

Take apart the pump, get a drill and screw, maybe a washer. Done deal.

March 2, 2016 at 08:19 AM · I had the T20 Cremonese's soundpost adjusted back to its sweet tone. I like it much better this way! :)

T Aschoff, can you show a picture of your "play in" device? I'm curious as to how it's put together.

...and I was trying to get a Yita Il Cannone this last week, but ended up with a Lord Wilton. It should be here in a few days. I'll post a review on that one too!

March 2, 2016 at 09:22 PM · There was a discussion about artificial play in some years ago. In that I posted a picture of a device i made from a ebony mute and a small loudspeaker. You can see it here:

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=14280

I have used it on several violins and violas from Yita and Old violin house and found that it improves the response. It does not perform miracles though.....

March 3, 2016 at 07:21 AM · ...a speaker with a wooden mute glued to the dust cap? Brilliant! :)

How long do you leave it on to notice any improvement?

March 5, 2016 at 03:36 AM · I'm going to recycle the topic here to post the review of my newest Yita M20 'Lord Wilton'!

First impressions, it's noticeably more rough in finish than the 'Cremonese' I started this topic with. The varnish on the neck is a bit rough, but overall the finish is Ok. Heck my old German violin has parts with no varnish left, so I'm not afraid of rough finishes, I just wonder what it says about the overall quality; the German violin is 100 years old, this is brand new. The saddle also is pretty rough. The purfling is rough on some parts. This one also has 'tasteful antiquing'. It's actually my first Guarneri copy; I've always had Strad copies before!

The fittings are Ok-ish. The tailpiece I had to do some adjusting as the holes for the strings and the little slits were too small. I had to use a different fine tuner for the E because the distance between the hole and the edge of the tailpiece was a few millimeters longer than it should be and the ball-end of the string was pressed right up against the tailpiece if using the fine tuner that came with it. The afterlengh was completely wrong, the tailpiece was touching the saddle. Like I said above, the saddle has a rough finish. The pegs on this one look and feel excellent! Watch, I doubted the pegs on the other one and they turned out to be good, this one now has very good looking/feeling pegs and they will turn out to be crap. ;)

Without a chinrest it weights 451 grams (15.9oz).

The chinrest was an el-cheapo again; when I removed it the cork from one of the feet was stuck to the violin. The fingerboard is very nice. It is solid ebony but the color has been evened out with some black dye. The height of the nut was fine, but the strings sit a millimeter higher at the bridge-end of the fingerboard than I'm used to.

This violin is supposed to have an ebony heel, but I'm 99% sure this is just painted. To me is a tremendous disappointment; probably more than it should be! I find myself sighing with dismay at the painted heel!

The bridge is an Aubert "made in France" bridge. It also looks like it's been oiled or treated with something. The arching is better than the one that came with the 'Cremonese', where you have to be really precise on the D string, this one allows for a bit more of a sloppy angle.

The strings were the exact same super-cheap Chinese strings and they were replaced immediately with my current favorite, Zyex strings.

The case was the same super-cheap dart case.

The sound! Having heard the real 'Lord Wilton' before, I say this violin sounds /nothing/ like the real 'Lord Wilton'. It does have more volume, in comparison to the 'Cremonese', but the tone is dark and has a bit of a 'bite' to it. Definitely 'new violin' sound. After reading Bo Pontoppidan's comment, I made myself a 'play-in' device, and strapped it to the violin. I'm gonna let it play for a couple of days and see what effect that has!

As of now, this is how the strings sound:

-The G string is very clear and deep.

-The D just like on the 'Cremonese' before all the soundpost adjusting sounds rather plain, underpowered perhaps. It has a bit of a mellow tone to it.

-The A is loud and dark.

-The E is also dark, and a bit cold, which is strange, I'm used to bright warm E strings.

I'll post a follow up to this once I have the results from the home-made 'play-in' device. I'm eager to hear it once the tone has matured because right now I'm on the fence about this violin. If it's a consistent example of what their 'Lord Wilton' sounds like, I don't think it justifies the higher price they tend to go for compared to the others. It's still a "decent inexpensive instrument", but I'm not sure it's worth the higher price.

