The pernambucco violin bows form Brazil

May 18, 2007 at 07:34 PM · What are your opinions about the pernambucco violin bows from Brazilian maker?Marco Raposo, Arco brazil......? It seem they have some material advantage over the rest. Bows expert? Gennady?

Replies (17)

May 21, 2007 at 04:24 PM · The quality of Brazilian bows has improved greatly from the old Horst John days. Almost all of the current bow companies can be traced back to Horst John in some way. The owners of Arcos Brasil, Water Violet, and Marcos Raposo all previously worked together for Horst John.

Arcos Brasil is the largest and has a US office so that shops have a greater selection of bows as well as faster accessability. But all of these companies produce good quality bows at an affordable price. Shop selection is very important since most shops hand select the bows from the different companies, if you need a specific bow based on stiffness, weight, color, balance point, winding, or round/octagonal a shop can order the bow and have a selection available within a week.

The easiest way to judge the bows is to consider them the Toyota Camry's of the bow world. Solid performance, dependable, moderately priced (typically between 400-500 for nickel and between 600-700 for silver), and quality workmanship.

Between Marco Raposo and Arcos Brasil the largest difference is the stamping. All Marco Raposo bows are stamped Marco Raposo no matter who the maker is. All Arcos Brasil bows are stamped with the individual makers name (followed by Brasil-as in C. Chagas-Brasil for example). This allows a player or teacher who likes the bows of a specific maker to narrow their search. Other than that, both have quality bows from quality makers. In my shop we carry primarily Arcos Brasil, but that's because (besides my liking their bows a lot) their US office is 4 miles from my shop so I enjoy the selection available.

Also, as you noted, since Pernambuco ONLY grows in Brazil, these companies have a great advantage in availability of wood and both of these companies work with European and US efforts to protect the Pernambuco supply for now and for future bowmakers.

May 22, 2007 at 02:29 PM · I have a Marco Raposo (silver) cello bow. I have tried several of their bows and they were all quite different in sound and handling. (I'm assuming one would find the same variability in violin bows.)

My initial test impressions were that the nickel bows were worth what they cost and the silver ranged from being worth the price to being even much better than that . at the time, some Raposo silver bows were priced above $1,000.

May 22, 2007 at 05:38 PM · Yes, you probably will find a wide range between bows because of the different makers. All makers are unique in their making style based on experience, style, feel, and of course the wood. Even in shops like Marco Raposo and Arcos Brasil where the overall quality is consistantly high you will find quite a bit of uniqueness in the bows, so it's just a matter of finding the right one for you.

Also, the suggested retail prices I mentioned above are for Violin bows. Viola would be slightly higher and Cello above them. Most shops have nickel Cello bows between $600 and $700 and silver between $900 and $1100. Both companies also have makers that they feel are more talented/better trained and have silver bows in the $1200-$1500 range (violin). Arcos Brasil for example sends their best bow makers off to Pieere Giullaume's school in Brussels (the former J. P. Bernard school) to work directly with Pierre. These bowmakers then become the ones designated to make the "special edition" line of bows, using better wood along with the advanced technique.

Again, both companies have a reputation for quality bows and bowmakers, and while I've met Marco Raposo many times and like him and his bows, I like the fact that the makers names are on the bows from Arcos Brasil, making the bows seem more individual, plus we have a CD with the makers from Arcos Brasil working on the bows, so that our customers can see the maker who made their bow. Most customers like the idea of attaching a face to the name on the bow.

May 26, 2007 at 10:45 AM · How about M. Pereira,a bow maker from brazil.?His bows model very much like the Guillaume.anyone have idea what his bows play likes?

May 26, 2007 at 12:44 PM · I have a C. Santos bow from Brazil (Percumbo) any thought on it? I can not seem to find any information on the web.

May 27, 2007 at 04:56 AM · M Perriera worked for many years for Arcos Brasil and was the first maker they sent over to Pierre Guillaume for further training. He made "special edition" bows in both silver and gold for Arcos Brasil and in either late 2005 or early 2006 he left Arcos Brasil to become an independent maker.

C. Santos used to work for Water Violet and he left, probably if I remember correctly, in 2004 to become an independent maker. The only problem with these makers leaving the ;arger bow companies is 1) the wood source and selection-large bow making companies have a large selection of wood, individual makers typically do not. 2) Harder for shops to see a larger sampling of their bows. When Perriera had his bows sold through Arcos Brasil, a shop could potentially look througgh 8 or 10 bows to find the ones they liked. Now, independent distributors, selling independent makers bows may only have 1 or 2 bows from any individual maker. But both makers are still making bows, and I always liked Perriera's bows although he tends to leave the sides of his tip too narrow (or cuts the plug too big, take your choice-same reult) making it more difficult when doing a rehair without damaging the ivory plate on the side of the tip. His bows are usually slightly stiff but play very well.

