CF bow reviews?

March 25, 2007 at 04:02 PM · Strings have been reviewed to infinite details. I appreciate very much the work by Mr Vachon and others.

But, could we have some objective reviews of Carbon Fibre Bows? This field is developing rapidly, with many new bows introduced recently. Does anyone have the time or opportunity to try various bows and post your reviews? For starters, there a bows from Glasser, Arcus, Coda, and many others. Thanks!

Replies (49)

March 25, 2007 at 05:05 PM · I am currently using a JonPaul Bravo, as my orchestral/gig bow, as to not destroy/damage my main performance bow. I can pull a pretty decent sound out of it at quite a decent volume. It's well balanced and spicatto is very easy to excectute (making it a very good orchestral bow). For 90 bucks, i couldnt have asked for anything more. I did try out some of the more expensive bows, and as they do sound better as price goes up, the difference isn't espcially substantial (not nearly enough to justify the more expensive prices) and they seem have lower maxiumum volumes, not good for orchestral playing, which is what i was looking for. It's nothing like a pernambuco bow, but for the prices of CF bows, its hard to find a pernambuco bow of that price and of the same quality. I feel that up to 800 dollars, a carbon fiber bow will beat out most pernambuco bows, but over that price, pernambuco has my vote..

Ian

March 25, 2007 at 05:53 PM · I recently bought a JonPaul legacy as my spare bow. I was looking for a lighter weight, better balanced bow (my old bow was 60.2 grams, but it was all at the tip). I ended up getting a pernambuco as my main bow, but just because, with the trade in on my old bow, it was $200, and the Legacy was too "beginnerish" for me. It had a nice sound, and nice control, but it couldn't do all the strokes, and none of the places I went to had any other Jon Pauls. This was the only one the 3 places had.

The concertmaster of my orchestra uses a more advanced JonPaul. It sounds magnificent on her violin. She let me try it, and I liked the control and mechanics of it, but it sounded horrible on my violin. I just need a different one, apparently.

I also tried an Arcus, though I don't remember which level. I liked it okay, though both JonPauls were easier to control. My professor plays on the top Arcus level bow, and he swears by it. He also has a $26k pernambuco that he uses as his spare, just because it's not as good as his Arcus.

March 25, 2007 at 09:19 PM · Ron,

there are quite a few threads concerning CF bows, if you use the search engine, and lots of in-depth reviews online.

However, you're correct, the technology has changed quite a bit in the last year or so, so most opinions/reviews are simply out of date.

I have tried several of the Coda bows in the past and disliked them, mostly for their sound but also because I thought the stiffness was a little off. -Bear in mind, I'm an expert at sonics, but somewhat of a noob at control judgements. Still, I had othe rplayers try them as well, with similar opinions.

Andrew at Glasser just sent me two of the new Glasser braided bows to try. these have a real wooden core (Pernambuco, I assume, but I don't know) with a unique wrapped CF shell.

I am still evealuating, and waiting for my top session player to come in and try them as well. However, my initial impression of one of them is extremely positive. The other one is an absolute dog on three separate violins, which I attribute to these having wood cores. It should be expected that they would vary more than other CF bows, and I might have gotten an errant dud.

-But the other one is really fine, I am enjoying it tremendously. the control is amazing, and the sound has a very wide range to it, moreso than any Pernambuco bow I've tried.

There's a lot to the story, including how my string choices might change because of this bow, but I'm not ready for a report just yet. I recommend you try these, but try to find a shop that has several in stock. FWIW, I like the round stick, not the octagonal. However that could just be a chance thing due to the core selection, and have nothing to do with the shape.

Again, this is preliminary. There are a few small things I don't like, but overall I think this particular design is a real winner. I'd love to see the opinion of someone like Gennady on this bow, though I imagine it's very reasonable price might deter him from even considering it. (They need to make a super-deluxe, gold-wrapped, laser-etched, snoot-approved model, but with the same stick)

-No offense meant to Gennady, I'm making a very serious point about marketing. I really WOULD love to get his opinion on this bow.

March 26, 2007 at 03:50 AM · Allan,

No offense taken. I love to try new things even if they don't have the "super-deluxe, gold-wrapped, laser-etched, snoot-approved model"........

Feel free to send me one for trial, and I'll let you know :) after April 2nd though.

Do remember, that anyone trying to market these bows as the best thing around or "it beats the best pernambuco" etc. and whatever....they are wasting their time.

