The Greatest Bows?

September 25, 2004 at 08:43 PM · With all the recent discussions about the greatest violins like the Messiah, I wanted to know is there any bow that is considered top notch? Of course theres the great bow makers, but since bows can be so individual I've never heard of a bow that was so famous that it actually held a nickname. Does anyone know if such bows exist? The most expensive bows I've heard of are the Tourte's but of course there are many who don't play on them. Any thoughts?

Replies (57)

September 26, 2004 at 05:23 AM · Jean Francois Daber! I don't know whether it's the 'top-notch bow'...but my cousin has it and I just drool everytime I use there..hehe..

September 26, 2004 at 02:06 PM · I have a peccate bow. (french)

pretty nice as well

September 26, 2004 at 02:34 PM · I thought Tourte was the King of Bows?

September 26, 2004 at 02:35 PM · ...I need an edit feature...LOL...

...because that's the only name I've come across repeatedly as being 'perfect'...

September 27, 2004 at 04:23 AM · Kittle (sp?) by all means! Some of the best bows out there, bar none.

November 13, 2004 at 10:48 PM · I think Michael Vann once told me that it was the Pecattes that were the greatest.

Although, Kittle was used by Heifetz.

November 13, 2004 at 11:11 PM · Greetings,

Tourte was the sort of responsible for the bow as we now use it. His bows are beautiful but players -tend- to prefer Sartory and Pecatte. The latter possibly being more responsive although bows are pretty much case by case. Some players prefer a slighlty stiffer bow than the French can be so for example, Oistrakh used Nurnburgers.

If you can get a good Kittel your worries are indeed over.



November 14, 2004 at 01:54 AM · I've noticed that the violin world seems to be separated into the Sartory/Peccatte camp and the Voirin/Lamy camp. S/P bows tend to be (major generalizations coming!) more stiff and power-driven, V/L bows more supple and finesse-like.

Personally, I prefer my Thomassin, which falls closer to the Voirin end of the spectrum.

Value-wise, Tourte is the most valuable (being the accepted father of the modern bow), followed by Kittel and Dominique Peccatte.

November 14, 2004 at 02:30 AM · Today, most high end players most desire a bow by Dominique Peccatte. They are claimed to be just as good as those of Xavier Tourte, plus there are plenty more of them.

November 14, 2004 at 11:30 AM · Bows are much more personal than fiddles.

Whereas the sound of the violin is to be shared, the feel of a bow is never experienced by a listener.

I think that listeners have contributed to the fame of the great instruments, but bows are the violinist's secret passion.


November 14, 2004 at 11:42 AM · Hi,

I have a bow made by Lamy. I am very happy with it.


November 14, 2004 at 12:23 PM · bows are definetely very personal. a good violinist is usually at ease playing any fine violin, they tend to prefer specific bows that they know well.

November 15, 2004 at 06:52 AM · Having played both a Tourte and a Kittel, I am very inclined towards the Kittel (a.k.a. the Russian Tourte). Two reasons: 1) Tourte was very expensive; 2) Kittel was more responsive. However, I ended up with neither, Tourte was untouchable and the Kittel was already promised to someone else. Oh well...

IMHO Kittel is truly a best bow if you can find a real one.

December 2, 2004 at 05:58 AM · My teacher said he's played Tourtes that are virtually unplayable, yet were priced at about $150,000. Might I add, just because Heifetz used a Kittel doesn't mean they're the best. Maybe that's just what worked for him. I think French bows like Pecatte and such are considered better.

December 2, 2004 at 06:15 AM · Greetings,

Enosh, why?



December 2, 2004 at 08:22 AM · Isn't sound a consideration when it comes to these things? Aren't there certain bows that work with certain violins, and certain bows that simply don't, some that open up a violin and others that are harsh and sterile? I refuse to believe that they all sound the same - at least that's what my experience tells me.

December 2, 2004 at 09:59 AM · I think I read somewhere that many of the Kittle bows were made for him by one of the Knopfs. (I'm using an Alfred Lamy these days- and I can't put it down!).

December 3, 2004 at 02:32 AM · What do you mean why?

December 3, 2004 at 03:08 AM · Greetings,

just wondering how you arrived at the conlusion about Kittel vs, Pecatte,



December 3, 2004 at 03:21 AM · I've disliked nearly every Sartory I've played. Pecattes are nice (I've not played many), but I prefer my loaner Tourte.


