Carbondix CF bow - it's rather good!

October 19, 2004 at 05:40 AM · Hi,

I have just bought a new Carbondix CF violin bow for 130$, because my cheap wooden bow which came with the students violin outfit wasn't really good. It wasn't well balanced, and I'm not sure if the hair was a real horse hair. I'm very pleased with the new bow - I'm a begginer, so I can't tell if it's comparable to pernambucos, or other bows - but it's definitely better than my old one. It's gliding over the strings with no effort and it produces cleaner sound (of course - my lack of technique cannot be recompensated by the new bow, but it improved by bowing!). I can't compare to LaSalle, Presto, or Cadenza - but for 130$ price range I can recommend it, I'm really happy with that buy. It's also really elegant IMO :)

And a photo (not mine, acctually): http://maticomp.net/carbondix.jpg

Best regards!

Mati

Replies (40)

October 21, 2004 at 12:08 PM · Were you able to try this bow before you bought, or did you take a gamble?

I've just ordered a fairly cheap CF bow (Arco neaveaux from SW Strings) - I'm in Australia, and couldn't find any thing about the bow locally, but i figure for US$90 I can't go too wrong.

I've specifically chosen carbon fibre, as the humidity really stuffed my violin and bow last summer, and we're coming up to it again. Anything's better than the scabby thing I'm using now - its warped, its heavy, its way too stiff. And I'm only a progressing beginner and I can notice the problems.

I figure if the carbon bow isn't brilliant, it will make at least a bearable 2nd bow, assuming that one day I progress further.

Sharelle

October 21, 2004 at 01:48 PM · I couldn't try it. What more - I didn't know what brand it would be. My first decision was to by something from Shar, or SW Strings, but the shipping price was too big, so I decided to look for a bow in my country. But I couldn't find any CF bows, the only offer was of Coda - and they are quite expensive. I wrote to the shop (the biggest one, by the way) about CF bows and they said that they just got one (nothing more, that it's CF and with real horse hair) for me at 120$, so I decided to buy it :) I'm really pleased with it, the quality is apparently good for such price, and it's really playable (on my playing level, I should add, because I can't tell if it's good for a professionalist).

p.s. As I read CF's for <$400 are almost always better than wooden for the same price.

Regards,

M.

October 13, 2006 at 08:51 AM · Big bumpie repost.

I have been exploring the carbon bows again. Purchased the Arco as mentioned in that early p;ost, but while it held up okay for a year or so, the adjuster/screw gave up the ghost about 2 months ago, and I can't be bothered taking it to get it fixed by someone. It was a bit heavy for my undeveloped bow arm muscles, and I'm really trying to get a 3/4 size.

I am looking again at another carbon bow - the Carbondix which one of the shops I have been speaking with suggest that this is very good quality for a reasonable price. and available in australia.

Anyone's thoughts on this or other carbon bows they've tried since 2004 and really liked?

December 2, 2006 at 04:00 PM ·

December 3, 2006 at 01:58 AM · I ened up with a Coda Prodigy 3/4 size. That plus the 3/4 violin have made a huge difference in my playing ease. I've just started ricochet and am still working on spiccato. the Coda ricochet's like billy-oh, Actually sometimes when I come ack to the spiccato phrase straight after the richochet phrase, its got so much stored energy it still wants to bounce on. makes me giggle. I'm please with carbon bows, and at least I know that theres a huge choice out there if I ever move back up to a 4/4 bow.

December 3, 2006 at 03:20 AM · sharelle, i would like to humbly ask you to compare the playability of the 2 different c bows. was the first one also a 3/4? thanks

December 3, 2006 at 06:00 AM · I think some musicians just don't like the idea of CF made bows. I brought two Arcus bows to my teacher to try out for me. She didn't like either, and she told me that wood bows were better.

I had a similar experience with my luthier friend. He didn't like A CF bow until I asked him to try it out for me. He was impressed the warm and "mature" sound the CF bow drew. He agreed that it was a good bow, but he remained loyal to his wood bows. :-)

December 3, 2006 at 05:24 PM · ...........and I agree that there are excellent CF bows being made that can sound better than some "cheap wooden bows".

But the thing is, no matter how you slice it, you are comparing apples and oranges.

Much has to do with the quality of pernambuco bows you are comparing to the CF bows.

We have had these discussions long ago, just look up in the archives.

My favorite CF bow is a Benoit Rolland Spiccatto bow with the camber changing mechanism. But they are no longer made.

Still comparing CF bows to the finest of contemporary bows (pernambuco), they are worlds apart.

It also has to do with ones level of experience. When someone has been playing and seeing a great number of pernambuco bows by the best makers, and then you compare those to different grades of CF bows in the range of $80- $1800, there is no question that the pernambuco bows will outclass the CF.

