Yitamusic bows advice (Snakewood or Pernambuco)

Edited: August 1, 2019, 7:12 AM · Recently I won two bows from Yitamusic. One is Master Model Snakewood bow which is 66.5 grams and the other is ranked a bit lower, but still, Pernambuco bow which is 62 grams. Snakewood is 70 which is far convinsing considering Chinese pricing. But the Pernambuco which is below 30$ when the auction is ended is not something you can get always. I can buy only one, so I dunno which one to choose. Yeah, I slightly doubt the quality of Pernambuco, it's still Yitamusic I got the very nice violin from..

Also,I dunno if upgrading violin from ebony to Pernambuco is a right choice. That's also to be purchased from them.

I hope there's someone who has already bought once from them and knows better. Or you still can give me few advices without having deal with Yita

Replies (27)

Edited: August 1, 2019, 8:18 AM · I have a Yita pernambuco bow. It's not bad, but it is *very* stiff. I actually think their IPE wood bows are their best offerings. I had a very nice one that I sold to a student.

If you're talking about ebony vs. pernambuco fittings (Pegs, tailpiece, chinrest, etc.) I would say don't bother.

P.S. 66.5 grams is REALLY heavy for a violin bow. 62 is a sane, although slightly heavy, weight. In your shoes, that would be the deciding factor for me.

August 1, 2019, 8:20 AM · Both the "pernambuco" and "snakewood" bows are fake presumably Chinese wood so who can say.
August 1, 2019, 10:11 AM · Lyndon, that's what I'm aware of, even if that's Yita... But I'll give them chance, it's almost impossible to have something so good at a very low price, anyway my budget is too low hahah
August 1, 2019, 10:36 AM · I get some Howard Core "brazilwood" Chinese violin bows that are good strong sticks, still not genuine brazilwood either. I sell them for $60, less than the cost of a rehair, and throw them in free with a cheaper violin purchase.
Edited: August 1, 2019, 11:16 AM · The only way to chose the better bow FOR YOU amongst the two is to try them both. If the return policy allows, buy both and return the one you like least. Keeping in mind here that these bows cost less than a single rehair, you can't expect miracles, but could still be surprisingly acceptable playing stick notwithstanding finishing, fitting and materials. You have to try to see. That said I agree with Nate, 66.5g is on the very heavy side, you are most likely better off with a lighter bow. I have a $70 bow that I wouldn't hesitate to use as replacement for my brazilian $1500 bow in a pinch so you never know until you try them.
Edited: August 1, 2019, 4:42 PM · In my opinion, these cheaper bows should only be used for purposes like experimenting with different styles of bows, different weights, and different color horsehair. If you haven't played a heavy bow, I would pick that. If you have a heavier bow, try the "pernambuco"
August 1, 2019, 11:20 PM · I have a pernambuco bow and an Ipe bow from them. The pernambuco bow is a cello bow so I can’t compare. But overall they make decent stuff for what you are paying. Try not to overthink it.
August 2, 2019, 1:09 AM · Above 65 grams, you're really looking at a viola bow. Consider getting a viola?
Edited: August 4, 2019, 8:51 PM · Yita is a good place (they're a clearing house for a number of Shanghai workshops) and their instruments and bows can be a great value. If you got a bow for $30 it may technically be pernambuco -- I don't think Yita would intentionally mislabel anything. But it is probably low-quality wood.

I have bought a number of bows from Yita, and the two that I kept (and they're both really terrific) were "master" grade and cost more like $300. One's a Peccatte head and one's a Sartory copy and they're absolutely comparable to, say, an upper-level Arcos Brasil model that costs 5 times as much (and Arcos Brasil is usually a good value).

As for alternative woods, if you don't mind the higher weight, snakewood and ipe are a lot cheaper than pernambuco and might give you what you're looking for. I have an ipe viola bow that I've kept around, nicely balanced and forgiving to play, but it's slow and a tad mushy so I generally leave it in the closet. Still, it cost $100 and would compete well with something costing $700 or $800 in a violin shop. Sorry, Landon. I totally believe in supporting local shops but it's the truth.

