How to sell bows quickly?

December 22, 2022, 1:18 AM · I have a tiny collection of 6 violin bows that I've finally decided to replace them all by a nicer and finer one. They are not inspiring but transpiring for my current taste and technique. They have been acquired over the time and ideally, they would go all together (to help) to fund the next bow. Is putting them to auction the best solution for quick sale? Or would be another possibility that I am not aware of?

Consignment in a local dealer store is not an option. Selling them individually via internet ads? It may be time consuming and not hassle free.

Note: a good bow is the one that make my playing much easier, good weight and balance and sounds good on the violin.

Thank you.

Replies (27)

Edited: December 22, 2022, 3:14 AM · Yes, probably putting them into an auction. But at auction, you really don't have any control over what they will sell for, unless you set a reserve. And if you set a reserve, they may not sell at all.

Another option might be to take them around to various violin shops, and see if they'd be interested in purchasing them outright. However, most violin shops already have sources for inexpensive bows that they know and trust, and which allow a reasonable profit margin, so that might be a long shot.

Edited: December 22, 2022, 3:19 AM ·
Except for two violins which I sold, I've taken extra equipment like that down to a local music store and donated it. The proprietor uses them for spare parts, or when he can, get's them working and into student hands.

I have a hunch, bows like that may be hard to sell. (Maybe not, though?) For me, it wouldn't really be worth the effort to try to sell them.

December 22, 2022, 5:34 AM · The Amati auction site in the UK usually sells their anonymous bows in batches of 10. Unless one or two of yours are identifiably "something" you may as well hang onto them or create an art work.
Edited: December 22, 2022, 8:17 AM · I expect that only a dealer would be interested in 6 used bows. Players tend to buy bows one at a time, and like to try it first. I admit I've bought my bows without trying them first, but always new and always with the option of rejecting it and returning it for another. Only once did I reject one, a "baroque cello" bow for my bass viol. It was not straight enough in the left-right dimension, where ideally it would be straight as an arrow. That was a $150 new bow from Shar, which they promptly exchanged for a better one that I accepted. But within weeks I bought a renaissance-style bow with clip-in frog, hand made in France. It's very nice (to my judgement) and I haven't touched the cheap bow since. But for my violins I still use the $150 Shar "baroque" violin bows, which I will continue to do until I am able to afford a very fine baroque-style bow with clip-in frog.
December 22, 2022, 8:12 AM · We have had very good luck selling our children’s old violins on Facebook Marketplace. Less of a hassle than Craigslist and eBay
Edited: December 22, 2022, 3:51 PM · If you were a teacher you might be able to sell them off to your students (if they are actually good enough for them). I did that, when I was!

Depending on what your bows are and when you bought them their prices may have inflated since then. I recall ordering a *** German bow from the SHAR catalog in the 1970s; the retail price had tripled from $60 to $180 by the time I ordered it. It was appraised in 1980 for $550 and since then its retail price has quadrupled (unfortunately I sold it about 20 years ago).

December 22, 2022, 12:50 PM · Thank you all for your suggestions and shared experiences. The bows range between $500 and $1,500, most are older German bows and one new Brazilian made by commission.

Based on above, I am inclined to: 1) FB Marketplace; 2) ad in local conservatories and if still bows are left, send them out to auction - Amati affordable comes to mind.

December 22, 2022, 2:25 PM · OP, that sounds like a good plan. I had not noticed it before but I play brass and every brass equivalent of has a marketplace where people sell their used instruments, mouthpieces, cases, etc., but this just doesn't work for strings. Violin is really such a different animal. You could hand me a dozen bows and I'd have no idea of their market value at all. We've acquired several Chinese bows and I never know which ones are even worth rehairing. I can see how selling bows would be a dilemma.
December 22, 2022, 3:55 PM · My experience has been that the balance of a bow can be changed by changing the wrap material and/or by inserting a small weight in the tip or frog (there is room in both/either). I have had this done thrice (that I can recall) with no change in the sound produced by the bows but big changes in playing characteristics.
December 22, 2022, 4:05 PM · This is a good point but unfortunately it has been hard to find a knowledgeable bow maker/repairer to do this job - I don't dare myself. :-)
I also remember one of your comments back ago in another thread about cutting some hairs for a better playability. Have to try it too.
December 22, 2022, 4:25 PM · If you're in the U.S., I'd be very cautious about selling in any overseas auctions. Investigate additional import/export fees and potential problems with shipping bows with ivory tips.

If you take good pictures of them and send the pictures and description to Tarisio in New York, they can give you a pretty good estimate of what they might fetch in one of their auctions, but they generally won't accept nickel-mounted German workshop bows.

December 22, 2022, 8:08 PM · Nobody has yet mentioned the possibility of donating the bows to a music school where they might be used by students without the means to afford anything beyond the most appalling fiberglass models.
December 23, 2022, 12:33 AM · It is written, truly it is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a man to sell his bows.

Put it on your local classifieds and wait..

