Bow Recommendations? ($300 Budget)

Edited: February 22, 2019, 2:11 AM · I'm looking for an upgrade from my $60 no name Fiberglass bow to something I can be confident with as I'm learning violin.

Here are some details about my situation:

I live in a hot, dry, desert climate (even though it snowed today, very rare) but I mostly play alone in an air conditioned room I keep at 70°F. So I'm not sure if carbon fiber or wood is better.

I use Russian bow hold if that makes any difference

Sound is important, but playability is more important for me right now since I mostly just play for self enjoyment

I'm about halfway through Suzuki book 1 to give you an idea of my playing level

My violin is a $400 2018 La Chambre student model that bought from a local music shop. I cant really find any more information about La Chambre, but the violin is in good shape (teacher approved)

I've been using Fiddlerman synthetic strings which are supposed to be similar to Dominants

$300 is my budget for a bow right now. If and when I upgrade my violin to around the $3000 mark, I might be inclined to get a more expensive bow. But I plan on sticking with this one for awhile.

I'll be happy to answer any more questions you may have.

Replies (24)

February 22, 2019, 12:29 AM ·

I've had several students get this bow and I really like it.

February 22, 2019, 6:33 AM · Fiddlerman CF.
February 22, 2019, 7:51 AM · The JonPaul Fusion bows are a great value for the price. I used one as my main teaching bow until a couple weeks ago when I upgraded to the JonPaul Muse model.
February 22, 2019, 9:01 AM · You might want to take a look in general at carbon fiber bows. Two of the replies have suggested them. They can be pretty good and be in your price range. If you upgrade your violin, you may want to look at bows in the $700-$800 range that are wood.
February 22, 2019, 9:17 AM · the only thing worse than Carbon Fibre bows are cheap Carbon Fibre bows. I would recommend going to a violin shop and trying out cheaper nickel mount pernambuco or even brazilwood bow, you should be able to find a good one for $300 at a reasonably priced shop, and it's going to sound a lot better than a Carbon Fibre alternative.
February 22, 2019, 10:00 AM · I would recommend NOT buying a wood bow under $1000. You'll end up with some cheap Bausch factory garbage and you won't realise it's holding you back because you won't know what you should look for.
Talking from experience here. Buy a CF bow.
February 22, 2019, 11:03 AM · Cheap factory garbage wood bow still sounds better than Carbon Fibre
February 22, 2019, 11:27 AM · Mr Taylor,

maybe you intended to say "different" instead of "better" ? ....... ;)

February 22, 2019, 11:34 AM · No, Carbon Fibre sound aweful, not just different, they may play very well but the sound sucks, you'd have to be almost tone deaf to not notice the difference.
February 22, 2019, 11:40 AM · In my opinion, this sort of absolutism (i don't know the correct word in english) is never a goal to pursue.
February 22, 2019, 3:18 PM · I have to disagree with the Fiddlerman bow recommendation.

I used to recommend it to my students but I haven't been pleased overall with the tone of the bow, or the fact that for a beginner, it's far too punishing of a bow in terms of its stiffness.

I haven't personally found the "any wood bow under 1000 is trash" mantra to be correct, although I do hear it thrown around a lot, and I used to recycle that phrase frequently myself until I realized it was incorrect.

February 22, 2019, 3:27 PM · Nothing wrong with an Arcos Brasil, Horst John or iStrings wood bow, Ni mounted, all under 1k, but for 300 bucks a good CF bow is what you should consider. I suggest a look at the JonPaul Vibrant or Bravo.
February 22, 2019, 4:03 PM · Good pernambuco bows under $1000 are very RARE. And it would take a small miracle for a beginner to happen to find such a bow. CF bows are durable (keep in mind OP is living in a harsh climate), reliable, and sound just fine to any audience member.
I still carry a Fiddlerman CF bow alongside my pernambuco master bow.
Edited: February 22, 2019, 5:13 PM · I agree with Ingrid.

I currently use a C.F. Iesta (now sold in the US as JonPaul Fusion Silver) as my primary viola bow. When I bought it, I actually had a $2000 budget and ended up finding the hybrid bow comparable to $2500 wood bows. The thin layer of wood adds back a surprising amount of warmth.

The (professional) principal violist in my semi-pro orchestra tried mine, bought one herself, and now uses it as her primary bow as well.

I haven't tried the basic JonPaul Fusion, but I'm a convert to hybrid bows in general.

