Professional quality bow.

April 13, 2017 at 10:22 PM · So I now kind of have an idea about high quality violins, next topic is a good bow.

I want to get this out there: I really like gold mounted bows, so if anyone knows of decent professional quality gold mounted bows, let me know.

Besides that, I need to know what price range the recent ones fall into, because I don't need anything super high end, but I don't want a stick the dog brought in either.

One of my bows right now is an A. Carvalho nickel mounted bow, about $500. Do you think that might be fine, or do I need something more high end? I have another by Antonio Giuliani, called the Giuliani pro bow, $300, if that's any good for pro playing.

I have a few in mind I can get on trial. They are from fiddlershop, one is a $660 pernambuco bow, and there's another pernambuco bow there too, and a few Jonpaul bows. Are these any good?

Replies

April 13, 2017 at 11:41 PM · Makers often do gold-mounting to indicate sticks that they think are particularly good and that they charge more money for. I don't know if players routinely share the opinions of these sticks being better, but it is an intended marketing indicator, anyway.

Most bows are going to be mounted in silver (or cheaper bows in nickel). You should generally choose bows without regard to appearance, regardless of your budget.

A $500 bow, if it's at least average for its price, should be fine for your playing level. If you had full ability to trade in the $300 + $500, you could get a JonPaul Avanti for about $750, which would be fine for just about anything, though that would depend on how carbon-fiber sounds on your instrument.

If your existing bows are giving you trouble, trade both of them back in to get another bow in the $500 - $1000 range that suits you better, but it's doubtful that you need to spend more than that.

April 14, 2017 at 02:49 AM · I honestly do not believe in luxury. The number one thing you need to sound professional is a good technique and musicality. Next comes the violin, then the strings and bow. Bows can change small nuances in tone colour. Are you happy with your sound? Are your bows easy to use (well-balanced, etc)?

April 14, 2017 at 02:52 AM · Bows can actually make a pretty profound difference in the tone and projection of a violin -- that's one of the reasons you can get better bang for your buck for a bow upgrade than a violin upgrade.

But handling should be the first priority in a bow. A player needs to reach a certain level before they can really tell what they want in a bow long-term, though, and I think that the OP probably hasn't reached that level yet.

April 14, 2017 at 03:05 AM · Yes, I have to agree to some degree. When I asked my teacher "how can you tell if a bow is bad," she played her violin with two qualities of bows. I said I like bow A better, and she says it's her good bow, which is worth less than $1000. I personally found that it produced a more full-bodied and projecting tone by a fair hair. She even played with some dirt cheap bows and sounded good. Plus, her violin isn't top notch.

April 14, 2017 at 03:13 AM · So it's better if I learn to make beautiful sound with these vows before upgrading, otherwise I might spend $800 on a dud?

April 14, 2017 at 03:23 AM · Darian, I don't get it. Bow has to match your violin, not just about the price or the look. When you've got your dream violin (I understand you are still looking for it, right?), then try a few bows at the price range that you can afford. You will find which one is a better match. Lydia is exactly right. Bow can make a huge difference in tone production and projection. Save as much as you can now and get your teacher help you to choose one when the time comes.

I assume you have a teacher. If not, instead of buying a better bow or a violin, spend money on lessons. That means you have to work hard to sound better :-)

April 14, 2017 at 03:55 AM · Anyone know what price range wood bows start to outperform CF in terms of handling/playability? I really love how CF bows feel but I noticed that they sound a bit thin and not very complex on my violin. I've tried all Coda and some 1000$ JonPauls and the Coda Diamond GX felt amazing but sounded less interesting than my current 300$ wood bow. So I'm curious when wood bows usually (I know they're all different) start to outperform CF in both sound AND playability/feel.

April 14, 2017 at 04:55 AM · The bow sound is underastimated often. It can make a huge difference, way way more than the strings.

Actually if my budget would be smaller the first thing to downgrate would be my violin before I touch my bow.

Finding the right bow for you and your violin is not easy. I would not go for stuff like gold plated, if the right bow has it, fine. But it is not a good criteria to decide which bow to get.

When I went bow shopping (what really took a long time) I ended up with a bow only half of the budget, but for me it was the best option.

I also own a CF bow made by arcus, it is amazing in some parts, but I still prefer the wooden bow by far.

The CF has a bit a different sound,but still not worse, just different and it can project very good. Ill look for a video from Tetzlaff where he plays his CF and his wooden bow (Cadenza on CF).

April 14, 2017 at 06:13 AM · "A player needs to reach a certain level before they can really tell what they want in a bow long-term, though,"

@Lydia, could you please elaborate a bit more?

I have a nice violin but I am not happy with my bow (300€ CF). I did bow hunting quite far beyond that, but did not feel satisfied with any bow looking at the overall package of sound and handling. And I know that my technique is still in the Vivaldi A minor, Chanson de Matin, Wohlfahrt, easiest Kreutzer area (just playing /restarting for 2,5 years). Probably I will never be able to reach an advanced level or perhaps even upper intermediate level, which is fine. My job allows me to enjoy violin life with good lessons and a bit nicer equipment. But if I buy something it shall last. I practice an average of 50 min a day (keeping a practice diary) . Therefore I allow myself to consider violin and bow not just to be tools but also to enjoy them a lot. When would it be a good point in time, technical-ability wise to look for a bow again?

