Wang Bows

April 1, 2015 at 11:42 AM · As an older beginning student on the violin I was looking for an instrument and bow that were good quality without spending a fortune. I wound up purchasing a Stefan Petrov Superior violin which sounds and plays wonderfully but all I had was a lousy generic Brazilwood bow. I found the website for Wang Bows and thought I would take a chance and order one of their master series pernambuco bows. I was very impressed with the workmanship when I received it and I really believe I would be hard-pressed to find anything better without spending $1000 or more. As I said, I am a beginner and still haven't had the time to have an expert evaluate this bow so I was wondering if anyone else has any experience or has heard any reviews or their products. If anyone is interested I could post a picture of it.

http://www.wangbow.com/shop/violin-bows-c-12.html

Replies

April 9, 2015 at 08:25 PM · I took the plunge indeed and so far have no complaints. I plan on showing it to a couple of players and teachers in the near future and I will get back to you on the results. I will say the workmanship is really good. I opted for a frog made from horn which I like, and is elegantly done but it might not suit everyone's taste. I can tell it is much superior to my brazilwood bow which is bad to rub on the strings if I exert much pressure at all.

April 9, 2015 at 08:29 PM · Honestly if you don't want to spend $1000 then you probably are just as well off to get a good carbon fiber bow.

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=26604

April 10, 2015 at 12:55 AM · That's debatable. There is such a thing as a poor wood bow.

April 10, 2015 at 11:33 AM · I was actually very close to ordering a carbon fiber from Coda Bow before purchasing the wood bow. After listening to some direct comparisons on You Tube I thought the pernambuco bows gave a warmer sound. It was hard for me to find a good pernambuco for what i could buy the carbon fiber for which led me to try the Wang Bow even though I couldn't find any reviews on them. Hopefully this will help some others out there who are looking for a good wood bow without breaking the bank. Here are some photos I took; the lighting is bad but hopefully you can tell a bit about the bow as far as workmanship. Again, I am a rank novice and this bow will need critiquing by an expert.

http://i1137.photobucket.com/albums/n508/lsdude101/Mobile%20Uploads/IMG_20150410_083745.jpg

http://i1137.photobucket.com/albums/n508/lsdude101/Mobile%20Uploads/IMG_20150410_083718.jpg

http://i1137.photobucket.com/albums/n508/lsdude101/Mobile%20Uploads/IMG_20150410_083617_burst_04.jpg

April 10, 2015 at 11:47 AM · And the tone of carbon-fiber is much better than it used to be. You would be surprised at the warmth you can now draw with the right pairing.

April 10, 2015 at 02:53 PM · I agree with Lydia -- some of the better carbon fiber bows sound nearly as good as their wooden counterparts.

Besides, wood is made of carbon fibers :-D

April 11, 2015 at 12:49 AM · John, the point is that an excellent CF bow and an inferior wood bow can often cost about the same.

April 11, 2015 at 11:21 AM · Generally these Chinese "pernambuco" violin bows are not real pernambuco, real pernambuco cost $100 a stick just for the wood, the only place you're going to get bargain real pernambuco in a new bow is buying direct from Brazil, where pernambuco is still legal to use in Brazilian bows, but NOT legal for export, there is no genuine new pernambuco on the international market unless it is illegally smuggled out of Brazil, what the bow makers are fighting over is old stock exported before the ban, and the price on that as it gets used up is going to go up and up, but no You can't buy a genuine pernambuco new bow for $300 IMHO.

April 12, 2015 at 12:05 AM · Just curious, how can you tell "genuine pernambuco" from fake pernambuco?

April 12, 2015 at 06:26 AM · Looking at the grain. Just like how you tell Pernambuco from Brazilwood.

April 12, 2015 at 10:51 AM · Interesting. I was looking on You Tube at a video that Shar Music had posted comparing the sound of their Chinese made pernambuco bows vs carbon fiber. Not saying the carbon bows sounded bad but I thought the pernambuco's sounded better based on the comparison done in the video (sound wasn't the only thing evaluated.) Shar advertises and sells these bows as pernambuco. Would you say they are falsely representing these bows as something they are not? I almost went for one of their Guy Laurent bows based on the video so I'm interested to know. If they are not real pernambuco then what do you suggest they are made of? I will further investigate to try and find out if the Wang bow I have is genuine pernambuco or fake. I will forward this to the makers at Wang Bow to see if they are interested in defending their product on this forum.

April 12, 2015 at 04:10 PM · How does one compare bow by watching youtube vids? Boggles me.

April 12, 2015 at 08:37 PM · It's really simple, you listen to the difference. It's not as hard as it sounds.

April 12, 2015 at 11:18 PM · What about playability and the so-called "match" to your specific violin?

April 13, 2015 at 12:45 AM · I think you way overestimate my ability to discern the difference in playability to any great degree. Again, I am a complete novice; it would be very difficult to determine if the many discrepancies in my playing is derived from a lack of compatibility between the bow and violin, or my lack of skill. I do know which one of the two is way more likely though. If I were a pro, an amateur, or even an advancing student I can understand how one would want to give a bow a spin on their own instrument before buying.

I live in a somewhat remote corner of Appalachia with no violin shops within a two hour drive to my knowledge. So, my thought process was to find a type of bow, if not a specific brand, based on opinions of folks with way more knowledge than myself. Most folks from discussion forums I found generally thought that wood bows have a better sound than carbon. After listening to the Youtube video comparison from Shar Music I was in agreement (though it certainly was limited in scope.) They claimed to have a Chinese Pernambuco bow that was reasonably priced that was suitable for BEGINNERS (me.) I had assumed that I would wind up with carbon because I didn't expect to find a pernambuco bow that would compare with carbon dollar for dollar. As I said, I took a $500 chance on a Chinese made bow from Wang; I plan on having it evaluated by my teacher and Steve Perry at Gianna later this summer when I can make it to his shop. I'll let you know what the results are. I promise if I ever feel the need to upgrade and spend more serious amounts I will definitely try one out before buying. I can say definitely that it is way superior to the spongy Brazilwood bow I previously used.

