From LyeYen Tien
Posted April 18, 2008 at 03:00 AM
Also, anyone tried the low end carbon fiber bows (up to US200)? Any recommendations? BTW, I am looking at fractional sizes.
As for CF bows in the range of up to 200 USD, I have tried some but I didn't really like them. Although, I didn't like the wooden bows I tried in that price range either.
Instead I found the CF bows starting at or around 400 USD to be far better value for money and far more desirable. In that price range and even above, I found the CF bows to be of better quality than the wooden ones in the same price range, that is, amongst the ones I tried, so your mileage may vary.
One thing that can be said about CF bows with a fair amount of certainty is that they are more consistent than wooden ones, that is to say one CF bow of the same make/model is pretty much like any other CF bow of the same make/model. With wooden bows there is much greater fluctuation simply because no piece of wood is like another.
As for recommendations, try out the Coda Aspire, I think that is slightly more expensive than 200 USD but I venture to guess it would be worth the extra 75 USD (?) or so. I never tried the Aspire but I use a Coda Conservatory which is one or two models above the Aspire.
At one time I tried the the entire line of Finkel "hybrid" bows and bought a Jumeau. I felt the bows were priced fairly, with that priced like a Coda Classic playing about the same way.
The Jumeau and Finkel (silver) had similar sound levels - on my fiddle and the Finkel would have been a better bow, but at the time I could not manage the higher price.
I found the higher priced Finkel hyprids harder to use than the lower priced ones, but it did not take too long to adjust my bow-handling style for each bow.
The devil is in the details. Really, the devil is in the sound. You just have to try it.
I have a Coda Aspire violin bow and Coda Conservatory and Classic for viola (and also Coda Classic for cello) -- all bought used (to varying degrees) off eBay. :-) I like my Classic on the viola (as did my teacher) -- haven't played w/ the Conservatory viola one much, but I do notice a diff and prefer the Classic even though I'm still basically just an adult beginner. I don't actually play cello, so can't really comment on the Classic cello bow, :-p but I expect it to be pretty good anyway.
But going back to the Aspire (for violin), which would be closer to your range, well, I only got mine recently -- and it's basically brand new (w/ the warranty sticker still on it, etc). I'm not sure I like it yet -- my teacher thinks it's pretty good for the $. I think I prefer my <$200 Johann Krausch bow from Stringworks on most days when it's not very humid. :-) The JK offers more nuance and flexibilty, but the tone is not as focused and powerful as the Aspire -- I guess the main diff between them is the heftier weight plus stiffer stick of the Aspire.
Currently, my daughter is using an el cheapo 3/4 Presto CF bow (bought from Shar). It's serviceable for her currently playing needs, but it certainly could be a bit stiffer, IMHO -- and definitely not as stiff as I would expect from a "real" CF bow judging from the various Coda's I own. If you want something on the stiffer side, then avoid the basic Presto bow -- not sure how the higher models are.
Hope I helped some w/ what little I know. :-)
However, Coda have recently launched a new series of CF bows, the NX, SX and GX line, those are different designs, so if you compare a Coda Classic from 2004 and a Coda SX from 2008, there will be a significant difference. In fact I tried all the NX, SX and GX against the Classic and Conservatory and I liked the latter two better than the new NX/SX/GX line.
Can you expand on what you liked better about the older model Coda's? Thanks.
This staetment is a total falsehood.
"Better" how? It is subjective.
A bow constructed of carbon-epoxy composite (which is most of the carbon bows) has totally different physical properties from wood--regardless of the quality of the wood.
They are as different as a wooden organ pipe is from a lead organ pipe.
Carbon bows do not sound the same as wood bows. Period.
I liked the way the Classic (and also the Conservatory) feels, the handling. I felt more in control of the bow than with any of the NX, SX and GX.
"I am so sick and tired of hearing the refrain, "a $200 carbon bow is better than any wood bow up to $2000."
This staetment is a total falsehood."
Where did you read that statement? I cannot see any post here where anybody made any such statement.
In addition I bought a Rolland Arpege CF viola bow off ebay for a song. Makes a good backup bow, pulls good tone, but is too soft. So what?
In addition (2) I recently bought one of the Rolland Spiccato adjustable bows, very cheaply, from a local shop (Potter's, $550; they have 2 left, if you're interested). The adjustment mechanism is neat. I got it to use as a trial bow for the various violins I keep finding, figuring that varying the camber of the bow will give me a better idea of the violin's response, and using the same bow for all my testing will eliminate a variable. At least, that's my excuse.
They ain' Tourte, but they ain't bad for the money, and when someone insults my playing I have a weapon at hand to assuage my honor. So watch what you say.
I like your thinking there. If it were me though, I'd just blame on the bow for being too stiff or too bouncy or whatever. ;-) Of course, if it's carbon fiber, it's harder to blame it on the weather on top. :-p
The Berg (synthetic-material) bows are made to look like wood. So much so that one luthier thought it was a fine wooden bow for the few seconds he first examined it. Fine, it should have been, as a $4,100 Berg Deluxe.
I've used a Rolland Spiccato in multiple performances recently (Mendelssohn "Midsummer Night's Dream" , as did the professional sharing the stand. Very effective for handling the spiccato requirements of that music. Other bows I have may sound better, and handle as well, but the have value I do not take into orchestra chairs.
I think the composite bows were strongly hyped and got a good reputation a decade and more ago because at similar prices to previous, low-cost wooden bows, theyu offer great handling advantages. I remember being exposed to some very poor-performing, European-made bows. A $100 Glasser Composite, was a far better bow for spiccato, sautille, saltando than a similarly priced wooden bow.
In my experience, ther sound from a very pricey composite/CF bow is not as good as a comparably priced pernambuco bow. But there are situations in which a CF bow will give you just the sound you want.
On the cello, I have found that my ARCUS Concerto cello bow creates sound that blends better with other instruments in string quartet and piano trio than my Paul M. Siefried, which is, however, a better bow for solo playing.
On violin I find that my pernambuco bows do a better job of creating "rich" tone, but in some halls, especially wooden-walled ones, the ARCUS Concerto violin bow emphasizes more overtones that ring in the hall. Of course, it depends on what violin I use - and i pick that according to the venue and the music. Same as for the bow.
I do not know of a gold-mounted hybrid or CF bow at that price. In fact, when one buys a gold-mounted bow one is trusting the maker to have honestly evaluated the bow as being of superior grade, worthy of the gold. In the Finkel line of hybrid bows, as far as I know, only the J.S. Finkel bows are also available with gold mounting, at prices comparable to his wooden sticks - at least $4K and above. I think the wood on the hybrids is as much at risk as in a 100% wooden stick and would not use mine in risky situations.
The added price of gold mounted bows has always been much greater than the added value of the gold metal (even at today's price for gold) and is really due entirely to the quality of the stick.
If you get some money you can order from Potter's. I'm sure they have an 800 number, and a website.
All this to say: talking about "a carbon bow", or whatever other variation, is about as precise as stating "a wood bow". It tells you about the main material, nothing about its specifics, even less about its quality or performance.
Please consider supporting Violinist.com by becoming a sponsor, and reaching our dedicated community of violin professionals, students and fans!