How to sell a violin bow that I know is bad?

October 9, 2019, 10:29 AM · I got a bow from Shar for $925 when I was in high school, and we'd like to sell it for at least $850. The spiccato with this bow is really strange and the bow is just kind of strange. Any suggestions on how to get the money back?
It was consigned once at a shop for a year.

Replies (17)

October 9, 2019, 10:44 AM · You are not going to get $850 for this bow, not even close. Would *you* pay $850 for a used bow when the same or similar model could be purchased new for not very much more money?

You might try Craigslist and ask $400, though I'd be surprised if you could get that. Or, if you itemize on your taxes, you could donate it to a school or youth orchestra, and take the deduction.

October 9, 2019, 10:46 AM · Think of how much you would buy this bow again yourself if somehow its offer to you right now. That should be the fair market price which is totally different from a retail price.
October 9, 2019, 10:48 AM · A general upper bound for resale of an item that has no investment value (i.e., not a Tourte or a Kittel) is sixty cents on the dollar. But when you consider the entire market has been swept away by carbon fiber bows since your original purchase (guessing at the time line here), I'd be surprised if you even get $500 out of it.
October 9, 2019, 11:14 AM · Have you considered getting it re-cambered?
Edited: October 9, 2019, 12:29 PM · Anything will sell if priced right. You are telling us that your bow isn't worth $850, and asking us how you may convince some potential buyer to over pay for it. What you need is either advice from a marketing genius or to lower your price to a more reasonnable level. You obviously had this bow for many years, when was it last rehaired? Your asking price is what you paid for it minus the cost of a rehair, in other words you are expecting to get all your money back on a not particularly special bow after several years of wear. If you were a buyer, would you pay $850 for it now knowing what you know? Unlikely, that is why you are selling it. I took a 40% loss on my first, medium range instrument. You just have to rationalise it as the cost of using it for several years, get what you can and not feel like you ripped off the poor sucker who took it off your hands.
October 9, 2019, 12:40 PM · George wrote: "Have you considered getting it re-cambered?"

I asked that question here years ago and was roundly rebuffed that bows are not modified once made - but maybe that was a 'named' bow. So the question is: is there such a service? Do all archetiers recamber bows??

October 9, 2019, 12:44 PM · Yes, it is possible to get a bow recambered--I did, with my flea market find--but the basic stick has to be good enough for the recambering to be worth it. In the case of my bow, it returned a formerly good stick to its original condition. I suspect that if the OP's bow has never been great, recambering won't be the magic bullet. Plus given the value of the bow, I seriously doubt that it's worth the expense.
October 9, 2019, 1:44 PM · Re-cambering is not that expensive (less than $100), and it can make a bow perform much better, particularly if it is badly out-of-camber.

However, as MEG pointed out, the stick has to be made of good wood and needs to be examined closely for defects to be sure it won't snap during the re-cambering process.

Take it to a good archetier to get it checked out. Any good archetier can camber and re-camber bows. If it can be fixed, it may be worth keeping as a second bow.

Edited: October 9, 2019, 2:12 PM · If you got it from SHAR, and paid $925 for it, it undoubtedly has a brand stamp on it. A prospective buyer can go to SHAR's website and confirm the original "value." So I'd recommend putting it on eBay at about 70% of $925, with the option for buyers to make offers, and take any offer that's remotely reasonable in light of the recommendations you've gotten here. eBay/PayPal will take 13% of that. You have no use for it. Get whatever you can and call it a learning experience.

Is it really that bad? How qualified are you to make that judgment? I've been told by a reliable source that SHAR's suppliers evaluate the sticks and choose appropriate fittings and price points based on the evaluation outcome. It might be a perfectly usable bow that just doesn't suit you.

October 9, 2019, 3:07 PM · George, I don't know a bow maker who will recamber a bow for $100, and I am in the PNW where you can't go to the store without running into a great one!

Just because you don't like it doesn't make it "bad", it just isn't for you. Attempting to re-sell a SHAR bow for what you paid for it is folly.

If the shop owned it and it needed camber work, I might get it done, but there is always the risk of damage when you heat and bend, and it might not be better, it might get worse!

I agree with the donation route, or keep it as a 2nd bow in your case.

All in all, I wouldn't risk my reputation attempting to recamber a bow of this value, and I wouldn't ask my bowmaker friends to do it either. It just is what it is, and right now, that means that it isn't the bow for you.

October 9, 2019, 5:01 PM · There's not necessarily a "bad" bow--it just didn't work for you. Bows are highly personal.
There is no way to know if it will or won't appeal to someone else.
October 9, 2019, 8:03 PM · It's just not likely to appeal to someone else for $850 if for $75 more they can enjoy the "security" of having purchased it from a reputable dealer.
October 10, 2019, 2:12 AM · Maybe just keep it as a "back-up" bow, use it for whatever it is good for, not spiccatto. I have a couple of inferior, heavy Violin bows that work OK as Viola bows.
October 10, 2019, 8:24 AM · Maybe you can use it towards an upgrade for a better bow and trade it for some fair amount. Expect something like half. It'll be easier to trade it into a shop then try to sell it as an individual. For the price you paid, the bow shouldn't be too "strange", something tells me that something is out of wack. You could have the bow just checked out by a bow maker, they shouldn't charge you anything to just assess what's going on with the bow. It's definitely possible that is has lost some curve over the years. Additionally the weight and balance could be adjusted if it is not within the normal range, which would make it appeal to more players in general.
October 10, 2019, 8:41 AM · Is it possible that SHAR might take it in trade for a more expensive bow?

There are more variables involved in bow behavior than the camber of the stick. The balance (as evidenced by the center of mass) can have a big effect and so can the amount of hair in relation to the stiffness of the stick.

I had a few bows from SHAR that I sold to a luthier for half the SHAR price at the time (but close to what I had paid a few years earlier). One of the bows had been evaluated by a trusted violin maker (who was also a good violinist) as my best bow - and it sure worked for him, but not for me.

October 10, 2019, 8:55 AM · From the SHAR website:
"Only the instrument is eligible for Trade-In, not any case or bow."

From the Potter Violins website:
"Cases and bows ... do not retain any trade-in value."

From JSI:
"Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins will accept instruments, bows, and rental outfits previously purchased from JSI or CHV for trade-in from the original purchaser." But note also that "...student bows purchased from JSI are not eligible for trade-in."

October 10, 2019, 12:13 PM · I think Craigslist is a good idea.

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