Yamaha YSV104 Review

Edited: May 2, 2020, 5:23 PM · Hello, I will tell you a little bit about myself before start my review of Yamaha YSV 104 so that you know where this is coming from.

I am an amateur violin player, a hobbist at most who started playing at 6 years old, stopped after one year then re-started 7 years ago. This is not my profession nor my primary focus of study.

I re-started playing with a cheap Chinese outfit, moved up to a fake copy of Andrea Amati (~900CAD) with a decent Brazil made Permnambucco bow (~300CAD). I upgraded to a contemporary soloist violin (~3000CAD) and a nice German bow (~700CAD). In the past few years I started traveling more for my work and the time I've had for playing violin shrunk a lot.

I now live in Switzerland, for those who are not aware there are many laws regarding making noise in Switzerland and playing my main violin is not an option. Even with a heavy mute on, it's beyond acceptable sound range especially on G and E strings.

As a result, I rarely played at all, I only took my violin to play at a near by practice room, and obviously due to lockdown this hasn't been an option either.

I should also mention that I've had a long habit of buying a secondary instrument and selling it. This ranges from cheap violas, decent beginner violins and a handful of lower tier electric violins.

I finally gave in and spent a larger sum (879CHF) on a Yamaha YSV104. It came with bridge collapsed, taped to the body and with a new set of D'addario Zyex. The YSV104 only has one headphone jack which connects to included headphone amplifier which gives room or concert hall effect. So far my opinions on this violin:
1. It is about as loud as my main violin with a heavy mute on in the first position of A and D string.
2. It is absolutely more quiet for G and E string than my main violin with a heavy mute.
3. The pegbox is smaller than the violins I'm used to and pegs are a bit closer to each other making it a bit more awkward to tune it. The pegs came lubricated.
4. Bridge, nut and fingerboard have been well cut and lubricated with pencil lead.
5. Standard "decent" Finetuners and plastic tailpiece.
6. D'addario Zyex hasn't fully broke in yet, it's been 2 days but the D string has not settled and the first D on A string just lacks projection (it sounds "dead").

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Overall in terms of setup, it's very neutral and very well done. I am very picky and particular about the shape of my bridge and the whole setup, this violin is set up very "neutral" which isn't my best pick, but still very easy to play with.

This violin is designed only for practicing and not for playing using a large amplifier as it lacks proper controllers at the (pre) amplifier.

I absolutely love this violin, it obviously lacks the projection of a real violin for a good violin but included pocket amplifier and headphones work very well. Since it is an electric violin, it is obviously too forgiving when it comes to bow control. If I am going to the practice room, I will still bring my main violin but I can't really ask for more from an electric violin.

YSV104 is an excellent alternative violin that allows me to practice anywhere. It so far has been my best electric violin and also my best practice violin. I can now practice every morning and throughout the day.

If you are looking for your "take-anywhere" last practice violin ever, I strongly recommend YSV-104.

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Replies (16)

May 1, 2020, 6:14 PM · Seriously, a violin with a heavy practice mute is too loud in Switzerland?
May 1, 2020, 6:23 PM · My main violin is particularly loud even with a mute on. Without a mute I have to put earplugs in both ear to play.
May 2, 2020, 1:10 AM · what type of mute are you using, i have the metal block mute and it drops my normally 102db violin measured 2 feet away, down to whisper quiet.
Edited: May 2, 2020, 4:53 AM · Switzerland sounds like the new Land ohne Musik, unless that's Afghanistan
Edited: May 2, 2020, 5:45 AM · It's a heavy metal mute covered in rubber. It is the Artino practice mute. For the first position on D and A strings it works very well. As I get to G and A string the mute becomes less effective as well as for 4th position and above for D and A string, but that's not really the topic of this thread.

I haven't had my neighbours complaining about my playing yet but I intend to not have any complaints.

May 2, 2020, 10:09 AM · I too have a YSV104 that one of my students gave me as a gift. And it’s a wonderful practice violin. The set up is just right and I find no difficulties moving from my fine Dereck Coons violin to my silent violin. It’s an excellent choice for violinists who want to keep in good playing shape when traveling. I recommend using a shoulder rest for greater comfort.
Edited: May 2, 2020, 11:36 AM · I'm contemplating a YEV105. What's the difference between a YEV and a YSV?
May 2, 2020, 12:13 PM · I was lent a silent violin YSV (?) then bought a YEV 105 . I love it.
In simple terms, I picked the YEV because of its looks - it is a beautiful thing as well as an instrument. The YSV looks did not appeal.
I also didn’t like the “hook” meant to round out the shape of the violin.
YSV‘s come in more than one level, which vary considerably in price.
The other very basic difference is that you can play the YSV with earphones.
The YEV doesn’t have an earphone attachment, but it does have a dongle, so you can attach to the amp wirelessly, giving a greater sense of freedom.
Someone else will have to explain the technology.
May 2, 2020, 1:31 PM · YSV does not have a preamp. It is designed to use solely as a quiet practice instrument with the bonus of the headphone amplifier with room / hall effects. It weighs about 1/6 less than the YEV.

