Wooden bow on carbon composite violin

Edited: January 23, 2021, 4:42 PM · This is probably a stupid question, but I couldn't find an answer on the web.
We all know that a good wooden bow is better, but I wonder if for a carbon composite violin, a carbon composite bow will be a better match, or the wooden bow is still more likely to be better?

Replies (36)

January 23, 2021, 6:05 PM · Impossible to answer a question put that way.

I have only wooden violins and both my pernambuco (wood) bows and my carbon-composite bows are good on them, but different bows are best on different violins. I no longer have the wooden and CF bows that were not that good on any of them -- there are such bows!

I assume but do =not know for sure that the same is likely to be true for CF instruments.

Edited: January 23, 2021, 6:22 PM · Of course different bows are best on different violins. The question is basically if a good wooden bow can work great on a carbon composite violin... or are they somehow "incompatible".
I'm considering acquiring a carbon composite violin, I have two nice quality wooden bows, I'm thinking if it would make sense to also get a carbon bow, or is it totally unnecessary to match the violin.
Edited: January 23, 2021, 7:05 PM · I have never run into a guideline that encourages matching bows of a specific material to CF instruments, FWIW.

Given that many say it is harder to find a good wooden bow below a certain price range, and given how much trouble people go to to find a bow to match their wood instrument, I think the road forward for you is to try as many bows as possible of all types and choose the one that works best. The differences among bows of all kinds will far outweigh any generalizations that could be made about compatibility between the materials of construction. (Even though it is tempting to think it would be worth getting a really good wooden bow to offset any monochromatic tendencies in the tone of the CF instrument--a more or less unjustified intuition.)

January 23, 2021, 7:41 PM · Interesting question David. I’m not an expert but I am of the belief that wood instruments and bows are generally superior in quality and sound. If I played outside gigs I may not want to subject my expensive and fragile wood instrument to potentially hostile environments. That is the only reason I would consider using a synthetic material instrument. Therefore the same consideration would be made for the bow. I’m curious as to your motivation to purchase a carbon composite instrument?
Edited: January 23, 2021, 8:54 PM · John, my motivation is the same. I'm living in a humid place, with no luthiers. I have dehumidifier at home, but where I teach there isn't a proper function one. The humidity level is usually between 80% and 100%, when I grab my violin I can even feel like there's water on the its neck. People here have the constant problem of the fingerboard going down, as it happens with my two violins, and I'm tired of that.
So I've decided to get a decent carbon composite acoustic violin, they are quite good these days, to take to school and less serious performances. Sometimes I need to play outside too.
I don't have noticeable problems with my bows though, so, also buying a carbon composite bow would preferably be avoidable if not necessary for best sound/compatibility.
January 23, 2021, 8:57 PM · That sounds like an inhospitable environment for a wood violin indeed. I would be interested to get your opinion on the carbon composite instrument once you've played it for a while. Perhaps you can demo a few CF bows from the dealer selling the violin? Compare the difference for yourself. Best of luck with it!
Edited: January 23, 2021, 10:00 PM · Technology is evolving... The same way people moved from gut to synthetic strings, hopefully soon, carbon fiber or other synthetic instruments will sound and play almost the same as a 4000$ wooded violin, one can dream. All the wood related problems are just so inconvenient.
January 24, 2021, 2:42 AM · I'd regard the issue from a different angle. You're getting a CF violin for use in unfavorable environment - not only for violins, but also for bows. The CF bow will be more robust. So why not spotting the best sounding CF bow for your CF violin?
Edited: January 24, 2021, 10:29 AM · Nuusuka, Idk... if the fingerboard angle decreases too much, the violin becomes "unplayable". The bows never give me any problem, they never bent. CF bows still use natural horse hair and need to be rehaired, so we're not getting rid of that so easily.
Edited: January 24, 2021, 10:07 AM · No experience with carbon fiber violins, but I would be careful about making assumptions on matches/complements. It is tempting to think of opposites attracting, or certain vintages being more compatible. And sometimes those things happen.

Nevertheless, I've had some bows that were normally a little soft and dark do their best on a soft and dark violin during summer weather-- not the result one would imagine. And one of my modern violins that can be much twitchier and brighter, in the way that some golden period Strads can, really comes alive with one of my twitchiest and brightest modern bows.

