Describing bow characteristics

November 14, 2017, 11:38 AM · I'm in the market for my first real "professional" level viola bow ($3-5k) As most of the shops in my area are student oriented, I am mostly limited to long distance trials through the mail. The trouble I'm having is in describing the qualities I am looking for in a bow. I know what I want when I can feel it and play with it, but when I can only try 3-4 bows at a time, I'd like to maximize my chances of getting something that works. What words or phrases would you use to describe your ideal bow, both in feel and tone.

Replies (3)

Edited: November 14, 2017, 1:17 PM · I'm just curious. Are you unhappy with your current bow? Some adjectives that could describe bow characteristics.
bouncy
light
heavy
balanced
unbalanced
flexible
stiff
And each bow makes the instrument sound different, I think, so we could use words to describe sound to describe the way a bow makes an instrument sound.
November 14, 2017, 1:51 PM · In my bow-purchase of last year, I tried bows in a whole bunch of East Coast shops, playing as many things in my price range as possible (both antique and contemporary).

In the end my teacher asked Bein & Fushi to send me a couple of bows for trial, with just a description. They sent me three bows within my maximum budget, that all felt good (they met the description), and one of them was a superior tonal match for my violin, and it's what I bought.

I was looking for an average-weight bow that felt light (which is to some extent a function of the way it is balanced), with good articulation, a "plays itself" feel, and a strong stick.

I did end up spending significantly more money than I'd planned -- I'd intended a lateral trade from my previous bow (i.e., sale of one would essentially cover purchase of another) and in the end the new bow represented an upgrade.

Edited: November 14, 2017, 2:40 PM · Morgan Anderson has become a really bright star in the bow-making universe. His bows are still within the OP's price range (but only just, since winning his latest Paris competition gold medal). I played an Anderson viola bow abut a dozen years ago when they were welling for $3,600 at Ifshin Violins and I was considering possible purchase of one this past year ---but I decided to first take a chance on an ebay bow stamped "C. BAZIN" that I got for $375 and it will be good enough for me for the rest of my days. (I know it is not a real Bazin - maybe not even pernambuco, but on my viola it is a better bow than any of my other 3, even though it's my cheapest.)

Ifshin Violins in El Cerrito, CA is still (I believe) the US outlet for Anderson's bows.


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