Is there a good Carbon Fiber Bow?
I'm looking for a good carbon fiber bow, in fact I got in touch with Berg shop in Bloomington, Indiana, but never had a chance to actually meet them in person in order to try it. My colleague has one of his bows but the price is kind a high for me ($7500) So I was wondering if somebody could recommend decent bow less than that. Thanks!
I really enjoyed the CodaBow Diamond GX when I was trying Carbon Fiber bows out. I would also recommend looking into the Arcus bows, they cover all kinds of price ranges and with models corresponding to different weights to accommodate for different arm sizes.
The best carbon based Fibre is Pernambuco
I use an arcus p5 right now and I enjoy it. The sound production is good and I got it because it was better than ALL the pernambuco I was trying other then some modern bows which were a few thousand out my price range. The reason i have it is because of the money I think it can beat most wood bows at this low price point sure you can find a diamond in the rough but carbon fiber is just so reliable. I would recommend arcus they do a great job and handmade all their bows. I haven’t tried any of the higher range but they do have a 8000€ bow so carbon fiber isn’t necessarily cheap.
Cleveland Violins sells an unbranded variety from China. $500 when I last visited the topic. They sent me three, which sounded quite different from each other.
I am sure there are some good CF bows out there, but my limited amateurish experience makes me agree with Lyndon. I've tried some CF bows in the €300 range and they all seemed dead and produced a slightly metallic sound that wooden bows didn't. I ended up getting an €400 pernambuco bow that I liked more than those CF bows (which theoretically were "better" for the price). I also tried some "hybrid bows" in the same range and I hated them with a passion. They were the worst among all of the bows.
The higher-end Coda Bows are excellent bows for the price. Like wood bows, CF bows can vary somewhat in performance characteristics and tone, so it is worthwhile to try several Coda Bows within the same model line to find one that fits you and your violin.
great bows except they sound like crxp!!
I like my JonPaul Avanti.
Another vote for Arcus / Muesing. I play a Muesing C5 (the new Muesing C series was named after Arcus founder Bernd Muesing and was introduced as a new product line about two years ago) and several Arcus P, S and M, and they surpassed every pernambuco bow (and my old Coda) I have ever tried hands down.
The Jon Paul Carrera and The Coda Marquis are both great bows (and the same price - in the $1200 to $1300 range) but very different. I suggest that when you decide on a bow get a couple of the the same bow on trial and try them. I've found they can vary in performance on your particular violin just like the wood bows.
In many ways my Berg Deluxe violin bow is my best handling violin bow but it is not my best sounding bow on any of my 4 violins. (Although they are synthetic material bows, I'm not sure Berg bows are made of carbon fiber.) My Arcus Concerto bows (violin, viola and cello) enhance projection by giving the overtones a boost.
I, like Andrew, have a Berg bow. Mine is the more modest Ebony model, which are now 3K. It is my daily practice bow and does handle better than my best pernambuco bows. I did have an Arcus, but it was too light for me and I sold it.
But don’t forget carbon fiber had more advantages than sound as it is virtually indestructible. They aren’t a pecatte but that’s not there market I’ve always thought of carbon fiber as the bows we use for work bows not the thing you fall in love with, but the bows that have playability and can be dropped a million times and still be good.
And good for orchestra pits, even if you switch to a more expensive one for performances.
I used wooden bow for teaching and now on a rather cheap CF bow I bought years ago ($50) that actually work wonder and sound good on my teaching violin. This bow was regarded as cheapy for a long while only rediscover it few months ago.
Thank you all for very helpful comments and suggestions, but yes, I'd use it CF bow especially playing in the pit or outdoors.
I love my C.F. Iesta hybrid bow (now sold in the US as JonPaul Fusion Silver). Has the springiness of a carbon fiber bow and much of the warmth of a wood bow. I use it as my primary bow. I bought it for a little over $500 after I went to shops expecting to spend around $2,000 and tried out wood bows up to $2,500 and carbon fiber bows up to $1,000.
The Arcus are great bows. Especially orchestra pit players seem to like them, and use them for "daily duty" since they are lighter and dampen the transmission of vibration into the arm. This dampening effect is said to prevent injury, and there are not few testimonials from players claim that their switch to an arcus helped them getting rid of chronic pain.
I have Cadenza Master ("3 star") bows for my violin and viola. They are fine. I once tried a pernambuco bow made by Dominique Peccatte and one made by Nikolaus Kittel (priceless antique bows), but I could not hear any difference in sound from my $500 CF bow, whether I was playing my violin or whether the owner of the bows, an excellent professional violinist, was playing. But my hearing is not the best.
Another great option might be a hybrid bow from the Finkel workshop in Switzerland. Next to average weight, warmer sound, more similar to pernambuco in all characteristics and reasonably priced for a high end pro like you.
I think for $750, a JonPaul Avanti is a great bow for pit playing and whatnot. It feels good in the hand, its playing characteristics are pretty neutral (i.e. it's very easy to adjust to, from whatever other bow you're used to playing), and it is well-balanced and predictable.
