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The Great Bow Quest: Wood vs Carbon and other issues
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Teapot
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April 2, 2014 - 3:56 pm
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After two years of learning and the acquirement of a lovely violin, my cheap student bows aren't cutting it anymore. I feel that they are hindering me in new techniques and make it much too hard to bring out a nice tone.So i am on a quest to get a good bow,something to last me for at least a couple years-and this is proving quite a confusing task.

Number one, the wood vs carbon debate. I hear people swear by their carbon bows, yet others claim a pernambuco's quality of tone is incomparable to that. I myself am not prejudiced in any way,nor averse to trying out new things...but i am confused as to how these two materials compare in an objective way. Can anyone perhaps share their experiences with using these types of bows?What are the pros and cons of each?I've been suggested some reputable names such as Dorfler, Schroetter,Yamaha and Arcus (some of which i know,some i don't) but the brand name doesn't make much of a difference to me at this point.

Second, what stresses me out the most is the shopping experience itself.Allowing myself a budget of a few hundred means i would not buy online or anything i haven't personally tried and inspected up close first. Some of the local stores have a bit of ''private'' room -actually the backroom where the bulk of violins and instruments is stored- where you can sit and test bows on your own violin.Others don't have that at all,instead you may sit in the actual shop while playing. I found this experience a bit daunting when i did it once with a friend, having the owner of the place right next to me handing me bows one after the other and making comments on the quality of each, and random customers coming in and out.I get they are trying to help you and of course supervise in case there is an accident or something gets misplaced. When picking a violin, my teacher would accompany me and try them out first so i could hear, and then play myself the ones i thought sounded better to my ear.But picking a bow is something very personal i need to do myself. All the times i've attempted to visit stores and try bows i felt rushed and self-concious...and that's not the right state under which to make a big purchase.

And after this big wall of a text...i do need advice from my fellow fiddlerpeople. How do you know you've picked the right bow in the end? What would you do to make the entire picking and buying adventure a bit less stressing? Thanks in advance!!!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
April 2, 2014 - 8:53 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11706

First of all, the price of a great pernambuco bow vs a good Carbon Fiber is great.
Try this bow and if you don't like it, ship it back for a full refund:
http://fiddlershop.com/quality.....o-bow.html
I have 3 bows that cost many thousands of dollars and I'll gladly use this one on any gig. On most of my videos I'm using the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber bow.
Call us if you want to try several bows. 954 530 5999

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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rockinglr33
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April 2, 2014 - 9:47 pm
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hey @Teapot 

I'm actually very curious to see what everyone, especially the expiranced players say about this great debate. I have heard many things about both wood and carbon fiber. I don't have any great in sites to tell you, but i know i have played with carbon fiber bows. I started with a cheap student bow when i got my violin but it was very unbalanced so i bought the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber one from the shop here and its been great. eventually i want a wooden one, but for now i'm happy with what i have! 

 

are you looking for any particular qualities in a bow? what is it about your student bow that you don't like? and of the ones you have tried, especially in the private rooms where you can relax a bit, have you noticed any quality that stands out for you? 

Well here's my 2 cents: playing in the open can be daunting for sure. lord knows when i was thinking of upgrading my violin i hated playing infront of the owners and other customers but i found if i closed my eyes and focused on the feel of playing that i could pretty much tune out everything. there was more then once when i asked the owner if i could just play around on a few so they would kind of back off. it works sometimes, sometimes not. But i'd say don't be afraid (especially after they have explained the bows) to tell them you are just gonna handle them a minuet to see which ones you like the best and that you'll let them know! and sometimes the time of day can help as well. going in the early mornings or mid afternoons before everyone gets off work might you might be able to cut down on how many customers are actually in the store! And why not shop online? A lot of stores have a return policy in place in case you don't like something or something goes wrong with it! and that way you can really play in the comfort of your own home and know for sure which ones your comfortable with! worse comes to worse you ship it back.

Hope something in there helped! Good luck. I'm excited to hear what others will say and also which kind of bow you'd settle on!

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

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Ferret
Byron Bay Australia
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April 2, 2014 - 11:55 pm
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You will find some 'technical' stuff on the subject here:

http://chambermusictoday.blogs.....er-vs.html 

It may be of some help, maybe not.

