This is not supposed to happen

November 4, 2011 at 03:23 PM ·

Took my bow out, tightened it, found the hairs did not come straight, discovered this. As you can see in the photo of the back, there are additional cracks that suggest it's been failing for a while. It performed fine the day previous. Had it for about two years. No incident, no injury. Just phhhhhht!

Replies (25)

November 4, 2011 at 05:21 PM · My condolences! I wonder how often that happens? No accident?

November 4, 2011 at 05:59 PM · Call up the people you bought it from. We sell hundreds of carbon fiber bows, and occasionally you do see one fail. Whoever sold it to you should be able to stand behind it.

November 4, 2011 at 08:01 PM · Please give details of the make so we can all avoid buying this bow.

November 4, 2011 at 11:41 PM · Thank you. No accident.

Unfortunately, I bought the bow out of town, at a reputable shop in North Carolina. I am looking for the receipt now.

Not sure of the maker - it is unmarked and I cannot remember what the shop owner told me. It may be on the receipt. I confess that I bothered to include the image of the wrapping - just in case it was distinctive enough to help identify it.

November 6, 2011 at 01:16 AM · hahaha, Hahahahaha, HAHAHAHAHA! You bought it to avoid this sort of thing. Haahahahaha!

But seriously, I feel for you. It sucks. The problem is that the toughness, durability and everything else about composite bows is way oversold. Way. If you look into composites, you will discover that carbon fiber is actually not as strong as fiberglass, and most importantly, only a fraction of the toughness of fiberglass. Wood is tougher than carbon.

Carbon fiber composites excel at being stiff with less weight. That is their forte. Strength has never been a particularly great advantage, but people muddle strength and stiffness. (Actually, the really really expensive aerospace carbon is absurdly stiff, but disappointingly weak. Ordinary carbon is pretty strong). But the big difference isn't strength--it is toughness. Carbon composites are not tough! As you have, sadly, learned the hard way.

Looking at your specific bow, my first question is, "why the heck did they make it out of *that* particular carbon textile?" IT is all wrong for the application. half the fibers are doing absolutely nothing.

November 6, 2011 at 01:52 AM · Don't get the joke.

I looked around: is this an Ophelia braided carbon stick bow? These look rather similar.

http://www.violinslover.ca/products/-P1-Professional-Carbon-Fiber-Round-Violin-Bow.html

Except, of course, the ones in the picture have the name on. But maybe yours is an earlier model?

Please check and note if I am wrong - we don't want to make a mis-identification...

November 6, 2011 at 02:25 AM · If the dealer won't do something for you, and neither the maker, it really is completely repairable. Just requires some work with a die grinder, and some epoxy, and some carbon fiber.

November 6, 2011 at 03:17 AM · Hi, Elise,

I know the salesperson told me the name of the manufacturer and, although I cannot recollect it, I am pretty sure it was not Ophelia. I truly would not like to have it misidentified. I also think that Noah's comment that he has dealt with hundreds of bows and every so often one just goes south is relevant - whoever made it, I am not sure there is any reason to think their bows are poorly constructed as a group, although this one failed.

November 6, 2011 at 05:03 AM · These are what, $200? They're probably made in the far East, with limited quality control. There are CF bows out there that cost in the thousands--you get what you pay for.

The same thing happens with cF bike wheels: they fail.

November 6, 2011 at 08:15 AM · Scott is right - there are a lot of cheap CF bows out there - but do you remember how much you paid?

November 6, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Same thing happened to me a couple of years ago with a cheapo anonymous CF bow, not braided, that I used only for pub gigs. It had developed a worrying bulge at the tip but hadn't yet broken. The shop said it was one of a bad batch and others had been returned with the same problem. They promptly replaced mine with a better one (pub gigs, for use in).

November 6, 2011 at 02:25 PM · Yeah, just over $200 I think at an independent shop. As far as I could tell, their prices were in the ranges one expects for other goods. It wasn't the cheapest thing I could find, nor the most I was willing to pay at the time. It was, unfortunately, a bow I chose because I liked how it felt and sounded. It suited me and my playing at the time, and it suited me better than the other bows I tried when I was looking.

I expect in a bit I will buy another bow in the same price range or a bit above - and probably CF again. We will see what suits me this time. As an adult beginner I imagine there is more change in my technique in two years than there would be for more experienced and better players. And, as an amateur with exhaustible funds, I still think that under say, $500, I am going to find a more acceptable bow in CF than wood. I'll just be at a local shop near Philly instead of one 500 miles away, so it will be easier to discuss if something goes wrong.

November 6, 2011 at 04:12 PM · While it's true that you get what you pay for, it's also true that sometimes cheap is okay. I had a carbon fiber bow that I paid only $20 for after my favorite bow failed, and it served its purpose while I was experiencing some problems with bowing. Once those were overcome I was ready for (and needed) a new bow. I ended up buying a Coda Diamond GX for $700, and I love it, but the old bow was still serviceable. I sold the $20 bow to a beginning student for what I paid, and it will be fine until that student is ready for a better bow.

For $200 that bow should not have developed the structural problems it had. I would definitely let the manufacturer know; if you can't find the receipt, the shop where you bought it should have a record of the sale. If you wrote a check, that check can serve as a receipt, and the shop should be able to locate the manufacturer.

