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Our exclusive, one-on-one interviews with 27 of today's best-known violinists, including Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, David Garrett, Anne Akiko Meyers, Maxim Vengerov, and others.


High end brazilwood vs low end pernambuco

Instruments: which one to purchase?

From Sara Kelly
Posted December 27, 2011 at 01:54 AM

Is it preferable to to buy a high end Brazilwood or a low end Pernambuco (around the same price-$375-$400) German bow?

What are the benefits and/or drawbacks of either one?

From Evan Garey
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 04:40 AM
I've used both, but find the pernambuco has better spring and holds the camber longer. Brazil wood tends to sound smoother or softer. If you can try a few at your local violin dealer, consider a balanced stick and one that compliments the tonal qualities of the violin. Wood species is less important than build quality, in my opinion. Just watch out for bows that are too heavy.
From Sara Kelly
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Thanks.
problem is that I am not sure if a brazilwood bow is worth $375-even if it's great!
From Tobias Seyb
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 04:33 PM
The problem is that there is nothing such as "brazilwood". That's only a collective name for a diversity of woods.
Imho 300$+ is too much.
From Sara Kelly
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 07:24 PM
does that mean that a pernambuco bow at this price is a better deal (I can do that)?
From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Don't limit yourself just to German bows! In this price range there is some great stuff available from Brazilian companies such as L'Archet Brazil, Water Violet, etc. They have the raw materials and have learned what to do with them.
From Evan Garey
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 07:36 PM
If you can, try out a selection for ease of playing, compatibility with your playing style and violin, etc. I wouldn't be too concerned about what specie of wood its made of. You can also compare carbon fiber and fiberglass bows (I prefer wood) to get an idea of what each feels like.

It's not uncommon for violinists to have several bows, not just as backup but to mix and match.

From Tobias Seyb
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Sara,

I would like to give you better advice, but a bow is as good or bad as it is. It's impossible to say "this or that brand/material is a good bow/violin", like it is with wine. Is french wine good? You can do that with some cars or radios, because one car from a good maker is always the same like all same models. But you'll have to test every bow. I would opt for pernambuco in your price range, because you can get really fine pernambuco bows for over 300$, that is sure.

From Sara Kelly
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Thank you for the replies.
What makes a pernambuco bow superior? Just the bounce? Does it keep its shape for longer?