Thoughts on the Incredibow.

July 22, 2008 at 05:30 PM · Hi folks, A friend of mine got an Incredibow. She can not rave about this bow enough. I am thinking about trying one (they look kind of weird). Anyone out there have one, or have tried one, and what do you think?? Thanks, M

Replies (20)

July 22, 2008 at 05:41 PM · I think using an "Incredibow" is an automatic trip to the 10th circle of Dante's Inferno.......

July 22, 2008 at 05:46 PM · Okay. I give up. What is it?

July 22, 2008 at 05:49 PM · You risk your Eternal Soul by going to this page....

July 22, 2008 at 05:59 PM · Marc,

Is it really that bad?

July 22, 2008 at 07:17 PM · No thanks.

July 22, 2008 at 07:39 PM · Marc,

Have you played with one? If not, what is the reason for your animus? I risked my eternal soul and went to the website, and while it does look gimmicky and I'm skeptical of it's performance, I won't dismiss it just because it's ugly and unconventional.

July 22, 2008 at 07:52 PM · A couple years ago I tried one at a festival. More importantly a very good fiddler tried it against a number of good wooden bows and I could hear the difference--the wooden bows made a better sound.

It was developed for playing musical saw.

July 22, 2008 at 08:30 PM · What about compared to not so good wood bows, or fibergalss/CF bows in a similar price range (~$125)? Does it handle reasonably well? I don't think it'll be replacing anyone's Tourte, but it could be a reasonable alternative for some of the clubs I've seen at that price. Or maybe not. I'm just curious...

July 22, 2008 at 08:43 PM · This looks scary. However, I heard of a another alternative ( a bit more pricey than these); I played a few of these bows and I liked them. Since my regular bow is a very decent Voirin they had a bit to compete with. Very interesting. I may even get one soon.

July 22, 2008 at 09:21 PM · It doesn't handle the same way as a regular bow.

July 22, 2008 at 09:22 PM · I have played one, and considering what it was made for....NOT a replacement for a good wood bow...I think they do a fabulous job. THey handle well, sound as good as other bows in the same price range and come in different colors!

July 22, 2008 at 09:47 PM · A friend who plays first violin in a major orchestra wrote me that she purchased a CF bow

for $2,500. and says it plays better and is easier to use than her expensive old French bow.

July 22, 2008 at 10:27 PM · We have several CF bows for violin & viola: Rolland Spiccato, Otto Musica and Codabows. They've all been good bows for the money ($350-650).

But the incredibow looks to be several evolutionary steps below any normal CF bow. No horsehair, when it wears out toss it and buy a new one? Ecch.

July 23, 2008 at 05:29 AM · I've tried playing with an Incredibow, sort of test driving one that one of my students bought. Here are my reactions, taken from my blog of August 30, 2005. "...Most important, though, is the ease of handling. Here are my strictly subjective perceptions: The Incredibow feels different from the conventional bow partly because it weighs so much less. It is easy to play quick notes, as in jigs and reels, and to do string crossings, as are common in Scottish fiddle music. In these ways, the Incredibow is similar to a Baroque bow or a carbon fiber bow, which are used fairly frequently by players of Irish and Scottish fiddle tunes. It is very easy to produce a smooth, even sound with the Incredibow. It does not squeak or squawk if you press down too hard on it, and this is a great boon to beginning students and anyone who must listen to them. The sound quality is just as smooth and even at the lower half of the bow as it is at the upper half. I found myself venturing closer to the frog with the Incredibow than I would with my own bow. However, I did have trouble playing crescendo and decrescendo; there are times when you don’t want a very smooth, steady tone. After playing for a while, the thumb of my bowing hand started to hurt, and I realized that this happened because I was pressing down hard on the bow when I wanted to play loud. I tried staccato, spiccato, dashed slurs, dotted slurs, and Scottish snaps, and, at first, I found it more difficult to bounce with this space age bow than with my old fashioned bow. Other violinists have had the same experience. However, after playing with it for a while, I was able to get a good, controlled bounce. Beginning students should find it easier to play with an Incredibow than with a conventional bow because there is less technique for them to learn. If they want to switch to a conventional bow later, it would be difficult for them. This is not necessarily a problem, since they can do almost everything they need with the Incredibow. I’ll stick with my old fashioned bow, though. I don’t mind missing out on holographic shimmers and psychedelic colors, and I like the greater range of expression that my own bow gives me."