Perhaps not in terms of "really necessary" but rather in terms of "being able to make a good decision" .

Thanks

Eva

April 14, 2017 at 06:22 AM · Well, one example is up bow staccato behaviour. There is a huge difference between bows, but most students cant do it properly.

April 14, 2017 at 08:10 AM · Sadly the video is not public anymore

April 14, 2017 at 10:44 AM · First of all, on your statement about gold mounted bows: It makes no difference. In fact, I recently tried a gold mounted and silver mounted bow by the same maker, and found the silver mounted one superior in almost every way. The maker must have thought there was something great about the gold mounted stick, but myself and the other players that tried it didn't think so.

In general with students, I find that they underestimate the importance of the bow. The bow should probably be a significant amount of the value of the violin+bow. Some "rules" say that the bow should cost about 1/3 of what the violin cost, but I don't like hard rules like this since there are many outliers.

Jonpaul CF bows are a very good handling bow and a tremendous value for the money. As far as the contemporary wood bows I have tried (many!), you'd have to spend many thousands to get a better handling bow. The sound with the Jonpual is acceptable on most instruments, but sometimes lacking the "living" sound of a great wood stick. However, most people looking in this category should prioritize handling with acceptable sound.

I would like to agree with the above posters in the difference a bow can make. If we were in the pre-CF era and you had $5000 to spend on an instrument and bow, I'd say split it. Students are extremely lucky right now that they can acquire something like a Jonpaul Avanti for ~$700.

As an aside, students have much better options that I did when I was growing up. Being able to get something like a Jay Haide violin for ~$2400 and a Jonpaul bow for ~$700 is an amazing setup for an intermediate to advanced student. And then if you go pro and are able to get a fine contemporary violin, there are some amazing violins and bows being made today for much less than the cost of an high-labelled antique. We live in great times.

April 14, 2017 at 11:30 AM · So true Doug.When I was a student my choices were limited to formerly good violins or bows that were in poor shape with lots of repairs done to them.Todays' choices for students is incredible.

April 14, 2017 at 11:36 AM · By definition, professional quality bow is the one you have no money to buy, since you spent all your money on a "professional violin".

April 14, 2017 at 12:18 PM · I think individual violins react differently to CF bows. On some, certain CF bows sound terrific, even at a relatively low price point. So it's difficult to discuss the wood vs. CF sound in a totally generic fashion. CF often has a bit of an edge and lacks warmth, but, for instance, on a somewhat dark violin, CF can lend that an edge of brilliance that might actually be desirable.

April 14, 2017 at 02:26 PM · I also made the experience that my Arcus does not go well at all with violins that are set up badly. I think this might because of the low weight (on what technic has to adjust too, its easy to pressure the sound to death with that bow).

My wooden bow is way more forgiving.

April 14, 2017 at 02:28 PM · Carbon fiber vs wood has come up here before. :)

My own current experience is that a $500 unbranded carbon fiber Chinese bow from Cleveland Violins handles as well as most good wooden sticks, until you get into very high price ranges. The main flaw, if you want to call it that, is a little stiffness or edginess. Of course; there are probably Sartory and Ouchard bows with that vice as well. I don't know where this stick would land on the JonPaul quality scale. Many of the Avanti comments sound familiar to me, so take that as a start.

When it comes to sound, it gets surprisingly nice resonance from the violins I have tried it with. Good pernambuco will sound better, but to get that sound with the same quality of handling, we are talking about some of the best living makers at 10x the price. And up, when you add antiques to the mix. I used the carbon col legno bow for a run of Ariadne auf Naxos, and while a little more Viennese warmth and ease wouldn't have been unwelcome, at no point I feel that I was using an inadequate bow.

April 14, 2017 at 02:39 PM · I know I need a teacher, but I'm waiting until I can afford it this summer. The lady I'm thinking of taking lessons with charges $60 either per lesson or per hour, I can't remember. But still, I will take lessons again soon. Now for gold mounted bows, I'm just saying it would be nice to have a good bow that happens to be gold mounted, but if I can't find/afford that, I'll go with silver. Staccato, I can execute a decent staccato/spiccato/sautille, of course it's not up to professional standards. But I played Czardas in a competition with the youth orchestra, and I won the competition. Czardas has a few long sautille passages. The bow isn't really the problem there, it's coordination.

I have used carbon fiber bows, but I feel I get a fuller sound with pernambuco.

April 14, 2017 at 02:57 PM · Lydia said: "On some, certain CF bows sound terrific, even at a relatively low price point."

Perhaps "at least acceptable" in sound would have been a clearer statement.

I also don't find that all CF bows lack warmth on all violins. It depends on what the violin brings to the equation.

April 14, 2017 at 03:11 PM · Darian,

Gold-mounted bows are result of their maker's satisfaction with result - a kind of self-appreciation if you will. It has nothing to do with bow's quality or how the bow will match your violin. Other materials, such as silver or else will affect and alternate the sound to some extent. Baroque bows have no metal on them!

"All that glitters is not gold"

April 14, 2017 at 04:50 PM · Rocky, that is true, silver generally gives a brighter sound than gold, which is more rounded sounding. And yes, I realize gold mounting does not always mean the best bow. It would just be nice to find a great bow that happens to be gold mounted. Basically, as far as winding, the only thing I really don't want is whalebone. Too ugly and too coarse for a comfortable grip.

