Is there a good Carbon Fiber Bow?

April 26, 2019, 12:46 AM · Hi all!

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!

Replies (96)

Edited: April 26, 2019, 5:15 AM · 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.
April 26, 2019, 4:37 AM · The best carbon based Fibre is Pernambuco
April 26, 2019, 4:59 AM · 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.
Edited: April 26, 2019, 5:46 AM · 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.

The one I chose handles very well; while its sound isn't at the level of great pernambuco, it is quite adequate, and better than many "good" wood bows with my instruments. No idea how it stacks up against the various JonPaul options, which have been the favorites on this board.

Supposedly, guys from the Emerson Quartet recommend this option to their students, and perhaps use it themselves.

Edited: April 26, 2019, 5:51 AM · 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.

More recently, I had the chance to "toy" a bit with a good pernambuco bow of €8,500... and what a joy! I don't know how a €8,500 CF bow would be, but I seriously doubt that it can outperform a good pernambuco bow like the one I tried.

Edited: April 26, 2019, 6:27 AM · 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.

However, the variability in Coda Bows at a given price point is far far less than the variability of wooden bows at the same price points. They have been engineered to reproducibly perform and play well.

I'd recommend Coda Bows over generic unbranded CF bows because they have better quality control.

Disclosure: I am not a dealer and I do not sell or distribute Coda Bows.

April 26, 2019, 6:31 AM · great bows except they sound like crxp!!
April 26, 2019, 7:18 AM · I like my JonPaul Avanti.
April 26, 2019, 7:22 AM · OP:
you could investigate on Musing bows (made in germany by the founder of Arcus himself). I tested several ones, many months ago. They surpassed the highend Coda bows easily in everything.
Edited: April 26, 2019, 9:13 AM · 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.
Edited: April 26, 2019, 8:01 AM · Lyndon,

I understand that might be your experience, but it isn't mine.

Tone is a matter of personal preference, and Coda Bows can match up very well and produce excellent tone with many, perhaps most, violins.

I have tried hundreds of wooden bows and dozens of Coda Bows, and the playing characteristics and better tone quality is much more reproducible in the Coda Bows than it is in wooden bows in a similar price range.

My son uses a Luma Coda Bow that has outstanding playing characteristics and matches extremely well tone-wise to his dark-sounding pre-WWI German violin. And we have compared it to many wooden bows on this same violin.


April 26, 2019, 8:25 AM · 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.
April 26, 2019, 8:55 AM · 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 play violin, cello and viola - going back 80 years. In addition to the Berg deluxe bow I also have a full set (vla,va, vc) of Coda Classic, Arcus Concerto and CF Durro bows as well as a Rolland Spiccato violin bow. My "classic" pernambuco bows include Paul Martin Siefried (my richest sounding violin bow), F.N. Voirin and Richard Weichold violin bows and Paul Martin Siefried and Albert Nürnberger cello bows. Neither of my pernambuco viola bows rises to that level although my W. Siefert viola bow is not bad and the other viola bow labeled C. Bazin is best on the other viola. I have a total of 20 bows now, down a bit from my previous total having sold some of the cheaper ones to students and gifted some better ones to family members.

Among my 9 total instruments (4 violins, 3 cellos, 2 violas) sometimes one of my CF bows is the ideal bow for the instrument, the music or the venue (it turns out choice of strings on the instrument also affects my choice of bow). I always pack at least one CF bow in the instrument case that leaves home with me. Which CF bow is in the case depends on which instrument is also in the case.

The only way to evaluate a bow is to fully test it on your instrument.

Edited: April 26, 2019, 11:06 AM · 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.
The Berg does not sound as good as my wood bows, and in that regard I agree with Lyndon. I always use one of my wood bows when I play with others, but for the daily wear & tear, and protection of the pernambuco and to prolong the hair, the synthetic bow can be a useful tool.
April 26, 2019, 11:12 AM · 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.
April 26, 2019, 11:28 AM · And good for orchestra pits, even if you switch to a more expensive one for performances.
April 26, 2019, 12:46 PM · 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.

However CF bows are very stiff in general and doing blows of chords kills the sound easily. There are always work around and one need to play them a little different than a wooden bow.

