Good Bow Shops

Edited: March 11, 2018, 5:33 PM · It’s time to get my daughter a great cello bow. Most of the really good modern makers are in range, pricing seems fairly uniform at this level. I’ve had good conversations with Ifshin, Givens, Carriage House, Julie Reed Yeboah. Who else should I be talking with?

Unlike cellos, bows are pretty easy to send on trial so I need someone who is comfortable with shipping. And even though there is a certain appeal to working directly with a maker, I think the best thing right now will be to hear a range of bows that are immediately available...the most in-demand makers have quite a backlog.

Replies (15)

March 11, 2018, 5:55 PM · What does her teacher think she should have? Is her current bow holding her back? Besides trying bows on trial from online retailers, would it be plausible to try a bunch at some local stores too? You'll very likely have to spend a few thousand for an exceptionally nice bow.
Edited: March 11, 2018, 6:18 PM · Most really good modern makers are $5-8K now. She got to play through her teacher's colleague's very nice collection of French antiques a few weeks ago. A Voirin and a CN Bazin were so much better than her German bows that it's time to see what our options are, besides something like that. There are two really great local shops, an Ole Kanestrom and David Samuels locally are possible. Going to hear more before we decide.
March 11, 2018, 6:45 PM · Start with the local shops, and in that price range, try antiques too.

If you're on the east coast, it might be easier just to go to particular cities and spend a day looking through the shops -- all the shops in NYC for instance.

March 11, 2018, 7:15 PM · Violinists have it so lucky :-), that's a 3rd airplane seat I have to buy times the number of destinations or a multi week road trip. We did some of that with cellos and it's pretty tiring. But I hear you, it can be fairly hit or miss.
March 11, 2018, 11:15 PM · Hi Stan, my shop, Bay Fine Strings a v.com sponsor, offers nationwide shipped bow approvals. Feel free to contact me to discuss your needs. I carry contemporary work, as well as antiques, and tend to curate an inventory I think will be successful and appeal to a wide range of musician preferences and tastes. Or come to the San Francisco area to meet me by appointment!
March 12, 2018, 2:16 PM · Thomas, nice Noel Burke violin bow...his current backlog is 1.5 years!
Edited: March 12, 2018, 3:05 PM · After purchasing a used Paul Martin Siefried cello bow from Ifshin about 10 years ago, I contacted the maker in Port Townsend, WA about refurbishing that bow and about purchasing a violin bow and he sent me 5 violin bows. He took care of shipping charges and insurance in both directions. I kept one of the bows and returned the others and paid him. I consider the ones he made to be the best of my bows that include 19th century F.N. Voirin, Richard Weichold, and Albert Nürnberger as well as about 20 other newer ones. It was an easy transaction - and Siefried is a multiple gold-medal winner.

I play violin, viola and cello (I've played cello for almost 70 years). I have found the match between instrument and bow can be tricky. I have 3 cellos and (now) 8 cello bows. The best "overall" bow for each of my cellos is different, although my Siefried is the most powerful on all of them. In my search for the right bow for one of those cellos (the search that culminated with purchasing the Siefried) I tested 66 bows in Ifshin's shop (on my cello, of course) and the only two that were just right in a couple of the cello's trouble spots had both been made by Siefried.

I'm not trying to promote Siefried's bows so much as a really careful search and evaluation to get the right bow for the current instrument.

Edited: March 12, 2018, 3:09 PM · I see so few Siefried bows for sale these days he seems a little like Charles Espey, and I wondered if he is still actively making. Other WA makers like Andersen, Morrow, Kanestrom, etc. seem more generally available.
March 12, 2018, 4:22 PM · Benning Violins in North Hollywood might have a connection with Siefried since they list a couple of his bows on line.
March 12, 2018, 8:09 PM · I recently bought a nice modern viola bow from Carriage House/Johnson Strings. They were very easy to work with, and another bonus is that they offer 100% trade-in credit, plus have a large selection of bows above the price range I was in ($4000-5000). While I don't anticipate ever upgrading my bow again, it is nice to feel that I have an easy option should I decide I need something different. Since it sounds like your daughter is still a student that may be an even more important option since her playing is more likely to change significantly over the next few years and it can be very difficult to sell a bow for what you paid for it.
Edited: March 15, 2018, 11:13 PM · Hi Stan,

Noel Burke is an incredible maker, unfortunately that gold mounted bow is gone, but there is a quartet of gold mounted bows available made by his very talented protegé, Niall Flemming. He's now working on his own. I will have the pictures and descriptions put up on the website shortly, as well as a trio of silver mounted bows from a nice and talented French maker named Daoudi Hassoun who worked with Eric Fournier and Robert Pierce. I'm trying to get his work known in the states!

-Thomas

April 1, 2018, 12:43 PM · Johnson's (Carriage House) is pretty good with their stuff, you mentioned you were looking at them? You can trial a few bows and let your daughter test them, and ship the rest back.
April 1, 2018, 1:21 PM · Carriage House is an excellent shop. Had 4 here from them this week with 3 from a great local shop. Liked a Robert Morrow from them the best and a David Samuels locally. Beautiful tone from the Morrow but not as much sound as from some other bows, and the Samuels was maybe a touch weak in the center. Pierre Guillaume, Morgan Andersen, and Matt Wehling on deck next week.

Siefried is something of a ghost Andy, I can't find anyone who has his recent work and he doesn't respond to email and calls.

April 1, 2018, 2:35 PM · This article by Anders Askenfeldt
( http://www.speech.kth.se/prod/publications/files/qpsr/1992/1992_33_4_043-049.pdf )
is a good place to get some feel for the various factors a play in bow dynamics.
Askenfeldt continue original work on bow/hair/string dynamics for decades.
Edited: April 2, 2018, 3:15 AM · The shops mentioned in OP are all ones I would have thought to be worth starting with.
As for Siefried, I bought one from him about 7 years ago. Maybe he was in a lull, but he had two to send me. One didn’t work for me, but the one I bought is very sexy. Difficult at times, and not solid in the Sartory-ish way, but for certain instruments and climate conditions, it gets superior sound, while handling well.
Who carries David Samuels’s work? His best can be astonishingly good.

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