One analogy would be with stereo equipment. Some audiophiles think of putting a bright preamp in front of a soft tube amp to zetz it up a little. Or using mellow cables to round off a somewhat fierce solid-state response elsewhere in the chain. But one cable manufacturer (cleverly) used instead the analogy of windowpanes. Rather than spreading dirt on one pane to complement grime on another, why not clean at least one of them as best one can? If you can clean both layers, all the better.

The moral is-- try it and see. Also, have a friend to listen in the next room, as the biggest differences may not be obvious to the player.

Edited: January 24, 2021, 10:55 AM · Stephen, that's one of the reasons why I don't really want to buy a CF bow, it least not an expensive one. I'll be ordering the violin online, I can't try the bow, at lest now without the hassle of ordering a few and sending them back, if even allowed by the shop.
Of course you should "never" order a violin online, but for this type of violin and the purpose it will serve, it's ok, I don't have another option anyway.
Edited: January 24, 2021, 2:05 PM · It sounds like someone shopping around for a nice Lexus or Mercedes to complement the cool bumper sticker they bought.

Edit: I don't know enough about whether CF violins have become viable options - I just had a joke that had to get out. With that said, I'm skeptical about CF, whether it be violin or bow.

Edited: January 24, 2021, 12:32 PM · No, the bow would be cheaper than the violin. And the violin isn't "bumper sticker" bad.
January 24, 2021, 12:45 PM · How have you determined that the violin isn't "bumper sticker" bad?
Edited: January 24, 2021, 1:01 PM · I'm considering this one:

The shop is trustworthy and they have luthiers who setup every violin before shipping.
For the price and purpose I think it's worth the risk.

January 24, 2021, 1:14 PM · Mr. Duarte, what do you consider a "luthier" to be? Someone who a shop hired two weeks ago with no prior training, or someone who REALLY knows what they are doing?
Edited: January 24, 2021, 2:45 PM · They appear to be a very respected shop with good reviews, I've been following their videos for a long time, including one showcasing how they check and perfect the setup of every instrument.
I don't think this kind of violin requires that "REALLY" experienced luthier, that's kind of the point why I want it in the first place.
But we're already going offtopic here.
January 24, 2021, 2:45 PM · Can you provide a link to that video, please?
Edited: January 24, 2021, 3:23 PM ·

January 25, 2021, 10:57 AM · I enjoyed the Fiddlershop video. Seems like a comprehensive check list. But I am not a luthier. I would assume they perform competent work given the volume of instruments they must sell. They seem to specialize in factory-made instruments from China and eastern Europe similar to SHAR? If you're working with a smaller budget, why is this not a good option for purchase? Just curious.
Edited: January 25, 2021, 1:22 PM · They also make their own violins, master violins included.
January 25, 2021, 9:18 PM · I guess this question is the ultimate test of whether one's bow should be "matched" to one's violin.
January 26, 2021, 7:31 AM · David - I have both wood and carbon fiber bows and violins. My CF violin is the Glasser model that you are considering, which I purchased for playing outdoors in questionable weather/humidity. I find that the Glasser has a cooler, cleaner, narrower tone than my wood instruments. I like to pair it with a wood bow which adds some “color” to the tone. When I pair it with my CF JonPaul Avanti, I find the tone too thin. When not playing outdoors, I enjoy the Glasser as an occasional change from my wood instruments, but would in no way consider it as a replacement for them. The Glasser is also noticeably heavier than my wood instruments (built like a tank though).

I also purchased mine from Fiddlershop, and find them to be very reliable.

January 26, 2021, 11:02 AM · Dennis,

Just curious, so your Glasser model also has the new CF bridge and post? or the wood ones?

Edited: January 26, 2021, 11:44 AM · "We all know that a good wooden bow is better"

... and I disagree there. We "all" don't know, indeed it has been tested here with a mic and a blind test and no one could tell apart a wooden from a carbon fiber bow, even those so hard believers of the superiority of the wooden bows failed.

But... whenever you discuss a topic like this with a musician that has believed that for 20-30 years and plays fantastic, it becomes a really heated debate I don't want to take part anymore. These musicians will use their "look how good I play" card (which can be true and I can admire their playing the most) and "look how many years I've been studying violin" card to try to make their opinion a fact. No, thanks.

I will say there is no reason why a wooden bow should be better or worse than a carbon fiber bow, and viceversa.

January 26, 2021, 12:15 PM · Ben - My Glasser is two years old and has a wood bridge. Not sure about the sound post. It isn’t with me so I can’t look.
Edited: January 26, 2021, 1:39 PM · Dennis, thanks, glad to know you like it. I've already ordered, the Glasser violin and the JonPaul Fusion bow (carbon fiber and wood hybrid) to use with it outside. From the video, I really like the dark tone of the violin, it sounds a lot better than the Mezzo Forte Carbon Fiber Design violin that costs 2500$.

