Another Yitamusic review

April 19, 2019, 9:20 AM · I purchased an inexpensive violin from Yita Music on eBay to keep in my office, or to refit with a piezo bridge to “electrify” the fiddle. I paid 289 plus shipping for a Guarneri-style model (an Ole Bull model). I have a really nice sounding violin already, this was purchased (a) as an experiment and (b) to keep a cheap violin at work so I can practice during the day (the school of music is one block from my building on campus).

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.

Replies (8)

Edited: April 20, 2019, 3:52 AM · Make sure you get it set up and change its strings. Yita violins normally aren't set up properly when they reach the end buyer's hands.

I'm not a fan of Chinese violins at all. But just saying.

April 20, 2019, 6:31 AM · "For perspective, I think violin prices are obscene and unjustifiable"

Thanks for your Yitamusic review.

Violin prices are to a great extent representative of the cost of the time of the maker. A new instrument costing thousands when made in say Switzerland should be no surprise because the cost of living there would be relatively high. Violins made and sold as cheaply as they sometimes are by Yitamusic could have the reverse argument - that the cost of their human labour is undervalued.

Edited: April 20, 2019, 8:36 AM · You put $130 strings on a $260 violin? Why??
April 20, 2019, 9:16 AM · I'm not sure I would characterize an old set of Warchal Timbres as a $130 set of strings if they already fililled their usefulness on a primary instrument. If you are going to play the Yita at all, it should sound good as possible.
April 20, 2019, 9:48 AM · Cotton,

The strings were sitting around after my last string change. So they were technically $0 at that point.

April 21, 2019, 7:58 AM · Cotton queries decent strings?
Going back a long time to when I was teaching, my biggest battle was persuading parents to spend the money on decent strings (probably Dominants) when they were many times the price of the cheapest strings. And they made even the worst violins sound half-way decent.
April 21, 2019, 9:52 AM · Bear in mind that yen to dollar exchange rates are not helpful; we need to know what the Chinese maker can buy at the end of the month in China!
April 21, 2019, 10:31 AM · they work for $1/hr and a meal costs about $1

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