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Why should I buy an expensive bow?
Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 Topic Rating: 4.8 (4 votes) 
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Ferret
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August 27, 2012 - 9:16 pm
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Hi All

I was just looking at bows on the web and of course there where ones ranging in price from $25 up to $500 and more.

Looking at a bow, basically all I can see is a piece of wood and part of a horse's butt.

What is it that makes a $500 bow worth $475 more than a $25 dollar one? dunno

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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Blue Bird
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August 27, 2012 - 9:27 pm
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I'm not entirely sure either, but I was thinking about this recently as well since I need to replace my violin. :)  I though this was an interesting article: http://www.ifshinviolins.com/A.....t-Bow.aspx

 

EDIT:  From what I've found, sound quality seems to be affected by the type of bow. Better quality bows seem to respond better.  However I don't think you necessarily have to spend a huge amount of money to get a good bow with nice sound quality.

"Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game." - Voltaire

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Fiddlestix
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August 27, 2012 - 10:02 pm
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Ferret said
Hi All

Looking at a bow, basically all I can see is a piece of wood and part of a horse's butt.

What is it that makes a $500 bow worth $475 more than a $25 dollar one? dunno

 

 

Because the $500.00 bow come's from the horsey's tail, not his butt.rofl

 

LOL,,, I don't know either, Ferret, except for the fact that a better quality hair is used and the wood is also of better quality. Then you have, who make's it.    I guess.

I have 4 bow's, one is Pernambuco wood, which is the mate to my 130 yr old violin, I love that bow. One is a $25 fiberglass (student bow), one is a Chinese bow that came with my cheapo violin, but I think that one the hair is of really bad quality, half the hair is missing so I seldom use it, which isn't all that bad because I only get 1/2 the scratching sound. The last bow, I paid $225.00 for it about 18 years ago, I love the sound but it is way to flimsy. In order to tighten the hair's, I have to straighten out the stick, that's no good, I get too much bounce. Each bow I get a different sound. smile

 

 

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Barry
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August 27, 2012 - 10:54 pm
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Well, heres my experience. Ive had outfit bows and a couple in the $50 range. I recently bought the Presto encore from fiddlerman ($166) and Im blown away. Its agile, responsive , well balanced and delivers an even tone. Long slow strokes produce a sweet tone now.

 

I now refer to my others as clubs

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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Ferret
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August 28, 2012 - 12:33 am
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Fiddlestix said

Because the $500.00 bow come's from the horsey's tail, not his butt.rofl

Well, it may not exactly be his butt, however, it is certainly part of the south end of a northbound horse.trumpet-1271

I've recently bought a carbon fiber one of FM. I'm quite happy with it

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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DanielB
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August 28, 2012 - 2:59 am
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It's a piece of wood, a small but fairly simple mechanical fitting (the frog) and some horsehair that will eventually need replaced anyway.

I don't know much about bow quality, and have wondered the same thing, Ferret.  Especially when I have read about some folks spending into the thousands for bows.  I just can't wrap my brain around the idea of a stick and a simple mechanical slide adjustment being worth that much.

I can say that the 20-30$ student bow that I bought around my first month was a vast improvement over the "free" bows that came with my violins.  Lighter, more comfortable, a bit better workmanship and the differences in workmanship were obvious.  The hair on it was in a nice straight even band.  It handled a lot better and the sound was noticeably better even to my noob ears.  The difference it made in getting a better sound and it being more comfortable and easier to use definitely made it worth the 20$ or so I paid for it. 

I can also see where it is not perfect, and some things in the workmanship could have been better done.  So I can understand, on an intellectual level, that there are some out there that would definitely be better made, and might be as much of a difference from my student bow as it is from the free bows.  I could see where a stick could be understandably worth up to a couple hundred for one that was very nice wood (or other quality material, I've heard some good things about carbon fiber) and where a good bit of care went into the workmanship.  

But 500$?  Thousands?  I don't see it, and have wondered the very same thing myself, Ferret.

Not saying it isn't possible.. Just that I don't see it as even hypothetically actually being worth that much, at least not from my noob perspective.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Barry
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August 28, 2012 - 7:25 am
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The most expensive bow Ive played with was priced at $1000 at the fiddlehouse here in Nashville , there is a difference

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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Fifi La Fume
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The more expensive bows use Unicorn tail hair. wink

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Oliver
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August 28, 2012 - 10:13 am
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The recent Shar catalog pictures about 30 violins but some 40 bows.  Why would Shar allocate this commercial space for so many bows?

Once upon a time there were maybe 7 or 8 pages of violins and a page or two of bows. 

What happened?  Marketing again capitalized on the typical frenzy of the average violinist to purchase talent.  A few thousand dollars for a stick that maybe required a few hours labor couldn't be more attractive to the suppliers.  (A few years ago, a violin student package sold, in bulk, in Beijing, for about $15.)

I give the violin industry a lot of credit for shifting the "big" money from entry violins, (which the Chinese own) to fantastic margin bows and making the whole thing look real.

I definitely believe that every violin needs an ideal bow but no one knows which bow that would be including the people who make them.  In addition, we all know that violins have moods with weather, age, etc.  Will the ideal bow track the mood of the violin?   Do big buck bows work on electrics?