December 23, 2022, 1:18 AM · It seems this gentleman has about $5000 worth of violin bows and he wants to sell them to buy one higher grade $5000 violin bow, and our commentators are suggesting he donate them so he has no bows and no money to buy any bows, idiocy!
December 23, 2022, 8:32 AM · Tarisio as George recommended is probably the safest, fastest, and most assured approach. Although they would probably be offered in the T2 auction based on the description.
December 23, 2022, 10:37 AM · Tarisio T2 (or maybe Skinner) will have lower-priced stuff, but those are mostly aimed at dealers who will buy by the pound and not get too hung up on special virtues. But run the inventory by each and see what they say.

As for selling to students, be very careful. As nice as the bows and ethical as their current owner may all be, there is a huge opportunity for conflict of interest. A lot of teachers don't care, but I'd sweat bullets making sure I wasn't hosing anyone down.

December 23, 2022, 11:31 AM · Post them on Maestronet and make sure you don't have any "sleepers". Seems like some German bows are more valued than they were a decade ago.
You can't sell them on there but that would not preclude someone private messaging you to express interest.
Edited: December 23, 2022, 12:09 PM · Stephen, I am an excellent buyer and a terrible seller. The possibility of letting someone down is what worries me the most. They are OK bows to my knowledge but I am far from being an expert. Really far.
If to sell to any student, I will definitely ensure the teacher approves the buy.

Tarisio T2 reject them by the pics sent. All of them. Strange.

Meanwhile the camels are walking through the eye of the needle. ;-)

December 23, 2022, 1:29 PM · Josh Henry (in Virginia, I think) is a maker who also deals in, and likes working on German bows. Perhaps sending photos his way might get some hints.
December 23, 2022, 2:09 PM · @ AC if T2 rejected them they may prove hard to sell and may not fetch what you paid. Try listing them on ""
December 23, 2022, 3:58 PM · Mid priced items can be difficult to sell. They are generally outside the realm of cheap beginner stuff, and more advanced students want better things. You need to find that progressing student, or adult who wants to step up.

I would talk to as many teachers as I could.

December 23, 2022, 6:07 PM · Josh Henry is a good guy. That's a good suggestion to talk to him. Lyndon, I get the idea that the OP is selling his bows and using the proceeds to buy a fine bow, but sometimes these kind of internal self-deals are artificial constructs and not based in financial reality.
December 27, 2022, 2:37 PM · Well, I am afraid I have to disappoint “AC”. It takes time to sell the bow no matter what quality and who is the maker simply because I believe it has to find the right player with right click for the bow, couple of my friends still waiting to hear from shops where they put on consignment (it’s been couple years) so yeah…
Edited: December 28, 2022, 7:18 PM · Age and condition are very important in the value. There is a pretty decent market for pre-WW2 bows. Anything post-war that isn’t by an especially well-liked maker and in pristine condition is tricky to resell, as similar bows by current makers or firms are easy to find and are available at comparable prices. Even bows made by successful current makers can be tough to resell.

There is very little resale value for nickel-mounted bows. Silver and gold tend to fare better, but still need to be of a certain age and condition to be attractive to buyers. If you intend to sell to a shop outright, keep in mind that they will need to buy at the wholesale price (or less if work is needed), which will often be half the retail or less. You can sometimes make a bit more by consigning if the shop likes the bows, but then you have to wait for a sale to be paid.

Listing on a site like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook marketplace may give you a chance to get more, although I think you’ll find that the offers you’ll receive will be quite low.

January 8, 2023, 9:01 AM · There's a problem with selling non-identifiable bows (or anything violin [dare I say instrument]-related) for what you may think they are or want them to be worth.

I personally would be very hesitant to buy a 500 dollar bow from a random person on FB or Ebay even after playing with said bow. If you can't identify it then its price is also not-identifiable. And therefore the price is more subjective than objective.

Part of me accepts that no-name gear is to be considered as a 'consumable' because it's never going to fetch its original price.

January 8, 2023, 4:55 PM · Sometime in the past decade I thought it was time to get an additional viola bow, because I was not 100% satisfied with any of the 4 I had. Sound wasn't quite good enough. Off-string strokes were disappointing I knew what I wanted but it was really too costly.

So I checked out ebay. I thought if I could find something there at the right price and it was good enough that would do "it" for me. And if it wasn't the right bow - I could still check out the shops.

I found a $400 ebay viola bow, nickel trim, C.Bazin stamp (obviously counterfeit) I talked the seller down 10% or 15% and bought it. It turns out to my best and least viola expensive bow. It is the one I end up using every time. So there!!

I have sold bows to dealers, and yes the price offered was half the (then) current retail price, but I knew to expect that and it was 4 times what I had paid for them. There was a very rapid inflation in the retail price of bows (and everything else) during the early 1980s.

About 15 years ago I had a cello student who finally bought a cello on ebay (with my advice) off ebay for $1,000, which was 1/3 the retail price for that brand at that time. He returned his rental cello to Ifshin Violins, but at my advice he he asked to purchase his rental bow that was sold to him for $140. It was such a good bow that I tried to find a similar one (and price) at the shop - with no luck. Good sound and good off-string strokes.

I think one has to forget the "numbers" and search and try.

January 8, 2023, 6:12 PM · If you have the original bill of sale or email receipt, I'd include it when you list. I would probably buy a bow someone else paid $500 for $250, but it would help to know the provenance.

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