Glasser Braided Carbon Fibre Bow

May 26, 2009 at 02:14 AM ·

Hello all,

I have a small dilema which I wanted a second opinion about.  I am a beginner at the violin and purchased a 12 year old Leon Aubert (#808, Stradivarius model) for about $160 (I think it's a good deal, but maybe not).  The problem is that the bow lost it's curve between about the frog and almost to the middle; it is pretty straight up until the middle and then it curves.  I think the bow lost some of its camber after 12 years of tightening horse hairs and it's probably not a really good bow anyways.  I thought about replacing the bow and decided to go with carbon fiber bows, since I hear that they are better than pernambuco in the same price range (correct me if I'm wrong).  The Glasser braided carbon fibre bow is pretty much all that can fit my budget (I know what you're all thinking).  So, I was wondering if it would be worth replacing the bow I have or should I stick with it for some time before upgrading?  My luthier said after the hairs are done (about a year), to toss the stick, but then again, can't trust someone in their shop.  In addition, I have another question, specifically about the Glasser braided bow... is it better to get the octogonal or the round version?  Now I know that the octogonal version is stiffer, but I don't have the bows to compare so I decided to ask.  Anyways, I would appreciate any comments (that is, if you can make it through the entire message without passing out).

Thanks.

Bogdan

Replies (25)

May 27, 2009 at 05:55 PM ·

I'm not at all an expert or even a professional, but I'll put something general out and hope others will pitch in. Also, there are numerous previous discussions on carbon fiber bows and on buying bows which you may want ot refer to, if you haven't already. I can't tell exactly what what shape your bow is in without a picture and if it is playable--tolerable or terrible.  I think most people would agree that it's better to buy a bow when you can try it out. If you are a beginner, your playing may not yet be hampered by your bow, in whcih case you might wait for a better opportunity to bow-shop. It sounds like you don't have a teacher--he or she would of course be helpful, if you feel the luthier just wants the business to rehair your bow.  A more experienced player could also help you better assess the bow(s).

May 27, 2009 at 08:50 PM ·

Thanks for your help.  And you're right, I don't have a teacher, yet.  I decided to learn the basics myself before spending money.  Is it possible to post pictures of my bow here somehow?  I could take a few snapshots and post them, if that's possible.  I have looked at carbon fiber bow threads but I wanted to know details specifically about the Glasser braided carbon fiber bow.  The reason I wanted to buy the carbon fiber bow is because I hear they don't need to be recambered, and if it is a good bow, I am sure I could use it in the future as a secondary bow once I obtain some skill and a finer instrument.  I also didn't mean to come off cold on my luthier, he has been helpful, I just meant that sometimes opinions are biased and I needed more opinions to formulate my perspective.  Thanks again for jumping in, appreciate it.

May 27, 2009 at 09:48 PM ·

I am not an expert on bows by any means, but I am in the market for a new bow and am starting to get educated myself.  You will read many varying opinions about carbon fiber bows on these boards.  Some like them, some don't.  Some swear they cannot compete with pernumbuco wood in terms of sound quality. 

But, here is an interesting piece of trivia for you.  I recently went to a concert and the soloist was a young violinist by the name of Nicolas Kendall.  He was terrific.  After the concert, he returned to the concert hall for a question and answer session.  And it turns out he was using a $95 carbon fiber bow for the performance.  I was floored. 

 

May 28, 2009 at 12:18 AM ·

There's a gentleman on this site who seems to frequently post moving images in his replies--I don't know how to do it. Unless you have a personal website where you can post the pictures and direct readers to it, the only other way I can think of to get a (single) picture of your bow is to post it with your personal profile, temporarily.

May 28, 2009 at 12:24 AM ·

Wow, that's neat.  I guess there are two possibilities; either he is very good that he will sound fantastic with a crummy bow, or that the bow isn't that bad.  Do you remember by any chance which bow he used?  And yes, I have heard about the carbon fiber/pernambuco debate but I think that you can't compare them once you get into a high price range (in the thousands) and that carbon fiber outperforms pernambuco in the lower price range.  But then again, that's just opinionated and may be biased, so I don't know myself.  The reason I decided to buy carbon fiber is that it doesn't get ruined over time (it does not need to be recambered) and can be used as a secondary bow (where you wouldn't want to use your nice pernambuco, not that I have one though, lol).  My budget is a bit low... I can only spend around $200, which I know I can't expect anything too nice, but I heard some good things about the Glasser braided carbon fiber bow (not too many though).  If anyone has any experience with that bow or any knowledge about it, please post!  Also, are there any other good carbon fiber bows around that price range that I may consider?  Thanks very much for posting and keeping the thread alive (somewhat).