March 5, 2016 at 03:52 AM · Fox, you're making me envious. I almost desperately need a 2ndary violin, and thanks to exchange rate of our monopoly money in Canada, I don't even bother bidding on ebay.

March 5, 2016 at 04:34 AM · Steven, I officially have too many violins! Probably should sell some. ;)

March 5, 2016 at 06:41 AM · Well, I might be traveling down to States in the summer, just to get a stamp on my CITES cert,but I could always detour if you live near the border. Wouldn't hurt to send me an e-mail regarding them.

March 5, 2016 at 08:50 AM · So both your Cremonese and Lord Wilton are dark. My Cannon is also dark. Is there any Yita X/M/T20 that isn't dark (and even underpowered)? My guess is that the wood used is not very good.

March 5, 2016 at 02:22 PM · My two are both bright. The violin a little too much so...but I still don't mind it. The viola is fine.

My violin also came with a painted button crown. I was also disappointed. However, in a recent edition of The Strad I read about painting the chamfers black - so I'm doing a mental readjust and considering this a painted 'button chamfer' instead of a 'fake crown'...lol...

March 8, 2016 at 06:37 AM · So, I bought a Liu Xi "Master" Strad pattern a few months back and the label looks identical to the one shown in the OP. Does anyone know if there are any identifying features found on a "Master" vs a T20?

BTW, I love the instrument and am astonished at the tone and quality for the price.

I've been playing it with an Emmanuel Bégin bow and they are a surprisingly good match.

March 9, 2016 at 02:39 AM · Is this "Master" instrument "loud"? (The T20 is only moderately loud, my only real issue with it.)

March 9, 2016 at 05:59 AM · Yes, it's got pretty good volume and clarity. I haven't seen a T20 for comparison though.

March 10, 2016 at 02:00 AM · Just had the luthier take a look at the 'Lord Wilton'. He tapped lightly the soundpost, said it wasn't perfectly straight, and while I didn't notice a difference under the ear while playing, when I heard it played it became even more evident how loud it is and how well it projects!

That's odd since apparently the M/T20s seem to be normally quiet. Maybe this was going for their 'master' model but the finish was too rough to pass as 'master'? Or maybe that's why people pay considerably more for the 'Lord Wilton' model? If I win the lottery tonight I'll get some more for comparison and then pass them on to whomever wants one. ;)

March 12, 2016 at 11:48 AM · I bought an YITA Violin from Ebay , and returned it.

It was poorly finished and the vanish was poor.

It's just a cheap factory made violin. In fact, you could buy a better one at the musical instrument exhibition in China, for around 100 USD( Around RMB 1000) for one !

March 12, 2016 at 02:04 PM · But then I'd have the added expense of going to China...

July 13, 2016 at 06:34 AM · Resurrecting this thread to see how everyone is doing with their Yitamusic instruments. I won an auction on a T20 15.75 inch viola and am quite disappointed with it so far. It's nice and light, but the tone is very harsh and shrill, like the tone quality you get when practicing with a practice mute. It seems to be improving after a week of playing, but could just be me getting used to the instrument. The pegs are terrible, half of them slip and the other half are practically stuck in place and cannot be turned with precision.

Has your instrument opened up more after being played in? Did going to a luthier for a sound post adjustment make a huge difference? I have dominant strings on it at the moment. Thanks guys.

July 13, 2016 at 10:18 AM · I guess you won "Guadagnini" viola? That 15.75 inch Guadagnini model has very good feedbacks on yitamusic ebay site. Actually, you may find great comments about yita violas on their ebay like: "This viola sounds better than many viola that cost 7,000 dollars".

That puzzles me. May be other guys more lucky to choose the right one?

I won an M20 16.25 "Maggini". Bit disappointed also. Well, it's very nice-looking and definetly worth money I've paid for it, but I'm not quite happy with it. Bridge is too high, pegs are not deep enough in holes, because the holes are not big enough (I've checked pictures of yita instruments on their ebay, all of them have the same problem, even "master" models, I don't understand the reason of that ).

