Brazilian bow makers interestingly reasonable price
Lately i was in touch with 3 different bow makers from Brazil.
I asked about their prices and I'm surprised!
One asked for 225$ for a Violin or Viola bow and other two ranged their prices between 300$ to 600$ based on what materials(silver-mother of pearl etc.) Customers want on their bow. Now my question is;do you find these prices acceptable due to the fact that may be they have easier access to Pernambuco or you find these prices and the final result suspicious?
Would you risk buying a bow in this price range and expect it to be a standard and acceptable bow?
There are some great, inexpensive Brazilian workshop bows these days. Marco Raposo and Arcos Brazil are both reputable workshops, for instance, producing nice bows for the price.
Another great bow maker, here in Brazil, is Ivan Guimaraes.
I don't think Rocky's statement is true. There's been decent Brazilian workshop bows for at least twenty years or so, in the price range named by the OP.
Brazilian bow makers get to choose the best wood before any of it is exported. As such they get the best of the crop, so their bows get a head start in terms of quality wood. Our concertmaster bought a few years back a bow from a Brazilian maker who happened to be at the summer festival at the time. He paid 400euros and he claims it was the best playing stick he ever played. Sadly he broke the head soon after he bought it, so I didn't have a chance to see it.
"Find out when when the Brazilians are coming to town and get to your violin shop about the time they leave." This is what I was advised years ago. Not all bows by a given maker are the same - that's why they choose different metals for them. I was told the best bows are bought first - seems reasonable!
Brazilian minimum wage is about the same of China's (US$ 280,00), but the majority of bows in Brazil are produced by individual makers, and not in a factory, so the minimum wage has no impact on that, I think.
There's a big reason why bows from Brazil ARE more expensive than Chinese bows. Brazilian bows are made of genuine Pernambuco wood of high quality, Chinese bows are not.
For €1150 I recently bought a bow from a Dutch luthier. He is retired now, the bow has to be at least 8 years old. It was his "house brand" from selected bows made by some certain Brazilian bowmakers (can't find out the names, unfortunately) and used to put his own stamp on. It's way better than anything I could get in the same price range, and at least equal to the ca. 25 mostly modern bows I tried in the €3-4k price range. Found a Prosper Colas for €5,5k and a Morizot I still liked better, but with nice French bows I tend to be pretty much biased by names - and I couldn't afford it anyhow, so I'm happy with a great Brazilian-Dutch...
I seriously doubt that it's even possible to find out whether or not a Brazilian-labeled bow was made in China or not. Who would admit it to the buyer? I'm sure the Chinese can obtain Pernambuco if they want to.
On the other hand, I know of at least one reputable european bowmakers who uses a cnc milling machine for the rough work, and uses sandpaper to smoothen the sticks afterwards. What does not sound like real craftsmanship produces consistent quality, and he's usually sold out. His bows start at €3,5k btw., and are easy to resell without any loss.
Both of my bows are from Arcos and they have been good to me so far.
When my shop was selling more cheaper/new stuff, we bought some of these cheaper bows from one of the lesser-known shops and they were quite good. The makers we were dealing with had a habit of putting too much camber in, especially right behind the head. I recambered some of them a bit to undo the odd stuff (and I'm not really a bow person, either) and they turned surprisingly good. We tried to have a special model made for us---even sent them an example of a classic French bow to copy--their work was that good--but they couldn't seem to do anything other than what they do, couldn't learn, and we gave up. But for the money they were excellent, if not all they could have been.
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