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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

How do you tell...Carbon Fiber or Wood bow?

December 29, 2006 at 12:41 AM

Today I bought a bow. A Coda (carbon fiber) Aspire. I really wanted a higher end one, but this one seems to be alright (it arrives in a few days). At any rate, it will be much better than what I currently play with. I got a viola bow despite the temptation to go with a violin bow (cheaper). I'm sure they are priced more because there is more bow...in a good way. It was hard to tell from pictures of ANY of the bows I looked at in the last few days how the balance was. I like a very thin stick until about the middle of the bow. Most didn't look like that, but it was hard to really know.

After all that...looking at my violin bow...it looks incredibly similar to the carbon fiber bows I saw (the ones that didn't have a "net" look to them). How can I tell if a bow is carbon fiber or wood? I know that sounds like a dumb question, but it is very very smoothe, is a very dark shade, very uniform. The part of the stick behind the grip is octagonal, but the rest of the stick is round. It has occaisional problems with the bow not loosening in dry weather. I can unscrew the button (?) almost all the way off sometimes and the bow still stays tight. Then when I open my case at home, it is loosened and fine. I have been told that maybe it was rehaired with not long enough hair to compensate for climate changes.

The look of the bow, though...

and there are no stampings, markings of any kind.

Without taking it to a luthier, does anyone know how to tell the difference?

I bought it from my teacher for $800.00 around 2002. I can't remember exactly what he said about the bow and can't get ahold of him about any of my instruments or bows lately. I'm sure it is worth 800 dollars. I'm not concerneda bout that at all.

Maybe I was and don't remember. Benefit of the doubt is always called for in my case.

I'm glad that I am very happy with my violin bow. It doesn't really matter too much. Just curious.

I practiced quite a long stretch today, and the whole time, I could hear myself way too loudly. It all sounded harsh, even playing very quietly, or flautando. I finally blamed it on the environment and weather. Relative dryness, humidity, temperature, water condensation on the walls. Anything.

I'm not playing any differently. Just hearing differently. It is hard to get past that sometimes in order to practice...such a distraction!!!

Hm...I'm making bread. The timer just went off..so now...off I go!

Sincerely,
Jennifer Warren

From Richard Hellinger
Posted on December 29, 2006 at 2:51 AM
I love coda bows!! When I saw the title of your blog that is what first came to mind. I personally like the Classic best. But I cannot afford it. I got to try Aspire and Classic in the store for about an hour (thats how much I loved them!). I hope you enjoy your bow! And I hope it arrives fast! (I am waiting on my new case, which I ordered and sent the payment for yesterday, so I know what the anticipation must be like!)
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on December 29, 2006 at 2:51 AM
I love coda bows!! When I saw the title of your blog that is what first came to mind. I personally like the Classic best. But I cannot afford it. I got to try Aspire and Classic in the store for about an hour (thats how much I loved them!). I hope you enjoy your bow! And I hope it arrives fast! (I am waiting on my new case, which I ordered and sent the payment for yesterday, so I know what the anticipation must be like!)
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on December 29, 2006 at 7:03 AM
Oh yah forgot to mention.. he he. The balance is Great! It was a little bit thicker of a bow then I like, but it played great, and I would "suffer" with the thicker stick because it is comfortable and great balance wise. What I like about the aspire is that it has a carbon fleck finish. I also liked the price (though I don't have the money now) $220 (at my luthier). Though I would save up for the $650 classic. It was remarkable how nice they both are! I never new my violin/I could sound that good. I actually had people come in (when walking by) and listen real quick, that to me was an honor.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on December 29, 2006 at 10:32 AM
I'm thinking any wooden bow worth $800 would have a finish thin enough to let you see some wood grain. Disclaimer: I am not a bow expert.
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on December 29, 2006 at 8:53 PM
$220!!??? Mine will be about 300 when shipping and taxes are added in to the price. Oh well. The luthier I go to didn't have any carbon fiber bows listed. I still think it is a very reasonable price, from all that I have heard and read (some on this site, some on others, and reviews). I totally ignored the advertising and marketing blurb on the CODA bow website. Supposedly this bow is good for students and adult beginners alike, being a good bow to carry one through the formative and important stages/years...blah blah.

I think a bow is a preference thing, not a marker of ability in sliding scale terms....?

I didn't get my old violin hack bow rehaired to use because the more I looked at it, the more work I saw needed. It didn't have any kind of grip. The frog looked like it would probably break in the rehairing process and need to be repaired. The place where the hair is joined to the frog...the craftsmanship with the halving of cork and ??? is shoddy.

So....
ANYWAY. Thanks for the feedback.

I'm looking for any hint of grain beneath paint and am not seeing anything.....
Where the bow has scraped against the strings a few times, there is a lighter colour of the finish when I clean the rosen off the stick. Sort of a very deep orange-ish. The stick looks very dark brown, almost a burgundy, but still brown.

K.
Sals,
Jennifer

From Richard Hellinger
Posted on December 30, 2006 at 1:47 AM
Yah I couldn't believe it was only $220. But they are a big company (even though they don't look like it). Their repair buisness is backed up for months (I know, when I tried to get my violin fixed there back in August, I would have had to wait until January!), they currently rent over 200 instruments to individuals, and they have a booming retail buisness. Let alone they have a ten year contract with Fairport Central Schools to repair and supply products to the school (I used to go there before I moved :() which has over 2000 strings students. So I guess they don't need too much of a retail mark up. Lucky for me! Though $300 isn't bad for the bow. I have seen them up to $350 before shipping!
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on December 30, 2006 at 7:40 AM
I love my Coda Conservatory bow! I like it better than my more expensive pernambuco bow, and I use the Coda all the time now. It handles so beautifully. I know what sound I want, and it seems to flow out of the bow without much conscious effort on my part. I hope you enjoy playing with your new bow, too.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on December 30, 2006 at 9:15 PM
I'm so behind the times I had never even heard of a Coda or carbon fiber bow before. My violin bow, purchased circa 1978, is wood and cost about $250 then. And I still like it pretty well after all this time. It's light and easy to handle and makes spiccato fun.

But you've piqued my curiosity, and based on your description, it looks like I might have one with my rental viola, and I don't like that one very much at all. (I've been meaning to exchange it but haven't gotten around to it). But perhaps that's a viola thing . . . it feels heavy and clunky and maybe that feeling will go away over time. What is the perceived advantage or disadvantage of carbon fiber bows?

From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on December 31, 2006 at 1:29 AM
Carbon Fiber to me looks like plastic. I also think that under $1000 they are probably your best bet, but for me, they aren't good serious bows.

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