April 14, 2017 at 04:56 PM · That is only true for strings imo. At a bow all the plates do is adding weight with a specific density. I dont believe silver will automatically give a brighter sound on a bow.

April 14, 2017 at 05:37 PM · Getting acceptable sound with a CF bow isn't that unusual. But I've encountered violins that really sounded excellent with a CF bow -- generally darker-sounding instruments for which that high-overtones CF edge added a positive.

By the way, I tried an Arcus S9 that sounded remarkably good on my violin -- competitive with other wood bows in that price range (the shop quoted me $9k), warm, not at all CF-sounding, and handling just as well. If I'd routinely needed a bow in situations where I wouldn't want to risk a good bow, I'd have picked it -- indestructibility combined with good sound and excellent handling. (Certainly better-playing and better-sounding wood bows in that price category, but indestructibility has lots of benefits, and it was a substantial cut above, say, a JonPaul Avanti.)

April 14, 2017 at 05:38 PM · The mounting has zero effect on the sound save for the weight. Gold and silver strings sound different because you're actually playing on the material.

April 14, 2017 at 06:44 PM · True. The winding has more to do with weight. Carbon fiber in my experience has a nice edge to the sound, but it's, shall we say, hollow sounding, not rich. I'd like a pernambuco bow that has a rich sound with some edge and handles well.

April 14, 2017 at 06:55 PM · I don't think you're going to find a pernambuco bow that fits your description (rich sound, handles well) for less than a couple thousand dollars unless you get very, very lucky.

I did once find a bow at a flea market; it was in very bad shape but I could tell the stick was good. I bought it together with a violin (firewood) for $100, put another few hundred into getting the bow recambered, rehaired, rewound, and everything else, and got it appraised for $1500. This was 25 years ago so I'm not sure what it would appraise for now, but it's a nice stick. That was a once in a lifetime find though.

April 15, 2017 at 10:47 AM · I have recently tried a number of bows on approval from dealers. I am quite surprised at the difference each one makes in the sound, and the quality of sound does not necessarily correlate with price. The bow I currently own was chosen by "blind" audition of about 25 bows in a shop, with a discerning listener across the room as I played the same passages on my violin with each. I have also recorded passages on bows I have had on approval, and some very expensive bows still do not seem to top mine. I highly recommend these methods. Also, don't neglect the feel of the frog - small differences in the dimensions seem to alter how it feels substantially. My current favorite is a contemporary Arcos Brazil. Enjoy the search!

April 15, 2017 at 10:58 AM · I did that too. Sadly the bow I liked by far the most, it was amazing, was at about 30k. This is far far far beyound my budget and what I told the bow maker.

I was a bit angry he put this bow to the others. He told me it was for reference reasons. Only thing that happend was, that I didnt like any of the other bows and still have the feeling in my hand and kind of miss it (altough I guess my mind now put a lot of glorification on top)

April 15, 2017 at 04:39 PM · That's why I don't ask for those expensive bows for trial, because I'll like them and not be able to afford them.

April 15, 2017 at 05:29 PM · That feeling in your hand tells you that you now know what you really want in a bow, though. :-)

That makes you conscious of the trade-offs and compromises that you're making when you choose something else. I think that helps you to make better decisions.

April 15, 2017 at 06:04 PM · Well, this is the other side, true.

I had the same with the violin until I stumbled over mine, which hit the same nerve altough beeing more than 10 times cheaper than the reference italien. Somewhere inside of me there is the hope to get the same miracle again.

Than again, when I am not at practise but playing for joy I dont think about the equipment at all.

April 16, 2017 at 05:27 AM · A. Carvalho is a bowmaker at Arcos-Brasil. They are among the best "bang for the buck" bows in terms of quality and cost. Dozens of my violin and viola students have nickel-silver mounted bows from Arcos-Brasil, most of them by this bowmaker.

April 17, 2017 at 11:27 AM · Thanks for that Gene.I'm becoming smitten with these carbon fibre bows after reading this thread. Our repertoire has been gradually evolving to more experimental pieces involving loud col legno,playing legato with the bow stick,generally anything not involving traditional bow use.What is the price range of these A.Carvalho bows?

April 17, 2017 at 11:52 AM · Stuff like this is the reason I did not sell my cf bow after finding my wooden one.

April 17, 2017 at 06:19 PM · Lydia " The mounting has zero effect on the sound "

If that is correct, why a silver wound string sound different than aluminum one?

No bow maker would allow you to experiment with winding, because of balance, but metal, any metal (from tail-piece, fine, tuners, CR clamps, SR feet, strings) does affect sound.

April 17, 2017 at 06:23 PM · The mounting can influence the sound and playability of a bow. I had grip winding on one bow changed from a very heavy wrap to something much lighter. It lightened the bow, but it has lost a fine clarity that it had.

April 17, 2017 at 07:23 PM · That would change the balance point on the bow,wouldn't it Scott?

April 17, 2017 at 08:17 PM · I had a gold mounted Voirin for a while.I'm sure M.Voirin mounted it in gold to add some extra weight to the stick,being a tad on the light side.

My Prosper Colas has a cotton tinsel grip that,although it looks pretty,its' purpose is to not add weight to the hefty stick.

