Shopping for contemporary bow

June 18, 2005 at 05:39 AM · Can anyone give me a suggestion of contemporary bows I can purchase for $3000-4000.

Replies (25)

June 18, 2005 at 05:52 AM · Again, I recommend Francois Malo in Montreal Canada, studied in Mirecourt with the best, has all sorts of awards to his name, and is generally considered one of the best bow makers alive. His are amoung the best that I have tried. If I didn't already have my Ouchard, I'd buy one.

June 18, 2005 at 06:56 AM · I'd second that recommendation.


June 18, 2005 at 11:32 AM ·

June 18, 2005 at 02:53 PM · Lev Sobol at KC Strings has some very good bows at very reasonable prices.

Also, Charles Espey is very well known.

Michael Vann is another.

Of course, Isaac or William Salchow, but I'm not sure of the price or the waiting list.

June 18, 2005 at 05:16 PM · Roger Zabiniski is a very fine bowmaker. He prices all of his bows at 3400 dollars. Many in the Minnesota Orchestra use his bows and I also own one. I highly recommend him.

June 18, 2005 at 05:14 PM · Espey's bows are closer to $5K, but two other excellent (and slightly cheaper) Port Townsend bowmakers are Robert Morrow and Ole Kanestrom.

I'll also third the Malo recommendation, although I don't know what his bows go for.

June 18, 2005 at 10:50 PM · Michael Vann of British Columbia , Canada has an excellent reputation. He trained with Wlm. Salchow in NYC.

I think some of his output goes for a somwhat higher price than what you quoted but there might be some there in your price range (likely without the frills like Mastadon tusk or tortoise shell frog and gold).

Mengla Huang (won Paganini Comp. in 2002) plays one I believe and is registered here on Search his name and send him a message and see how he likes his bow.


June 19, 2005 at 02:52 PM · I'm looking for a bow, too.

Espey quoted his bows at $4000.00.

Vann's bows also start at $4000.00, though one of his websites has a price of $3600.00

Vann also asks for a post-dated check for the full amount of the bow, just to try one of his bows. That's ok and all, but I sent him a check amost 3 weeks ago, and he still hasn't called me. I called to check, and he said it wasn't there yet. I'll keep you informed on this drama.

I contacted Malo. He seemed extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and confident. Now I just have to wait a couple of months to try one of his bows. I can't wait.

The Sobol bow I tried at KC Strings was only $1600 and it is a darn good stick. In fact, it was better than a Sartory that was in the shop that day. And that was ackknowledged by the Sartory owner himself. At least as a companion to his Villaume, the Sobol was a better fit than his Sartory.

June 19, 2005 at 03:42 PM · As far as good bows go, they are also an investment. Historically, the French Bows have always increased in value as do the Italian Violins. In the price range of 3k-4k,I recommend to invest your money in French Bows. Among the very best contemporary French Bow Makers are:

Yannick LeCanu (Gold Medal winner VSA 2004 & Two Silver Medals at Vatelot Competition 2004),

Sylvain Bigot (Silver Medal Winner at Vatelot Competition 1999), Edwin Clement (Gold Medal Winner at Vatelot Comp. 1999 and voted the best Maker of France), Gilles Nehr (Certificate of Merit London 2004).

I represent some of the best makers of France in the USA. If you are interested, feel free to contact me. Aside from being the 1st violinist of the odeonquartet and a member of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, I also run my business Filimonov Fine Musical Instruments in Seattle which is currently listed in the STRINGS Resource Guide magazine. Check it out.

June 22, 2005 at 06:25 AM · Well, as usual, I'm sure I will be a very small help if I can claim that, but I will put in a couple cents for a Czech maker based in Phoenix, Arizona who sells his bows at "The String Shop" in Tempe, Arizona. I think his name is Alex. I've met him. I've played his bows and have been quite impressed with his work. I've played a real Tourte before--not as good as that, but a very decent showing nonetheless. He's very obliging. You tell him your preference and he'll make you a bow to suit your desires.

June 22, 2005 at 01:40 PM · That's odd... I was in Port Townsend less than two weeks ago to do some "shop hopping" and Mr. Espey quoted $4800, with the disclaimer that the price was likely to have risen by the time my name came to the top of the (lengthy) wait list. Perhaps I misheard? That was the base price for a modern pernambuco / silver bow. He struck me as very thoughtful, with penetrating observations. Trying bows with him watching was kind of like playing for a great teacher.

June 22, 2005 at 01:59 PM · I am also shopping for a contemporary bow. But I would feel very embarrassed if the bow maker were going to ask me what sort of bow he could make for me, I have heard people talking about the weight at the tip or at the frog, talking about stiffness and a lot of other things. What does all these considerations mean for your playing? What are the rules so I can define my preferences? Can any one help me?

June 22, 2005 at 02:31 PM · There are several things to keep in mind.

The weight of the bow, the balance point and the resilience of the stick. Also bows will be bright or dark sounding. Now with that said, it is still a very subjective issue as to what is the best bow for you. Kind of like choosing a wife or a husband (just kidding).

