In market for a new bow, suggestions?

February 9, 2018, 2:33 PM · I am in the market for a new bow. I have been playing on a carbon fiber bow that is actually a really great one (bought from my violin teacher when I was in college) and it has been playing fantastically for a very long time. But it's a bit on the heavy side so while the legato sounds great, it doesn't bounce very well. So I'm thinking of getting another bow that has a good mix of both, that allows great legato and is bouncy enough. The one I am playing on was around $1000, and I'd like an upgrade to something that is around $2000-3000. I have already tried the Codabow Diamond SX, and it doesn't play as nicely as my current bow. So I'm thinking something along the line of Codabow Marquise, or one of the Arcus bow maybe S6 or S7. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Replies (17)

February 9, 2018, 2:35 PM · Try a variety of affordable bows and pick your favourite.
Edited: February 9, 2018, 2:57 PM · You say your current bow is "heavy." When people say that, without actually measuring the weight, they usually mean that the balance is not exactly to their liking. You can measure the balance point and it can be moved by having a luthier add (or remove) weight at the tip or frog. This can be an inexpensive good first step before spending 100x more on a new bow. Also get your bow weighed as a starting point!

Violin bows typically have a mass of 60 grams (usually) plus or minus only 2 or 3 (ARCUS bows are an exception to this).

February 9, 2018, 3:10 PM · Hi Eric, are you aware of the Luma bow? It is a lot cheaper than what you are looking for, but just wanted to make sure you knew it existed! :)
February 9, 2018, 3:21 PM · My suggestion would be to fix the balance on the carbon fiber bow you have, and then use your money for a wooden (pernambuco) bow. You will be glad to have one of each...;)
February 9, 2018, 3:24 PM · Great suggestions above. You can have the balance fixed, and get a new bow if need be.
February 9, 2018, 3:31 PM · At that price point, I would consider both wood and CF bows, unless you routinely play in conditions where CF is necessary (i.e., it would be dangerous to use a wood bow). If you really need CF, I would also trade in your existing CF bow when you upgrade to another CF bow, extending your budget by a bit.

In wood bows at that price point, Brazilian workshop bows probably represent the best value.

February 9, 2018, 4:18 PM · If you want carbon fiber try the Jon Paul bows. The Carrera is in my opinion way better than the codabow marquise.
February 9, 2018, 5:55 PM · I just bought a Coda GX. I tried the Marquise but was not impressed but it might have been that particular bow. I also tried the Jon Paul Carrera. My advise is to try them all and see which one your violin likes. My teacher is always telling me to listen to your bow, it will teach you how to play...lol. Good luck in your search.
February 9, 2018, 6:25 PM · For $2-3,000, you might find an antique German bow that is good but discounted for not being French.

But, really, just try the best bows available to see what is possible, and then look for one you like in your budget.

Edited: February 9, 2018, 9:20 PM · Not all bows can teach you how to play, although certainly some can.
What does your teacher learn from YOUR bow?
February 9, 2018, 9:00 PM · In this price range, I really recommend a Rodney Mohr workshop bow. The sound is good, and it is much much better than any of the Chinese or Brazilian "special edition" bows. I have a very flexible one, which is my everyday practice bow. Honestly, it has helped me advance my techniques so much more. And most importantly, it will hold up its value very well.
February 10, 2018, 7:26 AM · A good Nurnberger or Pfretzschner along the lines of what Stephen suggests? $3000 is an in-between price, a couple thousand less than the well-known modern makers start at and a couple thousand more than basic Brazilian silver-mounted workshop bows. My daughter is happy with her German bows in this price range, the price goes up significantly for bows we like more.

http://stringsmagazine.com/why-fine-german-bows-are-such-a-bargain/

February 10, 2018, 6:27 PM · the pfretzschner bows are nice, but the ones I tried here in the chicago area were 4k to 4.5k. I tried an otto durrschmidt bow that I thought competed well against the pfretzschner, but was priced 3k-ish
February 10, 2018, 11:22 PM · You can find new bows from an excellent maker from Brazil, Manoel Francesco, in your price range. I've been really impressed with his bows of late.
Edited: February 11, 2018, 3:40 PM · A little confused by what you mean by heavy. If you're playing on a typical carbon fiber bow it will be 60-61 grams as Codabows and John Pauls are designed to mimic the weight and feel of a wood bow.

The only thing out there that will be dramatically lighter is the Arcus S-series which is about 48 grams. I have one and love it. However, if your other requirement is a highly flexible, lively bow, the Arcus S series may not be what you're looking for -- it is a strong stick and not as bouncy as a lot of wood bows.

I would have this discussion with your teacher (if you have one), clarify your goals and then go to a violin shop and try out a lot of bows -- that may help you understand what you're looking for.

When I was learning staccato and sautille I wanted a lively, bouncy bow to make it easier, but once you are comfortable with those techniques, chances are you won't want a bouncy bow, you may want a LESS bouncy bow because that will help with bow control.

Anyway, in general, in my experience, pernambuco can be a little more lively than quality plastic bows. Sometimes the very cheapest carbon bows can be pretty lively -- the $80 base model Presto from Shar is pretty bouncy. So you can experiment. Maybe own multiple bows becuase every stick can teach you something.


February 14, 2018, 4:24 AM · In the sub 1k to 2k range, brazilian workshop and shop brand pernambuco bows a good place to look. I think if you look through a shop inventory, you will probably be better off finding a matching pernambuco bow vs carbon fiber.

Antique German bows are better investments and can be an upgraded tool in the 2-5k range, you can typically find Weicholds, GA and WA Pfretzschners in the lower range, Nurnbergers and Hoyers in the higher range. Great contemporary bows by emerging livong makers can be had at this range too, with recent vsa or recent award winning makers in the higher range. If you're looking for a serious bow, this is a good range to start in. However, everyone's taste is different, so acquire a bow that works for you and your current instrument and think of the investment secondary, unless you can afford to have several bows to change for the occasion.

Choose a bow in the 58-62 gram range, that feel nimble and balanced as an extension of the hand on the whole, usually bows out of these weight ranges for violin bows do not fare well for a wide range of uses. Good luck in your search!

Edited: February 14, 2018, 9:51 AM · If you are able to, and feel confident enough, go to a large auction house and try all the bows in your price range (and lower). You may find a stunning bow at a fraction of the retail price.
CF bows, in my opinion, can play well but sound wrong!

Cheers Carlo

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