Differences between bows (tourte, peccate, sartory, lamy, etc...)

December 18, 2018, 1:25 PM · "I am a beginner on the violin, so I would like to know the difference between the bows of the type tourte, pecatte, sartory, lamy among others when playing the violin and what are their properties, positives and negatives and for which repertoire they fit best each one, for which violinistic personality each one fits (ex: aggressive playing, romantic playing, slow playing) and what else could I add I will be grateful!

(Note: I am from Brazil and my English is not fluent!)

Replies (44)

Edited: December 18, 2018, 3:02 PM · That's a good question! I've actually never tried a Tourte so I can't give you a informed opinion on his bows. All of my friends who have tried F.X. Tourte's bows say a very similar thing about the bows of Tourte that they are able to 'vibrate', are very 'live', 'responsive,' and 'well-balanced.'

There are a few members of the Peccatte family that were bow makers (Dominque, Francois, and Charles). Probably Dominque was the most highly regarded of the family. Dominque's best bows are very elegant, have an amazing balance, and are great for off the string strokes like spiccato and ricochet. Charles Peccatte bows are excellent as well and have some of the very similar characteristics. I've never played on a Francois Peccatte.

I own a Sartory made in 1946 (right at the end of his life). I would say this is probably my all-time favorite bow to play on. It has maybe a more aggressive feel than your typical Peccatte would, but at the same time, the balance is unusually good compared to anything else I've played on (especially up at the frog). Also in the middle of the bow, the stick does not collapse like so many other bows do - it has a very even feel for the entire length of the stick and the bow changes up at the frog are a joy rather than a nightmare which is very nice. It also is very good for off the string strokes, although I would say that the very best Peccattes probably have a slightly better spiccato/ricochet. All in all, for the different types of playing and repertoire I do, it probably scores the highest in my book.

I don't believe I have ever tried a Lamy bow.

I'll just conclude by saying I've tried some turkeys by big named bowmakers as well that were not good. So not all of their work is always of the same level. Like wine, certain years were better than others for bowmakers. You have to take into account the materials as well - not all of them were/are of the same quality. You have to also take into account the chemistry between instrument and bow. Certain great bows just won't work well with a great violin and some will. It's kind of like human relationships!

December 18, 2018, 3:44 PM · If you are interested because you want to purchase a bow and find many are described as being modeled after some famous bow maker's work - don't believe it.

Base your purchase on the reputation of the maker of YOUR bow, not some famous maker it is claimed to be modeled after. Better yet, if you can try the very bow you are going to buy.

As a beginner I don't think you want a bow that is "soft" like a Lamy or Voirin

At the low-price end of bow sales some bows made of synthetic materials (some carbon-fiber (CF) or other composite bows) are quite good (some even sound as good as wooden bows but generally not at the low-price end of composite or CF bows). Bows may be stiff or less stiff (or "soft") and this will effect how they function. A bow that is "soft" can still be useful with less hair.

Bows made of pernambuco wood are reputed to be the best, but not all pernambuco wood these days is good. Some cheaper bows claimed to be made of "Brazilwood" can do a credible job. But consider the synthetic-material bows too. As Nate said, "You have to also take into account the chemistry between instrument and bow." You want the bow to be a good match to your violin and the strings you are using on it.

December 19, 2018, 12:28 AM · If you are purchasing a "model" rather than the maker themselves, what an actual bow by the maker sounds and feels like will be irrelevant to you. Some contemporary bow makers do make faithful copies, and those copies can feel remarkably similar to the real thing, though.

From my experience:

A real Tourte feels quite different than other bows. It has a feel that is well suited to Classical era music, but you find yourself needing to handle it in a way that is unique and requires some adapting of your technique.

The Dominique Peccatte I've tried felt like playing a machine. It had a controlled precision of response that is remarkable.

There's been quite a range of variance in the Sartory bows I've encountered. Each one I've tried has been different, though in general, these are strong, responsive sticks.

The bows of Lamy have a fluid elegance to them, but I don't find that I can easily distinguish a Lamy from other similar makers -- not in the way that, say, a Maline tends to have a certain feel.

