Carbon fiber vs. Pernambuco bow comparison

February 16, 2007 at 06:13 AM · Has anyone compared a carbon fiber bow to a nice pernambuco bow? I currently have a CodaBow Conservatory and was wondering how much i'd have to spend to find a bow that sounds/plays considerably better than my current bow. I know that his question is very subjective, but I don't know much about bows and I guess i'm asking for help. Also, is there a rule of thumb when it comes to price? Obviously spending the most that I can afford to is an easy answer, but I thought I read somewhere that a good rule of thumb is that the bow should be half the price of the violin. I also read (of course it may not be true) that a good bow can make a fine violin sound like a violin twice it's price range. Any help is appreciated!

Replies (89)

February 16, 2007 at 06:19 AM · Greetings,

there has been a long discussion on this recently. Sorry I can`t remember the name but it should be easy to find.

As a general rule I use the bow as one third of the price of the isnturment but i don@t think its that useful. Always go for the best possible bow you can.



February 16, 2007 at 06:25 AM · like Buri said.

it's been discussed to death.

As far as I am concerned, it is apples and oranges.

But if it is a question of budget, some CF bows are good for what they are.

February 16, 2007 at 02:58 PM · Your question is sincere, but looking into the archived stuff would save you some reminders from folks. Even so, budget and use are good things to consider. I prefer a good wood bow, but generally like carbon fiber better than a wood bow of the same general price. Since I play Cajun fiddle, need to be loud and even agressive a lot, and play in bars, dives, tents and fields, carbon fiber works very well, thank you. There's something missing in undertones with a carbon bow, even as acceptable and well-known as the coda we each own. Sue

February 16, 2007 at 03:16 PM · Go with a good carbon fiber bow if handling is more important than sound, good pernambuco if sound is more important than handling.

February 16, 2007 at 05:37 PM · Mike,

That is really off the mark.


An excellent pernambuco bow by one of todays award winning makers will handle far better than any carbon fiber bow.

I think it is more a question of budget ( and handling, sound etc.)

CF bows can be good for the price. But one cannot start thinking that they can actually be better than..........

There are excellent pernambuco bows by modern makers ranging from $2500-$5000 (that includes American & French top makers).

CF bows lack the range of tonal properties when compared with fine pernambuco bows, but they can be excellent as a second or third bow.

And yes, a great bow can really improve your fiddle.

February 16, 2007 at 06:16 PM · Gennady:

Have you read Buri's latest blog? I wonder what you think? It speaks to handling, among other things.

February 16, 2007 at 06:34 PM · If I spend, lets say, $700-$800 on a pernambuco bow, would that be considered a waste of money? Are pernambuco bows in that price range inferior (in both sound quality and playability) to my CodaBow Conservatory? Obviously more expensive pernambuco bows will sound better than my current (and i'm looking for better sound), but I can't afford a $3000 bow, especially since my new violin was only $1440.

February 16, 2007 at 06:49 PM · there are actually good pernambuco bows made by Brazilian makers that range from $500-$2500.

I am sure Angelo can help explain that.

You can find him on previous threads on this subject.

He represents Arcos Brasil.

February 17, 2007 at 01:05 AM · Having test-driven many bows, I chose a carbon Arcus Sinfonia - I like it a lot.

February 17, 2007 at 07:21 AM · Edward,

It would be more appropriate to say what you have compared.

For example:

Say you tried Peccatte, Maline, Voirin, Sartory, Millant, Thomachot, Espey, Salchow, Le Canu, Morrow, Wehling vs Coda etc.

I doubt that was the case.

You could say you compared bows (a,b,c,etc) under $1000 (or under $2000), and your choice was..........

BTW, the best CF bow IMHO is a Spiccatto bow (with the special camber changing mechanism) by Benoit Rolland. Which I use for outdoor concerts as well as in the pit (when need be).

Unfortunately they are no longer being made.

February 17, 2007 at 01:41 PM ·

February 17, 2007 at 07:42 PM · I wanted to thank everyone for their input. I'm probably going to try a pernambuco bow by one of the Brazilian makers, since they seem to be more in my price range. I'm going to guess that the quality is excellent and that they are cheaper because they are not of French decree.

February 17, 2007 at 07:05 PM · Martin,

If you missed the meaning of my post, then perhaps you should re-read it. And you can stop your rude tone with me......

I phrased my post so one could understand what bows he has compared etc. The way Edward wrote it, no one knows what criteria (which bows and by whom) he used to come to a decision.

Hence my post:

"It would be more appropriate to say what you have compared.

For example:

Say you tried Peccatte, Maline, Voirin, Sartory, Millant, Thomachot, Espey, Salchow, Le Canu, Morrow, Wehling vs Coda etc.

I doubt that was the case.

You could say you compared bows (a,b,c,etc) under $1000 (or under $2000), and your choice was..........

BTW, the best CF bow IMHO is a Spiccatto bow (with the special camber changing mechanism) by Benoit Rolland. Which I use for outdoor concerts as well as in the pit (when need be).

Unfortunately they are no longer being made."

BTW Martin, you don't have to get bent out of shape over it.

