Looking for viola bow roughly 6k

October 28, 2019, 12:44 PM · Hi-looking for a viola bow for my daughter. Looking to spend roughly $6,000 but some flexibility. Recommendations for bows she might try?

Replies (21)

October 28, 2019, 1:37 PM · I suggest calling Josh Henry. He is a restorer of fine bows and he typically has a pretty significant inventory. Not sure about viola bows but he would know who to call if he doesn't do that himself. He's a super good guy, easy to talk to.
October 28, 2019, 2:37 PM · I love the Doug Ragouse violin bow that I have the use of, and that's about the right price range.
Edited: October 28, 2019, 4:11 PM · That's about the price for any very good modern maker who isn't man-on-the-street world famous yet and isn't loading gold and precious stones onto the frog.
There are several I can think of who make wonderful violin bows, but your best bet at this point might be to find a dealer who will have a good selection and then give you trade-in rights for when she changes her taste.

Carriage House is one option, Ifshin is another.

Another route would be to look at antiques that aren't French. The Hills made a lot of good viola bows, and there are several German shops from the 19c who aren't as pricey as their French peers. Josh Henry seemed to have a lot of love for neglected Germans when I met him. $6k should still get you pretty good choices in that realm.

October 28, 2019, 4:29 PM · AFAIK, Josh Henry now has a commission backlog. There are any number of fine modern makers. I'd go to a shop with a deep inventory of bows and just try everything in the appropriate price range.
October 29, 2019, 8:53 AM · I had a great experience with viola bow trials with Johnson Strings/Carriage House a couple of years ago. I was looking in a slightly lower price range than you are ($3000-$5000), but I also tried a few up to $6000. For $40- including return shipping, they will send you 3 bows to try for a week (they will also extend the time, if needed when you are making a final decision). They have players on staff who will help decide which bows to send, so if you have specific preferences of weight/balance/flexibility, they will try to choose bow to fit your criteria. I ended up with a great bow by Thomas Goering, but there were some other close contenders.
October 29, 2019, 9:08 AM · Thx all . Any shops in NYC/NJ area we might start with? Any feedback on Rodney Mohr bows?
Edited: October 29, 2019, 9:43 AM · I'm about to be in the market for a violin bow and live in NYC. I purchased my viola bow from Steve Salchow about a decade ago (he is now in Philadelphia), and plan on going back to the Salchow shop and to Steve in Philadelphia, as well as to Reed Yeboah.
October 29, 2019, 9:47 AM · I have a Rodney Mohr baroque violin bow, plus one by his daughter. Could not decide between them; I liked them both (they were so different!) and ended up with a Mohr and another Mohr. Rodney is great to deal with. Bow trials...How does anyone end up with just one?
October 29, 2019, 10:47 AM · Not sure about all hills but my teacher said her hill runs about 10,000 so it may be out of your price range but they’re great bows.
Edited: October 29, 2019, 11:05 AM · There is a plethora of fine bow makers here in the Pacific Northwest, many of them around your price point. I have a Bernard Ouchard around that price.

Antique viola bows are difficult to find and often quite expensive. Also consider that the modern weight for a viola bow is more post-ww1 or between the wars, so earlier viola bows are often quite light and have had the weights manipulated to 70+gms, often making them less well balanced.

Go modern. 6k won't get the finest modern bow makers attention, but it will allow you access to many great tools of the trade.

October 29, 2019, 11:47 AM · I think you could get a Morgan Andersen bow with that budget. I love my Andersen violin bow; IMO he does fabulous work.
October 29, 2019, 1:03 PM · Morgan sells most of his bows through Ifshin, so that would be the place to check.
October 29, 2019, 4:02 PM · I agree that 6K should get you a very fine viola bow by a modern maker. I like Rodney Mohr's bows very much, and there is a nice one at right around that price at Robertson & Sons in Albuquerque right now. Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, I can't imagine purchasing an instrument or bow anywhere near this price without trying it first. Any good shop should have a selection of bows at any price range, and allow you to try them until you find THE one.
October 29, 2019, 4:51 PM · I believe a Matt Wehling could be in your price range and he is quite known for his viola bows and I have heard many in the Minnesota orchestra use one of his bows.
October 30, 2019, 5:15 AM · Wehling seems to be off the radar of most players on the coasts, but his peers respect and like him enormously. I've had at least one insist that I pay Matt's work a visit.
October 30, 2019, 6:07 AM · Rodney Mohr's bows are excellently crafted and play very well. He is quite methodical and many of his bows have the same characteristics as the bows they are modeled after. I have completed a viola bow that you may be inserted in trying. You can see a picture of it here: https://adbowsllc.com/2019/08/07/latest-bows-august-2019/
Matt Wehling and Doug Raguse are names that came up in this feed and are excellent makers as well. Most makers are happy to ship a bow or two for trial.
October 30, 2019, 3:15 PM · I tried a Morgan Andersen viola bow at Ifshin's about 20 years ago and was very impressed. I think they were selling retail at that time for less than $3,000. Checking Tarisio earlier this year I see some of his bows selling at auction for over $7,000. It might be predicted that finding a good one for $6,000 could be a wise investment.
October 30, 2019, 3:35 PM · I own a Raguse (which I currently have consigned at Bein & Fushi because it's not a good tonal match for my current violin). Really nice bows.

I've played numerous Mohr bows that have been good but none which have really grabbed me as awesome. I have yet to care for the feel of any of Anderson's bows.

I really liked the Wehling I tried at last year's Reed-Yeboah exhibition. It felt virtually, shockingly indistinguishable from my Victor Fetique, a bow that costs five times as much. The Wehling was not as good tonally on my violin, but it handled extremely well -- basically plays itself.

October 30, 2019, 6:09 PM · Somehow the idea of a bow playing itself reminded me of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" ... how the broom came to life, etc.
October 31, 2019, 8:20 AM · A few years ago I was looking for a fine contemporary bow. I bought a Matt Wehling bow after trying all the usual suspects, some listed here. It does have a "plays itself" quality that is hard to quantify, and several colleagues who have tried it have also purchased Wehling bows -- some of whom stopped using big name french bows in the process.

I continue to enjoy playing it every time I pick it up. Matt is also really great to work with.

October 31, 2019, 9:23 AM · I think it's the distinction between having to make a bow do something (even if it then responds precisely as intended) and being able to let a bow do something, which just involves setting up the conditions that allow the bow to simply react naturally.

For instance, my Fetique (and its long-lost Wehling twin) will spiccato effortlessly if I simply relax my hand and let it happen.

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