The tone and sound... Well, it's nice (in a way) after 2 weeks of hard playing, but TOO quiet and too simple, pretty hard to play (not responsive), little of that big, resonant and deep sound as viola sound supposed to be, especially keeping in mind that 16.25 inch is big viola. I have set of Hellicore on it (used strings, but still much better than yita strings), may be soundpost must be adjusted, but it's allready seemed to be on right place as it is. Play for one year or so in hope for sound to open, or just leave it and stop wasting time? I don't know...

I'm in market for good violin now. Was looking at t20+ or master models. Is anyone has these yita violins? Are you happy with them? Not certain if I should buy from them, or just give up and confess that yita just do decent student instruments, nothing more, you can't kid yourself to buy really good instrument (even if you pay much more for their "20+" or "master" models)

Would appreciate any comments. Thank you.

July 13, 2016 at 02:51 PM · I had a 16.25 "Maggini" Yita for a while. I was pretty happy with it (until I tried one of their 17" models....). On mine, the sound had a lot of "meat" to it, it was not "boxy" sounding.

One interesting aspect of their "Maggini" model is that although it has a 16.25" body, the vibrating string length is only about 165mm, which is shorter than on most 15.5" violas.

Most medium gauge strings are designed for a 375mm vibrating length. If you'd like to get more power out of it, Id suggest trying out some heavy gauge strings.

For what it's worth: I've never been a fan of the Helicores on any of my violas. To me, they always sounds a bit sharp and steely. The Dadario Kaplan (I think they are now called "Forza")are much warmer sounding. I love those if you are looking for steel strings.

And it's better to have a bridge that's too high, than too low, since it is a rather simple operation to get it trimmed down to the proper height.

The pegs may not seat all the way in, but on all of my Yitas, the first thing I do, as I throw away the strings that come with the instrument is to add some Hill peg compound to each peg and swirl it around in there a bit. My pegs have always functioned remarkably well.

July 13, 2016 at 06:08 PM · Thank you for your post, Seraphim.

Well, may be you are right about strings, it's worth to try more expensive steel strings. Kaplan must have more rich sound than Hellicore anyway (price difference speaks for itself). Also thinking about Jargar Strings. It seems, that violists like them.

As for bridge, it was too high - 8 mm clearance between fingerboard and C string is not right for sure. I've trimmed it down to 6mm or so. Sound changed dramatically, it is less powerfull and full now, but at least it playable now. I feel, that I need to replace bridge too, though.

Anyway, thank you for your suggestions. That helps a lot.

July 13, 2016 at 07:22 PM · -The T20 "Cremonese" that started this post might be one of the most well-behaved violins I've had: The sound is consistent, the pegs work flawlessly, it hasn't needed a soundpost adjustment since the first time I took it in for the luthier to look at. Over time, after learning the character of the instrument, I can say the only problems it has are that the bridge isn't cut to my liking but it's tolerable, and the sound, while wonderfully sweet, is quiet and unimpressive; it's a great practice violin, because you have to be really precise with your bowing (because of the way the bridge is) and because it won't disturb people around the house or next door (because of its sweet quiet sound). Still using Zyex strings on it. After a few weeks of playing (and a few days on my play-in device which may or may not help) the sound seems to have settled and is what it is; I don't think it will open up more or improve any further.

It's still an 'inexpensive unpretentious violin', but it is much better than most 'student' instruments I have seen under $2000. However, I don't play it much these days.

-The M20 "Lord Wilton" is another beast altogether! The pegs work flawlessly on it. But the bridge I had it re-cut (the height of the strings was wrong). I also experimented with various tailpieces on it. And experimented with my home-made 'play-in' device. And tried 5 different E strings until I found one that was satisfying (I use Zyex G, D, A). And the soundpost needed to be adjusted pretty much every time the weather changed drastically (specially with the change in seasons). And the button is crooked. And that painted ebony heel... ugh!

The sound seems to have evolved most dramatically over time, noticeably going from that "new violin" sound to a more mature one, but it still feels like it wants to open up a bit more. I don't know if what I'm picking is a deficiency in the sound, something missing that I wish was there, or if indeed it still has room for improvement over time/play/adjustments. The projection is its most impressive feature! And it's loud! And it's the most sensitive violin I've ever had: The position/style/tightness of the chinrest affects its sound noticeably, and it vibrates/resonates/projects noticeably more without a shoulder rest - it's the first violin I've had that has a noticeable difference when played with or without a shoulder rest.