If your bridge is wooden, than the soundpost is also wooden. Now these new ones are all carbon composite, which is great because then the soundpost and bridge would still be susceptible to humidity, and I assume a carbon composite bridge is less likely to bend.

January 26, 2021, 1:57 PM · David, have fun with your new violin. If it's not much to ask, I'd very much like to know what your thoughts are about your Glasser CF Violin.

I've never tried a CF violin before, nor seen one in person. But I'd be interested in acquiring one, maybe for Father's Day... lol.

January 26, 2021, 2:01 PM · ben, sure, I'll post. It will be some days though... It's a long trip from the USA to here and they will take up to 7 business days to send instruments because of high demand.
January 26, 2021, 6:31 PM · I've got the 5-string Glasser carbon fiber violin, the acoustic electric version, and I also bought a CodaBow Joule bow. When I got the Glasser, it had been drop-shipped straight from Glasser, instead of being processed at Fiddlershop.com. I wasn't happy with the sound but at first I thought "okay, that's the sound of a carbon fiber violin. too bad." But then I compared the string length of my wooden violin, which was set up properly by a luthier and noticed that the vibrating string lengh on the Glasser was about 3mm too short. So I moved the bridge (carefully!) to match the vibrating string length of my wooden violin and the tone opened up a lot! But then I noticed the soundpost was in the wrong place for the relocated violin. I wasn't about to try to move that myself and went to my luthier and had him reposition the soundpost and when I got home and played it for my wife (a great violinist) she was amazed at how much better it sounded. So be sure to check those things when you get your Glasser. I've been very happy with mine and I hope you will be with yours also!
Edited: January 27, 2021, 4:09 AM · It's likely, that seems to be a thing. One of my students bought a Stentor Verona, Stentor violins come with the bridge not assembled, probably for chipping safety. But the violin came with a soft mark on the top plate supposedly to tell the buyer where to place the bridge. The mark was too in front (fingerboard side), totally not aligned with the f-hole notches. I decided to ignore it and insert the bridge between the notches and got 328mm string length. The mark was probably there for 325mm, maybe because it's the measure present on Pirastro's website claiming to be the vibrating string length of a 4/4 violin.
Edited: February 17, 2021, 11:18 AM · Ben, the violin arrived today, I've already ben playing on it. The sound is pretty much like in the video, dark sound, but very responsive. They're not misleading you in any way, it respond good and it's very easy to play, I'm very happy.
The neck is comfortable, shaped very similar to my violin, so I'm lucky because that way I almost don't need to adapt to anything regarding the left hand.
It came with the Larsen Original strings, I will use them, so they don't go to waste, but I'm curious on how it will sound with with Evah Pirazzi green/gold.

I just wish I had found this sooner, like I said I live on a very humid place with no luthier, this would have been great for my students, they all have too low fingerboards. This violin sounds and plays better than any Stentor I've tried under 600€. Carbon composite violins are indeed the future.

February 17, 2021, 11:19 AM · Thanks David, for taking the time to write your feedback. I'm glad you like it. Enjoy your CF violin!
Edited: February 17, 2021, 11:28 AM · Thanks. Yeah, it's nice to have a "bullet proof" violin :D
If you want a violin like this, go for it. For 500$, judging from the videos, it sounds much better than the 2000$+ violins from other brands that have wooden bridge and sunspot. Considering that this violin sounds accordingly to the video, I would say it's a strong indicator that the others do to.
February 18, 2021, 4:31 PM · Finally there is a sub $1000 decent CF violin. I've argued for years that violinists need a durable spare. I was one of the first to enquire about CF bows in the days when they were new and snooty London violin shops were saying "what's the point" when they were super expensive. Fast forward, they are decent priced durable decent bows. A lot of professionals use them as a spare if not as their main bow. Guess what? They didn't replace wooden bows but live side by side. One of the reasons you may have a CF bow is to preserve your valuable bow in certain conditions. CF violins have now become like the bows - an option to preserve your nice antique violin if you are playing in cold or sun or dangerous situations! A CF bow might be good to have with your CF just because you can play it in any situation without worry.
February 20, 2021, 10:37 AM · Here's a comparison between the Glasser violin (525$) and the much more expensive (2500$) Mezzo Forte model with wooden bridge and soundpost:

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