April 17, 2017 at 09:55 PM · Come-on Rocky, why would you say that. What does string winding have to do with bow winding?

One of the bows I inherited in 1954 is stamped "Richard Weichold, Dresden..Imitation du Torte." This would be a late 19th century bow and it (including frog) was in very good condition at the time. It made a wonderful sound on every violin I used it on and it felt wonderfully light in the hand, but it did not handle well for me for off-string strokes. It weighed 65 grams and it finally occurred to me 10 or 15 years ago that it had much too much silver winding and as a result was relatively too light at the tip (or too heavy at the frog or hand - however you want to state it). I had my luthier remove the silver wire and mount faux whalebone winding that reduced that total mass of the bow by 3 grams to 62 grams. (You can find some photos of Weichold bows on line with an extraordinary length of silver winding - just as mine had. I have no idea if that winding was put on by the maker or a later repairer. It seems to me that such a respected bow maker would balance his bows to perfection, especially since in other respects he made them so well.) (Auction prices for this maker's bows have tended to range from $1,000 to $3,000 but one did go for about $6,000.)

The sound using this bow was not changed at all by changing the winding but the handling improved almost magically for me.

April 18, 2017 at 12:12 AM · William Retford, the great archetier at Hill's felt that the Weichold Imitation de Tourte were among the best bows that he encountered. He said they were probably the work of the Nurnbergers. I had an excellent one years ago but unfortunately the head snapped off one day when I was putting rosin on it. I had it grafted but eventually gave it to a talented student. Mine was about 59 grams.

April 18, 2017 at 06:00 AM · Rocky, with different windings the string has different mass density. As this string is the driving oszillator this has to change the sound heavily.

Looking at the bow you see that the part oszillating is the stick, and the amplitudes are quite low at the end where the winding is, therefore the influence is negligible. But of course the weight and different center of mass change your playing and therefore may change the sound slightly.

I had windings changed at my student bow, twice. It did change a lot at how I felt it but nothing much at the sound characteristics.

April 21, 2017 at 12:19 AM · We would all need to know more about Darian's experience and skill level before offering advice on a bow. What kind of music are you playing right now? What are you hoping that a better bow might help you with?

If you're a student in the first 2-3 years of learning to play the violin, a workshop made pernambuco bow in the $500 range is usually going to be fine. The low level models from Arcos Brasil, or maybe a used German workshop bow, or Chinese-made bows. My guess would be you are quite a few years away from needing anything approaching a professional level bow.

I would recommend you go with your teacher to your local violin shop and try out bows and talk about what they do. For someone with about 3 years experience I would be looking for something that can draw a nice round tone at high and low volume, can handle slow spiccatto with nice clear articulation. Just play some bach with a good detache on a few bows and see which ones you like. Even with student bows, it is very much about the individual player and their fiddle.

Carbon fiber is worth considering, but be cautious. I have played $80 carbon fiber sticks that were quite acceptable, and I've played on $200 carbon fiber sticks that were too stiff, poorly balanced and produced a nasty scratchy sound.

If your shop has access to ipe wood bows, that is worth considering because ipe is supple like good pernambuco -- but much less expensive. I have seen some really nice ipe student level bows from China in the $150-200 range.

Re gold vs. silver vs whalebone winding, it means nothing, it's just a label. All that matters is the stick. Bow workshops go through hundreds of blocks of wood, the bows are manufacturered in largely the same way, but because of the variation in the wood, some bows turn out really well and some not as well even though the maker is the same.

Anyway, the best sticks might get a gold mounting -- it's a little like the maker branding them with 5 stars to indicate it's the best stick of the batch. The gold itself adds nothing to the sound obviously -- it's just the brand. But every maker's practice is different. With some makers the most elite bows get whalebone winding. With some it's brass fittings and a tortoise shell frog. But all that is just decoration. The only thing that really matters is the stick.

April 21, 2017 at 01:37 AM · Not that such bows are at the student level anyway, but I would not consider buying a bow with a tortoise shell frog (or ivory for that matter). Tortoise shell that cannot be proven to be antique can be confiscated or destroyed by US Customs if you try to bring it into this country.

April 21, 2017 at 02:46 AM · If you're not really a professional, why bother spending thousands of dollars on a bow and find something cheaper (if possible) that's easy to use/well-balanced and makes your violin sound good? I understand this is a matter of individual preference.

April 21, 2017 at 04:54 AM · Whatever your level (but maybe especially for the beginner?), I can't see what's wrong with having the very best equipment. Surely £3000 on a Hill bow is money in the bank anyway? As my luthier says, they're not making them any more!

April 21, 2017 at 11:15 AM · Much like a great violin, a great bow requires more precision to control. You can buy equipment above your level that pushes you to become better, but if you go too far above, it can just frustrate you.

Darian is going off to college now and hoping to be on a music-educator track, and he seems to be an intermediate-level player. I think he could easily justify spending $1,000 on a bow. I would suggest he lean towards carbon-fiber, because he's going to spend his career around kids, and bow-related accidents happen. CF may save him some heartbreak later on, and this kind of budget should allow him to get a CF bow that's perfectly fine for pro playing.

