Arcus 9: S vs P vs M
The discussion a few months ago regarding the quality of Arcus 9 bows has prompted me to do a bow trial with Fischer over the next few weeks. I’ve requested a 9 model in the three letter types each: S, P, and M. If the US distributor has all three in stock, I should get them by the end of the week or so.
My thought process is to first decide which letter sounds the best on my violin. Arcus says the M is warmer than the S, and the P is somewhat in between the other two. My minor maker modern Italian is a little bright, so I’m hopeful that the M model will warm it up like a comparably priced antique, but I’m going to try out all three to get comfortable with my choice. After that, if I go with an S or P, i’ll request the stick shape I don’t have (round if I already tried octagonal, or vice versa). M only comes in round. And, i’ll request some 8 sticks to compare to the 9–Jim Fischer is fairly confident he won’t be able to get two 9 sticks of the same type though.
At the end of this, we’ll see if the Arcus compares to antiques. Lydia, I have to say your comment is what prompted me to want to try this out. If indeed an Arcus 9 handles like a comparable antique, that would indeed be a great value in my book compared to using a vulnerable antique. We’ll see!
I may request some pernambuco bows in a similar price point as a final trial to compare to the Arcus stick I pick, as a final confirmation.
I’ll report back what I find.
Be aware that a lot of people find the S8 to be a better value. It's much less expensive than a 9, and the handling qualities are pretty similar.
If it's useful, on saturday i'll go to Mondomusica fair in Cremona (Italy) with my violin, just to test and play all the upper class Arcus bows i can, all day if i need it ..... :)
Try out the JonPauls too while you're there, especially the Carrera and Vetta. And a Coda Marquise. :-)
I have already tested a Marquise. I'll do it again.
I think you'll find it depends on the match with your instrument.
I love my S8, and almost twenty years ago played for some time on the previous Concerto model.
Jason, I'd really be surprised if an Arcus handled "like a comparable antique" - as Gene stated, there isn't such a thing. The arcus, especially the S series, are a very special species. When testing in the 5-7 range (never tried an 8 or 9) I really loved the handling, the easiness they brought into playing, the agility and springiness while perfectly under control, and I liked the sound on several violins which weren't in my possession. I preferred lightweight bows back then anyway. On my own violin, which is also on the bright side, they just weren't my piece of cake. If I'll ever go violin shopping again, I'll take the arcus into serious consideration again. But since your instrument is also a bright one, don't feel too disappointed if you experience them the same way as I did. Take your time, and keep us updated!
The thing I liked about the S9 I tried is that I didn't feel like I had to adjust my technique. I had it in a pile with a bunch of mostly-French antiques in the $7-11k price range when I was trying out bows, and I didn't have that flyweight sensation that had previously bothered me about the Arcus bows. This bow stayed in the string, tracked smoothly, and still had excellent, predictable agility. If I hadn't known what it was, I wouldn't have instantly been able to distinguish it from everything else on the table.
That’s exactly why I’m going to try them out, to see if I get that same experience or not.
Acoustically, it was quite nice on my Vuillaume. It had warmth without the CF edge really being noticeable. It was tonally non-outstanding compared to the other bows, neither notably good or bad, which for CF is pretty good.
I played my first arcus bow in NY city at a luthier (I forgot which one).