December 3, 2004 at 03:44 AM · Greetings,

I have not enjoyed wrestling with a number of Sartory as well. My shoplifted Nurnburger is fine though,



December 3, 2004 at 06:08 AM · Oh, I didn't really mean Pecatte is better than Kittel, I just meant French bows in general and gave Pecatte as an example. I really don't know if that's the case.

December 3, 2004 at 06:30 AM · Greetings,

true. I think German bows have a reputation for being somewhat stiffer. Oistrakh preferred Nurnburgers which are not top of the line by any means. But, it might be a question of what he grew up with, what was being dolled out from the State collection at that time. Who knows what he would have been had he been exposed to better isntruments and bows earlier...



December 3, 2004 at 02:31 PM · The Kittel issue's a bit murky--not only did Kittel make them, but also several makers under his direction. Kittel has never achieved general status--it's more of a cult following because of Heifetz' use of one.

Though I like the sound of Peccattes, much of which comes from some recognizable characteristics of the bows and can be replicated to some extent by other makers (for instance, the unusually wide ribbon of hair), the only "magic" bows I've played have been by Francois Tourte. If you're looking for the name that has the most glow throughout the player community, it's undoubtedly Francois Tourte, followed closely by Dominique Peccatte (both come from bow making families with other members who are less respected). As BMW once pointed out in its advertising (how every other car ends up being compared to a BMW) notice the context in which Tourte pops up above.

December 3, 2004 at 08:13 PM · ok so whats the greatest AFFORDABLE bow?

December 3, 2004 at 08:20 PM · ...depends on what suits your instrument I suppose...

December 3, 2004 at 09:51 PM ·

It's at the completely opposite end of things, but the cheapest bow I hear consistently nice things about are the Coda bows--and not the most expensive model.

In wood bows the problem is that with any maker you find a really fine bow once in a while--say one in thiry $2000 bows, for instance. As the price climbs, the percentage of a maker's output that's superior improves. One reason Sartorys are so expensive is because he hit an extremely high standard a very high percentage of the time. So if you can be the first to a pile of new bows that haven't been picked over, you can often find something really good. The problem is being the first person, which most likely isn't going to happen unless you know the right people.

December 4, 2004 at 03:04 PM · MH Andersen makes very good quality bows for a decent price.

But my friend has a Coda-like carbon fiber bow that cost him $700 that I actually like better than the Andersen I bought for $3000.


December 4, 2004 at 04:39 PM · Preston, I am would you compare the sound, not handling ability, of the carbon fiber bow compared to the wood bow?

Who made the carbon fiber bow in question?

December 4, 2004 at 11:14 PM · Hmmmm,

Well, the Carbon fibre (sorry...I'm Canadian so I have trouble spelling it "er") bow drew a more immediate tone from both violins on which I tried it (my Vuillaume and my friends V. Sannino). My Andersen has a bit more of an...hmmm...earthy tone that is not quite so immediate. The carbon fibre bow was made in Paris but I cannot remember who made it...I'll ask my friend tonight.

Compared to the carbon fibre bow my Andersen handles like a family sedan. Compared to my loaned Tourte the Andersen handles more like an army tank.


December 5, 2004 at 05:50 AM · It is a Rolland. Not the Spicatto...the other one.


December 5, 2004 at 11:36 PM · Thanks!

December 6, 2004 at 04:29 AM · Preston, do you mean that Carbon fiber bow was made by Rolland?

Which carbon fiber bows are good and resonable in price?

how about the Coda bow? I'm considering buying a cardon fiber bow. Help you can give me some suggestion. Thank you!

December 6, 2004 at 04:39 AM · I'm not the best one to ask, but the name on this particular bow was Rolland.

Apparently the Rolland "Spiccato" has a device that allows you to adjust the tension of the actual stick of the bow. It's over $1000.


December 6, 2004 at 07:36 AM · So does anyone know which type of Carbon fiber bow is good and resonable for its price?

December 6, 2004 at 10:39 PM · yeah, i've tried the spicatto. its a decent stick, but unfortunately it always feels like it wants to spicatto, at least thats what i found.

December 7, 2004 at 02:58 AM · I've tried a Spicatto before and I didn't like the sound at all. I think it was $2,000 and my bow wihch is $290 sounded way better.

December 7, 2004 at 03:22 AM · I tried 3 models of Coda bow, and I think it's quite good and cheap for their quality. I haven't tried the top 'Classic' model but it maybe better than the other models.