December 19, 2018, 2:21 AM · They all have the feeling of money to me, I would like to have one!!
December 19, 2018, 2:34 AM · he's in Brazil, a genuine well made Pernambuco bow would be more available than a questionable imported CF bow.
Edited: December 19, 2018, 6:33 AM · I was glad to read the comments by Nate Robinson because he is a professional violinist of demonstrated skill (not to mention pedigree). I am noting that all of his comments centered on playability, not sound. I have played my own violin with bows made by Dominique Peccatte and Nikolai Kittel. I could feel some difference but could not hear any (neither when they were played by the owner of the bows who is a fine pro violinist). But it must be understood that my hearing is compromised (constant ringing). The bow against which these two priceless bows were compared was a "Cadenza 305" - a CF bow in the $500 range, which said pro recommends to all his best students (he is not my teacher).
December 19, 2018, 8:43 AM · There are huge tonal differences between bows, and I've sadly passed up some fine-playing sticks because the sound wasn't good on my violin.

I have to say that one of the things that was marvelous about a real Tourte was the fact that it made my Vuillaume -- already an excellent violin -- sound like a Strad. Opened up a ton of color possibilities. Without that experience, I would not actually have known how much of a difference a bow could make in the shades of what could be drawn out of a violin.

December 19, 2018, 9:38 AM · Sigh - Lydia, I want to be you when I grow up! :)

Great to read about differences in select examples of these fine bows.

December 19, 2018, 10:02 AM · You too can go violin and bow shopping. :-)
Edited: December 19, 2018, 10:58 AM · I agree that there are big differences in tone, especially clarity. The issue when trying bows is that we tend to gravitate towards what we're already used to in feel. It can take a big leap of faith (especially when big $$s are involved) to go with a better-sounding bow that feels radically different than our own. Some of the bows I've tried include:
Pecatte--well-balanced and a great sound.
Voirin--very light, fairly strong. Too light for my violin.
Thomassin--wayyyyy too light.
Lamy--also very light, more flexible.
Several Sartories--more weight towards the tip, giving an easier sautille. Heavier than the above.
I think I've tried a Tourte, but it's been a while. Tourte's innovation was a methodical approach to graduation (the increase/decrease in stick thickness), so his work is likely pretty consistent.

Here's something to keep in mind with all this generalization: most of us mortals only get to try a sample of 1 from the above list. It can be dangerous to generalize.

You can try a certain bow in a shop and say "this bow is too soft/rigid/heavy/light--how can anyone play it?"
And you'd be correct: it may very well be for sale because the bow IS too this or that and not a good example of the maker's output.

Maybe he made it when he was 15. Or drunk. Possibly drunk and 15. (I've seen a dish called "drunken noodles" on Chinese restaurant menus, so I wouldn't be surprised if a bow maker offered "drunk bows" or a violin maker "drunk violins"...)

In my experience in looking at bows over several decades: the very finest bows are owned by players who will not part with them. If they're in a shop, there's often a good reason...

December 19, 2018, 12:54 PM · Hmm. Maybe I've just had good luck living in areas with a lot of shops carrying high-end stuff (plus visiting the occassional show with more inventory). Other than Pecatte, of the makers that Scott has cited, I've tried a good dozen or more of each of their bows.
December 19, 2018, 3:43 PM · I am shopping, alas my wallet is not as robust as a Vuillaume will allow ;) One day, one day... If I get the violin that I am strongly, strongly considering, I will likely get a new bow to go with it at some point.

Edited: December 25, 2018, 1:40 PM · My Charles Peccatte is ,for want of a better description like India rubber.It's very dense but still soft and flexible to a degree.I started my career with a Sartory(one of his earlier ones from the turn of the century)but had a bow "shoot out" with a Prosper Colas from the late 1800's.The Colas won so the Sartory had to go.Both bows can be a bit "overbearing" when accompanying or playing Mozart,Haydn etc. so the answer was a Jean Joseph Martin from 1875 or thereabouts.It's more deft like and very elegant.I wouldn't use it for Brahms or Tchaikovsky.We just played Mozart 36 with David Danzmayr and it was so lovely to sit with a colleague using a beautiful gold mounted Voirin and me with the Martin.
I tried the exHubermann Tourte and it was exquisite .It just hugged the string with a deep dark velvetly silver sound.Wow...
The ultimate bow for my Garimberti was a Joseph Henry which transformed the violin onto another plane of performance .It just isn't the right time to be buying such stuff as I wind down my career.
About twenty-five years ago a local Toronto dealer had an Etienne Pajeot made out of amorette wood.It was $20000.00CDN and sounded rich and deep.As I was working on the bank loan someone walked in and paid cash for it ! I wonder what it goes for now?
December 20, 2018, 9:35 AM · I'm not sure if this helps at all, but I have a pernambuco R. Weichold Tourte copy from the 40s, and I think it's beautiful.