April 21, 2017 at 11:19 AM · Ella, we had this discussion before. Aiming 1/4-1/3 of the violins value is not just nonsense. There are huge differences. For myself I would always prefer a setup with a intermediate violin and a good bow over a superb violin with a bad bow. Yeah, even a bad bow makes the violin resonate, but when you try to play the bow will be a showstopper at some place. Of course a very good musician will get something out of every equipment. So why not just buy a 200€ china set?

The OP wants to become a professional and make a living out of his violin playing, he will not get far without a decend bow.

This does not need that everybody needs a good bow, some will never feal the difference in handling and can get a cheap bow that is whoppling but sounding just fine. That is the main issue, it is not to hard to make a bow that sounds good or does handle well, but both is hard.

If I find the time I will lend a student bow and make a short audio to demonstrate a few things where you need a good bow to make it work. Did you ever try to get a good sound at the end of the fingerboard with a bad bow? At least I cant do it, surely also because of my amateur technic. But with a decend bow, I can make it.

As Bud stated, there are bows that have a fast increasing value without having to spend 50k like you have to do on violins. But of course, a bow is destroyed fastly and to invest you need the money. Does not make sence to buy on credit and think you will get rich, so this is a very academic discussion for the OP.

April 21, 2017 at 12:40 PM · The OP wants to become a music educator, not a full-time performer; a high-end carbon fiber bow will do just fine. I agree with Lydia.

April 21, 2017 at 12:52 PM · Not sure why the OP is so set on the gold mount bow idea...I looked online and found a gold-mounted Finkel bow at Shar for $4,500. Using the oft-seen theory that the bow should be 1/3 the cost of the violin, I would match this bow with a $13,500 violin for a total outlay of $18,000. Good to see that the advice in this thread has taken the OP off such a course!

April 21, 2017 at 01:07 PM · I think Marc is right, it's better to pair a decent bow with an intermediate-level violin than to have a better violin with an inadequate bow. Since decent bows can be had for a very reasonable sum of money (and still be "in ratio" for the sticklers, by the way, at the OP's $4,500-ish for the violin and $1k-ish to get a bow), purchase of a decent bow is a plus.

My guess, by the way, is that a $4,500 violin with a $4,500 bow (which will get you superb contemporary bows, gold-mounted or not) will likely yield better results than a $9,000 violin with a cheap bow.

April 21, 2017 at 01:11 PM · I'm sorry for going bonkers, Marc, but I just tend to agree with others instead. I wouldn't use a terrible bow that bounces and goes crazy. Everyone has different views. I would personally get a good violin and a decent bow, but that's just me and my needs.

April 21, 2017 at 03:24 PM · There's a funny thing that happens when I find myself playing a quality piano. My body instantly starts delving into what it can do. I find myself, totally non-consciously, exploring a sonic world it opens up; a kind of reaching out to it? I think a quality bow does the same.

Also, can I say in 30 years of piano teaching I've never heard of a beginner or intermediate piano.

April 21, 2017 at 04:59 PM · Neither have I, really, but to be honest, a quality piano does make a difference. I would invest in a better bow than I have now if I feel it impacts the sound/feel to the point that I feel it is worth it. I'm not talking top-notch bows here, but some people need them.

April 21, 2017 at 06:55 PM · May I state an hypothesis? The way violin is taught it's only at the later advanced stage that the bow comes under considerable stress. A poor bow will then show its weakness. I'm not sure it's a pedagogy I agree with though.

April 21, 2017 at 08:44 PM · I personally agree with it to some degree. Beginner to intermediate players should have an easy-to-use, well-balanced bow that never goes crazy on them and makes them sound good. Once they reach a more advanced level (when the kid moves to a full-sized violin), then a slightly better bow may be in order.

April 22, 2017 at 01:41 AM · I'm back. Now the gold mount was not priority one, but if there was a variety of different gold mounted bows I could try, that was great. But if I should go with carbon fiber bow, how's a Jonpaul bow? And I could get a wooden bow for performing.

April 22, 2017 at 02:12 AM · You shouldn't, at that price point, really need two bows.

I like my JonPaul Avanti. But you should also try a wide variety of CF bows. They're nearly as personal as wood bows. These are generally going to be nickel or silver mounted.

The only gold-mounted CF bow I know of is the Arcus S9, which is about $9k.

April 22, 2017 at 03:39 AM · Eehhhh! $9000 bow! Wait, there's the Jonpaul maestro that's gold mounted, but I can't get that one on trial anywhere. I'm thinking of getting a few Jonpaul bows on trial from Fiddlershop, they have a variety.

April 22, 2017 at 11:23 AM · I love my JonPaul Avanti. And no, I am not receiving checks from JonPaul to say so.

But yes, try them out. They vary surprisingly, even within models.

April 22, 2017 at 01:32 PM · Well, the S9 is overkilling the price in my opinion.

I cant say that I felt them beeing significantly better than the s8, which cost half of the s9.

April 22, 2017 at 04:42 PM · I really hate the cutthroat nature of violin sales. They jack up the prices, and those of us who need equipment have to pay those ridiculous prices, like $9000 for a ding-dang bow.

April 22, 2017 at 05:07 PM · It has nothing to do with the prices being jacked up unfairly or cutthroat anything. Some things in this life are simply expensive. Those who can't afford them can buy less expensive things. Gold-mounting is entirely a luxury -- effectively a vanity item. If you don't have money, you buy things for utility.