August 5, 2019, 6:58 AM · They are not pernambuco, don't look anything like pernambuco, and are cheaper than the pernambuco wood blank wood cost, don't be so gullible!!
August 5, 2019, 7:09 AM · I don't get why some people believe you can get a Pernambuco bow for $30 - the price of a two-person lunch or a pair of movie tickets. Not to offend anyone but it's insane.

And no, cheap labour can't enable THAT price difference, and bear in mind that labour and material costs in China isn't as cheap as it once was.

Edited: August 5, 2019, 7:20 AM · My Yita Sartory copy was advertised as pernambuco but is of a considerably lighter colour than you usually see. I suspect the word is being used pretty freely to describe wood of related tree species. Another confusing thing is that pernambuco and brazilwood both come from the Pau Brasil tree, pernambuco being the heartwood and brazilwood the sapwood (I just found out)
August 5, 2019, 7:38 AM · I have several Yita bows.
I have a top pernambucco bow that cost £300 about 8 years ago, and is superb. It's better than anything else I have.
I also have several CF bows - that seem to be a bit variable. The one I'm playing (at £100) is excellent. The others are o.k., but not in that class.
Edited: August 5, 2019, 1:58 PM · Matt, just because something is pernambuco doesn't mean it's particularly high quality wood -- that's why you can still buy student-grade pernambuco bows. People shouldn't get all hung up on pernambuco as some kind of badge of quality.

Pernambuco is not just one species of tree, it's a name that can cover many different species (the rain forest produces just incredible diversity). "Brazilwood" is an even more general term and can apply to a lot of different woods. There is no official certification process.

There are many colors and grades of pernambuco and different degrees of flexibility. The colors range from almost a bright orange to a dark brown. Generally brown is more in fashion and more valued -- but the reddish woods can sometimes make good bows.

Bow makers measure the density of pernambuco and generally higher density of wood makes a stronger bow -- but to a point. If you get the density too high it becomes impossible to make a bow in the ideal weight range -- so that's why some violin bows end up at 66-67 grams -- which of course some people prefer.

The other factor is flexibility. Pernambuco was chosen in the first place for its flexibility, but sometimes pernambuco can be too flexible, almost rubbery, and doesn't have enough strength. Bows like that can be fun to play as long as you play with light pressure.

Generally bowmakers and players prefer a tight grain that is consistent for the entire stick. Irregularities in the pattern can sometimes mean a bow that will be vulnerable to breaks and splits. But on the other hand, the irregularities can make for a very beautiful dappled or mottled pattern on the bow. I know an American bow maker who was commissioned to make a bow from an irregularly patterned blank of wood and it's very beautiful.

I would trust Yita not to mislabel. If they say it's pernambuco, it probably is -- but of course that doesn't mean it's anything better than a student grade bow. If it has sold on Ebay for $30 it is almost certainly not a high grade stick. Landon is right about that, if someone's selling a bow for 30 bucks, you can't expect too much..

August 5, 2019, 2:06 PM · I call BS on you, it is illegal to export Pernambuco from Brazil where it comes from, and it is one species not several, The crappy Pernambuco you can still find goes for $100 just for the wood blank, you tell me how that goes into a $30 bow, ridiculous!!
August 5, 2019, 7:32 PM · This discussion has induced me to do some weight and length measurements of my 5 assorted bows. I've measured their weights, in grammes, on electronic scales, and playable lengths of bow hair in millimetres. I chose playable hair length as being a more realistic parameter of length for comparison purposes than tip to the far end of the stick measurement because of variations in design of the frog end and tip (think Baroque pointed tip).
Bow #1 Genuine snakewood high quality Baroque: wt. 59 gm; length 563 mm
Bow #2 Inexpensive non-snakewood Baroque: wt. 52 gm; length 580 mm
Bow #3 100-year old pernambuco German bow: wt. 55 gm; length 645 mm
Bow #4 Modern pernambuco German bow: wt: 56 gm; length 640 mm
Bow #5 CF by P&H of London: wt: 62 gm; length 635 mm

Observations. The snakewood Baroque bow #1 is 7gm heavier than #2 even though it is about 17mm shorter. The implication is that if bow #2 were made of snakewood its weight would be 60gm or more, which is why bow #1 is shorter in order to save weight. Applying the same thinking to bow #4, if that bow were made of snakewood its weight would be at least 64 gm. I would guess that a Tourte-style snakewood bow would therefore have a hair length noticeably shorter than 640 mm in order to bring its weight down to a more comfortable 61 gm.