 

Bogdan

May 28, 2009 at 12:25 AM ·

Thanks Margaret, I will look into it.  I will try to post pictures in a couple of days, somehow.

May 28, 2009 at 12:57 AM ·

My school recently bought about five new violin outfits and the string head bought those Glasser Braided carbon fiber bows after buying 8 yamaha carbon fiber bows. I found the yamaha bows to be decent but they just look plain ugly and sound wasn't too great. When the glasser bows first arrive only two of our good players were allowed to use them and I found them really nice. Good for the price and nice sound.

Just my opinion and I play on a Coda Colours, JonPaul Avanti and this Knoll pernambuco bow as comparison.

May 28, 2009 at 09:23 AM ·

One of the (many) advantages of having a teacher is that they can help you with the kind of equipment problems you're having now. They can also help show you how to properly tune your violin, tell when the strings need replacing, know when you have enough rosin on the bow, how much slack to give to the bow---there are so many little details to this instrument before you even get to the playing part of it. It's money very well spent.

As for carbon fiber bows, I tried a bunch of them several months back and the best one turned out to be a $90 model (don't remember the name, sorry). I didn't buy it because I still like my wood bow better, but it was definitely a good choice. It's not helping you that you don't trust your local shop. Are you suspicious of them just because they're trying to sell you something? Or have they given you bad advice before? It sounds like they were telling you the right thing about the bow you have now. If you let them, they can help you quite a lot---some violin shops have very expert people who can educate you about what you need to look for---it's in their interest to sell you what's best for you, because then you'll come back for years, and refer them new business. So you might think about going back there and asking them for help. Let them show you a number of bows in your price range, and then try them out to see what sounds best, and ask their opinion.

May 28, 2009 at 10:33 AM ·

 I have four bows, the best one (at least the best one that fits my playing) is not the most expensive pernambuco one, but a carbon bow which costed no more than 100USD. Carbon bows have another advantage: I can take the bow wherever I want with no noticeable differences in behaviour.

May 28, 2009 at 12:13 PM ·

Aha, now I got it.  The best bows are the carbon fiber, but they have to be less than $100 ???!!

This is a paradox that I am still trying to wrap my head around.  I just bought a very nice violin and in the violin world, there seems to be a sweet spot around $10K-$30K; where you can get some of the best violins.  And you will find many professional violinists playing instruments in this price range.  But, I have never heard of a pro playing a $300 student instrument.

This is where the world of bows has me totally confused.  How is it that a world class player like Nicolas Kendall would use a $95 carbon fiber bow?  I'm sure he's not just trying to show off.  He actually likes the bow!  By the way, his violin is a Borman; I think they go for $32K.

Being in the market for a fine bow, I was thinking $2K-5K for my price range, but I'll definitely try some $100 CF bows before shelling out that much money for a bow.

Can someone shed some light on this "bow paradox?"

 

May 28, 2009 at 02:16 PM ·

I've never tried the Glasser braided bow, but when Glasser first made and marketed their Composite Bow it was very well received and played very well. Over time, I found it's sound relatively "one-dimensional" (on some really good violins) but it was a great playing bow and easy to use. When they later issued the Glasser Carbon Fiber bow, I thought it was not as good playing or sounding, but this may have differed between different bows. I think part of the problem may have been the hair the mfg. used on the bows. I recall that they were better after re-hairing.

They were good bws to learn with - certainly being very friendly up to spiccato and saltando bowing.

I don't have any of my original Glasser bows, students bought them all from me.

Andy

May 28, 2009 at 03:54 PM ·

 Smiley, DON'T PANIC!!!

I've been following your violin quest, an amazing one, and I must first of all congratulate you for such a nice instrument.

I am no saying that CF bows are better than proffessional wood bows, my world is not the pros one. So, in my aficionado point of view, where I consider that spending more than 34K-35K USD in a violin is a nonsense, there is no need to spend more than 300 USD in a bow.

If I were a pro, I would (or wouldn't) buy a +3K bow, but as an aficionado, definetely I won't. Even if I had the money.

CF bows (I am not the only one to say so) are VERY GOOD average bows for their price. I mean that between two bows of the same price, the CF bow will probably be better than the wooden one.

 

All the best, and good luck with your bow (try some CF bows!!)

May 28, 2009 at 03:22 PM ·

Two comments for the original poster:

First, a CF bow is going to be better than the bow you have, nad will be worth re-hairing when the time comes. The real cheap bows that come with very inexpensive violins are not worth the expense of re-hairing, especially when the camber is gone. The sort of attention that it would need to be nearly playable again (if indeed it ever was really "playable") is about 5 times more than the bow would cost, new. Use it to stake your tomato plants.