I'm not super well-versed on bows and the appropriate lingo, but I think it responds really well and has a nice balance of being "spongy" (for lack of a better word) and stiff. It's not too light, but it has a lightness to it that really helps with spiccato and strokes of the like.

As for the sound, I've tried this one and another older brazilwood (I paid about the same amount for them, so it's not a cheap brazilwood) but it doesn't have as much springyness or flexibility as my Weichold.

I'm curious as to how good tourte copies actually are, or if it just depends on the maker?

December 20, 2018, 11:18 AM · There's a difference between a Tourte "model" bow and a Tourte "copy", especially a bench copy. Bows that are "modeled" on a maker frequently don't feel anything like that maker's bows.

A copy is very much dependent on the skill of the bowmaker executing the copy. Copies can feel quite a bit like the maker's own work, even if they are more of an echo than a clone.

Edited: December 20, 2018, 12:13 PM · Richard Weichold lived from 1823 to 1902. It's not likely he was making bows in the 1940s - especially not in Dresden (which was bombed into virtual oblivion during WW-II - check out the movie "The Pianist"), where his shop had been located. His bows stamped "R. Weichold, Dresden" on one side and "Imitation du Tourte" on the other are reputed to be his best. They seem to sell these days for around $3,000, somewhat less at auction (sometimes depends on who's bidding and the bow's characteristics).

I have one that I inherited in 1954. Definitely a nice bow, about 62 grams. It weighed 65 grams when I got it and it was difficult to use, it felt too light to me - but made great sound. After I determined the center of mass of this bow I realized that the silver winding was much too heavy for the bow and had it replaced with faux whalebone. I don't know what fool of a "luthier" put that long winding on, but the bow's handling was transformed by the change - but it retained its sonic character. I have read that these bows are definitely not Tourte copies but some frogs resemble those of Tourte.

Search for "Weichold" here:

December 20, 2018, 12:17 PM · Andrew thank you!! I was going off of what my luthier told me. It does have the stamps, as you've described. Wow! I paid $250 for it! Looks like I really lucked out!
Edited: December 20, 2018, 12:25 PM · Part of the purpose of my previous post here was to introduce the idea that when a string player says a bow is "too heavy" or "too light" they probably don't know what they are talking about. You really cannot detect the 5% difference in the weight of an object that weighs between 2 ounces (violin bow) and 2.9 ounces (cello bow, but you can definitely detect the difference in the balance of a bow depending on where that 5% is (tip or frog). If it is at the tip, the bow feels heavy and "plays heavy." If it is at the frog, the bow feels light and "plays light."

The mass distribution of a bow can be changed and mass can be added at the frog or inside the tip. For a wire-wrapped bow the mass at the frog can be reduced by switching to silk or plastic (like faux whalebone) winding. This can make all the difference in handling characteristics. In my experience it has not changed the sonic character of the 3 bows I have had this done to (2 others by adding mass inside the tip). It was a process my luthier (Haide Lin) seemed very familiar with.

December 20, 2018, 1:01 PM · Interesting, I hadn't thought you could adjust the weight of it with different materials.

When I upgraded bows the first time (before the Weichold), I had picked out a Steiner bow, I think he was selling it used for $175? It ended up feeling way too light for me after a week's trial (so probably wasn't balanced right in the frog vs tip for my needs), but we also discovered it was about an inch shorter than my original bow (a cheap factory made wood bow that was with my violin when I inherited it) and the Weichold/brazilwood bows I got instead. It was a 4/4 bow, so we found that pretty interesting. Any thoughts?

Edited: December 24, 2018, 7:10 PM · Here's a very interesting video discussion by Charles Irving I found. In this video, he discusses and shows the differences between the Tourte and Sartory model. Well worth a watch!

December 24, 2018, 7:22 PM · no difference - they are all beyond my reach!
December 25, 2018, 3:19 AM · Thanks Nate - that video was very interesting...
December 25, 2018, 6:20 AM · I'm tempted to say "bah humbug" but I'm sure we're all very sincere in our opinions. It's the lack of objective evidence that brings out the Scrooge in me.
December 25, 2018, 12:48 PM · Well done video.Thanks Nate.I do remember that exHubermann Tourte just hugging the string and pulling out the darkest"gutsy" but rich sound out of my fiddle.What a genius luthier..
December 25, 2018, 1:10 PM · Objective evidence for bows is pretty clear. The wood can be tested for its tonal properties, and there are measurable differences in the strength and flexibility of the wood, as you can see from that video.
December 25, 2018, 1:17 PM · Nate, Thanks for posting that. I wonder what he does to select his bow blanks other than to listen to them. I would think measuring the density of the wood might be important to selecting the final dimensions - unless the density takes care of all of that - but then why the Lucci Meter?