I did post in a previous thread something the makers of such bows have stated themselves:

"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. "

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=10710

http://www.codabow.com/info_inthenews/strings1.htm (1996)

http://www.stringsmagazine.com/issues/strings105/BowReview.html (2002)

March 26, 2007 at 05:01 AM · Yes, but again, this bow has a real wooden core. It is VERY different sounding than I remember the Codas being.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the only bow made like this. there is one other "combination bow, but it has a CF core, with a Pernambuco shell. That strikes me as more of a marketing gimmick.

I'm telling you, this bow is really good. It is a bit brighter than any of my Pernambuco bows (I have a couple of decent ones, though nothing like you own) but what knocks me out is the timbral RANGE. If I concentrate on lightening my pressure, I can get almost as warm as the best Pernambuco, and definitely as rich, but there's more harmonics on tap when I lay into it. Seriously, a LOT more.

I think such a bow will really shine with a violin/string combo that is already on the warm side. I will be trying pure gut strings soon, and I have a feeling this bow will be the perfect compliment to them. I also think that if I can adjust my technique slightly, tis bow will allow me to be far more expressive than the Pernambuco bows.

We shall see. I'll have lots to say on this soon. In the meantime, Gennady, feel free to send me a nice Voirin so I can do a serious A-B comparison. I'll return it soon, I promise !

March 26, 2007 at 06:34 AM · yet again, apples and oranges.

March 26, 2007 at 07:33 AM · Coda: Predictable, reasonably responsive, decent tone, moderately priced, good gigging bow.

March 26, 2007 at 02:44 PM · Allan I've tried Coda carbon fiber bows, and like them actually. I think if you know what you are doing you can get a good sound out of most things. I have to say carbon fiber bows do not in my opinion compare to a good Pernambuco stick. It is like comparing a Toyata Corolla to a Lexus ES.

March 26, 2007 at 03:19 PM · Thanks for your postings!

What I am looking for is a comparison between CF bows only: not a comparison between CF and Pernambuco. An honest review of your CF bow is very appreciated too.

I do not have the luxury of visting a retailer. The nearest one is 3000Km away. I want a CF bow because these can be made standard.

Please keep the reviews and objective comments coming in!

March 27, 2007 at 12:42 AM · What I'd like to see is an evaluation of various CF bows (including the VERY different Glasser) on violins that were specifically set up for these bows.

In other words:

We know it's wise to pick a bow that suits your particular violin, but do we ever consider adjusting the violin to match a particularly responsive bow? This goes for Pernambuco as well as CF, and is an interesting question, I think.

A violin is always set up based on the strings, chinrest, etc, that the player will actually be using. Is the bow ever taken into consideration? As I've written elsewhere, one of the two Glassers I evaluated brings out a noticeably wider timbral range than any Pernambuco bow I tried. Granted, I have not tried a $10,000 Pernambuco bow. However, I have read similar things about the top-end Arcus bow.

The problem is that CF bows, as a whole, are a tad bright. I don't think anyone would argue against that (as a whole)

Is it not possible that, having an expert luthier do a full setup (bridge, soundpost, afterlength) while using the CF in question, that the reultant violin/bow combination might be improved? Might even be superior to the original setup based on Pernambuco? (I know, the very thought of this just makes some of you crazy, but you must admit the possibility)

Perhaps jsut a simple string change would be all that's needed. (see the current thread re gut strings)

My point is, it is not necessarily fair to compare CF bows to Pernambuco on violins specifically setup for Pernambuco bows.

I am not specifically pushing for CF technology. I am, however, concerned that improper evaluation methods could cause false assessments to be made. It could well be that the best CF bows combined with a fine violin specifically setup for it will result ina more expressive, better sounding end result. Not equal to Pernambuco, but superior to it.

Maybe yes, maybe not yet, but we won't know until people try it. People with really fine violins, and really open minds.

Things change. Otherwise, we'd all be playing Stainer copies, or lutes.

March 27, 2007 at 01:31 AM · Allen.

setting up a violin for a specific bow?!

A bow either works or it doesn't (with a particular one in mind).

If that was possible, we would never be hunting for new bows would we....

And setting up a CF bow with a fiddle?!

Sounds like science fiction (at the moment).

March 27, 2007 at 02:40 AM · Gennady, we just dissagree.

A given bow will work with some violins and not with others. We know this. The perfect marriage of bow & violin has to do, at least to a large extent, with how well the "speaking" frequencies of the violin match the "absorbing" frequencies of the bow.