I think he is mature enough to speak for himself. And secondly, being that you are new to, I suggest you treat others as you would want to be treated.

February 17, 2007 at 07:35 PM ·

February 17, 2007 at 08:11 PM · You are obviously obstinately obtuse if you keep repeating your "edifying reflections" under the guise of 'politeness'.

Since the discussion is about comparing pernambuco and CF bows, it goes without saying that if one makes a statement that I like "bow A" after trying many bows or I like "bow B" etc. without defining the criteria that led him to that decision, it is a redundant statement- or you could say it is an incomplete one.

If he had said I like "bow A" period, that's a different statement to which he is entitled without explanation.

Again, it is more beneficial for others to see what the crieteria was and thus the conclusion.

Since it is a thread about comparing the two, it has been said that this subject was discussed to death way before you Martin have joined as a member.


It would be more appropriate to say what one has compared.

For example:

Say you tried Peccatte, Maline, Voirin, Sartory, Millant, Thomachot, Espey, Salchow, Le Canu, Morrow, Wehling vs Coda etc.

I doubt that was the case.

February 17, 2007 at 08:04 PM ·

February 17, 2007 at 08:22 PM · again....cut the crap Martin. Unless you'd like Laurie N. to explain the guidelines to you (or perhaps you wish to be an ex-member).

Your statement:

"thinly disguised threats, made disparaging remarks about people's age and mentioned headbutts in your previous posts." is FALSE.

It was the other member that attacked me and made those remarks. Don't twist things around. And don't start a war over nothing.

Since the discussion is about comparing pernambuco and CF bows, it goes without saying that if one makes a statement that I like "bow A" after trying many bows or I like "bow B" etc. without defining the criteria that led him to that decision, it is a redundant statement- or you could say it is an incomplete one.

If he had said I like "bow A" period, that's a different statement to which he is entitled without explanation.

Again, it is more beneficial for others to see what the crieteria was and thus the conclusion.

Since it is a thread about comparing the two, it has been said that this subject was discussed to death way before you Martin have joined as a member.

February 17, 2007 at 08:21 PM ·

February 17, 2007 at 08:26 PM · perhaps you wish to look and see what he said first....

The whole point is about context.

Just as it is about this thread and what I have stated regarding the person's post.

You are starting something nasty...........cut it now.

February 18, 2007 at 01:17 AM ·

February 18, 2007 at 01:38 AM · Gosh! What did I say? Thanks for your support Martin.. By the way, I have tried a Spiccato, but prefer the Arcus.

February 18, 2007 at 02:19 AM · Ed,

I am sure you understood the meaning of my suggestion.

Martin is bent out of shape, because he represents Artium CF bows.

And all this talk about pernambuco bows of those great makers.............

(makes him a bit....)

Martin, you know you're the one who went on the offensive. Don't try to "weasel" out of it by trying to do the nasty on me.

BTW, what other bows did you (Ed) compare before you made your choice?

February 18, 2007 at 03:35 AM · Ohboy here we go again.

February 18, 2007 at 05:22 AM · So I've compared Spiccato Premiere (one of which I own) and Arpege, all the Coda bows, Eastman Cadenza Master and Artist, and a few other random carbon fiber bows.

I've also compared bows by Morgan Andersen (gold and silver bows, I own a silver), a Beniot Rolland gold bow, Sebastian Dirr, Grunke, Lothar Seifert, D. Silveria, and a number of other bows by master bow makers whose names I've forgotten in the $2500-$3500 price range.

Sadly, I've not had a chance to try a Voirin, Lamy, Satory, or Tourte.

First let me say that I think it's possible to find a wood bow in any price range that sounds and plays a lot better than your average bow at that price point. But you have to be willing to try a lot of bows and wait a long time until the magic shows up.

Bearing that in mind, my personal opinion is:

At $250 and under, carbon fiber bows are very very hard to beat.

Up to about $800 or so, carbon fiber bows tend to be as good or better tnan your typical wood bow of comparable price.

At about $1,000 you can start getting master made wood bows that will outperform all but the best (and typically more expensive) carbon fiber bows.

I've not tried the $1,800 and up carbon fiber bows so I can't comment on how they compare to similarly priced wood bows.

At $3,000 and up, it's no contest. Wood rules.

- Ray

February 18, 2007 at 06:36 AM · well said Ray.

My sentiments exactly.

Bottom's amatter of budget and what is best in that range.

Among the many great pernambuco bows I own, I own a Spiccatto bow.

I have tried the highly overrated Arcus among others. It did not compare to the Spiccatto "Maestro".

Here is a link to an article in STRINGS magazine which discussed comparison of many CF bows.

STRINGS magazine article

February 18, 2007 at 02:58 PM · Gennady,

what I meant (and apparently said in too few words) is this:

You will be hard pressed to find a 500.00 pernambuco bow which handles (I make no apologies for the term) as well as a good 500.00 carbon fiber bow. Ditto for the 1500 to 2000 range.

The CF bows will not sound as good as the pernambuco bows.

