New Arcus 20th Anniversary and T-series bows

November 6, 2019, 10:15 PM · Has anyone tried one of the new model Arcus bows? There's a new T-series as well as a "20th Anniversary" set of bows.

Replies (32)

Edited: November 7, 2019, 2:19 AM · No, I haven't tried those. I'll just point out that it's amazing how subtle the gradations are in the Arcus line. There's the four different current models, some available with round or octagonal sticks, and in six different grades. Now they have the 20th anniversary special editions. Then there's the discontinued models, many of which are still available. You sure can have it your way. The problem is that it's pretty near impossible to get an entire range in the same place at the same time to make your own comparisons. I have three Arcus bows, the least of them in terms of price is my M-3, the first one I bought. I still think it's a good bow and I'm not inclined to sell it. I'm not sure if many people know this, but Arcus sets out to make a grade 9 (best) bow in every case, then they evaluate the finished sticks only after they're finished to determine the grade each will be.
Edited: November 7, 2019, 3:58 AM · One month ago at Mondomusica expo in Cremona (Italy) i tested for at least 5 hours Arcus bows with my violin.

I did not find so interesting the anniversary line. I could not detect differences from the S line.
Almost the same for the 3 T series bows i tried. They should be a bridge between other series. They did nothing for me.

If i have to tell complete truth in my experience, i did not find, in my opinion and in other's casual musicians inside there, a bow with some characteristics that my discontinued Sonata had (warmth and volume). I mean against S8 and S9 and others.

Instead, i was almost to purchase a Musing C5, which surprised me the most. It only was a bit less strong than what i need. But it sounds very good.

In the end i went home with a discontinued Arcus C5, that i still have to pay for. After a long evaluation i'll do in the weekend.
It's sort of complementary to my Sonata/S line. It handles like a pernambuco bow.

In my opinion, in the factory they mount non optimum hairs. They don't grip. And the rosin they use (Melos light and medium) don't grip enough for me.
I bought from them a cake of Melos medium, which i can't use :)

Edited: November 9, 2019, 10:04 PM · I did in fact just try a 20th anniversary gold violin bow as part of my Arcus bow trials (been meaning to post an in depth update, will try to do that this week).

Regarding the 20th anniversary, I found it to be comparable to or slightly better than my Jon Paul Carrera. Disappointing, since it costs four times as much.

Compared to M9, S9, and P9 models I also tried, though, it handled like a toy. The P9 hexagonal I ended up getting smoked it in every way, and it wasn’t even close, and the M and S models were also not even close in their superiority.

Also, what they say about the hexagonal sticks is true, after trying both a round and hex P9: stick is livelier (springier yet still strong) and warmer sounding. Both attributes I like in a bow.

So, the short of it is if you have a fine bow, you probably won’t like the anniversary, especially for the money but even objectively. The 9 models though are quite nice and really stack up against fine wooden bows. Try the P9 hex out and see what I mean.

November 9, 2019, 10:30 PM · about a month ago,my teacher traveled to Italy in order to visit some exhibitions and symposiums.since he was a great arcus fan,we decided to buy a couple of cf for him and one for me and other students.he described the T bows that he tested exactly like this: great balance-very light-necessary bouncing for sautille appears with minimum effort-great weight distribution and balance but their sound is nothing that you can enjoy or call beautiful and that nasalized sound is all the way with you.he tested them on two violin with completely different characteristics. My understanding is,they're great bows in case of physical aspects.but they don't sound as good enough.
November 9, 2019, 10:37 PM · I think the CF interactions can be very specific to a given violin. I tried an S9 that sounded very good but not amazing on my current violin, for instance.

I'm hoping to give the new models a serious spin soon. I'm doing a bit of shopping for a CF bow.

Edited: November 12, 2019, 2:34 PM · Mohammad, was your teacher referring to T-series bows specifically, or to Arcus bows generally? And did you buy any Arcus bows at all? My most expensive Arcus is a grade 6, an A-6 specifically, and my understanding is that the higher grades can be dramatically better, but my limited experience tells me that Arcus bows can lack a certain tonal lushness that better wood bows have, but the Arcus handling is such a joy. And they still draw a beautiful tone, somewhat unique unto themselves.
November 10, 2019, 6:40 AM · Lydia:
No idea if it is an improvement on your JonPaul stick, but Cleveland Violins was selling a good model not too long ago for only $500. Chris Finckel put me onto that, saying that the Emersons were using them.
Edited: November 10, 2019, 1:01 PM · A JonPaul, or an Arcus, for $500?
November 10, 2019, 5:36 PM · These bow manufacturers have got y'all wrapped around their pinkie fingers. The 20th anniversary version probably differs from one of their regular bows entirely cosmetically. Wouldn't be surprised if their whole bow line was all the same stick, just different fittings, name, and price. Reminds me a bit of the "special edition" beers that occupy an end-cap case at Kroger. Pretty much the same beer you regularly drink but packaged in fancy-looking 20-oz bottles and given names like "brewer's reserve" and sold individually for $5-7 per bottle. For that I can get a whole sixer of Hamms tall-boys.
Edited: November 10, 2019, 5:59 PM · As I say, not a clue on the identity of the mystery Chinese stick. But the sound is really pretty good, and it handles as well as most things.

They sent three on my request, and there were fair differences in sound. I had family observers go two rooms over to make the call. It ended up being an easy decision.

November 11, 2019, 7:06 PM · I could not agree more with Paul Deck, speaking of Arcus bows.
One month ago, the 5 hours i spent totally at the Arcus booth in Cremona were illuminating .......

I went in conflict with the builder, regarding the comparing my Arcus Sonata, i bought from him in 2012, with the majority of higher grades bows he had there. And i tested EVERY single S8, S9, round, octagonal, T9, T8, Anniversary, he had there.
We even did a blind test in the crowded and noisy hall from the distance, about 15-20 meters, with him playing my violin with an S8 and my Sonata, and he blindly liked the Sonata more, and had more volume. Then we swapped, and he without doubt liked my Sonata from the distance. This says it all.

Now, if someone does not know, the Sonata is the lowest grade discontinued Arcus bow. I paid 800 euro for it.
And it seems to smoke his 8000 euro bows away.

So, marketing and "convincing" goes a long way. Surely not for me, though.... :)

And i have to say that liked a Musing C5 more than the highest grade Arcus ones. I liked it quite a bit. It was only a bit less resilient than what i need.

November 11, 2019, 8:51 PM · I used to own an Arcus Sonata that Bernd told me had an unusually good sound. It wasn't great on my violin, but I traded it to a player whose violin was terrific with it.

The prices on the 20th century Gold appear to be lower than the S9 / T9 / etc.

At the moment, I'm trying specifically to find lightweight bows, which is why I'm looking exclusively at the Arcus CFs.

November 12, 2019, 2:09 AM · If you did not do, look for a Musing C5... You could be surprised...
November 16, 2019, 9:55 PM · I spent a while today trying what Arcus was able to send -- an S7, an S8 octagonal, an S9, a P8 octagonal, a P9, a T7 and a T8. The P-series bows feel noticeably heavier. The T-series bows have a distinctive balance -- they feel light but if you are lifting the bow and moving it for a distance you can feel the top and bottom-heaviness of the balance. They feel heavier than the S-series bows.

Each of the bows had strengths and weaknesses, and I had to experiment with how much tension I put on the hair to get the best feel out of each. My core tests, done with each of the bows in turn:

1. Basic open strings with each of the bows to get an initial feel.
2. First few measures of Mozart/Kreisler Rondo, to get the feel of balance and spiccato.
3. First few measures of Schumann Scherzo, to test the ability of the bow to sautille with zero effort and remain fully stable and predictable through the fast off-the-string crossings.
4. March section of the first movement of Prokofiev No. 1, which has a ton of mixed bowings which tests the ability of the bow to articulate and bite in wide variety of ways.
5. Mendelssohn cadenza for four-string ricochet.
6. William Tell theme for regular ricochet.
7. Opening of the Bruch for sound and legato.
8. Opening of the Tchaikovsky for sound, color, and the feel of doing the lifts of the bow for the start of the theme.
9. Opening of each of the movements of the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, which is what I'm working on, for a mixture of sound, articulation, handling, etc.

I initially culled bows just from the Schumann and Prokofiev -- it was immediately clear what I was able to handle without adjustment my technique. Later on, I went back to see if I could get good handling by adjusting my grip or making other changes. For instance, the P8 and P9 didn't work well for me initially until I tried altering my grip to be more Franco-Belgian, rather than my usual Russian. That made the P8 and P9 pleasantly lively but they're probably not going to be the bows for me.

Much to my surprise, all of the bows sound good with my violin -- clear, with a nice spectrum of overtones, not obviously CF in sound.

I've got three of the bows on trial now, and wishing for more time with them than just a week. I also wish I'd gotten M-series and C-series bows.

November 17, 2019, 12:18 AM · Arcus C series is discontinued. I don't believe there are many around (i just purchased the top C5 that is still listed as available in their site).

The Musing C bows are all another story.

November 17, 2019, 12:41 AM · Here's a fascinating video where Bernd explains the evolution of the Arcus line over the past 20 years. I found it illuminating and well worth the 35 minutes run time.
November 17, 2019, 6:16 AM · The marketing of the video is effective and superb, especially for technology interested folks I would say :D

I once had an S8 which I sold when I got a violin needing a more powerful stick and bought a Sartory. Since I recently switched violins once more (maybe the last time?), I also changed to a great more subtle early 19th century Parisian bow.

However, after watching the video I developed the desire to have a trial with the grade 9 bows :D

But I will suppress it this time ...

November 17, 2019, 9:36 AM · As far as i know this argument (i know personally Bernd Musing since 2012, and i meet him at least once a year), my strictly personal opinion is, as usual, to test things with ears, not with other people's talking running in the head.

In particular, often this builder has a very strong opinion on what is "better" and why. I don't agree with him upon many of these statements, and we use to argue forever, usually :)

Fact is that, in my opinion, he created some very good bows (it's not by chance that i own 2 Arcus bows), but i believe that many of the produced bows are "overevaluated" (i cannot find a precise english word), even the most expensive ones.

I'm sure that he, one day, will refine and rethink many of his creations, because he's sincerely intentioned to build the better bow in the world.

November 17, 2019, 10:30 PM · I've tried a couple of 6-graded bows previously, and didn't like them at all. The 7-graded bows in this batch are definitely inferior to the 8-graded bows, but I'm not convinced that the 9s are better than the 8s. (This is for playing qualities alone, not tone, where the differences between 7, 8, and 9 seem minor.)
Edited: November 18, 2019, 1:15 AM · Lydia, I'd urge you to get an M-series to try too, before you drop your money. A high grade M is my dream bow because I just want to back off a bit from the hair trigger performance of the S-series. My A-6 is weighted like an S, but it has the stiffness of an M. I'd like to have that bit more weight, not to mention the performance of a higher grade stick. I'm not saying you should get an M, just that you should certainly try one. But you probably knew that already.
Edited: November 18, 2019, 8:22 AM · I think Arcus didn't have an appropriate M in stock. I actually like the sensitivity of the S. My usual bow (a Victor Fetique) is even more agile than that.

I got to spend a couple of minutes with a Dominique Peccatte a couple of days ago, and it was really marvelous, a reminder that as good of a bow as I have already, there's still a clear step up in both tone and playing qualities. But the experience also taught me a couple of additional things to be conscious of when I'm trying bows (for instance, what automatic adjustments I make, like automatically changing the sounding point to account for the tone the bow is producing).

November 18, 2019, 3:27 PM · This is slightly on arcus topic so sorry If this is rude but I was wondering are these bows resealable because I’m looking to sell mine but not quite sure if they’re like normal carbon and just go way down in value or if they can be sold because my new viola is not fond of the arcus I used to love.
November 18, 2019, 3:51 PM · My experience of buying and selling them used is around 50-60%. Sold a P4 for like 650€, bought and sold an S6 for 1.200€, bought and sold an S8 for 3.000€.

There was a brand new S8 on ebay Germany for 3.500€ fixed price (price offers are accepted) for a very long time.

November 18, 2019, 9:23 PM · Years ago, I was able to persuade another player to purchase my Arcus Sonata for the full amount I'd paid for it.

When I traded in my Coda Colors to buy a JonPaul Avanti a few years ago, I actually got more for the Coda than I'd paid for it.

I imagine it's somewhat luck of the draw. I would imagine that half original retail value might be typical.

I brought the S9 I'm trying to orchestra rehearsal tonight. I found that it made it more difficult for me to blend with my section unless I remained conscious of needing to do so, but it was really terrific at cutting through the fray as the soloist in a concerto -- clear, brilliant, excellent projection. I finished the rehearsal without pain and with a lot less fatigue. But the bow also didn't enable me to play as precisely.

Edited: December 7, 2019, 12:07 PM · I thought I'd report back now that I've made a decision, ultimately not choosing to buy any of the bows I tried. I had the round S9 on trial for two weeks, and in the end I chose not to buy it because its balance point (and the balance point of the other Arcus bows I tried) was too low on the bow for my comfort.

Arcus was able to send me another round S9, an octagonal S9, a 20th Anniversary Gold, and an M9.

Neither of the S9s was as good as the round S9 that I already had on trial. The octagonal S9 was a little more lively, but did not feel as stable. The second round S9 didn't have as smooth of a draw as the first S9 I tried. The M9 in some ways reminded me of the Claude Thomassin that I own; its stick was too flexible for the way I play, with a tendency to bottom out against the hair. And the 20th Anniversary Gold was just not very good in any respect.

If I could get an S9 that felt like the one that I was trying, with a slightly higher balance point, I'd get it.

My teacher suggested that I explore commissioning a modern bow with a lighter feel. I'm considering doing that. I tried a number of modern bows at the shop, including a Douglas Raguse that I liked quite a bit (I own another Raguse bow, but they feel radically different). However, none of the bows (contemporary or antique) in the same price class as the 9-series bows (roughly $4k - $8k) were as good as the S9 ($7,800) that I liked.

December 7, 2019, 1:21 PM · See if someone can give you for a test a C series Arcus bow (not the low priced Musing production).
They are stiff, yet the balance point is 2-3 cm towards the tip.
Edited: December 7, 2019, 5:23 PM · The Arcus S-series is the only one that is significantly lighter than wood bows -- about 49 grams. To me that's the only real reason to buy Arcus -- nobody else that I know of makes them that light.

I tried bows in the S series from the S4 to S7, mixed them up and played them blind, and I just couldn't feel a lot of difference, certainly not for the very significant price difference. Before you spring for an S8, do some blind playing and see if you can detect a difference.

I've played an S5 for two years now and still really like it. For a change of pace I enjoy my Peccatte-head wood bow and a couple of baroque models, but the S5 is my workhorse for orchestra and chamber music. If you're playing 4-6 hours a day, the lighter weight really does help lessen fatigue.

Edited: December 7, 2019, 6:05 PM · Lydia, I'm truly amazed that you can bottom out any Arcus bow. They're all so much stiffer than any wood bows I've tried. But I respect your opinion, and your experience is far greater than mine. Could the S-9 you liked be rebalanced with a lead plug in the head to replace the wood one? Or if you wanted to go in the other direction, the titanium screw as used on the higher end Arcus bows could be replaced with a steel one as used on the lower end models.

And Thomas, you're simply mistaken about the weight of Arcus bows. The core violin models, S, M, P, A, T, all range from 47 to about 52gms, significantly lighter than modern wood bows.

December 7, 2019, 6:36 PM · In blind playing, both myself and my teacher ranked the bows identically (and my teacher was figuring that these were all bows in the $2k range like other CF bows he was acquainted with). I thought the difference between 9 and 8 was smaller than the difference between 8 and 7, but the superiority was clear between each tier in both sound quality and the playing qualities, across the models. I thought the 20th Anniversary was roughly the same quality as a 7-class. They seem to do a good job in classifying the sticks.

I didn't have any opportunity to ask for anything unusual to be done with the S9 I tried. (If I were at a show and talking to Bernd, I'd probably have asked, though. Arcus did tell the dealer that they don't normally track balance point for the bows.)

Edited: December 7, 2019, 7:12 PM · In that 35 minute video I linked to above (9/17), Bernd said that they don't consider slight variations in weight to be very important, but balance is critically important. That would seem to contradict what your dealer told you.

(If it wasn't that video, then it was another one in the series, but I know he said that.)

December 7, 2019, 7:15 PM · The dealer asked that question of Arcus, and relayed their response. I assume they test the sticks for balance as part of their scoring of playability when they grade the bows, but they don't track the location of the balance point. A bow can feel comfortably balanced but not have a particular placement of the balance point (and, related comfortable natural point for an easy sautille). I once played a lovely gold-mounted Tubbs that had a really weirdly high balance point but played great if one kept that in mind.
December 7, 2019, 8:42 PM · I very actively tried ARCUS bows about 20 years ago, early in their evolution. I was in contact with Bernd Müsing and tried a number of different bows (Sonata, Concerto and Cadenza, which were the only models at the time). The Sonata models seemed very similar to a CODA Classic (not yet named "Classic") that I owned, and the Cadenza was more than I wanted to spend. So I ended up with an ARCUS Concerto violin bow. It took me a few weeks to get used to it.

Through subsequent email discussions with Müsing I also took on some cello and viola bows with the understanding that I could purchase what i wanted and turn the others over to Ifshin Violins (a 30 minute drive from my home). So that's what I did - adding to my experience with some early evolution of the ARCUS line. I ended up keeping 2 additional ARCUS Concerto bows, one viola and one cello, which I own to this day.

Shortly thereafter I had Ifshin make some modifications to my Weichold pernambuco bow to reduce the frog-region weight (replacing silver wrap with faux whalebone). When the result of that "experiment" turned out to be very favorable - resulting in a more agile bow that retained the same fine tonal properties it had always had I contacted Müsing about making some changes to my ARCUS bows.

Müsing sent me some titanium screw shafts that reduced the mass in the frog region and some thumb leather blanks that I could use after reducing the amount of silver wire winding. All that worked in the right direction on all 3 of my ARCUS bows.

The final modification to the ARCUS bows was the addition of some weights into the tips of the bows - done for me by Ifshin during rehairings. I determined how much I wanted the center of gravity (balance point) of the bows to be shifted and calculated the approximate mass that would have to be inserted into the tips. And now I have 3 ARCUS bows that always live in the cases of the instruments I play and that I usually use. The ARCUS bows sustain the "guts" of the instruments' sound and add overtones for improved projection and "sound tapering" better than my pernambuco bows in many situations.

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