Anyhow,I found it very interesting and pulled out my "better" bows to test them that way.

My stiffer bows did not do the "Tourte bend."
Not the Paul Martin Siefried nor the Richard Weichold. And my ARCUS Concerto bow hardly bends at all.
My F.N. Voirin came very close.
Most surprising was that my Michael Duff, "Berg Deluxe" comes even closer and a bow made by the long-late Baltimore luthier and dealer, Carl Holzapfel, Sr. actually does the "Tourte bend," just as it appears in the Irving video. When my father bought the bow (c. 1952) Mr. Holzapfel said that he had "shown it to Wurlitzer in NYC who thought it was a Tourte." I remember - I was there at the time.

Both the Duff and Holzapfel bows really hold to the strings well and do a great sautille across the strings (as in the Mendelssohn concerto cadenza) without a thought - but they do not produce the most powerful sounds.

The ARCUS can be made to do lots of things and can make great sound, but it is so stiff the "Tourte bend" would be impossible.

More food for thought!

December 26, 2018, 3:23 AM · I have no difficulty accepting that bows are physically different from one another. The objective evidence that's lacking is that any bow produces a sound which is in some degree particular to that bow, reproducible across violins and in the hands of different players, and independent of other factors such as the hair and the rosin. Unfortunately I don't think it would be possible to conduct a controlled trial which would satisfy any moderately skeptical scientist
December 26, 2018, 3:42 AM · I don't think anyone expects it to Steve! As I see it its more about synchronicity - do the violin and bow resonate together or not. Even with two violins and a reasonable selection of bows you can demonstrate that quite readily - that some bows sound better than others and its not the same bows. The trickier question is whether its possible to 'tune' the bow to the violin.

Actually, that's a question I raised years ago - whether a bow could be modified (the reaction was not without horror ;) )....

December 26, 2018, 8:46 AM · I seem to recall that when Benoit Rolland makes a bow on commission, that's what he does -- chooses wood for the bow that's a tonal match to the violin.

I imagine a demonstration of the sound of different bows would be easy enough. You just need one player, their violin, a pile of bows (preferably with brand-new rehairs and the same rosin), and a sound frequency meter. The easiest way to accomplish this would be cheap mass-manufactured bows.

If the bow material didn't matter, we wouldn't have a disparity between CF and wood, I'll point out.

December 26, 2018, 9:39 AM · Lydia - that would be a step in the right direction but it's clear why the experiment has never been performed. The player would have to be "blind" to the maker and characteristics of the bow so as not to introduce any subconscious bias. They'd also somehow have to maintain constancy in the speed and pressure of their arm and the action of their left hand. But you'd argue (and I'd agree) that the same bow speed and pressure aren't likely to elicit the optimal sound the bow is capable of in every case.

My nub of my grouse is that when describing the "sound" of a particular bow one should be careful to keep in mind that the findings are purely subjective and dependent on a multiplicity of factors that can never be fully disentangled.

December 26, 2018, 10:22 AM · In my experience with testing such things, whether it's adjustment, different strings, etc., the lower the quality of instrument used the smaller the differences, to the point where changes don't exist at all for many people's treasured equipment. That helps create the illusion that differences are subjective, especially when the participants have not been carefully selected for the specific task of being able to know the difference between different sounds (just being a "violinist", talented or not, is not a qualification!)

Only when people with genuine shxt vs Shinola abilities are available does the testing becomes interesting. Folks like to say that the difference between Strads and del Gesus is "subjective", and I think I have probably mentioned once before the friend of mine who went through the Bein & Fushi Miracle Makers comparison recording and divided the 24 instruments into Strads and del Gesus on the first run through with one mistake, and was also able to explain to me exactly what objective criteria he had used.

Very few players can identify bows, so it's a simple matter to dump a pile in front of them and have them play through them without either the player or listener knowing what they are using. You would be surprised how consistently this type of test turns out, the the extent where differences between makers definitely pop out over time and many tests, using different bows, instruments, and players.