I realize that at a certain price point the wood bows handle as well or better than the CF. That price point is well above the price of the comparably handling wood bows from my own experience (which, admittedly, is shallow compared to many of those who post here).

If anyone knows of wood bows in the 1500-2000 range which handle as well as the Spiccato please tell me the names of the makers, seriously.

February 18, 2007 at 02:57 PM · Thanks to all! This is exactly the input that I was looking for from everyone, since you all have MUCH more experience than I. If my budget was $1800 or higher, then I would start the task of evaluating wood bows, but since I need to stay under $900, then carbon fiber is where i'll focus my search. I think my first 'try out' will be the CodaBow Classic!

Once again, I greatly appreciate everyone for sharing their expertise with me!


February 18, 2007 at 02:56 PM · How are the coda bows? I'm thinking about selling my old wood bow and saving up for a conservatory or colours. I already have a great wood bow I use primarily, but it would be nice to have something decent to use as a backup.

February 18, 2007 at 03:16 PM · I currently have a CodaBow Conservatory and I really like it. Granted, i've only been playing a little over one year but my teacher says that it's a fantastic bow (especially for the price)!


February 18, 2007 at 05:14 PM · I played one of Righetti's carbon fiber bows for almost ten years. It was amazingly clean and precise.

The only thing it lacked was some subtlety when I began to almost play mostly all orchestral work. I still find the feedback and exactness of response that it had almost impossible to find in pernambuco.

I recommend his work highly. Everything is done by hand--you can clearly see the file marks on his bows.


February 18, 2007 at 06:20 PM · Hmmm.......I seem to remember you saying you've been looking for a new pernambuco bow just last year?

February 18, 2007 at 06:49 PM · Hi Dave,

I've tried carbon fiber bows and never liked them. The last one I tried was difficult to control for spiccato strokes. This is just my feeling on the matter but I think that the kind of bow you get depends on two things:

1) your budget

2) what your needs are

I think it's important in your case to find something that is easy to control in spiccato and ricochet, makes smooth long bows, and isn't too light or too heavy. Also, most important is that it must make your violin sound good!!


February 19, 2007 at 11:35 AM · I was looking yes, for the reasons cited above.

February 19, 2007 at 06:12 PM · so what have you found Eric?

February 20, 2007 at 11:39 PM · another link for reviews of bows

February 21, 2007 at 05:53 AM · to be more specific, it is COMPOSITE VIOLIN BOW REVIEWS.

February 21, 2007 at 11:52 PM · ah yes... specifics...

good to point this out.

February 27, 2007 at 06:24 AM · i have owned a berg bow which are classified composite.

it has been stolen but as i recall:

for the price, it played very well...similar to that of higher priced pernambuco bows ($5k or so).

it did not, however, surpass the playability of the higher pernambuco's like sartory's etc...

i am in the process of auditioning instruments and most likely, a berg bow will be in my case for practice and fun. i have this insane fear that bows do wear out (i know, very unlikely in my lifetime with proper care) but, who said i was sane!?!?! :D

February 28, 2007 at 05:43 AM · Hey all,

Check out this very interesting article from STRINGS magazine that is a few years old:

STRINGS magazine article July/August 1996

The article specifically states:

"All three makers (of the CF bows that were featured in the article) are very clear about the role for composites; they do not intend them to replace fine wooden bows. Their use will, they hope, stretch the existing supplies of pernambuco, provide better-quality bows for players who can't afford fine pernambuco bows, and protect valuable bows by providing rugged replaceable alternatives for risky playing conditions. These are noble motivations indeed. "

ps: out of all of the CF bows, Spiccatto (solo) has been my pick (in CF bow category).

February 28, 2007 at 06:03 PM ·

March 1, 2007 at 03:03 AM · Hugh???

"Their use will, they hope, stretch the existing supplies of pernambuco, provide better-quality bows for players who can't afford fine pernambuco bows, and protect valuable bows by providing rugged replaceable alternatives for risky playing conditions." - you call THAT 'extraordinary lack of ambition'?!

March 11, 2007 at 02:53 AM · I'm curious if anyone has tried the new Glasser braided carbon fibre bows?

I assume this is a newish technology, since I have yet to see this bow mentioned in any reviews. They are not super expensive, around $600 for a silver-mounted model, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are bad.

I'm intrigued by their having a solid core. I assume this is a wooden core, so perhaps they have some of the warmth of a Pernambuco bow?

Has anyone tried them?

March 11, 2007 at 09:06 PM · Bump.

No one had tried the Glasser braided carbon fiber?

March 12, 2007 at 03:18 AM · I promised to write about CF bows versus budget pernambucos. So start off, I have tried many Arcos Brasil bows, as well as makers like Morgan Andersen, Jon Li, Richard Grunke, Durrschmidt, Silveira, M. Pereira, Chagas (C & D), Daguin, Emmelin, Nurnberger and just about every bow in the bow drawer of my local shop. I have tried Coda bows, Arpege, Spicatto, Arcus, Cadenza and various others, including the Incredibow. So just from my limited experience, I can always tell the sound of a CF bow. Not just through my ears, but also through my right hand. There is SOMETHING dissonant on a CF bow, I can feel the vibrations coming back through my hand, sometimes also in the chinrest. It is a dissonant vibration. That is something that takes the overtones out, and gives it that lack of color. Maybe I'm too sensitive. But my friends have handed me a bow with my eyes closed and I can sense a CF bow through my right hand, ears and chin. Persimmony and dissonant.