May 27, 2007 at 12:14 PM · Just wondering... are there a lot different between nickel, silver, gold, and special edition? Is the different worth buying special edition rather than silver?


May 27, 2007 at 01:55 PM · Well, the catagories are based on 2 different criteria. Most bow makers use the old French style of catagorizing what metal is used on the bow based on the quality of the wood. So a gold bow should have better wood than a silver and a silver better than a nickel. This is done before the bow is started so that when a maker begins the bow he/she already knows what type of bow he's making. Of course this system depends on the quality of the wood selector which is why sometimes a great bow is made using silver when a gold bow doesn't quite measure up.

Special Edition bows (which is the designation used by Arcos Brasil) are based on the quality of the maker. While the same standards for wood (gold better than silver) remain, only the makers who have been trained in Europe by Pierre Guillaume make Special Edition bows and these bows use the large eye rather than the more typical parisian eye.

So, in theory, a gold special edition bow would be made using the best wood and made by the best trained maker. Of course since each bow fits each player and each instrument uniquely, whether that makes the bow better for you remains an individual question. But since your'e starting with better wood and a better bowmaker, the results are usually superior.

June 4, 2007 at 10:16 PM · By chance today I tried a large number (50+) of bows from a Chinese maker (last name Xu, I know that's not much help) which ranged from $1200-$3200 depending upon the fittings which are being carried by a violin shop which I frequent. (They supply rental instruments to me in another city). They were all quite beautiful, generally good playing sticks. Stuck in the middle of a case of them was a lone "F. peccate" (on the sticker, not the bow) by a "De Marchi" which when I did a search showed up under Water Violet bows. So far I am fascinated by this bow - it handles absolutely superbly and as best as I can judge has a very strong sound. It's nothing special in the looks department but clean. Is "De Marchi" a real person? The Water Violet site has no information on individuals at all.

June 4, 2007 at 10:52 PM · see also thread for

Slew of 'fake' bows for auction

$1200 for a Chinese bow seems extremely high to me.

June 5, 2007 at 05:28 PM · I have a Floriano Schaeffer octagonal Brazilian bow. It wasn't that expensive and is nicely made, though not particularly glamorous. It's firm and straight and performs very well.


June 5, 2007 at 06:12 PM · The morning afetr report: the "De Marchi" bow seems to be a very fine handling bow BUT the sound in the the cold light of morning is thin and somewhat harsh compared to my two main bows. The Chinese bows I saw were quite nice - but I agree they seem quite too expensive.

March 20, 2008 at 05:42 PM · I just bought a Marco Raposo silver mounted violin bow. $900. There were 3 at the shop to choose from. The other 2 were a little less expensive. I had someone at the shop play my violin with each of these 3 bows. The $900 was the best...better, more full tone, and more responsive. It doesn't bottom out on the wood, yet it is flexible. This is my upgrade from the Coda Classic. I like the stiffness of the Classic, but found that the carbon fiber bows don't produce the beautiful tone that a high quality pernambuco bow does. I'm very happy with my Marco Raposo. It was made by Jose Nilo.

September 30, 2008 at 02:53 PM · Hello everyone,

As a travel writer and amature violin player, I am interested in traveling to Brazil in search of a nice bow. I will write about the experience later in an article, "In Search of Perfection".

Does anyone have the contact information (in Brazil) for the most well know Brazilian produces such as Arcos Brazil, Water Violet, and Marcos Raposo?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



September 30, 2008 at 08:47 PM · I bought a Marco Raposo bow from Stevens Violin Shop last spring. Vance, the owner, is hugely knowledgeable about Marco Raposo (and possibly all Brazilian) bows - he spent some time with me on the phone discussing the product in question. Might try giving him a call and arranging a phone interview.

Here's their link:

(I had a great retail experience with them, BTW, even though other members didn't, some of whom were quite strident on this link, but no longer post here (possibly because they are/were too strident).

August 18, 2010 at 09:02 AM ·

I am trying to find the bow maker Pereira. He used to work for Acos Brasil but has left there. Does anyone know how he can be contacted? Many dealers offer his nows and I recently tried one which was excellent.

August 26, 2010 at 03:05 AM ·

 I own a Raposo bow that pulls an excellent tone from both of my very good instruments.  No, it is not as responsive a stick as the pricey English bow I own, nor does its ability to pull an excellent tone equal a John Norwood Lee that I also have, but it is nonetheless a very good bow for orchestra rehearsals.  I should think a bow of this quality would be good for an intermediate student.

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