Violin Bows...

May 2, 2008 at 08:47 PM · I was wondering which is better? These bows are at about the same price but one is made of prenumbeco and the other carbon fiber. And they're both approximately $100, give or take.

Carbon Fiber:


I was also wondering in the end when people buy expensive bows, which are better? Is it just preference or is there actually one type that's better? Maybe this can be explained.

Replies (30)

May 2, 2008 at 08:54 PM · On the high end, pernambuco are a world above carbon fiber, in my opinion. As far as cheap bows go, there's generally not much of an obvious difference between a 100$ bow or a 300$ bow.

But there's no comparison between a 600$ carbon fiber, and a Pecatte. Same goes with carbon fiber versus great modern bows like Andersen's, in my experience.

May 2, 2008 at 09:29 PM · "s far as cheap bows go, there's generally not much of an obvious difference between a 100$ bow or a 300$ bow."

I completely disagree. Cheap wood still sounds very different from cheap carbon fiber.

I notice the difference very distinctly every time I sit through 35 kids at a recital.

May 2, 2008 at 11:29 PM · At the low end?

Typically carbon fiber are the ost bang for your buck.


I'm planning on buying an Arcus CF Sinfonia bow I have on trial in a few days-and it is far lighter, more resilient, more agile, just as loud yet subtle, just as colorful, and all around just as nice sounding as a nice bow I have that is pernambuco that is 2 or 3 times its price! And I'm picky.

A dealer I'm good friends with, said that with the high-end CF sticks (i.e. Arcus), you have to start looking at fine old french bows to get similar performance-and those are 6 or 7 times more expensive at least...and hard to find.

You have to shop-I don't like the Coda bow sound-at least on my fiddle, but as I say I am picky and rather snooty. Anyways, the inexpensive CF are FAR above the very inexpensive wood, methinks. They are also far more durable.

May 2, 2008 at 11:46 PM · "Typically carbon fiber are the most bang for your buck."

Nope. They are the loudest most strident for your buck.

May 2, 2008 at 11:58 PM · Thanks.

If everyone can, please plainly state which of the two bows I have linked you would prefer. Also you may list pros and cons of each type of bow. This will help in my decission.

May 3, 2008 at 12:47 AM · Daniel, you really need to try bows. You can't get to an intelligent decision for playing this way. You might prevent being ripped off, but you won't learn how they vary in sound and feel.

May 3, 2008 at 04:06 AM · Marc, I tried a few handfuls of bows and chose the Arcus Sinfonia. I'm not disappointed.

May 3, 2008 at 04:18 AM · Must agree with Bilbo.

CF is louder and harsher, at least for the 50 or so I have tried. On a dull violin, this is ok. On a concert violin, CF sound is harsh, and gives me a brittle sound. But, one maker in Ireland claims his CF bows are equal to excellent pernambuco, which is supported by a testimonial by R Lakatos. I haven't tried yet.

CF has many advantges, to wit; durability and consistency. If you order a CF bow, there is no need to sample another from the lot - they will all be equal.

Pernambuco is a waste on a dull violin, but a necessity on a concert violin. The luck is where and how to find the right one for you. I was very lucky to find a new bow in China, out of thousands. It is excellent in all respects, though after 1 year it has developed an ever so slight warp along the shaft (which perhaps hopefully someone somewhere can put to rights for me say in a few years). I KNOW I will never another for the quality and price. Most players I know spend years to find the right bow, and are always on the look out for an excellent bow.

I can scarely believe a $100 pernambuco bow will give adequate performance. The wood might be pernambuco, but bow qualty is something else. Where is it made? If China (likely), you should know that even cheap pernam bows sell here for much more than $100 - and prices are jumping up 30% per year. The wood is now scarce, and bow quality is mucho scarcer. I would expect a $100 bow is little more than a stick. (there are very good reasons why bows costs many $000s.)

I have also a CF bow made in China, the kind with the diamond weave. Excellent weight, balance, action. Perfect for a dull violin, as the inherent harshness of the bow acts to liven up the violin sound. And very durable. Better action than my 2nd pernambuco bow, which is a great bow (warm and powerful sound) but a tad heavy.