That said, I decided that it is easier to find a CF bow that is balanced and handles well (at the budget price range, not having tried any of Gennady's esteemed makers), than it is to wade through tons of pernambuco bows each with it's individual quirks, weight, balance, stiff/softness, etc., etc... Of course the average CF bow will never compare to the best pernambuco stick made by master maker. I'm just saying on average in the lower price ranges it is easier to find okay handling.

In fact, I decided not to buy an expensive CF bow since they are manufacturered to a certain specification easily. So I bought a $90 Lasalle Model LB-20 from Ebay. It suits it's purpose, yes, I can tell it's CF, but it handles well and I can use it for outdoor playing or pack it in a suitcase if I need to travel and not worry about it.

Meanwhile for my pernambuco bows which I vastly prefer over CF, I find myself liking a different one on different days and with different violins. They each handle differently and produce different tone quality. I think each pernambuco bow is individual and has all of the quirks of a natural product, whereas CF bows are identical clones and you don't have to spend that much money on it to get an acceptable one. So I would just go get the Lasalle LB20 for $90 and save your money for a really nice pernambuco. With all manufactured products, the price on CF bows will only drop as processes become more efficient and more competition. Maybe it's just no one has justified to me why a Codabow is better than a LaSalle. Or I just don't have the energy to find out because they are already lacking in sound so who cares for the subtle differences that they are marketed with?

April 1, 2007 at 07:33 PM · I was just flipping through a recent SW Strings catalog and noticed that Codabow has released a new line of bows called "Diamond" in a high end GX and a lower SW model. They claim an "organic sound never before achieved in a carbon fiber bow". Have any of you tried the Diamond series? Any further thoughts on how they compare to pernambuco or other CF bows?

April 1, 2007 at 08:41 PM · My daughter has a carbon fiber bow, and I have tried it and although it handles quite well, it does lack tone.

I have a pernambuco bow which was given to me for Christmas a year and 3 months or so ago, and it handles quite nicely - I can't believe what I can do with this bow that I could not do with my old brazilwood bow. It made a huge difference in my playing. I doubt that it was worth more than $700 or so.

April 1, 2007 at 10:51 PM · Update:

I just found out that, although the Glasser braided CF bows do have a solid core, when they say it's a "composite" core they do not mean wood. It's simply something other than CF. I assume it's something designed to absord some higher frequencies, similar to what wood does.

Sorry for the error.

Regardless, I'm still really enjoying the round-stick version.

April 8, 2007 at 05:22 PM ·

April 8, 2007 at 05:36 PM · Just my own two kopeks here:

I used to have a Coda Conservatory, and after a while I hated it. Far too heavy at the tip, muddy sound, handled like a club. A Classic I tried was only slightly better. About a year ago I tried (briefly) one of those Rolland "Spiccato" CF bows and liked it a lot, it had a much more wood-like sound and handled very well.

For me though, pernambuco rules. It seems to make the sound come alive in a way that CF can't do for me.

April 8, 2007 at 06:50 PM ·

April 9, 2007 at 07:31 AM · Enough has been said it seems. Declaring Carbon Fibre a superior material is, in my opinion a misrepresentation. Put it simply, the best bows I have tried in every price category have been made of wood. You might have to search, and admittedly that must be easier in Europe than in the US, but I think we would loose a lot if the general tendency would be towards carbon fiber. Wood belongs to a lively bow technique.

April 9, 2007 at 06:31 AM · In addition to a collection of wooden bows, I have a top line Coda and an octagonal Glasser CF...Oddly, the Coda works best on my French fiddle with Evah's while the Glasser is better on my asian fiddle with Dominants. My best wooden bow, a no-namer purchased about 50 yrs. ago still rules, and despite it's modest price of $35.00, when re-haired with good stuff, is my choice for solo playing on either instrument. Perhaps, what I'm saying is: You've got to just try 'em and see what works for you.

April 9, 2007 at 08:56 AM ·

April 9, 2007 at 01:01 PM · Sorry Martin, I understand what you mean. I was reacting to what I read on your website: "Carbon fiber is simply the finest material available to bow makers today." And ".....fragile and unreliable pernambuco." I should not have taken that too literally.

You guys are right, everyone just has to try and decide for themselves. One remark on this; sometimes I see that young students, often not able yet to decide for themselves, are being told by their teacher to get a carbon fiber bow. Although those teachers are entitled to their own opinion, I really think one should learn to play with a wooden bow. You might end up in a one way street if you never learn to enjoy the interaction with a wooden stick, even if it has it's quirks.

Happy Easter indeed!

