Need of a new bow? +Price for a decent bow.
I'm currently playing a 1.400€ violin with a bow around 100€.
My bow needs a rehair and I asked my teacher if it was worth for the price of the bow, or if I should upgrade it. She told me that for the price, the rehair wasn't worth, and that i'd rather buy a new 25€ bow, explaining that for the 25€-1000€ range, there isn't really a big difference in bow quality.
I was a bit shocked, I trust her, but just wonder if the market is that drastic. Maybe she isn't aware of all the options, what do you guys think?
Any advice, or explanation relating bow price to technique level requirements would be very helpful.
I'm currently playing the Viotti violin concerto 23, and Monti's Czardas (so that you can get an idea of my level).
Quality and price are not completely correlated, especially when you look at small bands. That doesn't mean you can't do a lot better with $1,000. Just that there is some junk, and a lot that is just good enough that you won't feel the need to upgrade for a while.
Stephen is right that price isn't everything. Just cause a bow is expensive doesn't mean that it's going to be good. The same can be said for violins as well. Coincidentally, back in August, I was looking for a new bow because my main bow was starting to give me trouble. It was great in high school and got through my first three years of my undergrad, but once I started trying to do Sautille in the 3rd movement of Wieniawski 2 it wasn't able to keep up because the balance was off. I went to the luthier I go to while I'm at school and asked him to give me all his bows under $1500 rather than giving him a more strict price range of something like $1000-$1500. I was given about 15 or so bows and wasn't told the price of any of them to prevent bias. Towards the end of me trying them, I found 2 that I really liked. Both did off the string strokes really well so the Wieniawski was much easier than before. The one I ended up choosing stood out because it sounded warmer on romantic repertoire which is what I was looking for at the time. The other was also really good, but it was a bit brighter in tone and was really shining on Baroque and classical repertoire like Bach and Mozart. When they told me the price of the first bow I was floored because it was only $300. It's an old antique unnamed German bow that just says "made in Germany" on the stick. I also asked how much the other bow was because it was also really good, but was just a bit too bright for romantic era repertoire but as I said sounded fantastic on Baroque and Classical era pieces. The price of this one also threw me for a loop at the price of $950 and was also an antique. Long story short I went into the shop expecting to spend $1200-$1500 on one bow and ended up spending about $1250 (plus tax of course) for two bows.
All bows in the $25-100 are basically junk, some more playable junk than others, but all still junk.
I would like to present the following paragraph from Norman C. Pickering's 1991 book "The Violin World."
I guess I don't follow the logic. You have a cheap bow, so your teacher suggests you buy an even cheaper bow instead of rehairing it, the implication being that you should just keep buying bows and never rehairing them? Seems a bit wasteful to me.
Under USD$1000 you're best off with a good CF bow like the JonPaul Avanti or the Codabow Diamond GX.
I've been thinking about bows under $1000 lately because I'm actually in a similar situation. I originally inherited a pretty good workshop violin (probably worth around $1500) without a usable bow, bought cheap bows in order to start learning before I knew much about the violin, and then switched to viola and rarely played violin for until this year (18 years after switching). As a result, I'm playing a $1500 violin with a $100 bow, and planning to buy a new bow in the next two or three months. (The only reason for waiting is that I am recovering from car accident injuries and can't properly try out bows right now.)
The only way to find what might be possible with a bow is to try bows over an unlimited price range - whatever the dealer will let you try. Only that way can you gain the information ("wisdom"?) that allows you to evaluate your final purchase choice.
Oh, I can see from $25 - $150 or so being pretty similar in quality -- they're all essentially disposable. But there are certainly distinct price bands beyond that, to the point where for about 600 Euro (US $750), you can get very nice carbon-fiber bows.
It's a weird situation. Quality perhaps doesn't vary, only the balance point seems to, and that doesn't justify such price variation.
You can have the balance point of a bow moved by having your bow-person add a weight to the tip or frog - OR - by modifying the weight of the winding near the thumb leather. A dime, penny or nickel can be taped to the frog or tip to see if it moves the CG the amount you want - then look up the mass of the appropriate coin and tell your luthier what you want - or the calculation is not difficult - you will be pretty close if you assume the bow mass is 60 grams if you cannot weigh it.
One thing to consider-- a $50 bow will probably have a crappy hair job. Even if it seems silly to have it rehaired by a pro, you will likely be increasing its quality enormously. Whether that is enough to make the stick seem like anything worthwhile is another question.
My favorite budget bows- Glasser Braided Carbon fiber 2005bcf 2005bcfk (round is a little more full sounding and octagonal a little more agile), Jonpaul Fusion (wood skin carbon core), CodaBow NX or CodaBow GX.
In a recent article, I break what's typically available in the varying price ranges: https://adbowsllc.com/2020/08/10/shopping-for-a-bow-part-1/
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