Learn how to use your tools and control them. Then decide what's suitable for you. Bow shopping is always an educative journey.

I have 2 very good pernambuco bows - one of it give a big sound but heavy and somewhat stiff to play. Another one give more overtone and VERY forgiving to play, making all techniques easier to pull off. I have not play a CF bow as good as these, including an Arcus Cadenza gold before they name their bow like Samsung or Huawei.

On a side note - I had a chance to briefly play a Francois Tourte and several Sartory including one that's G/T. I doubt any CF bow will come close to that complexity of the overtones produced on the Tourte.

April 26, 2019, 1:12 PM · Thank you all for very helpful comments and suggestions, but yes, I'd use it CF bow especially playing in the pit or outdoors.
Edited: April 27, 2019, 7:15 PM · 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.

(EDIT: this was a viola bow. The violin bow is somewhat less expensive, of course.)

April 26, 2019, 5:12 PM · 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.
The relatively low weight wasn't really a problem for me when I tried a bunch of A, S and T bows (in the 4-6 grades, none of the really high end). They were a joy to play, extremely well balanced and agile, and one can play them for hours and hours without getting tired. And in contrary to what I expected, it didn't need significantly more arm weight to tear a big sound. Only reason I decided against purchasing one at this time was that my violin actually prefers softer sticks, something CF isn't intended to be. Part of the problem might have been my own technical imperfections, but it also was the character of my violin that didn't make it a good match. On other, warmer sounding violins this was a different story...
On viola, where I really need the additional weight for the C string, I didn't like it, but on the violin I never found anything comparable, and if you're considering a CF bow for pit duty, you should definitely give the arcus a try.
Edited: April 26, 2019, 5:22 PM · 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.

"My limited amateurish experience makes me agree with Lyndon."

That comment is definitely a keeper.

Edited: April 26, 2019, 5:23 PM · 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.
April 26, 2019, 6:44 PM · 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.
Edited: April 27, 2019, 10:20 PM · 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.)

Another thing. The balance of ARCUS bows can be adjusted. My ARCUS bows were from their early production and the lightness is very nice for sightreading - I found that I could actually correct errors I was about to make before I made them better with these bow than with any others. Bernd Müsing sent me a titanium bow screw to replace my steel one to lighten the frog region and thus move the CM of my bow a little closer to the tip. And some years later I had my luthier add a mass to the tip to finish the job so my violin and cello ARCUS bows are now balanced like my other bows. My ARCUS viola bow is unchanged and balanced much like my CODA Classic violin bow and works just fine on my violas.

The ARCUS bows are stiff (STIFF) very stiff, stiffer than any other bows I have and work best if haired very generously. In fact my luthier charged me extra to install the amount of hair I requested (but I was right!). I did a lot of measurement of my bows' stiffness back before 9/11/01 and used the data to determine optimum hair quantities for each of my bows. Interestingly most of my "softer" bows had been haired to generously, so optimizing them was much easier. - "haircuts" (well actually "minor trimming").

Another thing. The balance of ARCUS bows can be adjusted. My ARCUS bows were from their early production and the lightness is very nice for sightreading - I found that I could actually correct errors I was about to make before sI made them better with these bow than with any others. Bernd Müsing sent me a titanium bow screw to replace my steel one to lighten the frog region and thus move the CM of my bow a little closer to the tip. And some years later I had my luthier add a mass to the tip to finish the job so my violin and cello ARCUS bows are now balanced like my other bows. My ARCUS viola bow is unchanged and balanced much like my CODA Classic violin bow and works just fine on my violas.

Edited: April 27, 2019, 12:11 AM · 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
April 27, 2019, 1:15 AM · The Arcus website provides a list of US dealers and shops (complete with links): http://www.arcus-muesing.de/en/contact.html#usa
Edited: April 27, 2019, 4:53 AM · 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.