April 9, 2007 at 02:48 PM ·

April 9, 2007 at 04:10 PM · Boy, you get busy and don't read the posts for a few weeks and what happens? Disparaging remarks against Pernambuco, over-rated claims for C/F bows, and a complete "missing the point" on why you would, should, and could pick one over the other. First, I no longer work for Arcos Brasil, I now have a shop in the Phoenix area, but I still sell Arcos Brasil bows in my shop (hey, if you like something, why change). Secondly, I carry a full line of C/F bows and am happy to recommend them to people for a variety of reasons, the mains reasons why C/F bows are better for certain players is as follows: Price, you can easily find a decently playable C/F bow for under $300, not true for Pernambuco where the range for a decent nickel bow starts at just above $400. Hardiness (if that's a word), you can use and abuse a C/F bow much more than you can a Pernambuco bow. I take one of the Iesta C/F & Pernambuco hybrid bows and drop it tip first onto the floor to show it's strength, I would NOT recommend doing that with a pernambuco bow (by the way, you would be surprised how this makes people cringe when I do this demonstration). This makes C/F a great choice for students who don't take care of their bows as well as they should, someone who plays outside a lot, someone who plays in environments where there bow could be mishandled (this can range from orchestra pits to honkey tonks), or if the player goes from one extreme in humidity to another (play Salt Lake City or Phoenix on Monday and then play Mobile or Miami on Tuesday and your wood bow (as well as your instrument) may not be very happy. Consistancy, wood, by it's very nature is unique, the same maker, making 2 bows the exact same way, is going to have different results, because the wood is different. With C/F, while some slight differences exist between individual bows, for the most part, one bow of a certain company/class or design is going to be very much like the next. So if you like a certain C/F bow and need another, your selection process should be easier than trying to match another pernambuco bow. I have had the fortune recently of seeing 2 Voiran bows, 1 was about 55.8 grams and the other 58.8. Both bows were extraordinary, but completely different in feel and in the sound they produced from the same instrument. If you liked one, you probably would not have liked the other. C/F bows tend to have less difference in weight, balance, and feel, primarily because they are machine made rather than hand made.

When would I not recommend a C/F bow? It is my belief that at some point in a players ability, they need the resonance of a pernambuco bow to get more out of their playing and their instrument. So for a player who wants to go to the next level of playing, I believe that at some point you need to switch to a pernambuco bow. I know that in my shop, I have 3 levels of C/F bows. 1 is primarily for a beginner to mid range student player, the 2nd is a better balanced bow and is for a better student, and the 3rd level is the Iesta hybrid which combins the durability of C/f with the look and increased resonance of pernambuco (you would be very surprised by how that thin veneer of pernambuco helps the sound), and I recommend this bow as a 2nd bow for professionals who need a good sounding bow that they can take outside for concerts or weddings or into the pit an not worry about their stand partner knocking into it.

My bottom line is this, I love the look and feel of a good pernambuco bow. If price and durability are not your primary concerns, look for a pernambuco bow. You can find a good playing C/F bow that will do most things as well as a pernambuco bow, but eventually has some limitations. While I carry 3 levels of C/F bows, I have 6 levels of pernambuco (and technically could have more if I carried more bows from some of the great master makers of the past. Each type of bow has a place, just find what's most important to you, and where you are as a player, and make the best choice possible.

(sorry for the long post).

April 9, 2007 at 05:02 PM ·

April 9, 2007 at 06:53 PM · Thanks for pointing out my spelling mistake, next post I'm going to try out Sartary (lol). As to the point of changing the density of C/F providing the same changes available in a hybrid bow, I tend to disagree, but my knowledge is limited to the current 2 types of pernambuco & C/F hybrids and not with different densities of C/F. I have tried most types of C/F bows found in the US (Coda, Jon Paul, Glasser, Arcus, and quite an assortment from the far east. While many play well and have decent balance, I haven't noticed the significant change in the type of sound that I see in the Iesta hybrid. Since in the Iesta bow you are using a C/F bow with a thin pernambuco veneer I wouldn't think that this would change the density, so my thinking has been it must improve the sound by improving the resonance. Now these bows probably started as fairly inexpensive examples of C/F bows, so I wonder what would happen to the sound of a better quality C/F bow with a pernambuco veneer added? Something to hopefully see down the road.

As to the artistic qualities, I wonder how that will affect C/F bows in the future as far as value. Somhow I can't imagine a 100 year old Coda Conservatory having appreciated in value the way an Ouchard or Sartory have done.

April 9, 2007 at 07:08 PM ·

April 9, 2007 at 09:01 PM · Has anyone had any experience with a carbon fiber versus a pernambuco girl friend (hardiness, consistency, performance in different weather conditions, etc...)?

April 9, 2007 at 09:12 PM · It has been my experience (20 years of marriage-and a wife who doesn't read my posts) that wives (and potentially girlfriends) begin as pernambuco-lively, unique, beautiful, with a wonderful character that produces great music. Perhaps later, some become more like carbon fiber, practical, dependable, durable, and stronger and produce very acceptable tones. If we're all lucky, none ever end up (or begin) like fiberglass. lol

April 9, 2007 at 09:16 PM ·

April 9, 2007 at 09:35 PM · ...and they look terrible in a thong bikini.