If one is comparing a $130 CF bow to a cheap Brazilwood Bow, perhaps the CF bow may do very well.

December 3, 2006 at 08:05 PM · Roby Lakatos is now playing, and endorsing, a $600 CF bow made in Ireland (Artium). No matter what you think about his style, the guy really gives a bow a workout, and could have his choice of almost any bow. Any bow that meeets his requirements has got to be pretty decent.

Seems to me that CF bows are coming of age. No doubt they are different from Pernambuco, but more and more accomplished musicians are finding them satisfactory, if not preferable. Just one more option, as far as I'm concerned.

December 3, 2006 at 08:29 PM · gennady, thanks for that info. actually i am more interested in some fraction bows. it seems there are not many good small wood bows. i mean, they are bad!

if i blindfold you and make you test a bunch of bows, cf and wood bows, can you tell the difference? catch is, it could all cf, or all wood or a mixture. thanks

December 3, 2006 at 10:32 PM · Al, it would seem then that you are still searching for a quality fractional bow. I think your player is more advanced than me, I'm not sure how far the Prodigy would take her (bit ironic, given the name). My other CF bow was a bit of a dog, and was 4/4, so I can't compare the quality of the 2 bows easily, but the Prodigy is far better in terms of finish, hair quality, and it just feels nicer. At first I liked the 4/4 CF a lot more than the timber, but as my playing improved, I went back to the timber and found it better - I think the heavier weight in the CF initially helped me get over the 2/3-up-the-bow-judders, and then it wasn't beneficial anymore.

SOmeone posted somewhere (maestro?, some other discussion board?, here?) that the few companies who produce fractional CF often only cut down the size from 4/4, so the balance point and stuff would be out. I didn't bother asking CODA if that's what they do, but as they promote the Prodigy as being specifically a fractional bow, I took a chance. I was tossing up that or a Carbondix or another one, who's name escapes me at the moment (something with Paul in the name). anyway, the others couldn't be ordered as easily in australia, and I couldn't trial any of them. So ended up going with the CODA since there is at least something written on them. I was a bit concerned for the first couple of days, it took a while to play in or something, maybe my hand getting used to it, but now I can see how much better it is than my timber 3/4.

If I had my choice and plenty of money, I'd go and get a bow made by a good maker, and if I stick with 3/4 size I'll probably do that in a decade or so, when I retire :), and by that time may even be able to find someone who can do that in CF. I actually like the stuff, I don't yet have a romantic relationship with the materials in my violin or bow.

I guess that isn't such a good choice for you as kiddo is going to outgrow whatever you give her so you have to be sensible about your investment. Unless you can put her in a steam cleaner or tumble dryer every night. Like I posted before, where do the other great kid players get theire stuff from?

Gennady, when the choice of bow is restricted by wanting a fractional size, by budget, and by access to items (not being in Europe, US or UK)a reasonable little CF is, I think, a good choice. I still have shops looking out for a good 3/4 pernambuco, to try for sake of comparison.

December 4, 2006 at 12:34 AM · thank you very much sharelle:), your post gives me a deeper perspective on all these.

December 4, 2006 at 12:59 AM · Al,

We could do a blind test of wines along with the bows. Then followed by a listening test of "guess the violinist" from the first four notes.

I have no problems picking out the better pernambuco bows vs CF.

Like I said, apples & oranges that are worlds apart.

But comparing cheap brazilwood bows vs CF is a totally different game altogether, one I am not interested in.

Perhaps you want to try a blind test of CF violins vs wooden boxes?

I also hear good things about Jean Tabary CF bows.

December 4, 2006 at 01:17 AM · lol, alright gennady, i give you that:)

of course i am not asking to use the bows you have in your collection against the best cf. if i were you, i would have been insulted by that suggestion:)

at the price range that is almost accessible by everyone, say at 3000 usd, for a 4/4, are the commercially available cf vs wood sound/feel similar?

know what i mean?

ps: is there any blind contest on guess the violinist before the first note?:)

December 4, 2006 at 01:41 AM · al,

CF vs the best of contemporary is exactly what I was talking about.

And still comparing CF bows to the finest of contemporary bows (pernambuco), they are worlds apart. In fact nothing to compare.

For me, out of the CF bows it is Benoit Rolland Spiccatto. But still compare that to the finest pernambuco bows 3K-5K, "apples & oranges".

December 4, 2006 at 02:03 AM · got you, thanks!

December 20, 2006 at 07:01 PM ·

December 20, 2006 at 08:08 PM · I will agree with that. More info on Roby Lakatos CF bow?

I am a big fan of his.