In my opinion it's a serious mistake to discount other people's abilities as subjective simply because you lack their skills, or to have the hubris to believe that no truth exists until an experiment "proves" it!

Edited: December 26, 2018, 11:27 AM · Michael - "subjective" doesn't mean "non-existent" or "imaginary", but phenomena that can only be described in terms of subjective experience rather than objective measurement. Sound itself is a purely subjective phenomenon; we (I and probably most of humanity, although I can't be sure about that) are able to discriminate the instruments of a whole orchestra in the waveform of air pressure against time. No experiment has yet come close to separating the individual sources of a recording of even three or four instruments, but I can although I admit I couldn't tell a Tourte from a Tubbs.
December 26, 2018, 12:11 PM · Steve, I'm guessing that you're not one of the people who can hear differences between bows, or you'd never have written "the same bow speed and pressure aren't likely to elicit the optimal sound the bow is capable of in every case" (and possibly not that entire first paragraph).

Timbral differences between bows are instantly apparent the moment you set the bow to the string, regardless of your bowing technique or what you play for testing.

I'm sure that this must produce different frequencies and a visibly different waveform for the sound that could be objectively seen, even if the indicated measurements might not clearly demonstrate what is considered "better".

Edited: December 26, 2018, 1:26 PM · Lydia - you're quite right about my deficient powers of discrimination, but you quite fail to understand my point. I am not saying that differences between the sounds emitted by bows don't exist or denying that some people can hear them. It is fundamental in science that in order to objectively prove the existence of an effect (that different bows give rise to different sounds), you have to ensure that other potentially confounding factors (e.g. bow speed and pressure) are held constant. Otherwise how would you know that any differences you measure or hear aren't due to the player rather than the bow?
December 26, 2018, 4:58 PM · Not to split to many hairs, but Steve you said "Sound itself is a purely subjective phenomenon" and I don't agree. Yes, our responses to sounds are subjective, but the sounds themselves are not. We can measure the differences in violins quite easily, although to your point, for someone to say "these measurements = projection in the concert hall" is a bit of a stretch. Measuring the sound of bows is clearly difficult - I have not seen any such thing. But as pointed out in the thread, experienced players usually can tell differences right away, aside from "playability". Bow wood has different densities, the graduations are different, the camber. So it is not too surprising that different bows should sound differently.
December 26, 2018, 5:07 PM · Steve, you seem to be conceptualizing the tonal differences between bows more like the tonal differences in violins, where the way that a player produces sound has a huge impact on how the instrument sounds.

Bows aren't like that. The timbre of the bow with the violin is exactly the same regardless of the stroke type or the player.

I mean, sure, you could do a experiment where a single player plays, I dunno, a basic down-bow. Surely any reasonably competent player can do that identically using a bunch of different bows.

But you don't need to. The timbre differences are immediately apparent, playing literally anything. You could play one note for a fraction of a second.

I suppose the folks who don't hear the differences are thoroughly happy with CF bows rather than wood bows!

Michael Darnton's comment on the degree of the interaction between violin and bow are very true. On my previous "modern Italian" (an Enrico Marchetti), bows made a difference but the tonal impact wasn't huge -- not sufficient to greatly influence my choice of bow. On my current Vuillaume, bows are hugely different in tone, sufficiently so to reject bows that felt very comfortable for tonal reasons alone.

Edited: December 26, 2018, 8:44 PM · Quote:
"Folks like to say that the difference between Strads and del Gesus is "subjective", and I think I have probably mentioned once before the friend of mine who went through the Bein & Fushi Miracle Makers comparison recording and divided the 24 instruments into Strads and del Gesus on the first run through with one mistake, and was also able to explain to me exactly what objective criteria he had used."

First, I'd like to say that it is the PREFERENCE between Strads and Guarneris which is subjective. But that is also true of any two instruments, even two Strads or two Guarneris. No two instruments sound or work exactly the same.

Second, I'd be very interested in seeing your friend's ability independently verified. Not the ability to memorize the sound, or the differences in playing of each violin in the Miracle Makers recording (which would not be unimpressive), but with a fresh set of instruments.
Without that, I can also claim that a friend put a rock into orbit by giving it a forceful upward strike with a tennis racquet. We didn't see the rock come down, so what other explanation could there be? LOL

In most of the double-blind testing, it has not been adequately demonstrated that soloists can even tell the difference between old instruments and new, let alone the differences between Strads and Guarneris. Not that some generalizations couldn't apply.

