I tested a Yamaha YEV

October 2, 2016 at 09:34 PM · Two days ago, at the Mondomusica exposition, in Cremona (Italy) i had the chance to play a Yamaha YEV electric violin, using earphones. A 4 strings model.

Many months ago i started to think about purchasing one, for all the outdoor gigs i have (possible rain, humidity, etc).... And i really hoped i liked it.

Well: i didn't. At all. I tried to calibrate the knobs in the preamp it was connected to. No hope. The one i played was seriously unbalanced among strings. The lowest strings with MUCH more volume than highest. The E string insufficient. Another friend confirmed, with earphones. And it's not a earphones issue.......

So, i don't care if i picked up a messed up instrument (i doubt)..... If there's a chance that if place an online order and i can get a balanced YEV, or un unbalanced YEV, randomly..... well, i won't even try.......

Anyone else here has tested or owns one?......

Replies (22)

October 2, 2016 at 11:37 PM · I haven't tried a YEV, but on two occasions I put one in an online "shopping cart," only to have second thoughts and back down. I find such things intriguing, but then I've always been so disappointed with any and every violin pickup that I've ever tried. It's not that they are bad in any sense. It's just that they don't seem to suit me and the reasons why I play the violin. I appreciate your sharing your impressions. You're helping me to resist my own sometimes uncontrolled acquisition syndrome.

You may not know that Laurie, our moderator, wrote an article about the YEV when it was first introduced.

October 3, 2016 at 03:40 AM · Having tried and owned Yamaha silent violin, I think that one can get a better sound by using a high quality microphone attached to an acoustic violin.

Although design of YEV is astonishing, I wonder why the price tag is so high for essentially a passive electric violin.

One basically buys a beautiful fingerboard plus piezo pickup under the bridge, but really, what else is there to create a good sound?

October 3, 2016 at 06:23 AM · The YEV's are among the most inexpensive non-junk electric violins on the market, coming it at $599 (4-string) and $629 (5-string). They are beautifully made, the position of the audio jack is really well thought-out and the setup is very well done. I'm not sure they could be much cheaper without sacrificing important details.

I demoed the YEV's at NAMM this past year, and purchased four YEV's (two four string and two five string) for my school program last month, through our Yamaha authorized sales representative (Morey's Music in Lakewood CA). We've not had any issues with response and balance; we've been playing them connected to Vox Pathfinder amps. It's likely there was a setup issue with the one that you tried.

October 3, 2016 at 09:18 AM · Problems of impedance matching? E.g piezzo captors may be much higher impedance than the amp, input, and this can affect the tonal balance.

October 3, 2016 at 10:06 AM · I believe the impedance matching problem was out of question.

Well, as i said, maybe i took the only faulty violin in the stand..... :)

But it doesn't matter..... The issue is that the unbalancement "can exist", so purchasing one online without playing it is something i don't want to taste......

Another: i thought it was lighter, in weight..........

October 3, 2016 at 06:18 PM · Well, there are two versions, the one in the black finish, and one in natural wood finish. The ones in the natural wood finish feel lighter to me, and are much lighter than any of the other electrics I've tried.

October 3, 2016 at 07:08 PM · I wondered about the difference between the natural and black finish YEV's. The central "body" of the natural finish model is laminated from spruce, mahogany (probably African), and maple. But why go to that trouble with the black finish model if those woods will just be covered with black lacquer? Yamaha claims that the woods are chosen for their acoustic resonances, so logically those same woods would be used, clear or black lacquer notwithstanding. And Yamaha's specifications say that the weight is the same, regardless of the finish. I'll email Yamaha and ask, and I'll report back here if/when they reply. Or..... someone with a black one could sand off part of the finish and tell us what they find! ;)

October 3, 2016 at 09:03 PM · I played a natural wood finish YEV.

October 4, 2016 at 12:04 AM · The very fact that Yamaha presented such a (flawed) violin @ Mondomusica is telling a lot. Another detail I would love to know if they are manufactured in Japan or elsewhere. In the past, Japanese guitar producers, Yamaha included, first built in Japan and those series are still sought after. Later on, they would move production to China, Taiwan or Korea and quality sometimes went down.

Still, only a very beautiful fingerboard, unless proven otherwise.

Yet another proof that we are driven by, and attracted, to visual appeal.

October 4, 2016 at 06:19 AM · They're made in China. If you look closely at the sticker on the underside, near to the output jack, you can see that, even in photos.

October 4, 2016 at 10:20 AM · All my desire to get one, someday, vanished after my personal 5 minutes test.........

It's their loss, i presume........

October 4, 2016 at 12:00 PM · I've not tried a YEV, but have tried lots of others, including some higher end ones like the Bridge.

Just like Marco, my desire to play an electric violin seems to rapidly disappear once I actually try one. They just feel dead under my fingers. having played classical guitar for many decades, and acoustic violin for less, I guess I'm just an acoustic player at heart.

October 4, 2016 at 01:05 PM · I've been thinking of getting one for a while now, to use as a 'silent' practice violin for the odd hours when I don't want to disturb anyone else. For my intended usage, the pickup has no value to me as it wouldn't be used. Besides, how good of a transducer should we expect to be included with a $600 violin? It could be fun to alter the sound after the fact, but then the sound quality would largely be a product of the processor.

The balance, weight, dimensions, and support for standard accessories would matter to me as they should match a standard acoustic violin as closely as possible. Can anyone comment on those factors? Has anyone weighed one?

October 4, 2016 at 02:47 PM · Wouldn't you be wanting to plug in headphones so as to hear the instrument? My impression is that most people do this when using an electric for silent practice.