Though the CF sound may be harsh, for $100 I would guess strongly you will find the CF will give mucho better performance overall. IF you are a student, you need proper action more than sound. A poor bow will give you many problems and likely impede your progress.

anyway, good luck!

May 3, 2008 at 04:16 AM · "Prenumbeco"

Not that it matters for making a choice but it's spelt pernambuco and pronounced pair-narm-boo-koh ;-)

May 3, 2008 at 05:00 AM · Can you define "dull"? It's a little vague. Here's the violin I plan on getting:

I guess this would be considered "dull" I don't know.

May 3, 2008 at 06:30 AM · "after 1 year it has developed an ever so slight warp along the shaft"

Ron, just in case you haven't already tried this, is the warp there when the hair is completely loosened off? If it's straight in that state, then a warp appears when the hair is tightened, it could be that a rehair has been badly done by the hair having been made too short, or tight on one side, this would certainly cause a slight warp.

I can think of one occasion when I got a bow back from a rehair where the bow wasn't completely straight; I was told this was done deliberately to compensate for bow lean when playing! ... a good excuse for a sloppy rehair.

May 3, 2008 at 06:57 AM · I've got a Morgan Andersen which costs over 30X the price of the bows you're looking at and is an amazing bow. I also have a high end carbon bow and a few low end carbon bows.

At the $100 price point, take the Presto.

At higher price points, wood wins out.

But at $100 you will be far happier with the carbon Presto. The Presto is going to handle better then the wood bow and likely sound just as good. And if you ever upgrade to a better wood bow, you can use the Presto as a backup bow or a second bow for playing anywhere you'd rather leave your more fragile wood bow in your case.

- Ray

May 3, 2008 at 08:59 AM · Daniel, you should *first* *get* *your* *violin* and then try out bows on that violin. Don't buy the bow without having tried it out on the violin you plan to use it with.

May 3, 2008 at 10:49 AM · Hi Nigel:

Say, I had not thought of that point.

I can't answer at the moment, because I let my prof borrow the bow when his needed a rehair and maintenance. He likes mine so much, he has not offered to return it!

2 weeks ago, I let him borrow my violin too, again when his went in for repairs. He is talking about keeping my stuff for a while, so it can be "played in" (both violin and bow are new). I think though he is starting to get accustomed to both, though he says my violin requires too much effort. Maybe true, but when played properly with my bow, it has a very powerful sound.

Well, it's an honour to know he likes both, so I may let him borrow both for a while yet. Hopefully, he will have an expert adjust the setup, so I get back a violin that I know has been properly played in and setup. :-) builds up good rapport, too.

best wishes.

May 3, 2008 at 11:01 AM · Daniel:

by dull, I mean the sound. can be heard only when you play 2 violins side by side, or when you truly know violins.

I disagree about getting the violin before the bow. I have learned it's better to spend money and time on a good bow first, before the violin. Of course, some may disagree. Ask your teacher.

May 3, 2008 at 01:45 PM · Thx Edward!

The dealer I work with regularly, is an authorized dealer and tells me that in his opine there rally is nothing to justify the extra cost of anything beyond the Sinfonia (I was wanting to try a Concerto or Cadenza originally)--as their is no significant gain in tone or agility for the price but there is nicer hardware.

I'll second Benjamin-when you're buying all new equipment anyway, buy the fiddle 1st and then find a bow to mate with it. People tend to go through phases in bows far faster than their tastes/desires changes for their violin. There is no sense buying a nice student bow that works with the fiddle you have, when in 3 months you find a really nice violin to buy and the bow you just baught does not work with it....especially in that most people follow a ~20-30% ratio of bow cost to violin cost.

As to the rest-I've tried good and bad wood and CF bows-on my instrument. The high-end CF sticks are a tough bit of competition (e.g. Arcus) for wood at the same price level-and even for wooden stickes of 2X/3X price. I had a young archetier locally let me try his wares (he sells at 2-3k in silver), he makes great bows and does good rehairs-but CF I'm buying is far more agile to my hand-the tone is quite comparable. Again in my experience. Of course, I have a good instrument, and play on wound-gut to start with. YMMV.


