How Much to Spend on Spare Bows

August 16, 2017, 3:25 PM · Hi everyone! I recently upgraded my instrument along with it's bow. I purchased a $650 bow which I loved for the price. I currently have a "spare" but it is quite nasty in the fact that it's not pernambuco or carbon fiber and was incorrectly crafted and now is twisted due to the wood settling.

I was wondering how much to spend on a spare bow and whether to get another pernambuco bow or a carbon fiber. Any recommendations?

Another thought that crossed my mind was; due to my bow costing 1/10 of the price of my instrument, I use it as a spare, although I do love it. And, instead of buying a spare, buying a higher quality bow. In that case, how much should I spend on a bow of higher quality? I know everyone says spend 1/3 of the price of the violin on the bow, but is a $2000 bow really necessary. Like, I don't need some gold mounted, early 20th century bow.

Replies (9)

Edited: August 16, 2017, 3:37 PM · I don't think you need to spend tonnes on a bow. I would try a variety of affordable bows and pick your fave.
PS. I'm a fairly advanced player using a cheap student bow (worth less than $100 but serves me well) and a fairly good violin.
August 16, 2017, 3:45 PM · A high-end CF bow will run you about $800 and will almost certainly be more than adequate--it will probably be better than your $650 pernambuco bow. You can get an "OK" CF bow for $400-$500.
Edited: August 16, 2017, 4:29 PM · Don't buy a spare. In the future you will buy a better bow and your current one will become the spare. Until you upgrade that better bow for an even better one and so on.. before you know it you will have a collection.

Personally I would avoid CF and other synthetic bows altogether. They, IMO, don't sound anything like a good wooden bow. I bet they will have zero long term investment.

Cheers Carlo

August 16, 2017, 4:25 PM · If you are looking to have some fun go to a fine fiddle shop and try bows and get one that you like. An alternative is to look for a bow that has different characteristics than your present good bow. Perhaps a stiffer bow or a more flexible bow - be sure the balance suits your technique - or that you can adapt to it. That's what I think.

August 16, 2017, 8:04 PM · A gold-mounted early-20th-century bow by a name maker might be more likely to cost you $20k, not $2k. ;-)

You can buy a fine contemporary bow in the range of $4k-6k or so. (There are living makers that charge more, but that range is typical.)

In the $750 - $3,000 range, you can find high-quality CF bows, high-quality contemporary Brazilian workshop bows (Marco Raposo, Arcos Brasil, etc.), and decent but often no-name older bows.

I wouldn't bother to spend money on a spare bow if I were you. If you ever need a spare, your local violin shop can probably lend you a $50 fiberglass bow that will be fine for a few days.

Wait until you can spend real money on a bow, and then upgrade. Your current bow can be traded in or sold for a carbon-fiber spare at that point. Alternatively (and here I echo Mary Ellen's advice), a CF bow in the $750-$1k range will be fine as a main bow.

Edited: August 16, 2017, 9:54 PM · I think having a spare bow is a good idea for emergencies. I think the purpose of a spare bow is meant for use only when something has happened to your main bow (e.g rehair, malfunction, damage). Please correct me about bow rehairs because I know nothing about them. I'm assuming that a bow rehair takes a few days, but I'm probably wrong. Could your current bow act as your emergency spare? If not, you don't really need to spent a ton of money on an emergency spare bow. It doesn't have to be a top-notch bow, but it should at least serve you well and make your violin sound good.
Edited: August 16, 2017, 10:25 PM · Ella,

How long a bow re-hair takes depends on how busy the person doing it is and if there is anything wrong with the bow (bad previous re-hair, damage, etc)

It can be something you walk in, hand your bow over, take a look around, and then walk out, or it can be something you get added to a list for and wait a week.


I'd echo the thoughts about CF - give it a try. I've really enjoyed the Codabow Diamonds I've tried - 2 on viola and one very briefly on cello. However, I am currently in the market looking for a JonPaul Avanti after reading about them. I'm a little slow to pull the trigger on things though, so I probably won't be able to report back on that before you've made your decision.

August 17, 2017, 5:14 AM · In London a quick turnaround (24Hrs or less), costs more than waiting for a few days. Still a lot cheaper than buying a spare bow though!
August 17, 2017, 6:08 AM · At Ifshin Violins for an extra $5 (or so) I have been able to drop off a bow, go to lunch, come back to pick up my bow and drive home. A really nice service - provided I have made an appointment to do it. Haven't done it for a couple of years - might cost more now.

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