Contemporary, European violin bow, $8500 budget

May 25, 2021, 4:52 AM · Hi everyone :-)
I'm looking for a new violin bow from a contemporary maker. I'm based in Northern Germany, so bow makers based in Europe would make more sense, I think, than makers working in the US or Canada.
I can go up to about 7000€/$8500. If I can find something cheaper that is of great quality, obviously that would be even better. But quality comes first.
I'm not really concerned about re-sale or investment value, I'm looking for a working bow.
I've looked through the lists of past competition winners of the VSA etc.
Any particular, personal recommendations, or maybe bow makers who aren't quite as well known yet, but are producing great work?
Thank you in advance for your input! Any help is appreciated. :-)

Replies (26)

Edited: May 25, 2021, 9:41 AM · Have you seen Gennady Filimonov's list of contemporary makers at https://filimonovfineviolins.com/B.html? Although there are some really fine makers winning competitions recently that are not there, it's a good start. There are shops like Bishop Strings in London that specialize in contemporary bows where someone can play through many of these folks' bows in one go, hopefully you can find someone closer to you like that to help narrow things down.
Edited: May 25, 2021, 4:05 PM · Even though the list Stan Yates recommends above is great, you cannot be certain that the bow you receive from any of those makers will be best for you on your instrument(s). You must audition your new bow before you part with your money.

I have 2 bows (one each for violin and cello) made by one of Filmonov's highest recommendations (Paul Martin Siefried) and although they produce the finest sounds from all my instruments they do not provide all the assistance I would like for off-string strokes. So, the purchases were a price compromise (but in my searches below $10,000 I never did find a bow that did everything I wanted - in fact after trying hundreds of bows I would estimate that probably 5% of bows might meet my criteria - and I never found any for sale - I think most such bows have to wait for "estate sales"). I bought my bows for "the sound" figuring I might find a way to make them do everything - still trying!

If you are looking for bows that will grow in value (as Morgan Anderson's already have - rapidly - I did play a couple of his back when they were half their current price, but I was not looking to buy at that time) the list is likely a good start. If you don't care about economic gain, but only care about how the bow sounds AND handles, you might also try some of the (non-wood) BERG bows from Michael G. Duff, which are also in your price range (I've got one of these, too - from about 20 years ago and it handles well - and makes great sound from one of my violins).

Edited: May 25, 2021, 9:23 PM · A great source to consider, once travel and shipping work themselves back to normal, is Sean Bishop. I went in one day, and he had something like 20 gold-mounted contemporary bows. Quite a lot of silver ones, as well, if you wanted to slum amongst ordinary medal-winners. :D

BTW, this is an inevitable distraction to your real task, which is finding a place to try more than one bow. But one name that I found much to like about at Bishop's was Victor Bernard. Very fine sound, that I heard from most of his sticks.

May 26, 2021, 10:57 AM · Stephen, is it fair to ask why so many of these gold-mounted bows have remained in the shop, unsold?
May 26, 2021, 2:24 PM · This was over a year and a half ago. Most everything there was really very good, and the few I didn't care for were well-made by famous people. Probably right for someone else.

As I watch his inventory page, there does seem to be regular turnover.

Edited: May 26, 2021, 3:04 PM · Would you also take German bows into consideration, then I'm sure you already came across the members of the Grünke family. They are a good point to start with, and their top models are still within your mentioned price range. I own a breathtaking 1990ies violin bow in gold by Richard (the father), and love my silver viola bow by Klaus who is also the maker of the "Kittel" high end model.
Jochen Schmidt in Dresden should be mentioned, son of C.Hans-Karl whose commissioned bows (at age 89 if I'm not mistaken) are well beyond your limit, but most of his non-ornamented (collectors market) bows from the last century should comfortably land within your budget. What are your personal thoughts about these bows?

If you already have an idea about your "ideal bow" and an antique model for a bench copy, chances are that Thomas Gerbeth in Vienna is your man.

There will be many more, but I can only comment on what I could try myself.


If you should follow Stephens suggestion and take the trip to the UK, I'd add Martin Swan Violins in Wells.
Vienna is also always worth a trip, and Marcel Richters is the place to look out for.