When a skilled luthier makes adjustments to a bridge, soundpost, or afterlength, he is shaping the resonance of the instrument. A clear case is the soundpost, wherein moving it back makes the instrument less bright. (or so I'm told, by more than one expert luthier)

I've seen many people write that you should always be present when your luthier makes such changes. Probably so, and probably because the results will differ with not only your technique, but also with your bow. I'm curious, since you play at a very high level and your income (I assume) is dependant upon your tone: Do you have your luthier adjust your violins with HIS bow, or with the one you play it with?

I'm not going to elaborate, it seems very obvious to me. Either you are open to the possibility, or you aren't. It's all good...

March 27, 2007 at 03:12 AM · Allan,

I do my own adjusting....and no matter if you adjust a fiddle to its maximum and then try ten bows in a row, they will all sound different and bring out different characteristics from the instrument.

Adjusting a fiddle is not going to make a dark sounding bow bring out the bright qualities of a violin and vica versa. And a dull bow is not going to make things more focused. See my point?! That is why they say it's a "marriage thing". It either works or it "don't"....No therapy for bows I'm afraid.

March 27, 2007 at 03:51 AM · Agree to dissagree.

No problems! Always good to see your thoughts on things.

March 27, 2007 at 07:05 AM · Gennady,

this is totally off-topic, but I'd really like to know: When you say you do your own adjusting, do you mean bridge shaving as well?

Do you really work the various bridge parts for tone, or just get it thin and to the correct height? I ask because this is supposed to be something that takes a LOT of experimentation and practise, and I can't image a player being able to do it as well as a master technician.

Afterlength and soundpost position are a bit more aproachable, but even they require the ability to deviate slightly from norm, based on the instruments tone and response.

If you really do this stuff, how did you learn? This would be very helpful to know.

March 27, 2007 at 01:45 PM · Its been a number of years since I did this, but i auditioned a large number of composite/synthetic violin bows (some celllo and viola bows too) starting in 2000. Some of the newer bows are not covered, but those that are can be found at: http://www.victortechnology.com/bowedstrings:violin-bow-review.html .

The reviews cover my first impressions. Over the years my experiences with some of the bows have developed my ability to use them. I have also found, over time, that different instruments respond very differently to the different bows and that often the tastes of players for one bow or another can be due to this.

Andy

March 27, 2007 at 03:18 PM · I have had an Arcus carbon fiber bow for a couple years. I bought it for the sound. It is very clear and smooth sounding without being to harsh on my fiddle. It produces one of the best E string sounds on my violin of any of my bows including a very nice old french bow.

I use it for some symphony work because it s very light and fun to play for a change from heavier bows.

Overall I don't prefer it over my conventional pernambuco sticks. I am not sure why. Mostly I find it requires more thumb counter pressure in the middle to uppr third so if that is where i am doing most of my playing it is actually a little more fatigueing.

Anyway, enough rambling, the Arcus is a very nice bow..much better sound, in my opinion, than the codas and the conventionally weighted CF bows that I have tried. The light weight is sometimes very nice but for me at least, sometimes not what I want.

In my opinion, the more bows the better!

March 27, 2007 at 04:29 PM · Yes, I have read CF reviews. All are 5 yrs or older. CF bows have changed since then, so I was hoping for some updated reviews. Thanks again for your postings. Keep them coming.

March 27, 2007 at 11:54 PM · Surprisingly enough (at least it sure was to me) one of our local violin shops here in Anchorage has overseen the development of a line of carbon fiber bows he has made somewhere else and imported . . . the line is called Bucci and you can find them at www.buccibows.com. I was extremely skeptical, but the truth is after playing loads of them I've come to like them. The $100 model is way better than any coda bow I've tried for playability & response: I'm happy to recommend them to any of my students until they reach a point where they need to start looking for a fine wooden bow. Myself I have the $1000ish Bucci version as a spare for playing in pubs etc. My real bow is an Ann Larson and of course there's no comparison, but when I don't want to risk the Larson I can actually enjoy playing on the Bucci. However keep in mind that I play old style Irish music: fast response, sensitive articulation & tone production are critical, but I do literally no off-the-string playing and can't comment on their quality for it. And I'm getting no kick-backs for recommending the bows.