An Arcus S9 is reasonably comparable to other bows in its price class, which are generally antiques. An S8 is about $5,500, I think, which is comparable to the work of fine contemporary makers; it's also gold-mounted. (I do disagree with Marc here; I haven't tried an S8 that I liked, but I've only had a chance to try two.)

Craftsmanship, especially hand-craftsmanship, is extremely expensive because you're paying for hours of labor from someone extremely skilled (and who therefore makes nontrivial sums of money for their labor).

Need something serviceable, not glamorous, and not gold-mounted? A CF bow in the $500 to $1,000 range will be just fine. Nothing about your current or future needs suggests that you'll need anything more than this.

April 22, 2017 at 05:15 PM · You dont need to buy it...

That is the ansolut max of CF bows, its nothing you need.

You get what you need for way less.

April 22, 2017 at 05:15 PM · You dont need to buy it...

That is the ansolut max of CF bows, its nothing you need.

You get what you need for way less.

April 22, 2017 at 06:50 PM · Right, that was the entire point of carbon fiber bows in the first place, durability and quality for much lower prices than wooden bows with the same properties.

April 22, 2017 at 07:10 PM · No, why should it? It was not ment to be a low price solution from the beginning. The creator was looking for a permanent alternative, in his eys even an improvement.

If you play an s8 s9 or something similar you will realize that those are very good bows, not worse than same priced wooden bows. (At least the s8 is still cost efficiant, I dont know about the s9, there are some really really good bows in his price range)

April 22, 2017 at 07:42 PM · An S9 is potentially competitive with other bows in its price range. Arcus bows do not really feel quite like wood bows, though, thanks to their very light weight. The S9's balance feels more like a lightweight wood bow to me than the rest of the Arcus line -- it doesn't feel like it requires a technique modification.

Different CF bowmakers target different markets. I think Rolland, for instance, who made the now-discontinued Spiccato, was looking to do something different than could be done with a wooden bow -- it had an adjustable camber. And the Spiccato was about $4,000, comparable to fine contemporary wood bows at the time. The Arcus line-up goes from student bows (value-oriented) up to the S9, which is really aiming to compete with bows at that price point using an alternative material with different properties. JonPaul seems more value-oriented -- provide a bows that handle well at an attractive price-point.

By and large, CF bows are priced more or less competitively with wood bows of about the same overall quality. CF tends to have a bit better handling at the price-point, but a bit less tone quality, compared to a wooden bow. So it's basically a trade-off.

April 22, 2017 at 07:48 PM · Darian has a not insignificant point. I've been bidding on bows quite a lot lately and it's not players I'm bidding against it's dealers.

April 22, 2017 at 10:42 PM · It's not as if dealers are driving up the price for the sake of doing so. Dealers buy stock, fix it up, possibly authenticate it, and add it to their shop inventory. Most players will buy bows from dealers. (Yes, some very high-end bows will be purchased by collectors, but that's a tiny percentage of overall purchases.)

The usual wholesale-to-retail ratio applies in this market as well. Usually in most industries, retailers mark up 2x over wholesale (which lets them account for the overhead of a shop, employees, inventory carrying risks, etc.), and that's true here as well.

The auctions essentially allow players to buy at wholesale prices if they are willing to take risks. Players rarely have the knowledge to buy smartly at auctions, though, so they effectively do so at much greater risks than dealers, who usually have a stronger notion of what an item is likely to be worth.

April 23, 2017 at 01:31 AM · These are all good points.

April 23, 2017 at 03:38 AM · Players rarely have the knowledge to buy smartly at auctions, though,

So how does someone who can't play a bow (or a violin for that matter) deduce its value? That's a bit of a bugbear for me, but I see it as an advantage for the player. At previews there's a row of dealers taking bows apart and minutely inspecting details but ultimately it's like the blind people and the elephant!

who [dealers] usually have a stronger notion of what an item is likely to be worth

The reverse in my book. What do violinists want - the stamp or the sound? It's the resale value dealers affect.

April 23, 2017 at 03:48 AM · Yeah, I agree. It's stupid to buy a bow based on the fact that it's from a great maker, even though it sounds like crap.

April 23, 2017 at 06:58 AM · The dealer buys 10 bows that he think they might sound and handle well because of the crafting quality.

He takes a risk but if he is right in 80% its fine.

A violinist buys one bow, if he is wrong, damn stupid situation. Also for the dealer the bow does not have to match a specific instrument. That will be matched when beeing sold again.

I would never ever bid on any bow I did not test with my own violin!

By the way, I know Mr Müsing, founder of Arcus quite well (at least I spwnt many ours with him at his shop, more than once or twice) The s line bows are all the same bow at the starting. After building the stick they get categorized by quality and than get windings, frogs and stuff matching itd quality.

April 23, 2017 at 07:27 AM · May I ask Marc, by 'quality' do they mean something that was in the wood in the first place (as opposed to the craftmanship)?

April 23, 2017 at 11:43 AM · CF sticks are all individual, even though they start with the same process. So the end results are a bit unpredictable, both sonically and in how well they handle.