Back when I got it the 'Lord Wiltons' were selling considerably higher than their other models. But still well below what a similar student/advanced instrument would go for from non-eBay sellers. Is it worth the higher price? ...eh. Mine took a lot of tweaking to get it where I like it. But I admit I find myself playing it quite often. There's something rewarding about that booming projection and the challenge of polishing its rough edges. ;)

I think the thing that upsets me the most about it is that fake painted ebony heel! Grr!

Would I still recommend Yita's violins? Sure, just like I've always said, keep in mind it's a crapshoot!

July 13, 2016 at 07:32 PM · Sounds like a resounding recommendation to not buy a Yita, save up your money and buy a decent violin, even my cheapest violins are set up to my same high standard so you don't get any of this, "I have to be an amateur home luthier to even make my Yita play": stuff.

July 14, 2016 at 11:11 AM · George, yes it's the Guad model, I was quite surprised by the tone as I have only read positive reviews on it. mine was labeled 2015, I wonder if it's just a dud, someone else returned it and it was sold again?

I tried the cheap strings that came with the yita on my other viola, and even with the inferior strings it sounded better than the yita with dominants. It's definitely worth what I paid at least, but I don't know if it would justify the amount that it might cost to change up the setup... my bridge is too high as well. At the moment I have read good things about the T20+ models, but given this experience I don't think I will be purchasing from them again.

Seraphim, I remember reading that you once owned the Guad model as well, could you describe it's tone and playability compared to their other models?

Fox, interesting that the two violins aged so differently! I can only hope that mine will deepen with time. What is this play-in device you invented and how does it work? I might have to give it a try.

Thanks you guys for your updates!

July 14, 2016 at 01:33 PM · YYX, the play-in device in question is discussed in this topic...

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=14280

...it's not my original invention, but I posted a bunch of pictures of the one I made.

I'm still trying to devise a way to properly test whether it truly works or if it is some placebo effect or some other thing going on, though. There are some who swear by it, while others say it's just snake oil.

July 14, 2016 at 02:55 PM · YYX, yes I currently have a 15.75" Guad viola, and I traded another one with my teacher a year or so ago as well.

She, of course makes hers sounds fantastic. She has expressed her approval of that one.

My current one I purchased to use as a travel viola when I go away on business trips (I was able to modify a hard shell violin case to fit).

I haven't had the chance to play mine alot yet. The difficulty for me in evaluating it's tone is that I've been totally spoiled by the sound of my 17" & 17.5" Yita violas (which I still own. I play mostly on my 17.5").

So far, on the Guad, I'd say the A & D strings are responsive and resonant. The G string seems to be the weakest string on this viola. The C is OK as well, but nothing to write home about. Probably needs some sound post tweaking to even things off. As said, I'm spoiled by the deep power of my larger violas, so this viola just sounds different to me. Overall though, the tone is nice, not boxy, nor harsh. Just some difference in matching between the C&G and the D&A.

Have you had the soundpost adjusted since you received it?

I also have a 15.5" Seidel viola (my previous travel viola), and that one has been a disappointment indeed. Thin, boxy sound no matter the soundpost adjust nor string combo. I paid about the same for that viola as for any of my Yitas. Any of the Yitas far and away give a much more pleasant tone than that instrument.

July 14, 2016 at 05:15 PM · I have a T20 guarneri del gesù violin from Yita buit I have to say it was very disappointing. The Varnish came with Bubbles and the tuning pegs and the button where cut crooked on an angle. Before purchasing the violin I asked repeated questions about the voice and how loud and sweet it sounded. The rep assured me it was a great sounding instrument. Unfortunately it was not, the sound was tooooo low and very nasally. My friends student violin sound much better than this one.

July 15, 2016 at 10:15 AM · Just in case someone is interested how yita sounds: M20 viola. Sorry for bad sound quality (very cheap skype microphone) and for my interpretation.

https://soundcloud.com/user-554498287/m20

July 19, 2016 at 08:09 AM · Thanks for the sound clip George! You sound lovely :) I really like your interpretation. My viola sound harsher but the underlying tone is very similar, that sort of simple slightly coarse sound instead of the deep smooth viola sound.

