Chinese bows

December 27, 2020, 11:43 AM · Are the bows being sold by artimusic-violins on ebay any good? Is there a way to get really great quality Chinese made bows direct from established makers?

Replies (10)

December 28, 2020, 10:54 AM · The people who sell foreign-made bows to the American market will probably tell you that unless you have the means to buy in quantity, you're going to end up getting screwed. It's kind of a basic principle of business that you don't undercut your distributors by selling direct to the public.
December 28, 2020, 1:27 PM · The only one I know is Scott Cao. He is based in Campbell, Ca, but I do know he has a factory in Guangzhou? Anyway, his company does make bows. I've never tried them though.
Edited: December 28, 2020, 5:55 PM · I’ve read that there’s enough demand for good bows in China so that the better Chinese made bows get culled and sold there. It’s the bows that don’t make that cut that wind up exported. My limited experience would tend to confirm that. I bought a couple of bows from a Chinese eBay storefront advertised as “master grade,” only to find that there were undisclosed issues like balance problems, or faulty workmanship at inner places not readily apparent on the surface. I very much suspect that they were rejected for sale in China due to those issues. In other words, they were “B” (or worse) grade, and that’s precisely why they were being offered on eBay. Of course I didn’t pay Western “master grade” prices. Anyway, I wouldn’t try it again.

I’m certain that fine bows are being produced in China, but I don’t believe that I can access them directly.

December 29, 2020, 1:21 AM · On a former and meanwhiles terminated search for a bargain baroque bow I received by a fellow member the contact details of a Chinese workshop that is selling directly. I didn't purchase because the seller wasn't able to share any information about his bows, except length and average weight,while I was completely new to the game and didn't know which one to buy. But they seem to be good enough to be played professionally.
The same workshop produces modern bows as well, but I couldn't learn about their quality yet.
December 29, 2020, 2:27 AM · I bought a Yitamusic "Sartory copy" bow on spec for about £120. I'm not sure how to judge its "quality" but it doesn't have any obvious defects. It took a while but now I've adapted to it and prefer it for certain repertoire on certain of my violins. Ask not what your bow can do but what you might be able do with your bow
December 29, 2020, 2:41 PM · I have a couple of "master" Yita bows, and was under no expectation that the word "master" was anything but a marketing device. On one of them, as they provide a service to stamp a name on the bow, I asked for the maker's name to be stamped, and the response seemed to me to be somewhat cool and surprised as if inappropriate (or maybe they wouldn't be able to easily find out who made it?). In any case, that one turned out to be a bit of a noodle, and the one I got before it was, I thought, competitive with bows around $1K retail locally. So net win with 2 rolls of the dice, and I quit while I was ahead. Yita and others also provide an option to return, which others might be able to use successfully, but I saw it more as a hassle and delay than a method which would turn out well.

But I think Bruce is looking for something distinctly better than a storefront for a pool of relatively inexpensive factory labour, and all I can suggest is that source of information would probably be need from someone with internal contact within China who might bridge some of the national and language barriers.

December 30, 2020, 5:18 AM · I was wondering if this thread was a joke thread. A bow may be good, but still not to my liking. It is all but essential to try a bow before we buy it. Traveling to China to try a bow direct from its maker is not cost effective.

There are of course importers, but Bruce specifically talks about the bow being direct from its maker.

Now of course if you do not really care, and just want something cheap, then you can buy sight unseen.

Some factories and stores have contact info published. You will not find this on eBay. There are also other sources than eBay, such as alibaba, wish, etc.

December 30, 2020, 7:59 AM · Well, I'm not eager to discuss what Bruce might want, but I could imagine that for a long time violin pedagoge it might be nice to find a source for functionally good low budget bows? At least I wouldn't expect him to go bow-shopping for himself that way. Most probably there are a couple of exquisite sticks in his case...
Edited: December 30, 2020, 10:29 AM · I think buying a low-price bow on ebay is like playing a slot machine. I have done a few times it just to see what would turn up. My best and most recent gamble was a viola bow labeled "C. BAZIN." I communicated directly with the seller, who was asking $450 and talked him down to $375 (I think). Turns out to be my best viola bow for many purposes (I think) - the others being: W. Seifert, Coda Classic, CF Durro, and ARCUS CONCERTO. The others are all pretty good too.

I call it "a gamble" because my first plan was to go over to Ifshin's and buy a Morgan Anderson viola bow because I had played one about 23 years ago and been very impressed when I first got this viola and I thought betting $375 against about $3,200 (for the Anderson) was a reasonable bet - that was before I found that prices for the Anderson bows had more than doubled since I tried one (latest auction price was $7,200). (The 1996 price for an Anderson bow was more than twice what I paid for that viola.)

December 30, 2020, 12:21 PM · "It is all but essential to try a bow before we buy it. Traveling to China to try a bow direct from its maker is not cost effective."

Shipping bows for trial is common these days and easily done, even from China, but is of course easiest within a single country due to Customs and other issues.

If you can visit a maker, you might get more out of it than just a bow, but it also represents a greater commitment on both parts to justify the time with a transaction.

Whether or not you visit a maker, if they're in demand, they might not a lot of stock in supply. Supply could be better for bows than for instruments due to simpler construction, but it might be reasonable to think that the best samples are going out about as fast as they're being made for the most successful makers.

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