Second, if you plan on learning the violin, a teacher is far more useful at the beginning of the process. Otherwise you'll be spending time (and money) for the teacher to help you undo all the bad habits you'll have acquired in the teach-yourself process.

A third comment: while you might be able to play a $160 violin, it will fight you all the way. Consider saving up for a decent instrument, which will actually ease the learning process, and sound a lot better as well. If purchase is not an option, you and your teacher can look into renting a decent student-quality violin. It is much more satisfying to play a good instrument, and makes practice a pleasure.

 

May 28, 2009 at 04:18 PM ·

I find that we're often a little too 'price obcessed'.  Just because it costs more doesn't guarantee that it's necessarily better (within reason of course). For example,  I've mentioned that my 'cheap' viola bow (~$150) plays  much better than my expensive viola bow...

That's why you should try out as many bows, within your price point, as you can...even bows of the same line might handle differently...

 

May 28, 2009 at 06:41 PM ·

I think that bows generally do get priced accordingly, but I also understand that there are aspects of bow performance where a cheap bow might seem to be close to a much more expensive one. Density of the pernam. is an important factor, but it seems that even a soft undense stick can be capable of making an instrument resonate equally in terms of volume of sound to that of a much more dense and expensive bow. I have an excellent modern French bow, and a cheap factory bow, and both make the instrument resonate, but otherwise there's really no comparison when it comes to matters of articulation and focus etc.. So even if N.A. Mohr saying "plays much better" can be interpreted in many ways, I can think of at least one reason where this idea might have originated.

As for CF bows, I haven't tried too many, but would definitely get one to replace the cheap reserve bow because that's barely usable.

 

 

May 28, 2009 at 07:27 PM ·

Thank you all for posting and keeping the thread alive.  I appreciate all suggestions and have to agree that a teacher is very useful.  I am trying to obtain a teacher at the moment.  Another question about CF bows, though; I am curious about the comparison between the glasser braided carbon fiber bow and the codabow diamond gx... would it be worth waiting a little, saving up, and buying the codabow diamond gx or is there really not that much difference between the two?  And one more thing about CF bows, about the Glasser braided... is the octogonal version worth getting or is the round one good (octogonal is a bit more expensive)?

Also, the violin I bought for $160 is actually not bad.  I bought it from craigslist and online they go for $300 or more used.  I heard the retail was about $600, but I am not sure.  I tried out violins at my luthier, but he seems to have mainly dark sounding instruments, and mine played no worse than his $400-600 instruments but it sounded much, much brighter.  I think I might be ok for a little while on my instrument, but I have tried different bows at his shop and notice I make more mistakes with my bow than his bows (but maybe that's just me, who knows).  The problem is that his cheapest good bow is like $400, so I don't think I can spend that much now which is why I was thinking about CF bows.  Anyways, thanks again all and hope to see more comments soon.

May 31, 2009 at 06:37 PM ·

My 2 cents:

I bought a cheap pernambucco bow off ebay - the $120 type, for $65. It was better than the $29 brazilwood I used on my first violin.

I then bought a Jay Haide 101 and tried out several bows. Bought a Jon Paul Legacy for $375. As a fiddler, I appreciate it - you can fly with it! But it can feel out of control until your bowing technique improves.

When I started trying out better violins, I tried a better pernambucco. bow. It is octoganal, a shop bow, made at the luthier's. It brought out a bit more tone on every violin I played it on, than did the carbon fiber.

I plan to keep both bow. I love the CF for fast playing. I love the P for producing more tone.

I wouldn't spend much on another bow until you step up in quality of violin. A general "rule" is to spend a third of the cost of the violin on a bow. At least that's a starting point, and you can go to a luthier's or music shop and try out bows to your heart's content. I tried one that cost $2400, $800, and $600 on a $7500 Roth violin. None of them sounded any better than what I already had.

June 2, 2009 at 12:03 AM ·

With few exceptions, there seems to be a little loss of tone depth or roundness with fiberglass bows, but they feel nice in the hand to me, and go everywhere.  You can surely find CFbows between $100 and $200 that function well, but it seems like it is rare to find a wood bow below $300 or $400. My student who had one for $125 traded it back after a year because it got bouncy. Sue

June 2, 2009 at 04:41 AM ·

I only have experience with my Arcus, and it's way out of your budget.