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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April 3, 2014 - 4:52 am
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Well, I'm not one of the highly experienced folks, since I've only been playing a couple of years.. But one part of your question caught my attention..

 

"How do you know you've picked the right bow in the end?"

Teapot, if you've made it far enough to be able to tell that what you have at present isn't as good as you need, then I'd say it's a pretty sure thing that you'll know when a bow you are trying is definitely better.  What works better for you is the only real criteria to follow.

I wouldn't entirely rule out some online shopping, if I were you.  Just because a store is "bricks and mortar" rather than online does not actually guarantee they are better.  You could end up buying the same items as you could have online, and just wind up paying more and getting no additional value for the difference in money.

Actually trying the instrument or bow is the only way you'll know if it is more what you want.  Fiddlerman and some other places that sell online will make arrangements with you to be able to try several bows.  If you seriously feel it is time for an upgrade, then it is good to keep *all* your options open and pick the best that you find/try within your price range.

 

"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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Ferret
Byron Bay Australia
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April 3, 2014 - 6:21 am
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Just thought to mention. 'I' don't use either at this time

My bow, at this point in time*, is made of Snake Wood. And I like it. Very light. 55g

 

And keep in mind that Pernambuco / Brazil Wood (same tree) is endangered in its native environment.

hats_off

*could change at any time. rofl

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

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FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
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April 4, 2014 - 8:11 pm
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Just my opinion but I've been using Fiddlerman's carbon fiber bows since I started playing and really have found them to be rather impressive.  A friend of mine spent about $1200 for some custom bow that she uses and while I admit it is an amazing bow, I don't see enough difference to justify the cost.  Course, I've not been playing all that long so I still have a ton to learn.

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
April 4, 2014 - 10:58 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11706

I have a Vigneron bow probably worth 10000, a Nürnberger worth 3-4000 and a Pfretzschner bow valued at about the same. I guarantee you that you won't find that much difference and not necessarily find them better than a lot of the bows we sell.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Bismarck
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April 5, 2014 - 6:13 am
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I believe that to a point price reflects many other things beyond playing quality, be it for a violin or a bow. Rarity and cost of materials, time and craftsmanship required, uniqueness and collecting value, and gravitas of the maker's name among other things.

A carbon fiber bow may lack in most of the above aspects except playing quality, but to most people, especially students and professional musicians, that is the most important feature. With a carbon bow you will probably get as good or better playability than a wooden bow of a much higher price tag, just without the authenticity or collective value of the latter.

Having said that, I think I'll stick to wooden bows for no other reason than that I like traditional materials when it comes to my instruments.

 

BTW, Pfretzschner... twelve letter word with only two vowels? I hurt myself trying to pronounce that. Germanic languages are so weird...

 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
April 5, 2014 - 6:42 am
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Bismarck said
.........BTW, Pfretzschner... twelve letter word with only two vowels? I hurt myself trying to pronounce that. Germanic languages are so weird...

 
You are not kidding. LOL

 

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Teapot
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April 6, 2014 - 10:00 am
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Ferret said

My bow, at this point in time*, is made of Snake Wood. And I like it. Very light. 55g

And keep in mind that Pernambuco / Brazil Wood (same tree) is endangered in its native environment.

Snake wood and 55g? could it, by any chance, be a baroque style bow? They are pretty hard to find, at least in my area, i've never seen or held one myself.Getting one to play my Bach is a life's dream for me!! sigh. But a regular bow is my priority now.

From what i know pernambuco and brazilwood are two different things...perhaps they come from the same tree but the quality and thus pricing is different. Certain makers may follow a sustainability/environmental friendly policy when it comes to where they get their materials from- i will certainly take that into account when shopping.

I can understand the difference between a cheap and an expensive wood bow, but carbon still confuses me. A store i went to had Gewa carbons for 200-300 dollars and then there were the Yamaha ones going up into the 1.000s..which is way out of my price range.But dang it, they felt so good to hold in my hand.

 

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Barry
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April 6, 2014 - 7:00 pm
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I love the looks of a wooden bow...the affair ends there. Ive owned a few wooden bows in the $30-$100 range and finally gave in and bought a carbon from fiddlerman. That said, remember its all about what works for you, just like strings,not everyone will agree.

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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