I'd recommend J.S. Fisher for Arcus bow trials:
https://store.fisherviolins.com/

Edited: April 27, 2019, 2:34 PM · 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 :)

I have an old Sonata, that plays better than what it should do :)

April 27, 2019, 6:01 AM · If they still have that deal, https://www.clevelandviolins.com/ is well worth calling.
April 27, 2019, 3:14 PM · 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.
April 27, 2019, 3:29 PM · That's why I keep beating the drum for hybrids.
April 27, 2019, 3:30 PM · Didn't Paganini play on a hollow, straight bow made of rolled sheet metal? CF can't be worse than that.
Edited: April 27, 2019, 6:38 PM · Doesn't most of this question hinge to a great extent on:

Budget available vs performance [playability & tone] ?

It would seem to me that in the "under $2000.00 range that the carbon fiber bows may have an advantage in consistency of quality/value.

Wooden bows in the same range are likely not pernambuco, and as with anything made out of a a natural material [wood] I assume the performance would be quite variable?

I suspect that silver and gold mounting has nothing to the playability or performance of a given bow over nickel or even stainless? [Whether attached to a wooden or a carbon bow].

I am a fairly new fiddle player, so any opinion of mine isn't worth anything in the bigger picture, but if I had a budget of under $1500.00 for a bow, and no brick and mortar stores in the vicinity where I could try anything other than a basic elementary student bow,..... Wouldn't I be better off with something like a Coda Marquis that I can "mail-order"?

I am also certain, that at my level of playing now, and into the foreseeable future, I probably wouldn't notice any significant difference between several examples of the same make and model bow?

Right now I have:

A Chinese [I think] "pernambuco" bow from IVC ($200.) Very flexible
A pre WWII German bow "student" level Brazilwood/pernambuco? that I had re-haired by Jerry P at Triangle Strings...Very Stiff
And a CODA DX at the low end of their range.

April 27, 2019, 8:43 PM · 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.)
Edited: April 27, 2019, 9:56 PM · 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've played on Arcus bows for a number of years, but found that I wasn't making very reliable comparisons with them versus other sticks until I had figured out how to make them work. Certainly those first few weeks I didn't sound as good on Arcus as I did on the Ouchard and Morizot bows I played regularly, and nowhere near the other really nice bows generously lent to me by colleagues to try. My friends who have never played Arcus bows generally don't like them the first time they try them either, and are usually dismissive of them in the first few minutes. Experience has been a great teacher though, and a re-working of some of the technical approach and discovering what the bow is capable of has narrowed the gap considerably.

I got tired of switching bows for different settings--and Arcus has proven to be an interesting and effective solution. I took my time coming to this decision, and compared it against many bows from those of modern makers at the 5k-6k range all the way against superb antiques past 50k. I had colleagues help me conduct blind listening tests, and also recorded myself frequently in a concert hall using a Blue Yeti microphone in repertoire ranging from Bach and Paganini to Ysaye and Sibelius. The fact that the bow plays as well as it does while costing no more than a decent bow from a modern maker is also attractive, and one interesting note: it *records* supremely well, very full and rich tone and incredibly clear articulation with no apparent scratchiness or distortion.

If anyone is considering an Arcus, and would like to discuss things like how things like bow hair tension and approaches to varied bow strokes are different from a conventional wood bow, feel free to contact me!

April 28, 2019, 12:30 AM · I'd like to have a bow look like wooden bow, you know what I mean? Otherwise just CF bow looks dark. Thanks
April 28, 2019, 4:25 AM · 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.

(I went for an M, which is their 'heavier' make, because my violin was very new and also very brash and bright, so I picked bows and strings to temper that)

Edited: April 28, 2019, 6:45 AM · @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.
Edited: April 28, 2019, 7:41 AM · 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.

The relationship between an instrument's sound and the bow used is quite fascinating. I carry a couple of cello bows in my viola case (along with 2 viola bows) to use when I want my viola to sound more like a cello. It works! I select the bows in my case depending on which violin or cello I'm carrying.

I find bows fascinating that so much can be engineered into a stick. Because of this relationship between instrument response and bow-stick resonance I wonder about the validity of the Norman Pickering research on strings using a rotating, rosined disk to vibrate them.