Thanks for that reminder, Nuuska. I forgot - one of my "pernambuco" violin bows is Jumeau, a hybrid, as you described, from the Finkel workshop. I did try a hybrid cello bow from that workshop with the Finkel brand and it was definitely in the top 5% of the (well over 100) cello bows I have trialed - with handling that actually acts like a spiccato/sautille "machine." but it did not provide the sound I wanted on the cello I wanted it for. (Too bad, because bows like that in my price range don't seem to show up for sale.)
Ok, friends, then let me ask you this: where in the US here I could possibly take a look perhaps online at them? I mean what shops should I look and links to them d be greatly appreciated, thanks
The Arcus website provides a list of US dealers and shops (complete with links): http://www.arcus-muesing.de/en/contact.html#usa
I play an Arcus S8 full time...it's an exceptional bow provided one is willing to learn to use it. The hollow carbon fiber shaft, stiffness, and light weight make the behavior different in significant ways from conventional wood bows. While I have greatly appreciated the wonderful bows I have played by Etienne Pajeot, F.N. Voirin, the Ouchards, and modern makers like Manoel Francisco and Klaus Gronke, the Arcus accomplishes a significant amount at a fraction of the price of the French antiques. It all comes down to what one is willing to spend--I desire certain properties in a bow's function, and Arcus has those qualities at a price I consider very reasonable. It also pairs with my violin very well, which is fortunate since I've tried it on some violins where it didn't really get anywhere.
In my post i suggested to look for a Musing bow, as a suggestion in a new direction, but i use an Arcus bow myself :)
If they still have that deal, https://www.clevelandviolins.com/ is well worth calling.
Makes you wonder how many of these CF converts have actually compared the sound of their CF bow to a good Pernambuco bow, the tonal differences are pretty obvious to me, and not complimentary for CF in the least.
That's why I keep beating the drum for hybrids.
Didn't Paganini play on a hollow, straight bow made of rolled sheet metal? CF can't be worse than that.
Doesn't most of this question hinge to a great extent on:
Gene, how do you feel about the S8 vs the S9? I liked the S8 somewhat, but I really thought the S9 was excellent, comparable to French antique bows in a similar price range ($9k or so), though not competitive with antiques in the $20k+ range. (I was trying out a number of Morizots and whatnot at the time, at a price point fairly comparable to the S9.)
I did play a few S9's, and they are wonderful, it's just that I didn't find them to be "twice the price" better than the S8, in particular the one S8 I ended up with is really fantastic. There's still a small but discernible variation between the sticks even at the top level.
I'd like to have a bow look like wooden bow, you know what I mean? Otherwise just CF bow looks dark. Thanks
I have an Arcus M5, which suits me very well. But then, I'm not a professional and have never even looked at a £2000+ pernambuco bow, I just found the Arcuses I tried to be much more satisfying than any of the pernambuco bows in my price category.
@Michael - "gold and silver mounting". I too think that silver/gold mountings versus other metals have no discernible effect on the playing. I was told by a luthier that a bow maker may use an expensive mounting material on his best bows to indicate that they are indeed the top-of-the-range - and further justify the asking price. Makes sense.
Ordabek, The Berg bows look like wood bows, at least mine (bought pre-2000) does. In fact, when Jay Ifshin first examined it it took a while before he realized it was not wood, in fact not until I told him.
Thanks, Andrew! I tried his bow, one my colleagues playing on it last I don't know like 10 years maybe, and yeah I didn't know until he told me hahah
If you want it to look like wood, why not straight checking out the hybrid bows first? Most probably the will not have all advantages of the full CF bows, but as long as you're not planning to play in pouring rain, you (and your violin) should be fine.
Finkel's website says that all their bows are made of pernambuco. There is no indication they still make and sell the hybrid bows. I "auditioned" their full lines of their violin and cello bows from SHAR more than 18 years ago when they were selling them.
Andrew, they still have them on their website - with a "coming soon" button. But it seems like they didn't update their website since a while...
You can get a good carbon fiber or pernambuco bow from China on eBay for under $100. Some very talented makers over there.
sorry fake Pernambuco bow from China for $100, no real Pernambuco.
Brazil is not the only place Pernambuco can grow. It’s the 21st century...
Nate, could you please send the link? Thanks
Ordabek, I’ve gotten a few bows from this seller the past for gigs/outdoor events. I was shocked at how good they were for the price. So were a few of my friends! Here’s one of the carbon fiber bows. The seller also carries Pernambuco in the eBay store. Some of the frogs on these bows are stunningly beautiful!
There's a sucker born every minute if you think you can buy Pernambuco for $100, just the genuine Pernambuco blank costs $100, that leaves no money for making the bow and frog.
Gene. the S8 I tried felt somewhat different from a regular bow (and the other bows in the Arcus lines definitely felt distinctly different, to the point where I traded the one I used to own for a Coda, years back), but the S9 immediately felt like it essentially played like a fine standard-weight bow despite the fact that it must have been lighter. I suspect it's a matter of the individual balance of the bow. I felt a significant difference between the S8 and S9. I have gotten to try several S8 bows but unfortunately only one S9, though I don't remember it it was octagonal or round. I agree with you that the range of individualization on Arcus bows (and other CF bows) is nontrivial.