The post earlier about the $100 JonPaul bow got me to ad my $0.02. It's the sort of statement I would have curled my lip at in disbelief before having had a similar experience myself. :-)

Lia

March 28, 2007 at 12:27 AM · I've tried adjusting using a $40 Chinese bow and a fine antique French bow. I do better at getting the most out of a fiddle with the worst bow - if I can get it working then, it works better with everything else. I've not tried adjusting to a certain bow.

On carbon bows, different things arriving. I've started distributing a specialty fiddler's bow. I'll send one to you if you want, Allen.

Special for Allen: Incidently, the first Canadian fiddle is together, new fingerboard. Pegs. Had to cut the neck lots, a real club. And I'm having to bush & redrill the endpin. Odd arching. A couple of days and I'll have it together.

March 28, 2007 at 05:51 AM · Stephen, that's good news on the Henderson.

I'm surprised by your statement, quote:

'I do better at getting the most out of a fiddle with the worst bow - if I can get it working then, it works better with everything else. I've not tried adjusting to a certain bow."

On your website, when describing your "mondo" tuning, you state that everything on the violin should be exactly the same as it will be when used, including tailpiece and chinrest. I don't dissagree with this approach at all, it makes sense to me. However, you think the particular CHINREST effects how you tune the violin, but not the particular BOW used?

That just doesn't compute in my brain. I guess it's possible, since I don't tweak violins for a living, (and Gennady seems to agree with you, FWIW) but I remain skeptical.

March 28, 2007 at 10:22 PM · Allan,

I learned the way luthiers learn.

Trial and error helped me a lot as well.

I find that sound post adjustment is the one that does not get enough careful attention, and has always frustrated me until I learned it myself.

March 28, 2007 at 11:14 PM · Here's an added twist from a noob.

Why isn't rosen a part of this discussion? Isn't it an important piece of the connection between bow and fiddle?

March 29, 2007 at 12:07 AM · what's "rosen"??

Did you mean Rosin...

March 29, 2007 at 12:06 AM · When I adjust with a junk bow it works well with the better bows. When I adjust with a good bow, it does seem to be different.

If someone gave me a bow with a fiddle to adjust, I'd use it.

But that's not the real world. I adjust for a generic player who might buy a fiddle. Then if they ask for a bow, I find one that likes that fiddle. I'll check everything out and tweek things if I think they'll do better. But generally there's not really a budget for that kind of detailing at the commercial trade fiddle level.

March 29, 2007 at 02:09 AM · Fair enough,

but you must admit that for a picky, demanding player, this idea has some merit.

March 29, 2007 at 09:56 PM · Perhaps. Although I expect it would turn out "I like this funny nose-heavy stick with the odd camber because I'm used to it - make the fiddle work with it or I'll take my business elsewhere."

March 30, 2007 at 12:05 AM · Ha!

The real world does have a way of sticking it's nose into everything and mucking things up, doesn't it?

What can you do?

March 30, 2007 at 12:18 AM · "Why isn't rosen a part of this discussion? Isn't it an important piece of the connection between bow and fiddle?"

Well it's kind of hard to explain. It matters and yet it doesn't. Different rosins make small differences in violins and bows. Some bows don't grasp the powdery kind and some do. Some violins kind of change there tones from rosin too. I tried a different rosin when I went to a shop and it made my other violin darker.

March 30, 2007 at 12:23 AM · Speaking as a luthier the less adjustment an instrument gets the better. After even a minor adjustment an instrument will take hours to settle down and become accustomed to the new pattern of vibrations playing will create. Try to have as many consistent factors as possible with your violin. If you're fitting a new bridge then leave the post alone etc. Try to find one bow and stick with it!!

March 30, 2007 at 12:28 AM · I agree.

March 30, 2007 at 01:05 AM · Just to weigh in: I've not tried CF bows in anything that might be termed a comprehensive manner. But the few that I've tried were basically functional. And that's the best I have to say about them. They could produce sounds. Not well. Not easily. Not prettily. Not eloquently, subtly, nor virtuosically.

But very much like a dime-store, kid's student bow. Adequate for Suzuki, of course (through about book 5), but not beyond.

March 30, 2007 at 03:16 AM · And yet:

The concertmaster of Julia's orchestra uses one & it "sounds magnificent on her violin." and Julia's professor plays on "the top Arcus level bow, and he swears by it" and keeps his $26k Pernambuco as a spare, "just because it's not as good as his Arcus."

So, there you go. Lots of models, & lots of opinions.