April 28, 2019, 10:37 AM · 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
April 28, 2019, 12:54 PM · 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.
Honestly, I don't know who carries Finkel bows in the US, but this can be easily found out by asking (info@finkel-bows.ch). And there will be other manufacturers, a few of them already have been named.
Edited: April 28, 2019, 1:27 PM · 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.
April 28, 2019, 3:09 PM · 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...
Just found a Finkel Jumeau hybrid viola bow in the US eeeh-bay for $1k. I don't know their lineup, but if this plays half as well as the violin bow I've once met if this kind, I'd regard it as a fair price. (I'm not in search of a viola bow now, still in love with mine.)
April 28, 2019, 5:40 PM · You can get a good carbon fiber or pernambuco bow from China on eBay for under $100. Some very talented makers over there.
April 28, 2019, 5:53 PM · sorry fake Pernambuco bow from China for $100, no real Pernambuco.
April 28, 2019, 6:35 PM · Brazil is not the only place Pernambuco can grow. It’s the 21st century...
April 28, 2019, 10:56 PM · Nate, could you please send the link? Thanks
Edited: April 29, 2019, 12:13 AM · 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!

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Pro-Master-Carbon-Fiber-Pernambuco-Skin-Violin-Bow-4-4-Ebony-Carved-Silver-360/133032578715?hash=item1ef95c0e9b:g:sM0AAOSw-6BchtyL

April 29, 2019, 12:06 AM · 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.
April 29, 2019, 12:28 AM · 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.

Sadly, too expensive for a backup bow...

April 29, 2019, 6:21 AM · I looked up that eBay link, and it says carbon fibre pernambuco wood skin. What does that mean?
The image has too poor a resolution to get a good look .
April 29, 2019, 7:47 AM · I think it is literally a veneer of pernambuco over the carbon-fiber stick. Never seen one up close, though.
April 29, 2019, 9:00 AM · Or a veneer of Chinese fake Pernambuco.
April 29, 2019, 9:51 AM · 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.

My Cadenza bows all have "wood cladding." It's a veneer that is wrapped around the bow (if you look closely you can see the seam on the underside. I don't know how they do that cladding around the contour of the tip. Makes you wonder if the "pernambuco cladding" is actually a synthetic material that can be thermally shrink-wrapped onto the bow. Does it matter? Not to me. The bow works well enough for my purposes at the moment. It holds up just fine to col legno although I use an 8" length of 1/4" rosewood dowel for that.

Edited: April 30, 2019, 12:42 AM · Andrew, could you upload picture of your Berg bow here please?
April 30, 2019, 11:12 AM · Some things to add to the Arcus bow discussion.

The "S" series Arcus bows are pretty much the original super-light model as invented by Bernd Musing. They are around 48-49 grams vs. 62-64 grams for the typical pernambuco bow. That may not sound like much but if you play with one it feels like it's going to float away. You actually have to adjust your technique and play with a softer grip (which to me is one of the key benefits).

Another thing to know -- all S-series sticks, from the $1500 S5 to the insane expensive S8 and S9, are produced from the same tools on the same production line and have the same qualities. They are graded after they are manufacturered and the ones with the best vibration characteristics are assigned the higher grades and given more expensive fittings.

In my experience the difference between an S5 and an S7 (which costs like 3X as much) is subtle. I think you are getting 90% of the benefit of an Arcus Bow if you spend $1500 for an S5, which is not a bad deal.

I've played a lot of carbon bows and I'm not enamored of them at 60-62 grams. At that weight I would prefer the greater flexibility of pernambuco.

But 49 grams, for me, is the game-changer. 49 grams with all the strength you would ever need -- and the carbon stick is incredibly quick, which you feel instantly when you play fast passages. It's not that there aren't things I miss from pernambuco bows, but the tradeoff is well worth it for the benefits.

To my knowledge, no one but Arcus has managed to produce a bow under 50 grams. Musing insists it's because it's difficult (and expensive) to manufacture carbon tubes that are thin enough and strong enough. I don't know about that, but I'm not aware of another maker that has managed it.

April 30, 2019, 11:24 AM · 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.

The sound you hear as a player is different than the sound someone hears playing beside you. And the sound heard by someone at the opposite corner of the room is different again. And yet another sound is heard by someone with different ears or different expectations.