December 20, 2006 at 08:48 PM · Martin I have to disagree with you on a bow having/not having acoustical properties. While there are many bows that are made from a variety of materials (ncluding carbon fiber), and many of these are good quality with decent balance and strength, nothing can compare to Pernambuco for resonance. Obviously a poorly made bow of whatever material won't allow the proper response, but all other facets being equal, the ability of Pernambuco to transmit sound and to resonate clearly is what seperates a quality Pernambuco bow from any other material including other woods. I currently carry a variety of carbon fiber bows that I find to be of good quality and very good bows for the money, but if I'm looking for the best sounding bow without any pricing concerns, I'll take Pernambuco every time.

December 20, 2006 at 10:01 PM · I agree...for the money, carbon fiber bows handle/perform well. What they cannot do is sound like good wood.

December 20, 2006 at 11:02 PM ·

December 20, 2006 at 11:02 PM ·

December 21, 2006 at 12:35 AM · Thank you, Martin, for the bow information.

"but if I'm looking for the best sounding bow without any pricing concerns, I'll take Pernambuco every time."

Well, budget is always the constraint, isn't? Unless you are one of the lucky ones...

If I were, I will buy both CF bows and darn good wood bows. :-)

December 21, 2006 at 12:36 AM ·

December 21, 2006 at 04:06 AM · I can recommend a very good source for "cheap but excellent" pernambuco bows, without the worry of used Ebay rolls of the dice.

On a whim, I just purchased on of those ubiquitous Chinese bows. Still an Ebay buy, but new and returnable. Mine came from seller: " old-violin-house " and cost $130 delivered to my door. Worth taking a chance at that price.

It has a snakewood frog, (cheap) gold mounting, and some kind of pernambuco. It doesn't quite look like the dark old stuff, but it does have very dense, tight, straight grain.

The weight is 61 grams. The sound is excellent: On the full side, but not at all dull. The action is just a hair soft for a 61 gram bow, but not enough to bother me, and it makes bouncing near the tip much easier.

I cannot compare it to a Pecatte (I don't have Gennady's bank account, though I am working on hacking into it!) but I have several nice bows that cost $1500 or more. This bow compares quite well. In fact, it's the bow I'm currently grabbing first, out of the ten or so that I own, if I need fat tone for simple lines. for difficult passages and very aggressive playig I prefer a 58 gram Neudorfer which is very stiff, but thin & bright sounding.

As a "carbon" reference point: I once owned a Coda classic, and sold it. It would have been my least favorite of all the bows I currently own. Too hard-sounding and aggressive, not enough subtlety. It also felt just a hair tip-heavy to me, though many folks seem to like its balance so go figure.

Maybe I got lucky, but for the price I recommend the Chinese bow highly.

One caveat- Besides not having Gennady's bank account, I surely do not posess his bowing technique (not even close, I would think) Still, I am a picky fellow, and am really shocked at how much this bow doesn't s@ck.

December 21, 2006 at 05:35 AM · Martin wrote, "A bow does not have acoustical qualities despite what anyone tells you"

Say what ?????

I assume you mean it does not make much SOUND on it's own. (I HOPE that's what you meant!) It certainly DOES have acoustical properties.

- I dislike Angelo's explaination. It does have to do with the bow's resonance, but not due to sound transfer. Rather, it is how the bow selectively attenuates the violin's frequencies that counts. (due to comb-filtering effects of the bow's resonance with the violin's resonance) That is absolutely the case. The reason many CF bows sound a tad harsh is because they don't have Pernambuco's magical ability to tame a typical good violin's harsh nodes.

It's the same reason a certain string will sound bright on one violin, yet dark on another.

As for Gennady's point, I would assume that the difference between the apple and the orange variety has to due with response, not sound. This is of course critical to a fine player. Luckily, a shlub like myself only needs a good SOUNDING bow that isn't a wet noodle.

December 21, 2006 at 07:00 AM · I bought a Coda Conservatory bow for about $400 earlier this year, and now I won't use anything else. It outperforms my $600 pernambuco bow dramatically. I even use it with my knockabout violin, and it seems to upgrade the violin. I often recommend a carbon fiber bow to my beginning students who have been playing for about a year. They're astounded at the difference it makes. In this price range, I would strongly recommend a carbon fiber bow. Carbon fiber bows tend to be similar to each other in a given price range, and this is particularly true for the Coda bows. I'm glad that I live somewhere (near Washington DC) within a short drive of several violin stores, each of which stocks many bows for me to try, borrow, and choose among. We have discussed this issue several times on v.com. I found the discussions very helpful in making my decision, and I recommend them to everyone else.

