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.

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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.
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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