Plus there are tradeoffs when it comes to sound and violinists deal with this all the time. You can produce a gorgeous dark sound playing in 5th position on the G string, but depending on the context, you should really play in 1st position on the D string because you'll be able to articulate more cleanly and your listener will be able to hear the notes.

Sometimes the things we violinists do to impress ourselves with our splendid technique are completely lost on audiences, because their ears have totally different expectations and different ideas about what sounds great.

I suspect dark "rich" sound is probably overrated by players because we hear the overtones and undertones so well playing on our own instruments (and we inescapably appreciate virtuosity). But meanwhile a clear, clean ringing sound is more appreciated by people in the 10th row and underappreciated by players. They don't even hear the overtones and undertones but they do appreciate when they can hear a beautiful line. This is what cantabile is all about.

Edited: April 30, 2019, 1:41 PM · 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.
I think it makes sense for a pro violinist who does a lot of traveling to have a better grade of synthetic bow, but for most of us, if you are spending several thousands, then look for a pernambuco bow, and ration its use. I heard somewhere that Kreisler would buy the then inexpensive bows Hill bows, wear out the hair, trade it in for another, then Hill would sell it as an "ex-Kreisler" bow.
April 30, 2019, 4:15 PM · Joel, now you've made my day! Great anecdote...
Edited: May 1, 2019, 4:45 PM · Uploading PHOTOS here - how to do it?

Can anyone tell me? I no longer have a website to link.

May 1, 2019, 5:11 PM · can't do it then, you have to have a web hosting service to post pics here
May 1, 2019, 6:23 PM · Google Drive, for example, can be a host.
May 1, 2019, 7:25 PM · Ordabek Duissen - get your email to me and I'll reply attaching bow photos.
May 1, 2019, 7:39 PM · 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.

I've tried a few JP Bravos and admit to not liking any of them. I also haven't liked the lower end of the Arcus S-line.

May 1, 2019, 10:27 PM · Ordabek,

Hopefully photos of my Berg Deluxe and 3 other bows are visible in this link:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1v-8A6nesnd8fitvfCNeqPwTaLoLEkFJI?usp=sharing

May 2, 2019, 12:45 AM · Andrew, my email is ordabek@gmail.com
Edited: May 2, 2019, 12:59 AM · Andrew, got to see it, nice. Thanks for sending the link. Also, thanks everyone for your helpful comments.
May 13, 2019, 4:32 PM · 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.

I would posit that violinists over-appreciate darker sounds with lots of overtones and undertones because that's what THEY can hear, and under-appreciate clarity (because we already know what the musical line is -- we have the music in front of us).

Meanwhile our listener in the 10th row hears almost none of those rich overtones that we love so much from our own instrument. And meanwhile that listener needs maximum clarity because he/she is hearing the music we're playing for the first time.

Sometimes the clear requirement is to go up on the G (like the famous opening of the 4th movement of Mahler 9), but other times the right choice is usually lower position, higher string, more clarity.

May 13, 2019, 5:04 PM · 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.

Edited: May 13, 2019, 6:53 PM · 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.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=17tnGM5C1pSsOIvGNKEyWterQVisPsFNC

May 13, 2019, 6:19 PM · Hey Andrew Victor, the link you does not lead to your Drive, but instead leads to whoever clicked on it.
Edited: May 13, 2019, 6:53 PM · Thanks Mark, can you see if that fixed it?
May 14, 2019, 4:00 AM · The links works for me.
Thank you for sharing :)
May 14, 2019, 1:35 PM · 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.
May 15, 2019, 12:10 AM · 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.)

That's not a reason to avoid the upper positions. If a violinist's sound is so muddy in the upper positions that he's aversely affecting the audience's ability to understand the music, he's not a very good violinist. Indeed, I would argue that's true if a violinist's upper-position sound is even harming clarity.

Edited: May 15, 2019, 12:35 AM · Timothy, I agree 7,5K it is expensive hahaha
Edited: May 15, 2019, 11:08 PM · Dear friends and colleagues, do you feel comfortable to buy things from EBay in general?
May 15, 2019, 2:54 AM · A very interesting video made by Bernd Musing, explaining the difference between Arcus and Musing bows: https://youtu.be/1JDvKcOR8FY
Edited: May 15, 2019, 5:00 AM · Curious thread. Pernambuco has rarity, antique value and tradition: CF doesn't.
I've been told that below $1,000 CF outperforms wood, penny for penny. If I had $7,500, I wouldn't dream of buying CF. I guess all you're buying is R&D.
May 15, 2019, 9:12 AM · 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.