Marc is correct. Part of what you are paying for, when you pay retail prices, is the dealer's risk. The dealer is looking over the bow to see whether he thinks the bow is what the seller claims it is across all its parts (or if it's misattributed and the maker actually sells for more!), what the condition is and how much it will cost to do a repair and how much the condition devalues the bow, and merely hopes that it will turn out to be a bow that a player will want to buy. If the bow turns out to be one that he can't sell, then he loses money. Simple as that.

A player doesn't typically have any of the knowledge to determine what the market value of a bow is. He might have some notion in his head about what he's willing to pay for it, but that has nothing to do with its external worth. Also, a player buying at auction tends not to have the knowledge to know what a little bit of work will do to a bow -- for instance, is the camber off, and recambering will suddenly transform this not-so-great bow into a terrific-playing one? (And in the case of a violin, you don't know how any needed restoration work will change the sound, or what the impact of a better set-up might be.)

Players want the bow to be tonally matched to the violin and to handle well on a personal level -- we all have very personal tastes in bow-handling, and the tonal matches are extremely specific and unpredictable. But its value has almost nothing to do with those things -- it's based entirely on maker and condition.

You can potentially get good deals at auction these days, but remember that great-playing stuff with solid provenance and in good condition can be easily consigned and sold, allowing the seller to keep most of the money (consignment fees are about 20%, higher for cheap items). At auction, the seller basically gets wholesale price -- 50% of the item's value. So you have to ask yourself why the seller chose the auction route. (If you're lucky it's because they need the cash right now and are willing to accept less money in return for the likelihood of a quicker sale.)

April 23, 2017 at 03:23 PM · Bud, are you refering to the quality of the bows dealers buy at auctions or the Arcus line quality?

Arcus is non wooden bit carbon fiber.

If you ment the dralers at auctions: Sure they also look at the wood quality. Esp in the last 10 years it became harder to get good quality pernambuco. I was told it is getting better again though.

April 23, 2017 at 03:26 PM · Good that pernambuco is getting better quality again.

April 23, 2017 at 03:46 PM · I was referring to Arcus without realizing they were CF but I suppose the question's the same - out of 10 identically made CF bows do some turn out with a better tone than others? and are priced accordingly? or is it a non-sonic choice?

April 23, 2017 at 03:59 PM · Its Arcos brazil, not arcus, that are pernambuco made in Brazil.

April 23, 2017 at 04:03 PM · Maybe not "better" tone, but different tone. One might be brighter and more focused, another may be warmer, another may have more edge, while another may be incredibly sweet and smooth. Then which one is "better" comes down to individual preference. For example, I'd go for bright, focused, and sweet, in no particular order.

April 23, 2017 at 05:16 PM · There is a huge difference in quality of tone and handling between the cf sticks. Same with wood of course.

Thats why they start at 1000€ and end at 8000€.

They start identically and than get measured for stiffness, sound resonances and if I am not mistaken also soundwave speed. The results sort them to the number, like s9, s8, s7, etc. Still two s9 will never be identically.

I bought mine back in 2006 end tested a lot of them before choosing one. I did not even take the max from my budget as one of the modells below was better for the violin I had in 2006.

I bozght a Cadenza, but there where a lot Cadenzad not matching my violin at all. I prefered the specific one even over the Cadenza Golds (I think it is equvivale t to s8 from the current line).

April 23, 2017 at 05:16 PM · There is a huge difference in quality of tone and handling between the cf sticks. Same with wood of course.

Thats why they start at 1000€ and end at 8000€.

They start identically and than get measured for stiffness, sound resonances and if I am not mistaken also soundwave speed. The results sort them to the number, like s9, s8, s7, etc. Still two s9 will never be identically.

I bought mine back in 2006 and tested a lot of them before choosing one. I did not even take the max from my budget as one of the modells below was better for the violin I had in 2006.

I bought a Cadenza, but there where a lot Cadenzas not matching my violin at all. I prefered the specific one even over the Cadenza Golds (I think it is equvivalent to s8 from the current line).

I am not as convinced of the bows as I used to be but in the 1-2k range you should have a look at them. Maybe also at the top modells, if they match your violin.

I like it in orchestra, esp with pieces with a lot of repetitions and its indestructability.

April 23, 2017 at 05:24 PM · Marc,

Maybe you can shed some light on Arcus for me. I use Arcus violin bows almost exclusively. I have other bows, wood and carbon fiber, and I use them now and then, but I always go back to my Arcus bows. My current favorite, and most expensive one is my A6. The "A" series was introduced as the new standard model, but then only produced for about a year and then discontinued. I was told by my dealer that a lot of players liked them. Why were they discontinued? And the "M" series, which many people liked, was replaced by the similar "C" series, and apparently that's been discontinued now too. I understand that "S" series bows are the quintessential Arcus bows because they have both Arcus lightness and stiffness to the n'th degree. I just wonder what Bernd's reasoning is.

And the Arcus website is quite literally years out of date, showing many now discontinued models, not to mention the fact that it's extremely disorganized. Why can't they fix that? If I was new to Arcus bows and trying to understand them, the website would leave me lost. And of course there's the issue of dealer websites who strongly claim that the current German made line is inferior to the previous Austrian made bows. Why doesn't Bernd reply to that?

I really do love my Arcus bows, but I'm at a loss for trying to understand why they run their businesss the way they do.

