From Michael Chang
Posted January 21, 2010 at 06:16 PM
I'm looking to purchase a new bow, and a bow marked "Aier Schaeffer - Brasil" caught my attention. The price tag was 1200, and it's currently on trial to me until this Saturday. I cannot tell whether its nickel, nickel-silver, or silver and it has imitation whalebone. However, I did research and found out that other bows made by F. Schaeffer, Floriano Schaeffer, and etc. were well under 1000 except for the Special Edition Gold. Am I getting ripped off?
I bought a V Schaeffer cello bow a couple years ago for about 650. Silver mounted.
If it's part of the regular lineup of what Arcos Brasil sells, the violin bows generally are (a range depending on the seller in USD):
nickel-silver mounted ~$400-$600
silver mounted under $1000
"premium" offerings, silver or gold mounted, nicer fittings ~$1200-$1600 or more
I'm generalizing here, because these prices may be quite different depending on your retailer, location in the world, inflation of currency in your local economy, etc.
Tons of my colleagues and students have bows from Arcos Brasil, and I have one that I play on quite regularly when I'm not in the mood to cart around the nice French stuff. :) IMHO, they are pretty much the best "bang for the buck" that you'll find in the market today. I am always genuinely amazed to find sub-$500 bows from Acros Brasil that play like or better than European offerings in the $1500 range.
I do not recommend buying Brazilian bows through American dealers/shops/catalogs. Brazilian bows are good but American sellers tend to really jack up the price (like buying bows in Brazil for a certain price than selling them in US for twice or 3 times as much).
Best thing to do is to buy Brazilian bows directly from the makers (meaning either come down here or ask somebody to bring a bow for you whenever they travel to Brazil).
How can you tell whether the bow is silver-mounted, nickel-silver-mounted, special-edition mounted, and such? I know its not gold-mounted, but I cannot tell whether it is a silver-mounted special edition or just another bow worth sub $600. Are there any key determining factors?
Although, I personally would be suspicious and hesitant to buy (it does seem overpriced), the smartest advice is to try it out along with other bows priced similarly, more, and even less than this bow to compare. Try out bows from different dealers, because everyone has different prices. I think if you take your time looking for a bow (a good month of dedicated shopping and trying out) you might find the qualities that you like in that bow in another one for less money. When spending over 1k for anything, it's best to make sure you're getting the most out of your money.
I'm no expert but that does seem awfully high, at least from what I remember the prices being in 2009. You probably know this already but the abbreviation that you mentioned before the name Schaeffer means that the bow wasn't even made by Schaeffer himself, but by one or more of his apprentices. It is a workshop bow, from the Schaeffer "atelier".
Anyway, I think that's too expensive, but that's just my opinion. There used to be a guy here on v.com who was a dealer of these bows, and lived in close proximity to their US distributor. Do any of you remember his name? He might be able to tell you for sure.
If there isn't a violin shop nearby take it to a jeweler.
Violinist.com Editor Laurie Niles is in New York to cover the biennial event at The Juilliard School, including classes by Brian Lewis and Sarah Chang.
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