April 13, 2015 at 02:38 AM · You're right that wood bows can sound a lot better than carbon fibre, but not necessarily play as well. It used to be everyone assumed all the great French bows were pernambuco, then we found out there are about 6 different woods used, all quite good that are not pernambuco but look similar and not like brazilwood, one of them is Abeille, it doesn't have the flame and pronounced grain of pernambuco I think, but is not banned for export so its much cheaper.

I'm not saying these are not good bows, just that they are probably not genuine pernambuco, and if they are, more likely the low grade weaker pernambuco, otherwise the price of the wood would simply be too much for the makers to make a good profit, and believe me the profit margins on Chinese bows and violins are very good indeed.

There are non pernambuco bows by famous French makers selling for $30,000 etc, so don't get the idea that because it isn't high grade pernambuco that it is necessarily inferior, High grade brazilwood is usually better than low grade pernambuco, just to put it in perspective.

April 13, 2015 at 03:45 AM · At $500, you can get a carbon-fiber bow that both sounds good and plays well. I find that the difference in tone with multiple CF bows tends to be much more pronounced than the delta between wood bows, making tryouts far more necessary. I do think that CF loses something in warmth, but especially with an inexpensive violin, you're almost certainly better off going for better handling, which you'll get with CF.

April 13, 2015 at 10:52 AM · Isn't the Hair quality very significant?

April 13, 2015 at 11:13 AM · I emailed Jimmy Wang and brought to his attention (very diplomatically) the concerns of folks in this forum and that there are probably a fair amount of people who have doubts about the woods being used in Chinese bows based on economic principles and the fact that the Chinese don't have a stellar record when it comes to truth in advertising. Here is his response:

"Hi Russell, thank you very much for letting me know about it. But I don't know how can I post on this topic, I'm afraid it'll raise some worse feelings against us if I argue. It's "well known" that Chinese are making fake products. We are family business thinking about pass it on, and can't afford to make fake products, thanks again. What we can do is to go on crafting good bows for musicians and let bows argue for themselves while possible.

The only sources we can buy pernambuco wood are from European traders."

You can make of that what you will but what I took from it is that they realize there is a bias against Chinese products which is warranted in many cases but they will continue to do what they do and let the quality of their products earn a good reputation for their own company. He didn't elaborate much on where they obtain pernambuco other than to say they get it from Europeans.

Lyndon makes a good point which even as a novice I can appreciate. With all the various woods to choose from on the planet, it stands to reason that there should be some that performs as well or perhaps even better than the almighty pernambuco. As it is with all things there will always be the "purists" who cling to a tradition that a great bow or instrument must be made from X material, from Y place, in Z fashion. The bow I got from them is far superior than what I had, though admittedly the one I had was super cheap. I am a firm believer in truth in advertising though and will find someone who can positively identify if the bow I bought is genuine pernambuco or not so I can pass the info along.

April 13, 2015 at 04:16 PM · I am unfamiliar with the export ban on pernambuco, but I will say that most of the time when governments impose bans on certain products it winds up being nearly impossible to enforce, or there are legal loopholes that people use to get around the laws. So to say there is an export ban in no way means you can't get something at a reasonable price. When bans can be rigidly enforced it can create black markets that would indeed drive up costs, but I doubt products like wood can be that closely enforced at least on small scale. Ginseng poachers prove this every day in Appalachia. Having said that, I did read that of all the available pernambuco on the market, an estimated .05% of it would be considered as suitable for making fine instrument bows out of. The author didn't cite any sources but if this were true it could drive up the cost of good pernambuco considerably, or it would most likely mean much of the cheaper bows would be made of a lower grade of wood. Not necessarily bad wood but not suitable for higher end work. Thank you for the additional information John.

April 17, 2015 at 11:42 PM · Necessity drives many innovations. I'm sure there are suitable woods for making some fine bows apart from pernambuco. I wouldn't doubt if someday we commonly see violins made from different woods with great results. I know of one luthier that is experimenting with aspen wood with some pretty good results. Of course there will always be the folks who would scoff at the thought of deviating from the Italian masters methods, but it's hard to argue with fantastic timbre regardless of what it's made of.

April 18, 2015 at 08:31 PM · The maker was Lawrence Cocker of Derby. I had one as a student in the sixties. The workmanship was excellent. They were popular with students because the price was about half that of an equivalent pernambuco bow. I eventually traded mine in with Joseph Kun for one of his but in recent years I regretted that I no longer had it--if only as a conversation piece, so when I saw a violin version in Brompton's auction I got it and thinking that the viola version might also be good, I got one in Tarisio's auction. I quite like the viola one though I find the violin one a bit too stiff for me just as I did in my student days.

April 19, 2015 at 07:37 PM · Traditional flyrods are made of split bamboo and are more expensive than their graphite/carbon counterparts because of the craftsmanship that goes into building them. Most people think they are too spongy as compared to carbon for fishing purposes but fishermen don't have to worry about sound. I agree with you about covering a carbon bow with wood; does it make the bow sound better? If not then why not let a carbon bow be what it is? I don't think the carbon looks bad at all.

May 17, 2016 at 04:14 PM · So... how did it go? I am very interested in hearing about how the bow was rated by Steve, and the others.

May 17, 2016 at 04:14 PM · OOPS! Sent a second message by accident.

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