I would be inclined to reserve snakewood for Baroque bows, for which it would have been used, along with other heavy woods, in those pre-pernambuco times.

My CF bow is in a different category to the others. Although not expensive (£100) it is well balanced and responsive, producing a strong tone. I am happy to use this bow with my #2 violin for outdoor playing (“proms in the park”), barn dances, and occasionally for symphony concerts, but not for chamber orchestra.

August 5, 2019, 10:54 PM · Thank you for plenty of information) Don't mind that it's 30 dollars, might've been end in auction for 60 or more, still so far normal Pernambuco can't be that much cheap. What about their IPE bows then?
August 5, 2019, 11:51 PM · I have been very pleased with my Yitamusic violas.

BUT, the snakewood bow I got from them was limp as a noodle. Horrible bow, I do not recommend.

August 6, 2019, 2:14 AM · On the other hand I'm perfectly happy with my Yita snakewood viola bow!
Edited: August 6, 2019, 7:06 AM · Craig and Steve's experience with Yita bows is what I personally observe: while Yita violins have been consistently regarded as offering good value for money, their bows' reviews are more diverse. Some people like them, some people don't. You can check other threads on v.com and elsewhere about their bows. I distinctly remember a shop owner (not Lyndon) commenting that Yita bows are surprisingly cheap for their material and specification, but not many buyers choose them in their brand-blind testing visits to her shop.

I do hold the opinion that Yita misrepresents their 'pernambuco' bows. It is usual for a Chinese manufacturer to tell you what they think you want to hear - after all China and Hongkong are where 85% of global counterfeit goods are made - Link.

Yita, like any other bow makers, know they can certainly get away with lying about material for the bows. There are wood species which look and weigh like pernambuco (or can be made to look like it), and a cheap-bow buyer would neither have the ability, the resource, nor economic reason to micro-examine, like bringing it to a high-tech MIT-run lab.

Still the good thing about Yita is that they do not mark up too much on the erroneous pernambuco claim.

At the end of the day if you are satisfied with a $30 bow, consider yourself lucky no matter what it's made from.

August 6, 2019, 1:13 PM · Landon are you going to accuse Shar lying too? They sell a pernambuco bow for $99 (Chinese made). $99 with American retail markup is about the same as $30 in China seems to me.

The truth is that low grade pernambuco is, despite the export ban, still plentiful and cheap. It is NO guarantee of quality.

August 6, 2019, 2:13 PM · Yes I'm going to accuse Shar of lying, its what they do best. You're not an expert on wood, I am, its not Pernambuco, doesn't look anything like it, not even similar.
August 6, 2019, 5:46 PM · Legally, Shar, Fiddlershop etc. aren’t lying as ‘if anyone lies it’s our Chinese suppliers, not us’
Almost all low cost playable instruments are produced in China (except for gliga perhaps) , and if all of them do the same marketing, with some like Yita seeking to sell directly to end users bypassing middleman, it would be hard for the already struggling western retailers to compete, if they aren’t doing the same.
August 15, 2019, 1:10 PM · I am still confused by your first and fifth sentences. You say you "won" the two bows from Yitamusic. (I am assuming in auctions at eBay or another on-line auction site.) Then you say you can only buy one. When one "wins" an auction, one is supposed to pay the seller the winning bid price. To not pay is to be listed with bad marks against you for not following through with your purchases. In a real brick and mortar auction house, it could get you banned. If you seriously bid on these two items and won them both, then pay the piper, and get both bows. If you don't like one, then sell it later (or throw it out).
August 16, 2019, 2:48 PM · Because I told I don't have that much, I also was bidding for another violin. And I accidentally put a bid on snakewood bow, but I could legally cancel which I did, but they didn't respond in time. So they cancelled without complain, as I made really lots of purchases already from them within a week. Both sides are satisfied, no worries)
August 17, 2019, 3:17 PM · I know a man who bought nearly a ton of Pernambuco from a old stash from a retird wood dealer. After almost every good bowmaker at the time cherry picked it for almost five years, the rest went to China. So they do have lots of it somewhere over there and maybe some of the good stuff was missed, but most was so-so..
August 17, 2019, 3:24 PM · A ton in China is like a drop in the bucket!!

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