July 23, 2008 at 12:30 PM · Pauline - thanks for posting your notes here, very helpful to read.

I don't know. I think an instant stigma lies in the name. Bad marketing call. Don't they realize violinists are elitist snobs? All I can visualize is Buddy, the kid from the movie The Incredibles who wants to be Mr. Incredible's sidekick and so he makes himself a kid-sized cape and body suit and calls himself Incrediboy. And Mr. Incredible looks at him, shakes his head in disgust and says, "Go home, buddy. Go home."

Of course, now that I've mocked it and sneered at the concept, maybe I should go take a look at it. : )

July 23, 2008 at 04:30 PM · Thank you to all who have responded. This is very helpful. I thought maybe it might be good for some of my students, but I don't want them to experience problems going to a regular bow. I love the diversity of the players who frequent this web site, and appreciate those of you who choose to respond. You guys are great!

July 23, 2008 at 06:35 PM · Well, I only speak as I find... and after buying an Incredibow eighteen months ago, and playing with it every day since, I can only say that I find it very very good. But.... I play mainly Scottish and Shetland Music. In all the time I have had it I have not had a single hair break. It seems to need less Rosin than any of the other bows I have,and quite frankly, I am very pleased with my purchase.

July 26, 2008 at 01:28 AM · Look, it's pretty simple and obvious--synthetic bows can be made to handle as well as some more expensive wood bows. They apparently cannot be made to sound as good (the best I've played is the Roland Spiccatto, for what it's worth, a very good playing bow).

If the sound doesn't matter to you, then be my guest, jump right in.

BTW, I've also known of some very good players who made the change to carbon fiber bows for certain types of gigs. They eventually went back to wood.

July 26, 2008 at 10:36 PM · When I ordered my cello Incredibow several years ago, they were late shipping it and compensated me by also sending me a violin Incredibow.

These bows remind me of the ancient "reverse-curvature" bows shaped like archery bows. I found it took a lot of work to rosin the husky nylon "hair" to get it to hold rosin and play. But I did find it interesting to use for something like the Bach cello suites, since its balance and light weight move well on the string crossings and chords. (I have understood that the newer Incredibows hold rosin better, but I have not tried them.)

I found the Incredibows did not generate the same range of overtones that conventional bows do, but there are players of certain styles who don't like those violin overtones; perhaps this is a good bow for them.

I think the Incredibows are what they are and I will not belittle them for that. I would not recommend them as a starter bow for someone who hopes to get into "violin" or "cello" playing, because handling of them is somewhat unconventional - but handled properly one can get decent spiccato strokes (etc.) with one.

But they should not be confused with other brands of "composite" or "carbon-fiber" bows, which can cost many hundreds to thousands of dollars and rival very fine pernambuco bows in playability (for sure) and in some aspects of tone generation.


July 27, 2008 at 01:27 AM · Perhaps those of you who like it are native baroque players.

The geometry is opposite of a modern bow, if you think about it. With a modern bow, when you apply pressure, the bending of the ribbon of the hair around the string shortens it (the hair) which straightens the stick, and makes the stick longer and tightens the hair in response to that bow pressure. (Think about that a bit and you'll get it.) With a baroque bow, the opposite happens--the bow hair becomes even looser with more bow pressure.

Both approaches have validity, of course, but the mechanisms are basically very different. Essentially, I think, the baroque bow is a finesse tool, and I can understand how it would be good for a fiddler, where a lot of the expression relies on bowing. On the other hand, for modern classical music, other things are needed, which is why the modern bow supplanted the baroque one.

Note that the issue is not synthetic vs wood, but incurve vs outcurve.

And, yes, I have tried an incredibow. I thought that for the original price, which was around $40, it was quite a deal for certain things.

Aesthetically, though, it's a dog.

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