It might be wise to keep an open mind about such things, especially as the technology evolves.

March 30, 2007 at 03:55 PM · Not to mention Roby Lakatos!!

Carbon fibre bows are just like pernambuco bows in that they are good or bad depending on how well they are made.

March 30, 2007 at 05:51 PM · Ron, you can read my impressions on several CF bows in the Dec05/Jan06 archives in my blog. I would tend to agree that in the lower price ranges you get way more for your money with CF than wood. I'd never considered getting a CF bow as a spare bow (my current spare bow is my old wooden bow, which I don't really like), but that's a really good idea!

October 27, 2007 at 03:51 AM · This reference has been around for a long time, but if you are really interested in CF bows and how they compare, this is the definitive study.

http://members.aol.com/bowedstrings/violin-bow-review.html

December 16, 2008 at 07:13 AM ·

The violin-bow-review website referenced above has been relocated to:

http://www.victortechnology.com/bowedstrings:violin-bow-review.html

 

Andy

December 16, 2008 at 12:48 PM ·

I love my Arcus Cadenza. I think it sound much bigger and finer than bows with price tag a much as $10k. It can also alter the tonal color too, not just a 1 dimentional sound.

I'm no expert so you can take my opinion with a pinch of salt.

December 17, 2008 at 04:57 AM ·

for $6000 it had better be better than pernambuco!  

wow, what a price for plastic and a few hours of work.

 

December 17, 2008 at 06:11 AM ·

Greetings,

I don`t know. That sounds like a good description of a nose job....

Cheers,

Buri

December 17, 2008 at 08:24 AM ·

Ron - I didn't know carbon fiber refered as plastic. Can you enlighten me?

December 17, 2008 at 03:19 PM ·

The fibers in a synthetic-material bow are supported in an epoxy (i.e., plastic) matrix.

 

Andy

December 17, 2008 at 04:38 PM ·

Cool! I didn't know plastic can produce a fine sound!

December 17, 2008 at 07:21 PM ·

News Flash:

Wood is plastic.

December 17, 2008 at 08:00 PM ·

Bernt Müsing, the ARCUS man, puts a lot of stock in the velocity of sound in the material of the stick. Probably a lot too in its acoustic impedance and how it couples with that of the hair.

The is a Lucci meter (an Italian invention) that some bow and violin makers buy to measure the velocity of sound in their construction materials - before committing labor to a marginal venture.

Andy

October 15, 2009 at 01:01 AM ·

October 15, 2009 at 01:20 AM ·

 Pedro: I enjoyed reading your comments, and agree.  I recently bought a $260 CF bow (NeoTek II, probably from China??), which was a surprisingly nice bow.  Plays very nicely.  Flexible, lively.  Produces good sound.  Works for my violin.  I prefer it to my wood bow.   Best regards, Johnny 

March 9, 2013 at 09:08 PM · I'm currently using a Coda Diamond (I believe... it was given to me, so I don't know all the specifics) and after bow shopping for the past couple of weeks, I realized how much I really love it. I have had little experience playing on wooden bows, but I've been trying a lot of different ones out and, I have to say, it's hard to find any that match the balance and and ability of the Coda Bow. It a beautiful, warm sound is what you're looking for, I wouldn't suggest Carbon Fiber because I've heard from multiple trusted colleagues that the tone of any other material simply cannot compare. I've been looking at bows in the $1,000-$3,000 price range, and while some resonate wonderfully, they can't do all of the things my Coda Bow can. I suppose I'm going to have to raise my budget a bit...

March 10, 2013 at 03:39 PM · " It a beautiful, warm sound is what you're looking for, I wouldn't suggest Carbon Fiber because I've heard from multiple trusted colleagues that the tone of any other material simply cannot compare."

I'm not sure if I understood this.

"I've been looking at bows in the $1,000-$3,000 price range, and while some resonate wonderfully, they can't do all of the things my Coda Bow can. I suppose I'm going to have to raise my budget a bit..."

The same here. I thought you *had* a Coda Diamond and you were satisfied with it?

Btw. Which Coda Diamond are you talking about?

I got a Coda Bow Diamond GX last week and it's great. Not exactly my pernambuco concert bow, but a great value for the money. I use it where ever I go, from teaching to fiddling or practising, and my fine G. Penzel bow can wait in security for concerts etc.

I have two affordable but fine carbondix*** bows (ca. 80€) that I used before, but clearly the coda is another class.

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