I looked up that eBay link, and it says carbon fibre pernambuco wood skin. What does that mean?
I think it is literally a veneer of pernambuco over the carbon-fiber stick. Never seen one up close, though.
Or a veneer of Chinese fake Pernambuco.
Nate said of the bows he tried, "I was shocked at how good they were for the price." They were $100. Now ... considering Nate is obviously not interested in these bows for their investment value, does it matter that they're not actually pernambuco? A $100 bow is basically disposable. A set of strings costs as much. Some folks pay as much for a single one-hour lesson.
Andrew, could you upload picture of your Berg bow here please?
Some things to add to the Arcus bow discussion.
And as for Landon's comments confidently insisting that wood bows sound better (and I'm sure the expensive antique wood bows from his shop sound the best, right!), everybody has to keep in mind that sound is highly subjective and based on our own habits and expectations. Sound isn't produced by the ears, it's really produced by our brains and heavily influenced by experiences and consciousness.
I bought the least expensive of the JonPaul bows, the "Bravo" and liked it enough to buy the "Avanti", but it behaves and feels the same.
Joel, now you've made my day! Great anecdote...
Uploading PHOTOS here - how to do it?
can't do it then, you have to have a web hosting service to post pics here
Google Drive, for example, can be a host.
Ordabek Duissen - get your email to me and I'll reply attaching bow photos.
Thomas, that might be true if you're unfortunate enough to have a violin that's muddy higher up on the G string, but if you're forced to play on the D string to compensate, that's really a compromise. Having the instrument behave well in the upper positions is essential to having access to a wider palette of tonal colors.
Andrew, my email is email@example.com
Andrew, got to see it, nice. Thanks for sending the link. Also, thanks everyone for your helpful comments.
Lydia, a better violin should articulately more clearly in high positions (and low positions) but that wasn't really my point. I was trying to get at is the disconnect I see between musician and audience sometimes.
And I think that my point is that going up a string shouldn't result in a sound that's any less clear. Players -- interpreters of music -- should be choosing the color they want for the sound. Clarity, both from the violin/bow and from the player, should be a given.
I have uploaded my EXCEL "Bow Calculator" spreadsheet to my Google Drive. You can see that many of the obvious physical properties of CF and other synthetic material bows are very similar to those of pernambuco bows. The spreadsheet was created in 2001 so I don't recall all the details of the various parameters.
Hey Andrew Victor, the link you does not lead to your Drive, but instead leads to whoever clicked on it.
Thanks Mark, can you see if that fixed it?
The links works for me.
But Lydia, I don't even know the point of carrying this on, but this is just physics. In 7th position the vibrating length of the string is about half what it is in first position. There is a cost to that. Play a c in 1st position on the A and in 7th position on the G. It is harder to get clarity and volume in 7th position on the G, but you do get a darker sound because of the string diameter and tension. This tradeoff exists if you're playing a $100 violin or a $1 million violin.
Of course the timbre of a string is different in the upper positions, and of course it takes more effort to draw a clean sound. (This is why players heed to general rule that the further up you go, the closer the bow needs to be to the bridge, after all; most advanced violinists will do that automatically.)
Timothy, I agree 7,5K it is expensive hahaha
Dear friends and colleagues, do you feel comfortable to buy things from EBay in general?
A very interesting video made by Bernd Musing, explaining the difference between Arcus and Musing bows: https://youtu.be/1JDvKcOR8FY
Curious thread. Pernambuco has rarity, antique value and tradition: CF doesn't.
Tony, thanks for that link. I had a lot of email dealings with Bernd Müsing starting about 20 years ago so it was nice to finally meet him face-to-face so to speak). I was fortunate to have in hand a number of his bows in the earlier years. He had set up a deal with the Ifshin Violins shop that if he sent them to me to try and I did not want to buy I would pass them on the the shop.
Did I really just see an Arcus S-series for $8K? Yowza!
Jeffrey, I'm not sure about Arcus, but some of Berg bows cost over 7k
Jeff Terflinger, what's your contact info? Couldn't find it here, I'm interested
Coda bow Diamond Series are all excellent. I am using an NX model and it has not failed me over the few years.
Trialing a Coda Marquis and a Musing C5 at the moment. Leaning towards the Coda. However it is not quite as clear as I would have assumed given the difference in weight [ C=61g, M=54g ].
if you're interested in good tone, try pernambuco!!
Lyndon, I am well aware of your opinions.
maybe true for playability, but not for tone.
Playability comes first. If you have to fight the bow all the time, tone doesn't matter.
At my level now and into the foreseeable future Playability in the primary requirement. Justifiable cost is absolutely on the top three list..... maybe the top one list.
Just FYI the Arcus S-series don't have to be expensive. The S5, which has the same stick as the more expensive models, can be had for around $1500.
Re: Also I have an automatic [from long experience] aversion to absolutists
you all seem to be buying the absolutist BS of the CF protagonists!!
It's a good investment :)
I haven't read a single post where anyone has stated unequivocally that CF is "better" than wood..... especially when you get into the investment area of thousands of dollars.
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