I wanted to give an update: after being fed up with tuning with my horrendous pegs, I got some fine tuners as a temporary solution. My sound was transformed. Rather than being muffled like I would expect, it became extremely loud (I had to get ear plugs as my ears were ringing!), and the mute-like quality disappeared, now it sounds like a real instrument, even if the tone is still rather harsh. I don't understand it, it makes no sense why the tone would improve but... there you go. If you are suffering from the same tone issues, give cheap fine tuners a try?

July 19, 2016 at 08:28 AM · Maybe the extra weight on the tailpiece has reinforced certain vibrations (rather than muting them). Or a slight change in bridge position (better contact with the belly?).

August 12, 2016 at 07:54 PM · I just got my T20 17 inch Viola in the mail today and am in LOVE with the sound and tone!

I need a shoulder rest to play the C string first position comfortably, and the thing projects greatly with the factory strings and sounds like a Cello..

It is a 2015 model with some blemishes to the wood, IDK if it's just the style since it looked new and shiny in the pictures.

Is 17 inches of Viola the reason for the sound, or are the factory strings not "that bad"? The string colors don't even match anything on sites so who knows what kind of strings they are.

Seriously though, I like this Viola better than any other one I've found in a shop.

August 12, 2016 at 10:00 PM · You've just bought a really cheap Chinese VSO and you talk about it like you bought a Stradivari, you need to get out more, like to a violin shop and try some decent violas IMHO

August 12, 2016 at 10:20 PM · These T20 violins have their place in the market. However don't talk yourself into believing they are more than the (often) good value student instruments that they are. I have yet to see a Yita instrument that is 'professional quality" as some describe them. My son, playing five years, uses one and will soon upgrade to a good quality instrument.

Cheers Carlo

August 12, 2016 at 10:31 PM · Hey now, as soon as I unbrick my phone, I will go downstairs and try some 16s, but everything around me is mostly student or "professional" level with outrageous markup (Chinese for 1450, Romanian for 1200-1800, L.A. for 2250).

I still have to hear any of these things from afar, but I play bass so everything sounds like a kazoo anyway.

August 12, 2016 at 10:34 PM · You have a violin shop downstairs?????

August 12, 2016 at 11:06 PM · Do you play a new $700 plywood bass, that's the bass equivalent of the viola you just bought, does that make sense??

August 13, 2016 at 04:35 PM · Lol Lyndon, Brutal...

I've played some cheaply feeling new plywoods that cost an arm and a leg and even some carved or hybrid newer models, but nothing beats the sound and prowess of an old aged bass viol. I currently have a 50's Framus plywood (Musima it looks like, same stock as a Roth), but miss my old Juzek and Wilfers back at my old university. Plywood sucks for bow playing, and maybe the newish student basses that I've played just need to be opened up.

I was upstairs at the Public Library near a music shop down the road and I tried out some different Violas there:

Many of seemed more responsive with a lighter bow and had a wider range of tone and dynamics, which is difficult to get from the T20's 5 dollar fishing line set up.

Most of them had the factory high-action too, but I really like this 16.25 inch Tertis, but that thing was upwards of $4000!

There was an LA Strings 16 inch that was nice too, but just below 3 thousand.

Honestly though, the T20 17 inch is as light, if not lighter than my West German Roth, so I doubt the tone will be close to as warm in an open area as anything with some weight to the wood, and if it were a 15.5 or a 16 or something, it would definitely be waaaay more tinny. It probably won't age as well.

I think I was expecting Bebeureuth-Erlangen but ended up with a top-of-the-line Cecilio, but at Mendini prices

For the 17 inch T20 Yita,

It's a rough around the edges, cut corners, not too terrible of a factory setup Viola, but I can't imagine how cheaper a T19 or T19+ would have been, or what makes a T20+ earn that plus, or than maybe smoothing the burs and shavings, but I still would have taken it over the Century Strings I tried for around the same price, but this was less than half of that price thanks to bid sniping.

tl;Dr

It's a great instrument for 600 bucks, especially when you only pay 300 shipped.