October 6, 2016 at 03:33 AM · An electric violin can be plugged into all sorts of post-processing devices to create sounds that cannot be achieved with a regular acoustic instrument.

I can't figure out why a whole bunch of you seem to want them to behave exactly like regular acoustic instruments when the entire reason for their existence is to offer new options. I've had to perform using a pickup on my regular violin for a couple large contemporary worship services and once I tried electric I never went back. The ability to have that kind of control over the volume and tune is extremely useful in a setting like that, especially since I had to rely on an in-ear monitor to figure out what the sound was like to the audience.

For the YEV, the balance, weight, and dimensions are as similar to a regular violin as possible. The design of the body uses a standard center mount chinrest, you can attach any regular shoulder rest with feet (Kun, Everest, Bon Musica, Mach One, etc.) to it (although I don't use one, the stock chinrest is tall enough for me to play rest-less), and all the "touch points" are in the right place.

October 6, 2016 at 03:42 AM · They're not really silent -- they're still acoustic violins in a way, and can typically be heard just fine under the ear. The direct sound is also generally better than what can be achieved through the pickup and cheap electronics and headphones -- which are not worth the bother from my perspective for general practice.

I'm not sure how loud the YEV is, but other ones I've heard of are about as loud as a standard violin with a practice mute on, and they can be made even quieter using a practice mute. (Which I've had to do some times.)

October 6, 2016 at 02:36 PM · For myself, it's not that I want an electric to behave like an acoustic. Its more that I think I could enjoy an electric, because of the flexibility in sound, and then I play one and I find that I just can't.

October 6, 2016 at 07:21 PM · I think that archtop jazz guitars with magnetic pickups are beautiful sounding instruments in and of themselves, without comparing them to any acoustic guitars. I've tried to give electric violins that same chance to stand on their own merits. And I do enjoy listening to other people playing them. Stuff Smith is regarded as one of the first violinists to use a pickup, and he used a DeArmond magnetic pickup, the first commercially successful design. I had one of those myself years ago, and they sounded terrible. But Stuff Smith is a joy to listen to anyway. Curiously, I really don't mind listening to myself recorded on an electric violin.

But what I do miss while I'm playing an electric is the visceral contact with the instrument that I get from an acoustic. That's why I've often said that electric violins are business machines, to be used when some job requires it. Acoustics are for that, but also for the joy of it. But I don't want or expect anyone else to share that feeling. If an electric works for you, I think that's great.

October 6, 2016 at 07:59 PM · One of my students might be getting one, I'm pretty excited about it! I also tested them at NAMM and was very impressed.

October 9, 2016 at 04:19 PM · I could try one out in a music shop. The german price is 800€, that's heavy.

I was disappointed - the wonderful looking wooden wave is only paper thin and feels cheap.

Playability is great, there's absolutely no need of getting adjusted to it.

Good that there's no sound processor or preamp inside, so you are able to use your own equipment. However, this violin has only a piezo pickup. With a different pickup system I might have use for it, but I can't stand that piezo sound. It would be fine with effects, but I want a natural sounding violin, and I prefer an acoustic violin with a mike. If it's a loud situation I use a "the band" pickup. Too bad, I loved the looks of the Yamaha. It's fine compared with other solid body electric fiddles, but still not really sounding like a violin.

October 10, 2016 at 04:22 AM · " The ones in the natural wood finish feel lighter to me, and are much lighter than any of the other electrics I've tried."

Thanks for mentioning that Gene. I went to a store prepared to check that, and they felt that way to me too. When I weighed them, I found the black one to be around 550g and the natural one around 540g, so there is roughly a 10g difference between them. The included chinrest weighs around 55g, so a further 10g or so can get reduced by going to a lighter chinrest, such as the Wittner I use. After substitution, I ended up with 525g, which is exactly the same as another electric I've used -- a Gewa Line model.

It's probably the black finish which adds weight. Sometimes a heavy finish is preferred on electrics (at least acoustics used as electrics) in order to reduce feedback when amplified. I'm not sure if it makes much difference in this case, but the 10g is noticeable, although slight. Thanks for the tip.

In comparison, I measured a couple of acoustic violins at around 465g, so the electrics are significantly heavier, though not nearly to the point of being unusable.

I also find the string height to be a bit excessive in my sample -- I measure around 6.5mm on the G string near the end of the fingerboard. I prefer a lighter touch, but maybe the exercise will be of some value, or I'll have that adjusted.

Regarding the imbalance between the strings, I think it may be due to the physical construction rather than the pickup, as it seems that way even without the pickup engaged, and the Gewa also seems that way to me. It doesn't really bother me because I don't care about the sound -- it's just a quiet practice instrument for me. I also like being able to see the wrist when playing instead of having it blocked by the instrument body -- that's handy for checking positioning.

The body height at the mount point of the chinrest is around 4cm, which matches acoustics closely (and better than the Gewa, which is a bit thin) which makes it as usable as an acoustic without a shoulder rest for me.

The neck is well finished, whereas the black finish on the Gewa makes it a bit sticky at times. Unfortunately I didn't think to check that on the black YEV I had on hand, but I don't recall noticing that problem, so maybe it's fine.

In all, a step up from the Gewa Line, and a usable substitute for an acoustic for some quiet practice.

October 17, 2016 at 12:15 AM · I went back to the store as the excessive string height was bothering me, and measured a couple of other samples -- they were both lower (around 1mm lower on the G string, so closer to standard height). So I exchanged it, and am much happier with the one I have now. Based on this, I'd recommend buying one from a well-stocked local retailer if possible, and also trying different samples if possible. Even with mass-produced electric violins, apparently there can be significant variability.

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