Still, speaking of "high quality" CF bow like Arcus, I still find they sound different than wooden bow. Arcus sound very very clean, refined, and produce thicker sound than most of the wooden bow I tried. However, in comparison, wooden bow will give more complex layers of colours in the sound, with more focus and punch, although less thick than Arcus. Being a lover of more brilliant sound, Arcus always sound too round for me.

That's a comparison in the 4 digits range. I guess in the cheaper range especially in the $100 range, CF bow could be a really good choice. Still that doesn't mean you can't find a good wooden bow in the price range, you gotta try quite a few of them, and it's difficult to find a bow that stand out a lot in the price range.

Just for some fun, you might want to check this out. Looks really funny but it's pretty affordable. Personally, I wouldn't care, but I might just order one someday and give it a go.

http://www.incredibow.com/

June 2, 2009 at 04:06 AM ·

I know quite a few people who use the Incredibow (including one particularly... interesting... bright lime green stick).  Coincidentally, these people all use the "fiddler's grip", where the hand holds the bow quite a way up the stick from the frog.  Its convex shape seems particularly suited for this; I think most people who use it cite "easy of use", rather than quality of sound, which it's not going to win any awards for.

Going back to the original discussion--what, if anything, is the difference between "fibreglass" and "carbon fibre"?

 

June 16, 2009 at 12:17 AM ·

FYI CF bows in the USA are priced very high.  A very good, braided CF bow in China is only about $65 FOB. I own one.  Can get cheaper too, but these are cheaply made, with very poor hair.

IF vcom members want to get a group purchase going, maybe we can make arrangements.  I take no cut, and am not an agent. 

June 15, 2011 at 08:23 PM ·

 I bought one of the "cheep" carbon fiber bows off ebay, and though the picture looked great, it was a real piece of crap!  I gave it away.  I think it was $65 with shipping from china, but might have been $80.  I'd say it would be ok for someone learning first year or 2 max.  Or maybe a campfire fiddle bow (it had hair).  I also feel that a decent bow (say SW string VB-7 or similar at about $120, china pren. bow, med stiffness) is better that what any beg. to intermediate needs.  I have only tried a few carbon fiber bows, and really like the Glasser braided  (about $265?), but agree with whoever said that it has a "round" sound.  It also is a little bouncy (not the same dampening as a decent wood bow).  I think that you need to be a fairly good violinist (mostly classical) to even tell the difference between fine bows, their bounce, weight, etc.  If you are just starting out, if your crap bow that came with your cheep violin isn't too bent and heavy, just use it until you are ready to step up to a $100 bow.  I really liked my Southwest Strings VB-7 cheep china bow, until I used it for a beer drinking fiddling session in the mountains and broke it getting back into my truck. (I did fix it with a carbon fiber dowel and epoxy, and it still works and sounds great).  definitely don't spend 2-4 grand on a bow, until you can really feel the difference.  On the other hand, I cant play some challenging/fast classical or gypsy pieces without a good bow 2k-4k, though I'm sure there are some decent cheep bows out there somewhere.  I haven't tried the high end Coda's, but would like to.  Anyone know what a Codabow NX is like compared to the Glasser Braided Carbon that I already have.  I don't live near a violin shop, so I can't try one out.

June 16, 2011 at 07:30 AM ·

 

For my rock gigs, I use a CF bow, for obvious reasons.  I used a Glasser braided for several years. I recently got a Codabow Diamond GX, which is slightly nicer, but kept the Glasser as a backup because it's actually quite nice.  Honestly, the difference is much smaller than I expected.  

The Glasser is shockingly good for the money, and I recommend it highly for anyone on a tight budget.

FWIW, I originally got both the round stick & the octagonal. Of those two specific examples, the round stick gave a noticeably better sound on all my violins.

  

 

 

June 16, 2011 at 02:06 PM ·

A good friend of mine used a Glasser through high school into college and was very satisfied with it, although he did eventually switch to a fine pernambuco bow. I found that he was able to draw a consistent, large tone with it.

June 28, 2011 at 07:04 PM ·

My first carbon bow was a Glasser braided. Like Allan Speers, I moved on to a Coda Diamond GX a few years later. I also kept my Glasser as a backup, but I found the differences in the two much more profound than Allan did.   The Glasser is a good bow for the money, but feels a little heavier and sluggish to me compared to the Coda.  The Coda GX pulls a more defined tone.  It plays and sounds livelier. Much more character than the Glasser....not far off from , or often, besting wood bows in the same price range.  The Glasser is a touch darker regarding tone, and is great for slower bows. Very forgiving. The Glasser braided is a great beginner bow, a decent  intermediate bow, and an ok backup for pros. 

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