There are misleading videos on Youtube which show YSVs plugged into amplifiers or have YSV in the title when it's a YEV being played. In one instance the YSV sounds horrible amplified (no wonder). It is possible to modify a YSV by the addition of phantom power to the onboard circuit so that it can be plugged into an amp, and that may explain the better-sounding videos in which it is amplified. I have seen one that had a manufactured looking add-on for this.

The YSV comes with a built-in chinrest and is not meant for you to use with your own chinrest. The bridge can come cut to a fairly high action. Some stores lower this as part of their service.

Edited: May 2, 2020, 3:30 PM · I think if they could find light enough parts, they probably would have designed the YSV with the control box built into the violin because I do find it a bit inconvenient to have a wire from the YSV to a control box in my pocket then headphones from the control box to my ears.

I am thinking about attaching the control box the YSV using velcro tape but it would add significant amount of weight. YSV is already heavier than my acoustic violin.

As Andres mentioned, the chinrest is built in which I have no problems with but I can see how this can be a problem for some people.

When compared to YEV, which are at cheaper for me don't seem to come with a control box for headphones. I would imagine you'd have to buy a seperate amplifier and headphones for the YEV to make it use it like the YSV. I also just don't like the feeling or look of the YEV. Its geometry is so different from a real violin, I am not sure if it would be a good practice violin.

May 2, 2020, 8:03 PM · I don’t remember a separate control box at all on the YSV. The earphones plugged directly into the violin. It required AA batteries for them to work, and there was a small volume control knob.
I’m not sure which version I had.
( it would be nice if theYEV had this feature but that would add to the weight)
Andres, you have reminded me about the built in shoulder rest - I found it very uncomfortable .
May 2, 2020, 9:00 PM · I don't think any of the YSV models really have a built-in amplifier/control box. There is a control knob on the violin itself but it is really for only the intensity of the signal to the control box. I do know some of the older Yamaha electric violins had them, but their "silent violin" series come with external control boxes I think.

The YSV104 has a metal frame that resembles the lower bout of a regular violin so that you can your own shoulder rest.

Edited: May 2, 2020, 9:36 PM · The “issues” with the YSV-104 are coming forth. A deal breaker for me is the built-in, non-changeable chinrest, of a design that doesn’t suit me. Some Yamaha “Silent Violin” models had removable chinrests, and some didn’t. The YEV’s (which are not in the Silent Violin series) do allow you to switch chinrests, as long as your chinrest choice clamps over the tailpiece.

And then there’s the issue of the awkward wires and belt mounted control box. Besides the wires just being in the way, every time you want to set the violin down and walk away you’ll have to deal with the necessary disconnect. How much better would it be to have a wireless system, wireless from the violin to the control box, which could then be left on a table if you preferred, and wireless from the control box to your earbuds. I’d bet that Yamaha is working on those things now. (I guess that would put the system at a whole other price point.)

Finally, all the comments have been about the physical attributes, but nothing about the sound. Yamaha put up a web page when they first introduced the YSV-104 that had sound files for each of its modes, straight without reverb, room reverb, and hall reverb. It may still be available, but I haven’t seen it for a while. Anyway, I found the sounds rather disappointing. You’re free to disagree, of course.

May 2, 2020, 11:34 PM · Rosemary, this may clear things up. You are perhaps thinking of one of the SV models, perhaps the discontinued predecessor to the YSV.

https://www.electricviolinshop.com/yamaha-violin-guide

Mark, I suspect the only disagreement you'll find is on how tolerable a compromise the sound is. Although mine doesn't sound quite as mosquito-like as the online samples.

May 3, 2020, 3:45 AM · Mark, I honestly think the chinrest problem for the YSV is a design flaw that they will eventually address in the future models. I really do not see why they can't make the plastic piece that holds the headphone jack to be smaller. As for the wireless control box system. This is something we can actually buy seperately. You can technically connect a bluetooth jack to take care of this. Honestly though, personally I don't think I'll be using the bluetooth jack.

At the end of the day, the point for me is not to use control box and enjoy the simulated/amplified sound. The point for me is to practice and nothing will really replace the acoustic violin but playing on the YSV is much better practice and quieter than my acoustic with a heavy mute.

May 3, 2020, 4:12 AM · I've got a 4-string Hidersine electric. I love it. I never use phones. It's not that quiet.

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