April 9, 2007 at 10:51 PM · Stick to inflatable girlfriends, they don't complain if you let them down

April 10, 2007 at 01:52 AM · from bows to marriage?

as any married man would know....

I had some words with my wife, and she had some paragraphs with me.


February 10, 2008 at 06:17 PM · -bought carbon bow off Ebay = $70


February 10, 2008 at 08:42 PM · I am still using and enjoying an Arcus Concerto I have had for several years. It is extremely light at about 50 Gm. There are disctinct differences between Arcus models and even individual bows of the same model.

Here is a link to a good review of various carbon fiber bows:

I have played the top three model Arcus bows, many Coda bows, and various other carbon fiber less expensive bows. I find vastly more difference between carbon fiber bows than pernambuco bows of which I have played a variety from the finest French to modern American ranging in price from under $1000 to bows costing in the 10 to 25,000 range.

I must say that the ultralight Arcus has, for me, unique characteristics I have never found in a wood stick: extreme lightness, total purity of sound, and almost unbelievably quick response.

Remember this is just my personal opinion and you may or may not like any particular bow.

In summary I find that very very fine bows are now being made from carbon fiber.

February 10, 2008 at 09:04 PM · What about low end bows? I'm planning on getting a bow less than $250. Would you go with wood or CF for a complete beginner?

February 11, 2008 at 01:42 PM · I recently added a Codabow Diamond (silver). It feels significantly different than my Coda Conservatory. Seems like the weight is distributed more evenly along the stick, where my CC is relatively heavier on the lower 1/3. Side-by-side between my 2 Codas and with a decent wood bow I was also looking at ($1500 price range), I could kick very fast fiddle tunes along crisply & with less sense of effort. // PM, for $250, I would consider carbon fibre bows. Arcos Brasil run less than that, if you can find a shop that hand-selects them. Sue

February 12, 2008 at 10:51 PM · i have an arcus cadenza bow that i absolutely adore. it takes a lot of getting used to the bow's light weight, though.

March 3, 2008 at 02:07 PM · I've recently tested 3 CF-bows:

- Leopold Sr

- Arcus Sinfonia

- Coda SX

The Arcus is a beauty and surely would demand a change in technique for most people. The potential could be huge, but I couldn't risk buying it - and maybe not beeing able to adapt to it.

So I just bought the Leopold, a danish bow. It's great for me, spiccato is so much easier than with my old. And it feels easier getting a full, rich sound out on the tip, even using very low bow speed.

... yes, and the Coda was Ok, but not in the same division as the others - as reflected by its price (50%).

March 3, 2008 at 10:32 PM · I have played on a $3000 Yamaha CF bow. It sounds nice under the ear, but it gives a dull quality to the sound for some reason. It responds well, but most of the time is a bit too much. I would add that it is quite stiff and it makes you tired, even though it is somewhat easy to play once you get used to it. I would choose wood over CF, because it produces a more beautiful sound.

March 4, 2008 at 08:13 AM · Interesting, however I think this is generally not a CF vs wood issue. More like good bow vs bad bow. We all agree that there are some bad bows out there? Some are wooden, some CF.

March 4, 2008 at 12:45 PM · Paul, did you also get a chance to try the Coda Classic? If so, it would be interesting to know how you liked it compared to the SX.

I tried several Coda bows (NX, SX, GX, Conservatory and Classic) and I liked both the Conservatory and Classic far better than any one of the NX/SX/GX line. Judging by various articles I found here and there, it seemed the Classic is still the most popular Coda bow, even though the SX and GX are priced above the Classic.

March 5, 2008 at 08:32 AM · No, it wasn't available here at the moment. From what I hear/read it's a good bow.

July 7, 2009 at 01:21 PM ·


I finally got to try the Coda Diamond. Result?  Not so great.  Not up to the hype.  I was expecting better than a decent pernambuco bow, and the Coda is not.  Sure, Coda can do most things, but wood does it better.  Price-wise, the wood bow I used is about the same price as the Coda.

I compared it to a domestic diamond-weave bow, too.  Result?  The domestic no-name for $75 was every bit as good.  For sound, I could not tell them apart.

I am intrigued by CF, so I hope more R&D $ can go into this tech.  

July 8, 2009 at 01:47 PM ·

Ron - did you try more than one sample? I've heard that despite it being a synthetic material there are still rather drastic differences between CF bows...

July 8, 2009 at 02:18 PM ·

To set the record straight, I had to relocate my Composite Bow review after AOL stopped supporting websites. It is now here (and getting more out of date every day):

Andy, by the way, there are so many variables to determine the comparison of pernambuco and composite bows including player, instrument, music being played, strings, rosin, weather. Just changing strings may change your selection of the best bow for you.


FINAL EDIT: My bow review is no longer on line!

July 8, 2009 at 06:00 PM ·

I agree with both Allan and Andrew.

There are just so many variables that it is difficult to speak in absolutes.  The diamond CF bows do indeed vary greatly in the tone they produce.  I was actually less impressed with the newer, most expensive one--it didn't seem to get a good tone.  But my Diamond GX does.  And also, of course the instrument you play on matters as well.

