label inside says "From the workshop of Xuechang Sun, Model VN-100" and it's a nice mellow colour that reminds me of a tasty amber ale. In addition to playing it happily today, I took photos of it because that's what I do: artsy in the case and the back of the body, which shows the colour more accurately. It plays like a dream, making me feel like a better player almost immediately. Of course I really wanted to like it and I may be deluding myself, but it seems to sound a lot nicer than my rental.
When people go looking for something handmade of excellent quality, they don't usually think "China!" In the world of violins, instruments made in Europe are king, and you pay for more for that distinction. Better yet, old European instruments, which you pay even more for. I was pretty clueless when I started looking, and needed someone to help. Rhiannon at Fiddleheads helped me figure out what I wanted, needed and could afford...which turned out to be a new (not old) Chinese (not European) violin.
John Weier. He's dealt with Sun violins before and agreed that they were great value for the money. Not that I didn't trust Rhiannon, but it was nice to have her advice supported. She had steered me away from similar-priced European violins (that she also sells), saying that the Sun model offered better bang for the buck and would likely suit me better. Her site also had info about another Chinese craftsman who has won big awards in the U.S. and was interviewed by Time magazine.
The only downside of the choice was that it came during Chinese New Year, which slowed things down considerably. I exercised patience and it appears to have been worth the wait (what would the alternative have been?). Tonight while I was playing it, I noticed that it resonates beautifully when I'm in playing in tune -- like it is trying to help me with my intonation. I was able to play much quieter and smoother, or very loud and bright with small changes in bow pressure. Anyway, very exciting and I'm looking forward to getting to know this little beauty.