February 22, 2019, 6:15 PM · Also, re: wood vs carbon fiber, I won't say wood bows under $1,000 are trash, but CF is far superior at all price levels below $1,000.
February 22, 2019, 6:31 PM · bollocks!!
February 22, 2019, 6:36 PM · I tend to agree with Lyndon, but people seem to like their carbon fiber bows for whatever their reasons are.
Edited: February 22, 2019, 7:13 PM · It used to be that you could get a decent student bow from YitaMusic for $300, and they'd throw in a violin and case for free. Or was that the other way around? But it looks like their prices have gone up.

I think that the YitaMusic freebie Brazilwood bows are more than good enough for students until they hit the more advanced stages, and far better than some others which are thrown in for apparently nothing with more expensive violins.

I don't know if you can buy them individually, but you can get 10 for about $150 including shipping.

But if you don't want a free violin, or can't deal with 10 extra bows (counting your current one), or want to spend more, I'd probably go with Erik's suggestion even though I don't have any experience with it.

One thing which continues to throw off people in the violin marketplace is that they think that price correlates well with quality. It simply doesn't - there are too many variables in wood alone for that to hold. Even 'master' makers, unless they throw out much of what they make, will have significant variability in their output due to differences in the wood (and its history, etc.), and given that variability and odds of them having price levels just based on what the market will bear for their name and model levels, one can conclude that price is not a reliable measure of performance (if that could even be described as a single figure, which it can't).

That said, a good say $5,000 bow made by a known maker is very likely to be significantly better simply due to the care taken in the choice of bow hair and its attachment than a bow made for a volume market. But will that bow necessarily be better than say another $1,000 bow?

February 25, 2019, 7:15 PM · It basically comes down to, go to all the shops and try as many bows as you can. Find what fits your playing best and what matches your violin best.

I had a 200$ carbon fiber bow with my original violin (that was around 150), and it was okay. Tough, and it worked okay for that violin, but nothing to write home about. With my most recent violin (that I'm actually replacing tomorrow), I tried a number of bows and just didn't like the tone on any of the CF bows compared to the wood bows, and I tried many from the 300-3500 price point. Bow I would up settling on was significantly less than what I budgeted, but it sounded best with my violin and plays very well. So yes people have their preferences in all price points, but it comes down to your playing and your violin.

Edited: March 1, 2019, 3:53 AM · I'm a beginner adult amateur who plays on a yamaha v5 violin. To give you an idea of my level, I'm starting to learn 2nd position (after having learnt 3rd), I've recently started double-stops etudes and I'm still struggling to get a decent vibrato.

Six months ago, I went to my local shop for trying some better bows than the one I had (which came with the violin). They carried some bows from €100 to €500 more or less, so I tried a few of them:

  • Regarding CF bows, my limited experience makes me agree with Lyndon Taylor. The shop carried some cheaper CF ones (up to €200) and some hybrid "galaxy" bows (up to €300). I didn't like them at all. They felt dead, and I didn't like the sound they produced, not just when I played badly, but also when my teacher tried with them my violin. It was extremely shrill. Every wooden bow I tried in the same price range sounded better. I suppose better CF bows like Arcus or Coda are different, but my experience with what I tried there will make me stay away from them for a good time.

  • Among the wooden ones, they carried some octogonal and some round bows. The octogonal ones tended to be brighter than the round ones.

I finally got a €350 wooden and round bow branded "Marcus Baum", which produced a more round sound with a slightly mellower tone and less volume than the others I tried. I'm very satisfied with it, and for my current level, it's been enough of an upgrade. The sound of my violin has definitely improved with this bow along with darker strings (Tziganes instead of dominants).

March 1, 2019, 6:22 AM · I have an old Sivori 65gram student bow. I don’t use it and would love to know it’s goibf to help someone who wants to learn. It’s a great student bow, yoh will want to upgrade at some point. My upgrade cost about 1000.00. If you are interested, I just had it rehaired. I’m sure any Luthier could attest to a sivori, or just find one on the net, great student bow.
March 1, 2019, 10:03 AM · I bought a codabow for just under $400 and it's alright. It's 5g lighter than my pernambuco, which means off the string strokes are considerably easier. I'm hoping to upgrade to a better lighter bow ASAP though, the CF bow feels... clunky. Maybe I'll get lucky with Tarisio's T2 auction next month/this month. We'll see...

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