I bought a Lui Xi fiddle about three weeks ago. It came directly from China. I’ve looked at these for about two years and finally decided to gamble $225 (including shipping) and see what the quality was. I was really pretty surprised at the fit and finish… particularly between the nut, neck and finger board. There’s a very smooth almost seamless mating of the parts. The pegs are very well fitted… they turn smoothly and hold position easily. The antiquing is well done with muted warm gold tones and a largely smooth oil finish. The top grain is very tight and even, opening somewhat toward the edges. There’s no glare or plastic appearance, just an even soft nicely transparent sheen.
On the down side, the strings were quite poor, the bridge was thick and not well finished, the elevation at the nut was a bit high and the ebony tail piece was not set up with the proper after-bridge spacing. Fortunately, I do most of my own service work, so I almost immediately carved a new high-quality bridge, changed the tail piece to a Wittner Ultra, re-shaped and lowered the nut, mounted Dominant strings, moved the sound post a little to the dark side and conducted a thorough set up.
After three weeks of playing the violin daily, I am amazed at the tone, clarity and responsiveness of this instrument across the strings and up the neck. The voice has changed notably as the instrument has been played. At first, it was simply loud (never edgy), but lacking somewhat in overtones and depth. After a week it softened and took on a sweeter more rounded sound. Now the clarity has really asserted itself. Double stops are balanced and well defined such that the stronger low tone does not over power the higher. High notes ring and low notes are full and respond with only light coaxing.
While the violin does not compare on par with aged or more skillfully crafted instruments, it is in a class well above student-grade violins available in the $500 range. In time, I expect this fiddle will continue to improve in tonal quality matching its excellent playability. I couldn’t find anything in this fiddle to be disappointed about that couldn’t be easily addressed with a little careful adjustment and selective component replacements. With a total investment approaching $300, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the purchase.