April 23, 2017 at 05:40 PM · I don't know about these different tones. I only hear one quality and it's either superior or inferior. I will take something like 24 bows estimated at £1000 - £4000 and there's never a 'tie' for best. The best always stands out distinctly. I must be doing something wrong!

April 23, 2017 at 05:44 PM · No, you're not doing anything wrong. I'm the same way, they are probably all great bows, but I like a particular tone, so those that don't give that I hear as "inferior." But the next guy might find the bow I liked least to be the best, and my favorite to absolutely suck, because he/she also likes a particular tone.

April 23, 2017 at 05:49 PM · If that were the case I wouldn't blind testing always choose the £4000 one! (Though I found an unstamped beauty for £650 last week)

April 23, 2017 at 07:39 PM · There are two Arcus carbon fiber lines at the moment. As Lyndon mentioned, don't confuse them with ArcOs Brasil, a completely different company which produces primarily pernambuco bows with excellent makers in their workshop (A. Carvalho is my favorite from the workshop).

The original Arcus factory in Austria produces the Cadenza, Concerto, Sinfonia, and Sonata models. These were the first hollow carbon fiber bow on the market, and many players (including me) who played on them extensively prefer the original lineup over the new ones. Reed Bernstein is the go-to guy to purchase them online these days, but he also has his shop in Boulder, CO that you can visit by appointment.

The factory in Germany, where the production moved in 2008, makes the single-letter named lines, like A, P, S, and M, which are the current lineup of Arcus bows that most places sell.

April 23, 2017 at 07:58 PM · Gene,

I'm not convinced that the original Arcus workshop is still making bows. I think it's more likely that they're just still clearing out the distribution pipeline. The fact that the range of available models from the original line gets increasingly thin as time passes seems to confirm this. But of course Bernd could clear up everything in an instant.(?) He used to have a presence on these message boards, but tended to be shot down by people who got wood religion, and weren't interested in having their faith challenged.

April 23, 2017 at 08:05 PM · You mean people that point out quite logically that you have to be tone deaf to prefer the tone of CF over pernambuco??

April 23, 2017 at 08:26 PM · It's not really about logic. Violin tone is very much subjective, as is almost always acknowledged. I will admit that I could wish for more mass in my Arcus bows when I'm playing low on the G string. But the bell like clarity and pitch purity my Arcus yields higher up is more than worth the tradeoff for me. Not to mention the expressive range and fast response. I recall reading that Christian Tetzlaff switches between his Arcus and wood bow within the same piece as the music requires.

I should point out that I never urge anyone to acquire an Arcus bow, because I understand that they are a radical departure from tradition, and who am I to say what anyone should use? I do loan them out when people are interested.

April 23, 2017 at 08:28 PM · No its more about preferring natural tones to unnatural ones.

April 23, 2017 at 09:51 PM · I think you've got to actually listen to a bunch of Arcus (and other CF) bows on a lot of violins. You can't always tell that you're hearing carbon-fiber.

The sound of CF has come quite a long way since the early days of the tech.

April 24, 2017 at 12:37 AM · Has anyone heard the new high end Coda model yet? I'm interested to hear if it's better than JonPaul, and if handling is better as well. If it takes a step forward, then I would wager in another decade or so sub 5k or even 10k might be served just as well with carbon fiber. I wonder if that will drive down the cost of mid-range wood bows? Or will advances in carbon fiber start to reduce the population of makers so that wood bows start to be hard to obtain?

April 24, 2017 at 01:19 AM · The Marquise GS? It's about $1,300, so it's a step up in price over the Coda Diamond GX. I haven't tried one. There's also an upcoming Marquise One model, not released yet.

I don't believe that CF bows have ended up driving down the cost of wood bows. Rather, the CF manufacturers have priced CF bows around the same price point as comparable wood bows.

April 24, 2017 at 02:34 AM · My understanding is that Codabow has been making custom bows for selected private clients for about ten years now. (Who knew?) The Marquise One line is a more public continuation of that practice, so there will be many Marquise One designs.

"GS" in Marquise GS stands for "Gold Standard," in recognition of the fact that one particular Marquise design has been preferred by a large percentage of their Marquise clients, so that particular model is going into limited production as a standard design. Their website says the Marquise GS stick has organic fibers, in addition to carbon fibers and Kevlar. I wonder just what those organic fibers are?

And Lydia, In answer to your question several posts below this one, yes, Codabow Marquise's are completely different designs than Coda's standard offerings. And what little I know about them I gleaned from studying Codabow's own website. I can only urge you to go there to find answers to your questions.

April 24, 2017 at 03:49 AM · I would need to call Bernd to clarify which lines are discontinued. I did not visit him some time because I moved 1000km away.

He once told me that the new line is in general about one modell better than the old line. I dont know if I agree from my personal testing though.

April 24, 2017 at 10:12 AM · Mark, I'm curious what's different about the Marquise design than other Coda models. This sounds quite different from the Arcus-style practice of starting with a production line and then grading the resulting sticks.

Thread continued to part 2: LINK.

April 24, 2017 at 11:07 AM · Anne B., Lyndon is a HE, not a SHE. Lyndon is an experienced, skillful instrument builder/restorer and has his opinions, just as YOU do. Live and let live. If being unhappy renders one's opinions invalid, that would mean I should automatically write off Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig von Beethoven and anyone else who suffers--or suffered--from severe depression?

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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