Brazilian bow makers interestingly reasonable price

Edited: June 2, 2018, 11:50 AM · Hello everyone

Lately i was in touch with 3 different bow makers from Brazil.
I asked about their prices and I'm surprised!
One asked for 225$ for a Violin or Viola bow and other two ranged their prices between 300$ to 600$ based on what materials(silver-mother of pearl etc.) Customers want on their bow. Now my question is;do you find these prices acceptable due to the fact that may be they have easier access to Pernambuco or you find these prices and the final result suspicious?
Would you risk buying a bow in this price range and expect it to be a standard and acceptable bow?
Thanks/

Replies (13)

June 2, 2018, 12:08 PM · There are some great, inexpensive Brazilian workshop bows these days. Marco Raposo and Arcos Brazil are both reputable workshops, for instance, producing nice bows for the price.
June 2, 2018, 12:30 PM · Another great bow maker, here in Brazil, is Ivan Guimaraes.
Edited: June 2, 2018, 12:31 PM · Hi Mohammad,

A few years ago, price range for bows made in Brazil was between 1500 and 2500 CAD.
I doubt that there was such a huge price drop for the authentic bows from that country.
Make sure to confirm the authenticity - it is more likely that bows are in fact made in China.
Having said that, if the bow is made well, performing well and produces a nice sound with your violin, who cares if it is 250 or 10 times more expensive?

Rocky

June 2, 2018, 1:20 PM · I don't think Rocky's statement is true. There's been decent Brazilian workshop bows for at least twenty years or so, in the price range named by the OP.

The cost of labor in Brazil is roughly equivalent to the cost of labor in China, and they're at the source of wood. There's zero reason why Brazilian bows would be more expensive than Chinese ones.

June 2, 2018, 1:56 PM · Brazilian bow makers get to choose the best wood before any of it is exported. As such they get the best of the crop, so their bows get a head start in terms of quality wood. Our concertmaster bought a few years back a bow from a Brazilian maker who happened to be at the summer festival at the time. He paid 400euros and he claims it was the best playing stick he ever played. Sadly he broke the head soon after he bought it, so I didn't have a chance to see it.
June 2, 2018, 3:57 PM · "Find out when when the Brazilians are coming to town and get to your violin shop about the time they leave." This is what I was advised years ago. Not all bows by a given maker are the same - that's why they choose different metals for them. I was told the best bows are bought first - seems reasonable!

I only have one Brazilian bow, a Marco Raposo cello bow with silver trim. It's OK for the $1,000 it cost me about 15 years ago - but thats about how I would rate it now. You cannot buy one of these things on the maker's name alone.

June 2, 2018, 4:10 PM · Brazilian minimum wage is about the same of China's (US$ 280,00), but the majority of bows in Brazil are produced by individual makers, and not in a factory, so the minimum wage has no impact on that, I think.

The cost of living in Brazil is much higher, as well as taxes, bureaucracy to keep a business, etc., that's one of the reasons many Brazilian companies have moved their factories to China.

Overall, China is is a much more competitive economy than Brazil.

Edited: June 2, 2018, 5:40 PM · There's a big reason why bows from Brazil ARE more expensive than Chinese bows. Brazilian bows are made of genuine Pernambuco wood of high quality, Chinese bows are not.

and yes, $225 sounds too cheap for a genuine Pernambuco Brazilian bow IMHO

Edited: June 2, 2018, 10:59 PM · For €1150 I recently bought a bow from a Dutch luthier. He is retired now, the bow has to be at least 8 years old. It was his "house brand" from selected bows made by some certain Brazilian bowmakers (can't find out the names, unfortunately) and used to put his own stamp on. It's way better than anything I could get in the same price range, and at least equal to the ca. 25 mostly modern bows I tried in the €3-4k price range. Found a Prosper Colas for €5,5k and a Morizot I still liked better, but with nice French bows I tend to be pretty much biased by names - and I couldn't afford it anyhow, so I'm happy with a great Brazilian-Dutch...
My Luthier does have a selection of Brazilian bows, starting around €450 up to something near €1,8k. He buys them directly from a Brazilian wholesaler, but I've no idea if they are really made there or somewhere else.
June 4, 2018, 7:44 AM · I seriously doubt that it's even possible to find out whether or not a Brazilian-labeled bow was made in China or not. Who would admit it to the buyer? I'm sure the Chinese can obtain Pernambuco if they want to.
June 6, 2018, 1:58 PM · On the other hand, I know of at least one reputable european bowmakers who uses a cnc milling machine for the rough work, and uses sandpaper to smoothen the sticks afterwards. What does not sound like real craftsmanship produces consistent quality, and he's usually sold out. His bows start at €3,5k btw., and are easy to resell without any loss.

I don't like that concept, to be honest, although I like his bows. What I'd like to put in question with this statement is, in the end, is it still important nowadays who made a product (or programmed the milling machine) if the product is what you want?

For me as an old fashioned guy the answer is clear. On the other hand, if that way it would be possible to buy a really great bow for a budget around $500, maybe even an exact copy including the playing properties of a let us say Tourte worth 100k, my answer might be different.

June 6, 2018, 7:30 PM · Both of my bows are from Arcos and they have been good to me so far.
June 6, 2018, 8:41 PM · When my shop was selling more cheaper/new stuff, we bought some of these cheaper bows from one of the lesser-known shops and they were quite good. The makers we were dealing with had a habit of putting too much camber in, especially right behind the head. I recambered some of them a bit to undo the odd stuff (and I'm not really a bow person, either) and they turned surprisingly good. We tried to have a special model made for us---even sent them an example of a classic French bow to copy--their work was that good--but they couldn't seem to do anything other than what they do, couldn't learn, and we gave up. But for the money they were excellent, if not all they could have been.

I can't say we were dealing with the same people, but yes, a pretty good dirt cheap Brazilian bow is indeed a thing.


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