Not all CF bows are created equeal Ron-try two Coda or 2 Arcus bows at the same class-and they can be quite different. Especially the Codas, in my experience.

The difference even in octagonal vs. round in the Arcus bows was quite astounding on my part-I was very skeptical about their marketing, but it was quite true IME.

May 3, 2008 at 04:47 PM · I plan on getting the violin and the bow at the same time.

May 3, 2008 at 04:52 PM · "I plan on getting the violin and the bow at the same time."

Well, I guess if you only spend 100 USD on a bow it is probably an interim bow anyway, so not much harm done. As a general rule of thumb though it makes sense to try out bows on the violin you plan to use the bow with.

May 3, 2008 at 09:28 PM · Go for the Pernambuco bow, in 40 years when there's none left it'll be worth a fortune...

May 4, 2008 at 01:16 AM · Does the tone made by a well made bow improve overtime like a well made violin?

May 5, 2008 at 12:36 AM · I have a Coda Diamond GX, and it's far and away a better bow than the $200 Meinel Pernambuco bow that I have. My teacher says it's a better bow, even though he finds it a bit "sluggish," by which, I assume, he means the response. I have been using it just about a year now, and until I have the resources to buy a better bow, this is the one I like the best.

May 5, 2008 at 09:48 PM · From Michael Dowling

Posted on May 3, 2008 at 09:28 PM

"Go for the Pernambuco bow, in 40 years when there's none left it'll be worth a fortune... "

I don't like this reasoning. Why go for a bow that will be worth lots of money if it's not the right bow for your playing?

Daniel, you really need to try both bows out before you make a decision. Different bows will react differently, and you need to make a decision as to which bow suits your playing best.

May 11, 2008 at 06:46 AM · I am a student and have also been looking for a bow that I feel in within my budget, yet will be usable as I develop. The violin I have has a wonderful rich sound, but I worry about pernambuco as a threatened species, even if the export is controlled.

Everything I hear indicates that my violin would not be a good choice for a carbon bow. Is there any choice aside from Pernambuco, in the same price range of this discussion?

May 11, 2008 at 11:09 AM · Roland, if you are worried about pernambuco as a threatened species, one possibility is that if you buy or commission a new bow, then make sure that the bowmaker actively contributes to the International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative (IPCI). Part of the price you are paying for the bow will be supporting this intiative; bowmakers here in France contribute to it on an ongoing basis.

May 12, 2008 at 01:06 PM · Hi Roland,

people tend to make misinformed generalisations about the qualities of pernambuco and carbon fibre. The harshness people attribute to cf has nothing whatever to do with the material, it's simply a result of the bow being too stiff. The more flexible the bow, the softer it sounds regardless of what it's made from. I promise!!

May 12, 2008 at 05:17 PM · I'm starting to lean toward the carbon fiber. I'm not really sure why.

May 12, 2008 at 08:19 PM · "I don't like this reasoning. Why go for a bow that will be worth lots of money if it's not the right bow for your playing?"

At that price range chances are neither bow is really superior to the other in terms of performance. So it seems like as good a reason over any. No offense intended at all, but it's a lot of fretting over an $80 bow... You can't really try them out by the time you pay shipping it's half the price of the bow. So I'm just guessing that I would go for the pernambuco bow over the cheaper carbon.

May 14, 2008 at 04:10 AM · All bows vary in quality, wood and carbon fiber.In the lowest price field probably the best buy is the carbon fiber. In the very highest price field perhaps the pernambuco is the best bow. Without a doubt the best buy in the $2500-- to $4000-- class is the Berg Bow. ( Made for professionals the Berg Bow is well ahead of any permanbuco bows in that price field.

May 14, 2008 at 04:24 AM · Well, the case I want is $150, it seems to have gone down in price to: $119. If it stays that way I might be able to afford the carbon fiber bow the next price up at: $139.

May 14, 2008 at 09:34 PM ·

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