December 21, 2006 at 10:57 AM ·

December 21, 2006 at 03:34 PM · Martin, I still think your'e way off on this. I check hundreds of bows every week and if you check balance (very important) and weight (important, but not as much as balance-ask anyone who has a bow that weighs 62 grams but feels lighter than a bow that weighs 60 but isn't properly balanced) only, you are missing 2 major aspects that should be involved in any bow selection or discussion. Camber is another important aspect, but resonance may be the most important of all. I have had some bows that I have had to sell that look good, feel good, and are from a decent maker, but when you do a resonance test they are deader than my old dog Spot. I have recently tried (and sold) bows that are carbon fiber with a Pernambuco veneer. You would be surprised at how much that thin veneer of Pernambuco helps enhance the sound and improves the bow. Many carbon fiber bows are excellent choices for beginners and students. Carbon fiber makers are improving on quality of construction, balance, style (head shape especially-they used to be really bad), and playability. But the lack of resonance (compared to a good quality Pernambuco bow) is very noticable especially in the hands of a top player and on a good quality instrument. My suggestion, find a very good Pernambuco bow and do a simple tap test (what I call a Salchow test). Keep your little finger off the button and you should feel the bow resonate when you tap the bow on your knuckle. The more (and longer) it ripples, the more likely the bow will play well. A good looking bow with proper balance, decent camber, and correct weight that doesn't resonate will (almost always) not perform as well. And while I'll defer to Gennady on French bows (especially since I was fortunate enough to see his collection), I'll wager a decent amout that I handle more bows every week than 99% of responders so I check bows on a daily basis and feel fairly comfortable with this selection process.

December 21, 2006 at 06:08 PM ·

December 22, 2006 at 05:31 PM · And since my Cello playing is limited at best, I'll stay with the Salchow method. Selecting bows can be a difficult business do to the differences in the instrument, the players style and ability, and the bow itself. Anything that works to narrow the choices to what matches the individual customer needs and results in them finding a bow that's right for them is always a positive.

December 22, 2006 at 06:21 PM · "I cannot compare it to a Pecatte (I don't have Gennady's bank account, though I am working on hacking into it!)"

Gennady,

No worries. You can deposit your money into my bank account--Truly safe. Allan will not be able to hack into it--I am a techie and I can hack his back. :-)

Thanks for the inforamtion, Allan. I like the old-violin-house (registered in Singapore). A really cool and honese guy, and I can vouch for him as well.

[edited]

Since Allan is recommending Chinese bow, I wonder how about a hybrid bow? A bow made of wood and CF? It sounds very interesting, and seeems to be affordable. But I have no experience with it or heard anyone talking about it yet.

December 22, 2006 at 06:34 PM · I think I tried a hybrid bow when I was looking for a new bow. I didn't like it, but maybe it was just the one I tried.

December 22, 2006 at 09:01 PM ·

December 22, 2006 at 10:53 PM · I have some of the hybrid Iesta bows shown in last months Strad magazine. Compared to a typical Brasilian Silver bow, I find they played slightly better and cost slightly more. These are (IMHO) excellent second bows for anyone who plays in a pit setting or outdoors. Good balance, solid playability, and strength make it a very good choice in areas where you don't want to risk your primary bow, but still need a good sound.

December 23, 2006 at 12:36 AM ·

December 25, 2006 at 02:39 AM · My extra bow (used for backup, outdoor playing, and col legno) is a Coda Aspire (the cheapest Coda), which cost about $250. It has an ugly sparkly finish (why??) and the foam rubber grip it comes with is a little too chunky for my taste.

It handles pretty well though -- its balance and stiffness are normal and I haven't found anything it won't do in terms of "violin tricks." The sound isn't anything to write home about, although it isn't bad. I think the Coda compares very favorably with wood bows under $600 or so, and is good enough to not impose any major limitations on an advancing player.

I know people who have been similarly pleased with other inexpensive CF bows. One of my friends (a strong player) prefers a somewhat-higher-end Arcus over a very good wood bow.

December 24, 2006 at 11:13 PM · [quote]

My extra bow (used for backup, outdoor playing, and col legno) is a Coda Aspire (the cheapest Coda), which cost about $250. It has an ugly sparkly finish (why??)

[/quote]

I also have a coda aspire, and the reason I suspect is the aspire bow is cheap as you said, Peter. :-) It's a conspiracy I think to deter people from getting the cheapest one. On the other hand, being Coda Bow, they don't want you to be disappointed; so the Aspire actually is worth more than every penny.

I planned on getting Arcus silver mounted bow (not the low end, but cannot remember the model name), and my teacher talked me out of it. :-) That CF bow cost about $1,500. So I think it was good thing she did.

December 25, 2006 at 02:16 PM ·

September 26, 2011 at 06:40 PM ·

I just ordered another carbondix*** bow at thomann.de for only 77€!

I payed for the same bow 130€ some years ago, I use it with my reserve fiddle and it's a very good bow, compared to many 500.- wooden bows. My main bow is a great 30ys old G. Penzel  that makes all friend envious, when they try it out. So I have a good comparison (not that the carbondix has any chance, but I know what a good bow is)

Might be interesting for german or european violinists, that's why I thought I'd share the information.

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