The total labor plus materials for a bow can in no way justify the selling price.  (Is it harder to make a bow or a violin?) wink

I have a project on the back burner to buy 3 fishing rods at Walmart, cut them in half, and fashion test bows with the upper half of the rods.  I bet that one of three will sound better than the other two.

laughlaughlaughlaughlaughlaughlaugh

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Mad_Wed
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Nobody should buy an expensive bow, unless that one wants or needs to=)

Usualy those bows, that are able to produse a good sound cost more than those bows that are able to produce a decent sound, etc... You pay not only for materials, that a thing made of, You pay for the time of a master, the better master- the more his work  costs, the more attention he gives to a thing he makes - the more time he spends on it, and so on..

I have CF FM's bow too and as You, Ferret, i'm happy with it =) If time will come when i decide that this bow doesn't satisfy my needs, i'll think of a better bow then =)

Don't rush on it now - everything has its time.

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Oliver
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August 28, 2012 - 11:02 am
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What would you imagine is the labor time needed to make a bow ?  A violin ?

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Mad_Wed
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Oliver said
What would you imagine is the labor time needed to make a bow ?  A violin ?

No idea, Oliver. But i believe, that a master spends  much more time on it, than a factory automatic device, LOL! Even if it's a hand made, anyway it's at least a conveyor manufacture....not much better. 

violinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolinviolin..............

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Oliver
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August 28, 2012 - 10:33 pm
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You are avoiding the question.

Given a "master" what might be the comparison of labor and material cost for a violin vs. a bow ?

If good bow materials cost $100 and the bow sells for $7500 this leaves $7400 as profit !!! 

(And $7500 is towards the bottom of really expensive bow selling prices.)

If the "master" worked for one week on one bow for 40 hours labor, his return would $185 an hour. 

dazeddazeddazeddazeddazeddazed

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Ferret
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Fifi La Fume said

The more expensive bows use Unicorn tail hair. wink

facepalm DOH....... Of course. Why didn't I think of that? Silly me dazed

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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Barry
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August 29, 2012 - 9:20 am
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there is a good discussion here on the subject

 

http://www.violinist.com/discu.....fm?ID=4413

 

the quality of wood and building come into play. evenly weighted throughout the stick, balance,etc all make a difference. Like I said, there is no comparison between my outfit bows and my encore presto, it is clearly superior. The most noticable quality of the $1000 bow I played was while doing long slow strokes, tone was even from end to end.

Just as a master violin maker carefully chooses his materials, so do master bow makers.

Of course, just like violins, in your first years a Strad isnt going to help you sound any better, but often an upgrade in bow vs violin can help a lot

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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Oliver
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August 29, 2012 - 1:37 pm
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When evaluating a bow the resultant sound includes:

The type of horsehair.

How much the bow (horsehair) was played. (history)

The tension of the bow (hair).

The type of rosin used.

The amount of rosin.

The type of strings.

The condition of the strings.

The bow.

I'm NOT against spending a lot of money for the right bow if the price can be justified and I know for a fact that some bows may sound better than others with a particular violin.  It's a matter of degree smile

I will see what Violinist has to say but I also know I will be entering territory where some people have spent as much as $10,000 on their bow surprised

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Fiddlestix
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The question is,,,,, is anyone in the forum that good to buy a really, really expensive bow, will it make that much difference ?

If that's the case, i'm gettin one, at least 5 grand's worth.

 

I wonder if they used Goat tail hair,,, would that give you a really Grrrufffff sound?dunnorofl

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DanielB
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I don't know about really expensive.  But I have been thinking about buying maybe a 60$ CF bow and seeing if it makes some difference.

Personally, I tend to think that some of the astronomical prices are most likely just hype or fine points that won't make a difference to a noob like myself.  But I do see where there could be a real possibility that 20$ (while an improvement over the "free" bow that came with my violins) might actually be just a bit too cheap.  A good improvement at the time, but I may have gotten enough better that a bow that is just a bit better might make a worthwhile bit of difference now. 

Besides, on just the "sensible" side, CF bows are supposed to be more durable and not affected much by humidity and etc.  So if it is even a bit better, the reliability and consistency could make it a good value for me at this time.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlestix
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The bow hair is what is mostly affected by humidity. I would think a more expensive bow would make some sort of difference, you wouldn't have to remember the note's, the bow would do it automatically for you.

@ Daniel... I think if you put a little better quality of string's on the violin, that may make a difference. $7.00 string's just don't have the nice tone.

 

              violin-1267

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Oliver
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August 29, 2012 - 4:22 pm
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@Barry

Re: Violinist Forum on Bows

I can assure you that crowd has backed off from the zeal of a few years ago.  Actually, the conversation I just read was more a plug for carbon fiber which I believe will take over the market.  (The last time I checked, CF violins were going for about $5000.) 

(I have too many wood bows now that can play around corners.)

In fact, my two go-to bows are CF.

 

@Fiddlestix    Actually there is a very affordable up-grade to the $7.00 strings.  That would be the Shar $10.00.  (These are also good for making bracelet jewelry.)

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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