I've been shopping for bows for a few weeks now, and find myself being perplexed as to why this problem isn't much easier to solve than it is.
There's obviously a highly personal dimension to it for many people, and some amount of mysticism and worship of ancient masters (so to speak), as there is for instruments, but perhaps more so because of greater supply and variability and less overall familiarity. Over-valuation of old works is to be expected due to limited supply of products compared to money, so is nothing out of the ordinary in itself.
What perplexes me beyond that is that the science of bow making hasn't apparently yet progressed to the point that it's well-understood and reproducible to the point of industrial-level mass production of items of various grades of quality up to and beyond the best hand-made bows.
(A similar argument applies to violins, but let's say that violins are much more complex, and no better material than woods has been found for them, so they'll continue to be highly variable individual crafts-pieces for the time being.)
There's a glut of garbage bows which are inflicted on beginners as a part of violin kits -- especially on adult beginners as they have longer bows which are more flexible -- as a symptom of this problem.
More advanced players find themselves being able to do no better than try as many bows as possible for themselves to find what works for them rather than being able to look for something which approaches a specific set of know standards. Searching by price and brand name or place or time of manufacture rather than performance (and price) metrics. And they find themselves looking at items of greater and greater cost in the process. Wooden sticks costing thousands of dollars should raise anyone's concern, not just non-musicians and affiliates.
With no disrespect intended to the many bow makers present and past who strive to produce the best musical instrument they can, and to provide for themselves and their families with the proceeds of their work, I don't understand why the science of wooden sticks, so to speak, has not yet been applied to the point where there is greater general understanding and capability.
So, please inform me if you will how I can understand bows better.
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