Carbon Fibre Bows
I was wondering about the pros and cons of using a carbon fibre bow. Would it would be advisable to play with one? And if so, how long would it take for a violinist to get accustomed to it?
Thanks for your time :)
As long as we are talking about some of the nicer carbon fiber like CODA, JonPaul, etc. they tend to be less expensive then a comparable pernambuco bow ($300-$800) and a bit more durable. They are great for gigging outdoors, teaching, weddings, even pit-orchestras, where tone production and color are not the most important aspects. They make a great second bow, I would invest in a nice pernambuco bow first if you don't have one. Cons: they don't offer the same tone colors and playability(yet they can come close to some) as pernambuco. Not all CF bows are created equally, so you can try a few and find one that fits your playing, it would take you the same amount of time as one would take to get accustomed to any new bow. Some right away, some after a few weeks, depends. The cheaper carbon fiber bows are essentially fishing rods with hair depending on the country of origin. ($50-$200).
I have an older coda bow diamond, and it tends to filter out ring tones and such on my acoustics, as compared to some of my cheaper wooden bows. Makes it harder to hear intonation. Made me remember I got the coda bow for my solid body electric.
The advice you have received is good. I have an old Coda CF bow which I use when my pernambuco is in the shop being re-haired. I would also use it for outside events. So, I think it is a good second bow if you are primarily a classical violinist. If you are primarily some other sort of violinist, it might work as a primary bow. I just don't know since I am a classical violinist.
I agree that most synthetic-stick bows do not make instruments sound as good as a top-notch pernambuco bow, but there can be exceptions.
A fine pro violinist told me that he recommends CF bows for most of his students. He said that you need to spend at least $2000 on a pernambuco bow to beat a $400 CF. That was several years ago. My guess is that CF bows have generally improved since then, whereas pernambuco bows, as an overall category, likely haven't. I play a Cadenza "Master" (3-star) bow, and I like it just fine. I have played my violin with my bow and a couple of exquisite antique bows, and I could detect a little difference in playability but zero difference in sound. Maybe that's because my tone production or my hearing is inferior. Probably both, but I'm not spending thousands on a bow if I can't personally hear any difference.
Geez, Andrew. Make sure to leave me in your will!
Maybe I have cloth ears like Paul (says he has) but I certainly can't detect any particular sound associated with a CF stick. Just like wooden bows, I find some CF I like and some I don't. I know I've got one to suit when I realise I've played a piece without actually being aware of my right hand at all. The one I'm currently using does all I ask of it in terms of variation of stroke and tone colour and took no time at all to adapt to. It cost about as much as I'd expect to pay for a rehair! Of course it may not survive very long.
I have a Coda & used it as my main bow right up until my first year of conservatory studies. It's a great spare/second bow now.
Carbon fiber bows can be very good. There are a few that I like -- the JonPaul Avanti and Vetta are both quite good. The Presto Impulse made by Shar plays pretty well, though the molding work on it is a bit shabby.
I think I'm really smart to never try fancy violins or bows. I am perfectly happy w/ my cheap ones. I'm sure that if I ever saw Paris, I would be impossible to keep down on the farm. Good thing I can't afford to get anywhere NEAR Paris, I guess! :-)
I picked up a Codabow diamond about 3 years ago, and it's served me well in outdoor playing and other gigs where I wouldn't take my primary bow. I've also traveled with it between the U.S. and Canada. It's a little lighter and more flexible than my French pernambuco bow, but personally I have not found it difficult to switch between them.
Wow thanks all for the helpful advice!! Now I'm spoilt for choice, seeing that there are so many different types of good CF bows around haha
I'm primarily a traditionalist when it comes to things of wood, especially when there is a history of hand craft associated with it. I imagine most of that stems from my association with woodworking as I was growing up, seeing and experiencing the work and talent required to produce such things of not only beauty but function.
I bought my Codabow classic violin bow in 1996 when they first came out and it has been my primary bow until recently. This year I decided to switch to a wooden bow and trialed two pernambuco bows and also a Codabow Marquise which was in the same price range. I ended up purchasing a pernambuco "Prier" bow made by Archet SLC, a new sister company to JonPaul. The "Prier" bow is nicely responsive.
As from my perspective, I don't have any drastic changes of playability when I change from my CB/FG bows to my wood ones. But I generally use wood in more safer environments, and my synthetic ones in outdoors and high school.
I like my JonPaul Avanti--it's my workhorse bow. Do not care for the Codabows. The JonPaul model below the Avanti is good for advancing students.
CF I used or tried: AS Carbon, Viennabow, a few Coda, and several Arcus.
Carbon is a pretty intriguing even in upper price ranges as well. I have an Arcus S-series, which ranges in price from $1300 to $7,000, but the lower priced ones perform almost as well. It's extremely light and incredibly quick but also very strong. It would be hard to get this kind of performance in a wooden bow without spending really serious money. On the other hand, if you want a soft bow, something very bouncy or something with a real heft to it, pernambuco may be the only way to go.
Hybrid bows with a carbon fiber core surrounded by a wood sheath are also an interesting option. I use a C.F. Iesta hybrid ($520 when I bought it in 2010) as my primary viola bow. My budget for a new bow was $2000, I tried both wood and carbon fiber bows up to $2500 in the shop, and the hybrid was my favorite of them all. At least to me, it seems to combine most of the quick response of carbon fiber with most of the resonance of wood.
I tried an Arcus S5 and found it to be too bright and light for my taste and current violin. The Argus M4 I tried was better for my violin and I like the way it handled better than the S5 but in the end, negating price, I found the Coda SX handled more to my preferences and the tone when, used on my current violin, was a little warmer and easier to draw and track.
Thanks everybody! CF bows do seem like a really good buy (especially given their relatively cheaper price tag)
The second link is a complete hodge-podge of images. I didn't look at the first link. But if you click on an individual picture, usually you can read the brand on the bow over the frog.
Oh oops I didn't realize. But yeah turns out it is a DZ Strad, which is priced at around US$250. Is that considered middle range in terms of price?
$250 for a bow is lower range.
"Andrew Hsieh... Hybrid bows with a carbon fiber core surrounded by a wood sheath are also an interesting option.... it seems to combine most of the quick response of carbon fiber with most of the resonance of wood."
"Thomas Boyer... On the other hand, if you want a soft bow, something very bouncy or something with a real heft to it, pernambuco may be the only way to go."
I saw those laminated bows (wood on a carbon core) and didn't fancy the idea - I wondered how quickly the laminate would peel away from the core.
Does anyone know anything about the "new" Coda Bow Marquise?
Andrew, I was so confused about why you were trying to sell me Italian furniture!
I swear that I saw this thread somewhere a couple months ago
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