Since I live in Seattle, many of my clients do try the bows of our Port Townsend makers, yet every bow I get from my French Makers that I represent (Le Canu,Bigot, Clement, Nehr), sells immediately. A great French bow will always be a great French bow (which becomes a collectable item later and increases in value much faster).

July 27, 2005 at 02:56 AM · There are some good English bow makers. Malcolm Taylor, William Watson and Garner Wilson all used to make bows for the Hill firm and now makes bows under their names.

July 29, 2005 at 09:17 PM · If you compare the best English bows to the best of French, they are still worlds apart (being that French are still superior).

It has a lot to do with the cambering methods of the English Makers).

Occasionally, there is a good playing Tubbs and or an old Hill bow by Retford or Napier.

But for the most part, the very best playing contemporary bows are French.

I have in my collection (more than 30 bows) the top bowmakers which include some American makers as well. I also have some great old French bows like D. Peccatte, N. Maline, F.N. Voirin, Sartory and a nice J. Tubbs.

So I'm speaking from experience.

July 29, 2005 at 09:46 PM · Hey Dan, how are you...

I have a really excellent Rodney Mohr bow (Gold medal for several years in the National Bowmaking Association Competition) that we could discuss. It's worth more than what your range is, but feel free to drop me an email and we could discuss it...

July 30, 2005 at 07:13 PM · A few contemporary makers to reccomend would be:

Jose Dacunha

David Forbes

Charles Espey

David Samuels

These guys are among the top makers today, although I'm sure there are other great ones who I left out.

Their contact info is on

Hope that helps.

July 30, 2005 at 09:55 PM · Peter, you left out that these guys are the top AMERICAN makers of today.

But if we include the element of investment of your money into a musical tool, you have to consider the pedegree carefully.

Don't get mo wrong, I know a lot of these guys, and they are excellent.

But historically, it is still the French makers whose work withstands the test of time.

For example, (80-100 years ago)eventhough there were excellent makers and contemporaries of Sartory, Fetique and Ouchard in Germany & England, the bows of the German & English counterparts do not command the prices today as do the bows of Sartory, Fetique & Ouchard.

That is reality & fact.

Whatever happened to the bows of great American Makers such as Frank Kovanda, Frank Passa, Anthony Wrona,Armin Schlieps. These were the best American Makers 40 years ago. Are their bows commanding the prices of their French counterparts of the same time like J.J. Millant for example.

Unfortunately not.

July 30, 2005 at 11:59 PM · There are many people who swear by modern makers. I was looking to replace a bow, and would spend up to $12,000 to do it.

Looked, tried very good modern makers, tried not so modern, and decided I like my Ouchard the best. If you are going to spend more than $5000 I'd get something you might get your money back with. You never know when you'll want to trade up to a Sartory or a Simon.

I think I might buy a Francois Malo soon, as I need another bow, and his are the best I have tried from modern makers. His training is of Mirecourt, which may give him an advantage over many American makers.

July 31, 2005 at 06:10 AM · I guess I should have included that my point was: in my opinion, if you are looking to find a great contemporary bow between 3K-4K, look for a French Contemporary bow. Some of the top American makers Peter mentioned such as C. Espey, charges $4,800. As I have posted earlier:

among the very best contemporary French Bow Makers whose bows are between 3K-4K are:

Yannick LeCanu (Gold Medal winner VSA 2004 & Two Silver Medals at Vatelot Competition 2004),

Sylvain Bigot (Silver Medal Winner at Vatelot Competition 1999), Edwin Clement (Gold Medal Winner at Vatelot Comp. 1999 and voted the best Maker of France), Gilles Nehr (Certificate of Merit London 2004).

If anyone is interested, I do represent some of these best makers of France in the USA.

July 7, 2008 at 02:23 AM · Just played a lot of great bows in the last year, here is my list of the best I played, realizing that there is a lot of common ground on what a bow sounds like, but what a bow feels like is very subjective.


David Samuels



William Halsey.

Obviously there a lot of other great makers, but for me these were the best. I bought two of them!

July 7, 2008 at 04:15 PM · I don't know how he is for price, but Benoit Rolland is a very inventive bowmaker, and, although I have never used one of his bows, I hear they are very good, and they are used by the likes of Mutter, Fischer, and Tetzlaff.

July 8, 2008 at 01:15 AM · You might check with Joshua Henry, a student of Rolland. His website is I bought one of his bows for myself and am very pleased and he made my son a nice viola bow and a baroque bow for his violin. His viola teacher thought that it played like a much more expensive bow.

July 16, 2008 at 06:49 PM · You should try some of Salchow's bows for this price. Great bows for a very reasonable price.

Benoit Rolland may be a bit pricey for you ...I think he just upped it to $9,000.00 for a silver/ebony model. Fine bows, though and well worth the investment. I don't know anything about his pupil, but if the work is comparable to his master, then it should be quite fine.

July 16, 2008 at 09:57 PM · Consider Roger Zabinski, a VSA award winner.

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

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine