John Paul Corona & Bow "Blind Test"
Anyone have a John Paul Corona bow? Curious how you like yours. I had a blind test this afternoon with 5 different bows, and the results were a bit surprising.
It was as much a blind test as I could make it, 5 different bows: a mixture of wood, carbon fiber, and one quite expensive Pernambuco. I was left alone with them and my violin, I kept the bows turned so I could not see the labels - I wanted to avoid bias from some preconceived idea of material or price.
Bow 1: I hated, it just felt too heavy, as if it were dragging my hand down.
Bows 2-4: Felt the same as my Codabow.
Bow 5: Quite different from the others - string crossings became much easier, the bow felt lighter and my right hand/wrist more agile.
I was quite surprised at the difference, and even more surprised when I allowed myself to look at the labels on the other side of the frogs. The bow I hated? THAT was the $1,500 Pernambuco. The bow I liked, was the least expensive of the bunch (still twice the cost of my CodaBow Protege) - another carbon fiber bow.
Obviously the John Paul Corona has the best balance for me out of the 5, which really brought home the lesson about balance being far more important than either material or cost. I did not buy it, yet, no need to rush.
Don't forget to listen for sound. Quality/sexiness of tone, but also dynamic range, quickness of response, etc. Spiccato and triple-stops, sure, but also ability to project pp legato.
$1500 is not generally considered quite expensive for a wood bow. Not surprised is outperformed by CF.
Also keep in mind that every bow has something to teach to you. A bow might feel uncomfortable at first for the same reason why it might be exactly the right bow to learn certain more advanced techniques or help you to achieve a richer sound. That's maybe where a mentor comes in... The better the bow, the further it will get you, and the faster it will get you there. But as long as we're stuck in learning the basic techniques, it's not easy to evaluate a bows qualities.
To me $1.5K is expensive, though some day I would consider buying one that ticked all the boxes, that's what savings are for. That particular bow felt like it was dragging down my hand, so regardless of cost it wasn't the one for me.
I haven't tried the Corona version. I did buy their least expensive model, "Bravo", and liked it enough to buy the "Avanti", but it wasn't better or different. Bows are strange, you never know which bow will work best with a specific violin. Price and label are not as important as weight, balance, strength, elasticity, etc.
Thanks Joel! That was what I began to see today. I wanted to do the blind test as well as I could to try and rule out label/price induced bias. The results were quite interesting, I'm glad I did that.
The Corona is my favorite bow out of the JonPaul line.
and, to add to the mystery, if you have a collection, more than two violins and four bows, you might discover that bow #2 works best with Violin #1, but not Violin 2, etc.
It's not at all surprising that a good CF bow would outperform a $1500 pernambuco bow. I realize that $1500 is quite a bit of money in absolute terms but not when it comes to violin bows. A good pernambuco bow can be well into five digits.
I recently bought a $500 pernambucco bow from china.
Mary Ellen, thanks for the context, that is helpful. I liked the feel of the John Paul Corona so much that I've decided to save for one. It's twice the price of my Codabow, but I could certainly tell a difference in right hand agility. I'm in no rush, but I learned a lot from the experiment and I appreciate the comments from everyone.
Two years ago, I bought a $250 “Master” level pernambuco bow from Yita in China. It replaced my $70 Fiddlerman CF bow. Since then, I have also purchased a JonPaul Avanti CF, and a nickel mounted Arcos Brazil pernambuco bow. Of the four, the Yita is my favorite, in terms of handling and the sound it pulls from my violin. The JonPaul handles very well and pulls a purer, cleaner tone. However, the “color” I get from the Yita (and the Arcos) makes for a really nice sound.
All bows feel good after nine Coronas... ;-)
If you remember to put a lemon wedge on them.
I can only speak for myself... most probably nine coronas will make any bow feel good, but as a matter of fact any bow will play like a lemon after such a treat.
Lime, Stephen, lime!
Oh, right. Sorry— I haven’t had my biennial beer for a while.
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