In my case, it's not just me that found my CF better than 8k wooden sticks *on my particular instrument*, but a number of other violinists that also tried on my equipment.  We had drastically different approaches/styles to playing, and yet came to the same conclusion about it vs a number of other wooden bows (all within the 8K or less range).  Does your playing style matter?  I suppose so, but just the combination of the equipment alone can produce such drastically different results.

The final thing--does my CF sound better than Pecatte or Tubbs?  No!  Not even close.  It's a common statement to say that CF won't outplay the very best or high-end wood bows, but potentially, on a given instrument, they can outplay bows that are in a much higher price range.  And this depends on a number of other factors--so you can't go into absolutes.  Only way to know?  Try em all.  

July 8, 2009 at 06:50 PM ·

Also, if I may add, wood has thousands of compounds, resins, esthers, sugars even seasoned Pernambucco!  The fibers are just as complex each with an individual density and tention with in the meat of the wood.  A Carbon Fiber bow lacks these complexities and is very uniform.  Unless the complexities of wood can be reproduced a CF bow will Lag & Lack in comparison to wood.

August 15, 2009 at 07:45 AM ·

 arcus bows are excellent in response and are VERY light. try them out they do have a decent value.

cost may or may not really matter in terms of playing ability. you should really try a brazilian bow maker if you are looking for value.

August 15, 2009 at 08:12 AM ·

A good bow is a good bow, regardless of it's manufacture.

This is where having a colleague or two along to conduct blind listening tests is very helpful. It's far too easy to be swayed by appearance, name, and/or price when trying out bows (or instruments for that matter).

In my experience, having tried out most of the offerings from Arcus (Germany), Arcos (Brazil), Codabow, Rolland, Jon Paul, I feel that CF bows are very "clean" sounding, and the high-end offerings handle fantastically with absolutely no "splatter" in the sound on off the string strokes. What I find missing is a perceptible warmth or fullness in the sound that is characteristic of really great pernambuco bows, of which I feel fortunate to have had played on good examples owned by colleagues and friends from bowmakers including Sartory, Pajeot, Voirin, Ouchard, Millant,...there are others including great modern and living makers whom I do not recall off the top of my head at this moment. Based on what I've read of the research, CF just vibrates very differently from pernambuco, thus the big difference in the tonal characteristics of these bows.

I owned an Arcus Concerto model for a number of years and really enjoyed playing on it. It pulled a big clean sound out of my instrument, was nearly effortless in sautille, richochet, and spiccato strokes, and despite a few run ins with a music stand and young musician or two seemed almost impervious to damage. :) I sold it eventually because I found a wood bow that I liked better!

August 15, 2009 at 02:45 PM ·

I've been playing on Arcus Cadenza, I think it's fantastic, but as many owner mentioned, it takes a lot of time to get used to. In my case, Arcus taught me something, but also changed something, particulary the bow hold, but that's my problem, not the bow. So it's been fixed and I'm enjoying every bit of it, everyday.

As mentioned, Arcus (perhaps other CF bows too) sounds very clean, at time it's almost unreal. But from the audiences perspective, it sounded very nice, clean and clear, with lots of richness, and with that juicy full bodied sound that's rare on wooden bows. But my Arcus is about the most expensive bow I've ever played, so it's not fair to compare them in different price range, but as far as sound and handling goes, it's the best so far. Although I've played other big names old french bows but those experiences were rather limited (just a short while of testing) so I don't take them into account.

It's difficult (or too easy) to jump into conclusion that a bow works, or not. I believe, CF or Wood, they'll take a lot of time to appreciate the differences, particulary the very different CF bows, and those old French bows, which I think the same can be applied on classic italian violins too. Let's not forget, Arcus was created not just to compete with others in terms of playability and tone quality, it also offer solutions to those who have tennis elbow thingy, durability for outdoor, saving pernambuco wood, etc.

As far as the price I paid (was purchased some time ago before the price was sky high), I'm very happy with it. Unless there's another wooden bow come to me (when I'm financially ready, obviously) that's better than my Arcus, I'm not letting my Arcus go, no. I strongly believe I'll be expecting to pay a lot more than what I paid for my Arcus, to get something significantly better.

October 28, 2009 at 05:07 PM ·

October 29, 2009 at 04:02 AM ·

The discussion seems to have covered a lot of ground, but not any distance!

I have some feedback at the lower end, but not near the top. I have a J. Lasalle carbon and a J. Lasalle Pernambuco bow; both about equal.

With my old violin, a fairly basic one, I preferred the carbon; there was not a significant difference, except I could get more projection.

With my new violin, I find the carbon gets a good sound, is consistent, and projects very well. It is easy to handle.
The pernambuco, on the other hand, is a little dancer. It is a bit more difficult to control. although it is slightly lighter; however, it is more sports car; the balance makes it so much more subtle, I can simply do more with it. It makes the carbon seem a bit pedantic.

This makes me wonder if a different fiddle could have the opposite effect. I wonder if that is why there are so many contrary opinions.

I would try both, and find which makes your fiddle sing better. You may find out fairly early which type it leans toward, but I doubt there is an automatic answer.

