Off the mark I have to admit, I have a bias for Yamaha. My go to violin for the last year is a stellar Yamaha V30 I found in a pawn shop, a mint, early production one to which I have added a Fishman pickup that follows me around from my teacher to my gigs.
My practice violin is a Yamaha SV-150 and I've spent a lot of time around Yamaha's higher end instruments in recent months thanks to a friend who owns a small lutherie business.
But the bias is more one bred out of luck than anything intentional, for one, I don't buy into any of Yamaha's 'legacy' violin marketing, read their catalogs and you get the impression that the brand's effort is decades in the making and is the fruit of world class expertise, but dig under the surface with Yamaha directly and you realize that they show very little. The truth is that, once you've spent a bit of time digging, Yamaha's string division is so insignificantly small and understaffed compared to guitar and piano, that it appears (nowadays anyhow) an afterthought.
I say this fully knowing that the face of their branding efforts are amazing musicians like Zackhar Bron.
Which is too bad, Yamaha String's focus recently has been on their electric lineup and as several brands are expanding and moving upscale on the acoustic front, Yamaha has become completely focused on the student market. I recently sat down with a local rep for Eastman and he mused that with the Bow business taking off in recent years he's almost doubled his numbers and outlets in the last two years.
Annoyingly Yamaha has also inexplicably discontinued interesting models, relaunched or modified others, making navigating their product catalog or keeping track of it a complicated endeavor for enthusiasts.
Yamaha's range topping Braviol violins have been replaced by the Artida series, several of the SV and SEV electric violins have been discontinued, a new YEV series has been issued but distributors are rare, the CBB violin bows are supposedly discontinued but the entry level CBB 101 is still out there, a new series called YBN has been issued but are almost impossible to find and shockingly expensive with no material or demos to justify their price point ... unless of course you include the appallingly weak in content 'Yamaha String' twitter account ...
Ok rant over ...
Which brings me to my recent venture in updating my arsenal, after busting up a decent Bosch bow I decided that it was time to explore a more solid outlet for my bowing, I've become the only one in my class not to use a Carbon Fiber bow, spending time between Miami and Montreal means a lot of the more 'weather sensitive' bows have not been a great investment for me, I have experienced with decent Glasser bows and stiffer wooden bows, but I was getting to the point where a permanent solution needed finding.
My first reflex was eBay as cheap carbon fiber bows abound ... the first bow I received was absolute rubbish but 35$ shipped, the frog height was traumatically off and the bow was inexplicably heavy, so after reading a few online reviews and local demos and my next find was a Coda NX which I found in a store with an entry level Arcus and a 'discontinued brand' which several say were the world best. What bothered me the most after a few days with the carbon fiber bows was the glassy finish most had which did not suit my playing. What was reassuring is that the playability and response was in line with more expensive wooden bows. After a few days though I got a notice via my eBay saved searches that a store a few hours drive from where I was still stocked some of the previous generation Yamaha carbon bows, the Yamaha CBB 105 & 107.
I ended up purchasing the CBB 105 and I've been using it for the last few weeks. It's precise and so surprisingly smooth, the best bow I've ever owned. It really puts in perspective Yamaha's incredible ability to produce great stuff but confusing follow up. What I mean by this is that if you end up finding something by Yamaha that you like, it's likely that if within a few years you need a replacement, you won't find it. To get a violin of the V-30s caliber ( 3000$ brand new) nowadays I'd have to look for a YVN50g which is ironically also discontinued ... so that would put me in a V20G, which is also pretty decent and still in production for some reason. Who knows for how long though ?
It's likely that because of this my next purchase which I expect to be in the 5 to 10k USD price point will be a different brand.
Anyone here go through anything similar with a different manufacturer ?