Müsing certainly tells the truth about the resonance of the ARCUS bows. However, as with any bow/instrument combination they have to match because the "resonance" of some instruments is not as pleasant as others, and naturally, hearing varies between people. I am fortunate that some of my instruments match perfectly with my ARCUS bows (something I did not fully appreciate before getting my current hearing aids 4 years ago).

May 16, 2019, 11:38 PM · Thanks Timothy
May 22, 2019, 3:50 PM · Did I really just see an Arcus S-series for $8K? Yowza!
May 22, 2019, 11:54 PM · Jeffrey, I'm not sure about Arcus, but some of Berg bows cost over 7k
May 22, 2019, 11:56 PM · Jeff Terflinger, what's your contact info? Couldn't find it here, I'm interested
May 24, 2019, 1:42 PM · Coda bow Diamond Series are all excellent. I am using an NX model and it has not failed me over the few years.
May 24, 2019, 3:25 PM · 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 ].

I am a"beginner" fiddler so the handling difference is probably not as clear as it would be for a more experienced player.

On the two fiddles I have [ early 19th French Trade and a "new" Don Noon] which are quite different in tone and projection, I "Think" I like the Coda better for tone.

May 24, 2019, 3:31 PM · if you're interested in good tone, try pernambuco!!
May 24, 2019, 4:41 PM · Lyndon, I am well aware of your opinions.

I do have two "wooden" bows, one a prewar German bow in a "student range" of the time [recently rehaired at Triangle Strings], and another, probably Chinese, that I bought from IV [my first bow about $200.00].
They are adequate and slightly different handling and tone from the CF, but better sounding is a subjective opinion.

$ 1500.00 is my maximum justifiable expenditure and where I live there is nowhere, no way to go to try out a number of bows [ not to mention my limitations of skill and sophistication]....

I suspect, that in the , under $1500.00 range, I will be as happy with the CF as I would be with the wood available in that range..... and maybe more so.

May 24, 2019, 5:02 PM · maybe true for playability, but not for tone.
May 24, 2019, 6:03 PM · Playability comes first. If you have to fight the bow all the time, tone doesn't matter.
May 24, 2019, 6:40 PM · 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.

Also I have an automatic [from long experience] aversion to absolutists, especially one's who insist on beating a dead horse, when it's the mule we are interested in.

Edited: May 24, 2019, 6:50 PM · 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.
I really love playing with an Arcus bow because of the extremely light weight, but I wouldn't push it for everyone.

If you're bow-shopping don't make any assumptions about plastic or wood -- just try out a variety of bows. Go to a violin shop and try 10 or 15, then take a few home for an extended trial.

A bow decision IMHO should take longer than a violin decision because it's more complex. I don't believe there is a single "right" bow - all bows have different qualities and there are tradeoffs. Anybody with a collection of bows knows how much fun it is to just change it up some times -- every bow can teach you something.

Really think about the kind of playing you do and where you are going as a player.

And when you pick a bow, especially if you are a developing player, just accept that you may want a different bow in a couple of years. Which is another reason to buy from your local luthier -- some will have trade-in policies.

May 24, 2019, 6:49 PM · Re: Also I have an automatic [from long experience] aversion to absolutists

+1

May 24, 2019, 7:39 PM · you all seem to be buying the absolutist BS of the CF protagonists!!
Edited: May 24, 2019, 8:03 PM · It's a good investment :)
May 24, 2019, 10:15 PM · 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.

I think there MAY be an argument that in a student/intermediate range of under $2000.00 CF quite possibly is more consistent quality that the unknown hardwood, not to mention the variety of quality even from the same tree or billet, than inexpensive wooden bows.

As to tone,....... in the ears of the beholder and subjective. Same goes for the fiddles even classical period Cremonese....

No one is saying either one is absolutely superior given the variables....

So please let Trigger RIP.

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