December 7, 2004 at 10:22 PM · I think the greatest bow ever was made (after a WWII Berlin Phil. concert) by conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler to Hitler. Well, maybe not the greatest, but certainly the most infamous. I once made a bow and hit my head on the music stand, but Hitler wasn't in the audience. ...Or was he???

December 8, 2004 at 01:23 AM · ROTFLMAO!!

December 8, 2004 at 07:42 AM · According to a recent film on this matter, Furtwangler didn't bow or salute on that occasion, and he was instrumental in helping many Jewish artists, etc, escape Germany.

December 10, 2004 at 01:15 AM · how much are tourtes? probly a couple hundred gz im guessin

December 10, 2004 at 07:05 AM · Actually, as mentioned in Isaac Stern's biography, he wasn't a Nazi supporter but also did not support the Jews. I could be wrong but I think that's what it said.

January 7, 2005 at 06:25 AM · Hi Michael,

"It's at the completely opposite end of things, but the cheapest bow I hear consistently nice things about are the Coda bows--and not the most expensive model. "

So based on your professional clients/friends' comments, which model of Coda bow is "the best"? I'm considering in getting a Coda bow and heard the Coda Conservatory is actually better than the Color (model) even Color is more expensive than Conservatory.

Thanks in advance for your info!

December 31, 2008 at 06:23 PM ·

Hello, I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on a good Simon bow?  If you've played an F.X. Tourte, D. Peccatte, and so forth, how would you then gauge a Simon?  I suppose I can't really type what I'm trying to ask, sorry for that.  Just wanted to get opinions of a good Simon.  Thank you in advance!

January 1, 2009 at 01:00 AM ·

 I've had several big-name French and English bows. My favorite bow of all time, the "it" bow, was a $600 bow made by a crazy guy in Nashville with a factory frog. Nothing since has been as good.

January 1, 2009 at 04:52 PM ·

A bow is indeed, even more personal than a violin in some ways. I do have a good Simon FR. - a beautiful bow. But my current favorite bow was made by the contemporary maker, William Halsey - a gorgeous stick. I also have some cheap Chinese bows that function very well.

Many years ago I was able to try some items in the Library of Congress, including the famous Kreisler del Gesu, and a Tourte. But what I liked best was a Kreisler-owned Hill bow. My colleague, Christopher Lee, has a pair of Pajeot bows, made respectively by father and son. I especially like the Pajeot pere.

January 1, 2009 at 03:06 PM ·

My violin teacher told me that in reality, the bow is just as much an instrument as the violin is. Playing the violin is actualy bringing two instruments together.

January 1, 2009 at 06:16 PM ·

Thank you Raphael.  I bet it was quite the experience to try the bows out at the Library of Congress - what a collection.  :) Valerie

January 2, 2009 at 06:01 PM ·

After using bows for 70 years and having bought (and sold) some for about 30 years, I conclude that the amount of skill and experience require to make a really good choice is beyond most (even experienced) players. Unless you use it properly for your own instrument you often can't tell just how good the bow you are using is.

Now, finally, after a number of purchases of cello and violin bows (especially in the past 10 years) I have concluded that I have owned the "best" bows for most playing purposes (on most of my instruments) for about 50 years, after all.

These are a Carl Holzapfel (of Baltimore) violin bow, made around 1950 or earlier and an 1893 Albert Nürnberger cello bow. This despite other bows including:

Violin bows by: F.N. Voirin, R Weichold, Coda Classic, Rolland Spiccato, Berg Deluxe, Arcus Concerto, C.F. Durro, Paul M. Siefried, Jumeau, Pfretzschner (sp), etc.

Cello bows by: Coda Classic, Arcus Concerto, C.F. Durro, Paul M. Siefried, Marco Raposo (and a number of others bought and sold over the past decades).

When my father bought the Holzapfel bow from the maker, the story was that Wurlitzer in New York said it could pass as a Tourte. I could never see such virtue in it, and when my father requested (upon his death) that I pass it to a friend of his, I did. I got it back from his widow 20 years later - but it was only in the past few months that I came to appreciate its virtues.

The Nürnberger cello bow came with my first cello, 59 years ago, out of somebody's attic .

My Coda sticks were bought in comparison with pernambuco bows selling for up to about $10,000. My Siefried bows were bought for the sound quality they produced on specific of my instruments.

