First, I think it’s relevant to explain how I got my current, main violin. Our local shop carries a large selection of instruments. I played every one in and 2X my price bracket, and narrowed it down to three. I then had the owner play them all while I listened from a distance, and narrowed it down to two. Played them some more, had him play them again, and took my current one home for a week to make sure it was “the one.” I’ve never regretted the purchase.
Flash forward to my purchase of this “office/electric” violin from YitaMusic. I had been looking for a while, and I’ve read many online reviews. I was expecting an inexpensive instrument that was playable. Nothing more. I certainly got that! It’s an M20 model (T and M and the workshops they represent, 18,19,20, master are the “levels” of quality). T20 and M20 are the good ones to get the for price you pay.
The violin came with a cheap case and an cheap bow that is the most flexible stick I’ve ever seen. That did not bother me, as I was not expecting the bow. I purchased the violin Monday, and it came yesterday to my doorstep (3 days from Shanghai to Texas). The instrument was well packaged, but ships with the bridge wrapped up, so you have to be able to do that (which I can do). Here are my initial impressions.
1. Fit/Finish. It’s a 290 dollar fiddle, but it’s well made. You can see where corners were cut in the fine work. THe peg holes aren’t as cleanly reamed as they should be. The underside of the fingerboard and chinrest are a little rough. The wood is beautiful, and the photos of color/flame were very accurate. It’s a pretty instrument, just a little rough on the edges.
2. Tuning. The pegs work well, and the fine tuner (Wittner lever-style) had a rubber boot to protect the spruce top. That was a nice touch. I immediately ditched the random strings that came with it and put on an old set of Warchal Timbres I was saving for the occasion.
3. Build. The instrument is heavier than my main violin or the junker knilling we keep in the closet. The arching is also much higher than my main violin, which I’ll mention again. I like my violins on the smaller side (not 7/8, but smaller in the 4/4 range of normal), even though I’m quite tall.
4. Sound. It does not sound like my main violin, which is projects and has a brighter sound overall. I had to dig into the M20 to get what is a mezzo forte on my main violin. It’s a darker instrument, but very mello. I think the high arching has a lot to do with that. It’s a characteristic of the box, I suspect, and strings/sound post adjustment will move that needle a little in either direction, but I did not purchase a powerful violin.
5. Overall. I got what I paid for, and I mean that in a positive sense. I wanted a violin that would save me from having to lug mine to work on days when my evening practice is interrupted by life. Or to electrify and use with my guitar amps and effects. It’s suitable for those things. I’d bring it to play outdoors (in west Texas the heat is a major concern).
If I was buying a beginner an instrument, and I was on a limited budget, I’d honestly rent from a shop, even though rental qualities where I live are lower than this M20 violin. I know others have said their YM violins are amazing instruments, and maybe that’s true. To be fair, my current instrument was not the most expensive in the shop when I bought it, but outplayed everything else in the store.
If you have $300 or so to spend and want to experiment, it was worth the money. It will come to work with me on Monday and let me practice (especially technical work), which exactly why I bought it. If my main instrument was lost/stolen, I’d get another one locally rather than gamble.
*For perspective, I think violin prices are obscene and unjustifiable. My current instrument cost me under two grand, outplaying instruments that were twice that, and outplaying one of my teachers’ very expensive instruments.Tweet
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