Good luck!

November 6, 2011 at 05:32 PM · When we were looking for bows up to $1000 for my son, we tried lots of carbon. He hated every one of them. Too strident. They play only one way: loud.

We ended up buying a wooden one from Mt. Airy for about $800.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that you will get more for your money in that price range by going to CF. That is all hocus pocus. However, as you are accustomed to the strident sound of CF bows, I suspect you will more likely than not choose one again.

December 25, 2011 at 01:52 AM · I found out from a student (who works in plastics and resins), that these materials have a shelf-life of only a few years: the resins that enclose the carbon fibers are affected by the UV component in daylight, and disintegrate. This applies to CF violins too. I've seen bows flaking, with fibers emerging as if the bow needed a shave!

No-one in the trade ever told me this - be warned!

December 25, 2011 at 02:15 AM · I've had this happen too - I'll protect the name of the guilty as the bow was a second and I was given it free, but it's clear that manufacturing flaws can lead to failure even under the minimal load of tight hair.

I doubt it's due to UV, though - they build very expensive planes, boats and racing cars out of this stuff, and though I'm no expert I'd imagine there are effective UV inhibitors. And in any case, bows are usually used inside where UV is low.

December 25, 2011 at 03:48 AM · I hope your two unpleasant experiences weren't with CODA brand bows. I'm trialing a CODA Diamond GX at the moment. The GX has a lifetime warranty which is reassuring.

Not a large difference that I can tell between my newly re-haired pernambuco and the GX at this point.

December 25, 2011 at 12:28 PM · Geoff Caplan said,"they build very expensive planes, boats and racing cars out of this stuff". I agree ... these are all high level engineering situations where structural integrity and safety are prime considerations (I was in the aero engine industry for many years). Perhaps other artefacts do not always receive the same degree of attention in their lower price ranges.

A web search on "carbon fibre/resin UV inhibitor" should be instructive.

December 25, 2011 at 02:21 PM · Yikes! Anybody hear of a similar situation with any CF case?

December 25, 2011 at 02:24 PM · Superglue always does the trick. It's come in handy to mend a difficult girlfriend more than once.

December 25, 2011 at 04:11 PM · "I found out from a student (who works in plastics and resins), that these materials have a shelf-life of only a few years: the resins that enclose the carbon fibers are affected by the UV component in daylight, and disintegrate. This applies to CF violins too. I've seen bows flaking, with fibers emerging as if the bow needed a shave!

No-one in the trade ever told me this - be warned!"

I have just bought a new (wooden) bow after my CF bow collapsed over a period of a few months. Every time I played, it would collapse. When I looked properly, the whole thing was warped and useless. No wonder my bow technique has become terrible!! If you're going to look into CF bows, go for the more expensive ones. If you're willing to have only a couple of years of shelf life at most, then sure, go for the cheap ones. But they won't save you trouble in the long run!

December 25, 2011 at 05:30 PM · I must agree with Eloise, at the last statement she made: I bought a cheap Glasser CF bow, almost immediately after purchasing my last violin (it came with a nice Rosewood Bow, and didn't want it to be under constant use, so I bought a cheap CF bow to use as my main bow) - I purchased this CF bow 4 yrs. ago, and it's still just fine, even being stored at the same tension as used during play / practice. Maybe it's luck, or maybe they need to be at the same tension always, so as not to interrupt the pressure, or change of pressure, to the stress points....but then again, I'm only guessing.

December 25, 2011 at 08:13 PM · Quote Bill Platt: However, as you are accustomed to the *strident* sound of CF bows, I suspect you will more likely than not choose one again.

I've got 3 CF bows. The best one was $395.00. When comparing wood bows around the same price range, I found them to be rather muddy and inarticulate compared to this J. Tabary CF. At any rate, couldn't find a wood bow around the same price range that I liked better than this particular Tabary.

December 25, 2011 at 08:26 PM · Well CF bows DO have their advantages, no matter what anyone says. I personally enjoy the light feel and the power of them. If I could afford to get another as a reserve bow, then I would. However, after buying my wooden bow and currently trialling a 110 year old French violin, I can't afford that bit extra. It'll have to wait until the future.

Saying this, relying on a cheap CF bow full-time, at least in my experience, shouldn't be done. One needs something completely reliable that won't break at possibly the worst time economically for us all...

I must add to my post earlier that I had my CF bow for a good 3 years before this happened - the time in which it started collapsing and then finally did become unusable was over a period of a few months towards the end.

December 25, 2011 at 11:42 PM · CF bows should not have this sort of issue due to sunlight or anything else . . . . whether or not they have a painted finish there are LOTS of people who've been using CF bows with no problem for years. My first viola bow (10.5 years ago!) was a Codabow Conservatory, that I still have and use as a backup or for playing in "tight" spaces (small pits, near a wall).

It's seen a lot of use (and some abuse, I'll be honest), and it's still just as good as new. I've had it rehaired at least 20 times, it's been all over the world . . . never an issue at all.

I'd make sure you're purchasing a good quality CF bow, and MAINTAINING it properly. If the hair is totally missing on one side, and you're not getting a rehair, the difference in tension will probably cause some twisting/cracking.

No sword fighting or using it as a spit either!

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