Advanced Violin Bow Inventories in the Intermountain West?

Edited: April 27, 2020, 9:39 AM · Howdy Folks –

I’m thrilled (and very fortunate) to be picking up a commissioned violin from Paul Schuback in Portland, OR later this summer. I live in Dallas, TX, and given current circumstances in the U.S. with the pandemic, my wife and I think this makes for a wonderful opportunity to explore the Midwest in a fun roadtrip from Dallas to Portland. In some ways, it feels like a final quest for my violin. :-)

While I’ve got the violin bit figured out – I have some savings set aside to invest in a new bow to accompany it. I currently play with a CodaBow Diamond SX which has been great and I’m confident I’ll keep as a second bow. I have another stick that’s wooden but doesn’t play as well as the CF – it was less than $500. For the last few years I’ve held off on searching for something nicer… didn’t make sense to acquire a new bow in advance of getting my “forever” instrument. Now that we’re closer to the delivery date, I’m trying to box in my excitement with as much desktop research as possible on quality bow inventories between Oregon and North Texas (assuming shops are open by then, fingers crossed). Given the amount of country we’re crossing, I don’t want to waste an opportunity to come across any inventory I otherwise would never encounter.

A few details … I won’t have the intention of purchasing on the spot, but hoping to instead bring two or three back home with me for a week trial (and mail back whichever ones aren’t a good fit). I would appreciate any shop recommendations if anyone is aware of good pernambuco bow inventories (price range up to $5-$6K). Any suggestions on particular makers are also welcome! I’ll still plan to do a blind test of several bows per shop, but always appreciate the expertise and knowledge I find in this community.

We can be flexible with the route back. We'll be traveling from Oregon through Idaho, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. So far we're definitely planning to visit Salt Lake City and Santa Fe (which is just close enough to dip down to Alburquerque). I’m also familiar with David Kerr in Portland (bought my current violin from him several years back). Are there any specific shops I should keep an eye out for?

Replies (15)

April 26, 2020, 1:31 PM · There are some excellent bow resources in the Midwest, but unfortunately, I don't think the route from Dallas to Portland will be in the right neighborhood to hit the star sellers in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan). I suggest (1) you re-write your post to name the cities you will be visiting and (2) you consider looking at used bows instead of new ones. Happy trails/bows to you!
April 26, 2020, 1:45 PM · Thanks Erin, you're right -- "Midwest" isn't quite accurate. I revised the description in my post. Thanks much!
April 26, 2020, 1:46 PM · I'm in Chicago. I would recommend two things. One is visit Seman Violins in Skokie (right outside the city)...they have been extraordinarily helpful in finding good options for my kids over the years and they are very fair with prices. They typically have a very wide range of bows, both new and used, in the range you specify.

The second is to visit the Fine Arts Building at 410 S Michigan. This building is filled with makers and shops, including the ever-so-pricy Bein and Fushi on the 10th floor and the much more reasonable William Harris Lee on the 5th floor. Each has a wide inventory. There are also a bunch of independent bow makers in the building, some of whom work with the shops and others who sell independently. The caveat is that most of these are closed right now. It's a quirky building (still has hand-operated elevators run by people) and I don't think they are even operating right now.

April 26, 2020, 1:51 PM · Check out Robertson & Sons in Albuquerque, NM.
April 26, 2020, 1:53 PM · Yes, visit Robertson & Sons.
April 26, 2020, 2:45 PM · J.S. Fisher in Pennsylvania has excellent bow trials by mail, and excellent prices.
April 26, 2020, 3:40 PM · From Dallas, another possibility would be to drive due West to San Diego and then north along the coast where you will proceed through large populations centers and probably have more options.
April 26, 2020, 4:00 PM · If you don’t mind a detour down the Left Coast, Ifshin’s has a big inventory.

If he is taking visitors, Matthew Wehling is in Northfield Minnesota, about an hour south of Minneapolis.

April 26, 2020, 4:34 PM · If you want to stretch your trip a bit to Seattle, there's member Gennady Filimonov. His inventory on his website is impressive. I will probably be contacting him soon.
April 27, 2020, 9:42 AM · Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. I've added Robertson & Sons to the itinerary, and Bruno I found Mr. Filimonov's website highly useful. Appreciate that.
April 27, 2020, 11:20 AM · Seattle is close enough to Portland to be worth going a few hours out of your way for. And once in Seattle, the many outstanding contemporary bow makers in Port Townsend aren't far away.
April 27, 2020, 8:44 PM · I “third” Robertson & Sons in Albuquerque.
April 29, 2020, 3:45 PM · Get some trials from Robertson's, and also do a mail trial with Fischer. That should provide more than enough selection to make a good choice. I just bought an Arcus P9 from Fischer, and it is absolutely ridiculously good, and Mr. Fischer was very helpful throughout the trial process i which I tried a dozen bows before I found the one.
April 29, 2020, 4:07 PM · Port Townsend is a bit of a Mecca— sort of like Ann Arbor for violins.
May 4, 2020, 8:59 AM · If you are going to be in Albuquerque you should visit David Brewer's Fine Violins

They have a big inventory which includes higher end bows and violins.Very friendly and helpful people to work with.

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