August 13, 2016 at 05:41 PM · I'd say the sound quality comes mostly from the larger size. I have a 17 & 17.5, and they both sound magnificent compared to the 15.75 I also have.

Put some real strings on there. I recommend Warchal Brilliants with the synthetic core A. About $55 a set, and their long scale is designed for actual large violas like this (390 vibrating string length).

Don't fret, Lyndon. You didn't lose a sale here. You don't have any vintage 17" violas around do you?

August 13, 2016 at 09:43 PM · Thanks Seraphim! I wasn't able to find a Best Model any bigger than 17", which models are yours?

I couldn't decide between either Warchal, Pro Arte, Helicores, or Dominants (which don't last long if I read right.)

But hey Lyndon, nothing is going to beat an aged and broken-in setup; my Yita sounds like something from Ikea when you tap it, but I'll have somebody see how it projects.

August 13, 2016 at 09:56 PM · Pro Artes are nice, but a bit overly tame in my opinion. Helicores always sound a bit too "thin" to me.

My 17 is a 19+, the 17.5, I don't know if it had a number. My 15.75 is a 20+.

I think they throw darts at a board. I don't think they mean very much in actuality.

February 27, 2017 at 02:28 PM · Great thread. Everybody's experience is a little different, which is exactly what you would expect. I have a T20 (Liu Xi) "Cannone" model which, for $250, turned out to be a significantly better violin than my expensive American fiddle by a well known maker that I've had for 25 years.

The Liu Xi is bright, responsive, powerful and consistent across four strings. But I would note, I've micro-adjusted bridge and soundpost and bought strings to help it sound the way I want.

Really this advice applies to all violins: If you want a less dark sounding instrument, something that's more open, more forward, sometimes a millimeter or two change on a bridge will make all the difference. Violins, like baseball bats or tennis rackets, have sweet spots and if you find them the fiddle will sound totally different.

The other thing that makes an enormous difference is strings. Put Vision Solos on just about any fiddle and it will be brighter and more powerful.

And a Westminster E can not only give you a great E string, sometimes it can add enough tension to add significant volume to your A and D as well. One trick is to buy the thick gauge Westminster, which, when tightened, pulls the plates together and improves contact with the soundpost.

Don't quit on a violin until you've exhausted the possibilies.

I really like my Shanghai violin, it's going to be my No. 1 fiddle, but I don't think there's any particular magic to Lui Xi workshop or any other workshop.

Violinmaking knowledge is dispersed around the world. Good good quality spruce and maple is plentiful and available to anyone who seeks it out. There is, similarly, an ample supply of people who will learn the techniques of violinmaking, just like there are lots of people committing themselves to play these instruments. A workshop that knows how to make good violins and committed to that goal will succeed.

The result is that good quality violins are a bit of a commodity, and they don't need to be expensive.

The Indiana and Paris experiments pretty much exploded the myth of old Italian instruments being better than anything else.

I would love to see similar double-blind tests of "master" made violins versus good workshop fiddles -- I strongly suspect you would get a similar result. The key is selecting good violins, cutting good bridges, quality setup and good strings.

The biggest thing that makes a violin sound good is -- obviously -- the player.

February 27, 2017 at 05:33 PM · I though the most important thing was whether or not you used a shoulder rest?

;^p

.

May 2, 2017 at 12:31 AM · Hi guys,

What sets the master version aside from the normal T liu xi models? Are there physical tell tale sign?

Do all liu xi violins have the liu xi signature in the fhole or just the master versions?

Thanks

May 2, 2017 at 03:59 PM · There seem to be two levels of "Master" for sale at Yita. The (around) $1,500 "Master" and the lower priced "Master."

I have two $1,500 Master violins that I am very happy with. (the Red Mendelssohn and the Heifetz Del Gesu copies.) I have found no sound defects in these violins.

The lower priced "Master" violins are just slightly lower in quality that the more expensive models. It is more an advertising thing, I think.

Many of the violin models seem to be signed, not just the "Master" models.

I think only some "Master" models are numbered.

As far as the physical signs of the better models, I think some lesser models look as good but the $1,500 definitely sound better.

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