May 26, 2021, 3:40 PM · Oh, yes. I saw Martin a few weeks ago. Not so many new bows, of course, but he selects his inventory very carefully.
May 26, 2021, 4:40 PM · Many great bow makers here in Europe, most of them with waiting lists from 1 to 5 years. My favorite, Clément, Bigot, Thomachot, Burke, Lecanu, Nehr family, Camurat, Fuchs, Devilliers, Sleeman, Carlier, Mortier, Sadka, Tepho, Kovaks,...and more. All in the 8500k budget!
May 26, 2021, 5:56 PM · Not waiting so long is one advantage of buying from a dealer who regularly commissions bows from these makers. (Came very close to buying a wonderful Emmanuel Carlier bow like this but ended up commissioning for both my kids from Thomachot, since he had trained the guy who looks after our bows and instruments.)
May 26, 2021, 6:17 PM · Carlier is a name that has just crossed my radar a few times. Anything useful to know about him and his work?
Edited: May 26, 2021, 7:19 PM · Responds to emails readily. Our local luthier ran one of the VSA bow competitions Carlier took gold at and was visibly enthusiastic when talking about his work. You can take the list I posted a link to with a grain of salt, at least to some degree, because a couple of makers we liked the best (Carlier and Cody Kowalski) are not even on it.
May 27, 2021, 4:25 PM · Isn't Thomachot >10k?
Edited: May 27, 2021, 9:03 PM · 2 and 4 years ago he was asking about the same as everyone else we spoke with for silver with about a 1 year wait, but certainly could have increased since. Just about everyone I talked with back then was within 1k or so, David Samuels was a little more.
May 27, 2021, 4:47 PM · I am looking at a Thomachot that is being offered at about 10K euros. No idea if that is what you'd pay at his shop. But he is probably one of the outliers, along with Rolland, Burke, Espey, and maybe one or two others with 'man-on-the-street' notoriety.

May 27, 2021, 4:49 PM · I believe I heard something like €10.5k. But, as always, grain of salt...
May 27, 2021, 7:25 PM · Yes, and VAT, value of vintage/condition, etc. Still, he is one of a handful of names that everyone in the business takes seriously, and will volunteer immediately.
Edited: May 28, 2021, 9:51 AM · Nuuska, my last Thomachot ordered last summer from him was 8000€, silver and ebony.
May 28, 2021, 11:19 AM · Ooh.
May 28, 2021, 1:32 PM · My last four Thomachots were $4000, $7000, $9500, and $12500.
May 28, 2021, 3:20 PM · Jose, thanks for the info!
Paul, you're fooling us...
May 28, 2021, 4:13 PM · Of course, it's only recently that he's been able to afford an entire stick.
Edited: May 29, 2021, 6:02 AM · I said "my last" because I have two, the other one from 4 years ago which was priced at 6000€. Anyway I think Thomachot is one of the most expensive makers in Europe if not the most. Gilles Nehr bows are between 7 and 8k I think, for ebony and silver. From there all the other ones I mentioned go down in price. Maybe Burke is around 7k too..
May 30, 2021, 5:04 AM · Not sure why European matters, but I tried a Guillome, Gagne, Fuchs, and Lecanu. Bought a Rodney Mohr instead.
Edited: May 30, 2021, 6:07 AM · Hi A W, thanks for your input. To answer your question why "European matters": as I said in my original posting, I'm based in Europe, so getting to the makers' studios in person is a lot easier over here and you don't have any issues with customs/importing. I'm sure there are great American bow makers as well, and of course, you can have bows send via post but with very high fees for postal returns, insurance, import duties and all the other hassle with customs, it's simply not worth it when there are good enough bow makers based near me here in Europe. I'd rather invest this additonal money in the bow itself. :-)
Edited: May 30, 2021, 4:00 PM · Well explained, Jasper. And even traveling overseas would be an opportunity for degustation, but probably not for an immediate purchase. It's one thing to "fall in love at first sight", but it's a different thing whether this sympathy can be transformed into a stable and functional relationship after a certain period of time. A bow is such an important and personal working tool, and in this price league (given you're looking for a tool and not an investment), you will desire a trial period of at least one week, including professional feedback from people you trust.

You shouldn't exclude overseas makers though, and I'm sure you won't, if there is a dealer in the EU who carries them in stock.

Would you mind telling us about what you've tried / used yet, and how you liked it? It might save us from redundant recommendations.

May 31, 2021, 7:33 AM · Jasper - makes sense. I really loved the Yves Fuchs bow, I'd really recommend looking for one of his there in Europe.


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