Edited: December 27, 2018, 2:24 AM · Karl - glad you brought that up - gives me another chance to try to get across what to me is an important conceptual difference! Vibrations in the air are objectively provable phenomena but "sound" is the particular sensation that's only experienced by those organisms with receptors to detect those vibrations. We can measure vibrations in the the air but not the sound of them, as I struggled to say with my point about being able to hear an entire orchestra in a single waveform of air pressure against time. What we call "light" is a tiny section of the electromagnetic spectrum that happens to stimulate receptors in our eyes. There's nothing else special about it. We have machines to measure electromagnetic waves, but none of them predict the fact that we can detect certain frequencies but not others. Everything we may say about our experience of sound and light is subjective, but that's not to say we can't devise methods to prove by objective means that we can detect subtle differences in our subjective sensations - hence double-blind listening trials.

Lydia - I'm sure you're often complimented on the sound of your violin. You accept gracefully while thinking "that violin is pretty mute without me to play it". I doubt you've ever been complimented on the sound of your bow, or thought you should be, but of course your violin is mute without that too. All three factors are contributory but the bow comes in a clear third. To claim that there exist "huge tonal differences" between bows is a pretty challenging statement that calls out for supportive evidence. You are satisfied by the fact that YOU can detect these tonal differences. I believe you but I'd still like to see proof.

December 27, 2018, 8:11 AM · The differences can be heard by third parties, too. Other people listened as I was picking from my finalists.

And for my CF backup, the sounds of different CF bows (even within the same model) was huge and often wretched. There you really get much larger deltas, specifically how much high-frequency screechy nastiness you get in the sound.

Importantly, the sound that a bow makes is different on each violin. It's not personal to the player, I think. My bow and my teacher's bow are pretty similar, for instance, but his is tonally better on his violin and mine is tonally better on my violin. It's an interesting phenomenon.

Anyway, Steve, I think this is an experiment that's probably so easily run that no one has bothered doing so. We tend to take it for granted; that's why CF makers compete to sound like wood.

December 27, 2018, 8:29 AM · Shows the problems we get when we let people with tin ears participate in the debate!! (not you Lydia)
December 27, 2018, 10:20 AM · Steve, one problem we get into when taking measurements of sound is this:
Even when the differences in sound between two bows can be clearly heard, the spectrographic differences can be difficult to distinguish from the same bow used two different times, by the same player. I don't know of a player who can produce an identical spectrogram twice.
December 27, 2018, 4:00 PM · This is making me want to find a spectrographic app that will record.
December 27, 2018, 4:13 PM · Lydia, there are a number of freeware programs which will do that, more or less.

I use SpectraPlus, which isn't free (I think the cheapest version is around 275 dollars) but it provides much better detail than any freeware I have run across.

Edited: December 27, 2018, 4:47 PM · Steve, I don't need to own a Strad, del Gesu or Vuillaume nor do I have to be a good violinist to really suffer from this phenomenon. Mine is not an outstanding instrument, but a good solid mid level, previously owned by a conservatory professor who used it mainly for teaching and sometimes loaned it to talented students who couldn't afford a good instrument but needed one for a performance. Good enough for most section players, but maybe not the right thing for a CM solo. Personally I'd prefer it to be different, but it's a matter of fact that my violin can't stand 90% of the bows I ever offered it. Especially CF bows, but also mostly all stiffer or lighter ones. It prefers rather heavier, soft sticks - and by far not all of them. Not especially the kind of bows which make learning advanced bowing techniques as easy as possible for a bloody late starter...
And it's not only me who hears this under the ear, not only my stand partner in the community orch, and not only my teacher on the other side of the room. It's not only my 10 years old son who plays the thrombone, or my wife who is a late starter on the clarinet. It's even my elderly mom who never had anything to do with music making. If I use a bow I'd prefer from a technical point of view and for it's "ease of playing", she asks me "Please, couldn't you play differently again?" And she didn't even realize that I own more than one bow. This all may be generated by individual subjective perception, but there is a high consistency in the comments I receive.
This is also noticeable on my beloved pro level viola, and (not as strong) on my son's good student level violin or on my crappy "office viola" - and all of them clearly have different preferences, so it doesn't seem to be caused by my maybe lacking technical skills. You even notice it on my low level "violin for really risky situations", but I wouldn't say it really mattered there - a different bow only makes it sound like a different piece of rubbish...

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