June 12, 2010 at 10:20 PM ·

Someone said they had an old wooden bow that cost them only $35.00... Now I have to say I'm only a new violin player - about 5 months maybe... but I played this old fella's violin and bow - and the violin was like 100 years old - and the bow was ornate and made the rental equipment I was using seem silly.

Then someone gave me an old china made violin that is like 35 years old - and it plays and sounds better than the 800$ rental I was using. In fact - I found this old china made "junker" feels very akin to that old fella violin.. and the same goes for the wooden bow I got with it.

I was thinking about getting a carbon fiber bow - and I might but I think I'm going to rehair that wooden one and maybe see what the carbon fiber "Diamond Series" is all about...

I've played guitar and piano many years so I think I'm progressing fast.. I'm playing Johannes and Mozart, blues and making up my own stuff. I think Mozart's Rhonda Ala Turka is a blast... point being that even a newbie can have a clue... and I have to say so far... for me.... well.. 

With all the good points and educated responses I've read in this forum I have come to the conclusion that they are all good points.. but in the end its not money, materials, brands or anything that really matters as much as:

violin + bow combination: It either feels and sounds right or it doesn't.


May 24, 2013 at 12:40 PM · I just finished trying four carbon fiber violin bows and give my review here.

In the Spirit of Gennadi (whoever he may be): I played professionally for 10 years, using a range of fine pernambuco bows on my old Italian violin; makers include FN Voirin, a super-clean Lamy, HR Pfretzschner (the old man), Sartory, Ouchard, an older Hill Bros bow, and an old Carl Lewis (like Hill, a trade name). I had the good fortune to try out a Tourte one afternoon on Kreisler's old Bergonzi violin, very delicious indeed.

The carbon fiber bows I tried last week were CodaBow GX, CodaBow Luma, JonPaul Avanti, and JonPaul Carrera. I assessed each bow for tone, handling, and quality of finish. To get a handle on build quality, I removed the frog from each bow to look at the stick inside, examining the hidden chamber and bushing through which the screw runs.

I played the bows using my scandalously fun cheap French pseudo-factory fiddle from the JTL firm, probably 1920s. It's a strangely satisfying violin and not at all fine, but has an even tone from top to bottom and no woof notes.

The CodaBow Luma was disappointing to me. It sounded thin on my violin and wasn't well-balanced. It felt like it skated over the strings. It felt too light at the tip and clunky at the frog. The stick was crudely finished and unlined underneath the frog (to be clear, the frog itself is lined with nickel silver).

The CodaBow GX was a nice-playing bow that sounded a bit reedy on my violin, but not bad. I loved how it was weighted at the tip but it felt clunky at the frog. Nicely finished underneath the frog. I liked it much much better than the Luma, but not enough to buy it.

The JonPaul bows were difficult to choose between. The Avanti drew a complex rich dark sound from my violin, quite powerful and interesting. However, I found it a bit muddy, too. Not the kind of horrible sticky mud that you have to dig from your boots with a pen knife -- but not clear as a bell, at all. And I like clarity. That's personal preference, of course. The Avanti was really well-balanced from tip to frog. No clunkiness. Nice bounce to go along with that hugging-the-string feel that I like when playing legato. Also very nicely finished beneath the frog. I wonder if the muddiness would lessen on a different instrument, and even if not, I can imagine a lot of people really liking this bow. It handled a lot like my favourite Voirin -- but sounded not at all as good.

The Carrera was another really nice stick, well-balanced and well-finished in its hidden places. It was slightly too light at the tip for me to be crazy about it, but that was not a stopper. Very agile otherwise, especially at the frog. Good bounce, great pulling feel through legato strokes, and a bell-like clear tone. This sounded much more like a pernambuco bow to me than did the Avanti. It was not unlike my Lamy in feel and sound. It was much brighter and clearer sounding than the Avanti, but also less complex. But I liked that. Again, it depends on what you want. I bought the Carrera.

I'm not sure why anybody would compare carbon fiber and wood bows as classes: I have played wood bows and carbon fiber bows that I both like and dislike. End of story (for me).

Finally, I am sure that there is plenty of within-model variation in carbon fiber bows, especially the upper-end models like the Carrera that have obviously been tweaked. Variation is a fact of life (I'm now a professional biologist). I considered looking at more Carrera models to get a handle on that, but in the end I just chose the Carrera sent to me by luck of the draw.

May 25, 2013 at 08:48 AM · Wow! In 2007 there were some very heated arguments about who made the best bows!! Who knew guys could get so upset with each other over something like that!!! Glad I wasn't part of that discussion - scary !

May 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM · Looking back to what I've posted, well I found a pernambuco wood bow 2 months just after my last post! I've since sold the bow and didn't look back.

I've always find the tone color pull off by CF bows are clean but lacking focus, it wasn't until I actually experienced a better made pernambuco bow that give an extra layer of "sheen" to the sound - maybe something to do with the bow being few decades old. I've yet to experience this extra layer of sheen to the tone with new bows, not that I've tried anything beyond $2.5k though. As usual, bows are highly personal, so YMMV.

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