But when it gets right down to the demands of sight reading music that will include all kinds of fancy off-string strokes, the two old bows I have mentioned had better be in my cases, because they are the ones that allow me to do the job most reliably. However, my other good bows do get used because sometimes they give me the sound or projection I will want, and on some occasions I can use them to better advantage.

(I do recall that about 10 years ago the Glasser Composite bow was "all the rage." On one occassion I took one along to a chamber-music session with a violinist who played with a Maline bow (which was valued at 350 times the price of the Glasser). That violinist could do all his amazing downbow flying spiccatos with the Glasser. That bow was particularly good for "beginners." In comparison even with the Coda bows, the off-string strokes were easier with the Glasser. Only in certain tonal areas was the Glasser a little weaker. I think this was when I began to realize that selecting bows was a very subjective process, depending on the player's taste, skill, and instrument.)

Sometime in the past I did a review of (then new) composite-material bows and posted it on line ( ). I really cannot say that I would judge the bows the same way now that I did then; it was a sort of slice in time of my playing and judgement. One thing that I have certainly learned since then, however, is not only how much difference the choice of strings can make in the way an instrument plays - but also in what bow one might choose to use with it.


January 2, 2009 at 05:23 PM ·

 I've tried various expensive bows, such as a Sartory, Pajeot and Voirin among others, but the one bow that I absolutely drool over is an Ouchard owned by someone I know.  

I love my own Blaise Emmelin bow, which was about $5000.  When I was less advanced I loved my coda classic.  

January 2, 2009 at 05:53 PM ·

At one point in the mid-80s, I had had some work done on a nice violin by René Morel in New York.  When I went to pick it up, I didn't have a bow with me, as the (empty) case had been left in the shop.   The fiddle now needed an adjustment.  René asked what my regular bow played like.  At that time, after much agony, I had been playing on a Fritsch, an upgrade from a fairly spongy Nurnberger.  So I said that my bow was on the firm side.

After a minute, he brings a stick out and in short order we get the violin sounding like a million dollars.  The bow feels great, too.  I ask, "What is it," and he reponds: "Dominique Peccatte.  $6,000."

I still want that bow back.


January 3, 2009 at 09:46 PM ·

You're most welcome, Valerie! Yes, I had fun that day. I must say that the Tourte there did not suit me. As I recall, it had a very fine balance, but it was too soft for me.

I'd heard a story that Kreisler liked to tighten his bows quite a bit when he played, which would warp them. He didn't want to do that to a Tourte or Pecatte, so he used Hill bows, and the Hills, of course, would provde him with their best. I don't know if this is true. All I can say is that the Kreisler Hill bow that I tried was NOT warped!

September 26, 2011 at 02:09 PM ·

The greatest bow in existence. Who had tried here the comparison between TOURTE versus John Doods bow?


September 26, 2011 at 04:06 PM ·

The most "prestigious" bow I tried was a Dominique Peccatte. It belonged to the concertmaster of the orchestra of which I was then a member. Very nice, but the slightest hint of nervousness sent it all over the place. I couldn't have done my job on the first row of the first fiddles using it ! Our concertmaster must have felt the same way. He sold it and used a Bultitude instead - which, come what may, stayed on the string.

I used English bows throughout my symphonic playing career. They seemed to represent good value for money, and being based in the UK meant that I could interact with makers.  I always tended to think of the Voirins and Lamys as being too delicate. A Sartory would be OK were it not for the price ! The only time I considered spending serious money on a prestigious name, (Peccatte, as it happens), the stick I had my eye on in an auction went for 7 times the estimate. That's when I decided once and for all that big-name bows are not for me.

I agree with the observation that bows are to be judged "case by case" as are fiddles. The name isn't quite enough, even if it can seem to point one in the right general direction. I do find, however, that if I do happen to be playing quite well (a rare occurrence nowadays, anno domini) ALL my bows seem to work, and the differences between them vanish - almost.

September 28, 2011 at 07:21 AM ·

Hi! David, cheers! your D.Peccatte is really a "prestigious" top caliber bow & i guess it has a loud ring on harmonics and can soar high above the orchestra... I've got light Voirin and heavy F.Peccatte. They works good to me to which i agree with your opinion bout "case to case"-the bow must technically judge by the trained players.



September 13, 2016 at 03:21 PM · Not is a fleche is a Indian to manège a flèche

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