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CF Bows 🤯 More Dreaded INDECISION!
...your thoughts?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (9 votes) 
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ELCBK
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April 27, 2022 - 3:55 am
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The Bow is SO IMPORTANT - and Edgar (my 5-string Viola) has been hinting VERY strongly that it's time to look for a BETTER one. 

So, I'm hoping that a better quality CF bow will have less binders and better sound quality!   

 

I feel like I'm running in the CAT WHEEL 🤯 (about to be launched into Space), because I'm having such a hard time NARROWING IT DOWN, to maybe 4 (?) to try, before I contact Fiddlershop! 

There are many GREAT threads about Violin bows AND Viola bows on the forum already (I've read them)!  BUT I'm on the fence - interested in some qualities of BOTH! 

MANY VARIABLES - but I have tried to narrow them down: 

  1. Material: CF 
  2. Price Range: Under $800... I'd need to have an 'out of body experience' if it comes close!
  3. Weight: NOT MORE than 65gms and probably NOT LESS than 60gms (I like 60gms - can get decent response with just this weight alone, on the C string).
  4. Balance: Originally thought CLOSEST TO  THE FROG, but not finding too many like that in my price range!   Definitely NOT close to the tip - thinking too hard on my wrist/hand for lifting & fast agile work. 
  5. Firmness: Originally thought, if I use a light weight bow, it would need to be FIRM, for power - digging in when I need to & for good response in fast passages.  BUT, if I'm doing fast passages near the frog anyway, would I be missing out on nuances a more FLEXIBLE bow could provide, maybe if I compensate with a little more weight?  Still leaning toward FIRM.
  6. Hair: The BEST quality! 

Anyone know WHAT makes VIOLA bows different than VIOLIN bows (other than weight)?  

Anyone try a MUSING CF VIOLA Bow? 

Anyone try a PRESTO Impulse VIOLIN bow? 

Does anyone buy a bow that costs more than their instrument?

I'm VERY curious about the BLACK horse hair (I've read good things) - anyone ever try any? 

 

I'm extremely concerned that I might be asking for too much - a bow that is capable of transferring the passion of my heart, into music of any style? 😳 

I also have NO idea at what point I'd be 'throwing good money after bad' - if my Viola is only capable of so much in the way of sound quality - that's why I'm not sure if I've set my price range too low.

I know it's like, "here we go again", but if you HAD to consider BOTH Violin and Viola bows for ONE instrument - what are YOUR thoughts? 

- Emily

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Mouse
April 27, 2022 - 7:33 am
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Viola bows vs violin bow

Viola:

Have a few more hairs (the width is a tad wider) than a violin bow

Frog is rounded. When I hold my viola bows to the violin bows, it appears the frog is a tad longer and the hair part is shorter on the viola bow. Not sure of that is always the case. Can’t really tell without putting them face to face.

It weighs a little more -weight is needed for the strings

Generally stiffer

Viola strings are heavier than violin strings and need the extras.

I have CF, CF Weave, Hybrid (CF core) and Pernambuco. I have become less of a fan of plain CF since trying the CF Weave and Hybrid. If you want CF and have not tried the weave, that is an option. 

You need the weight in a viola bow for the strings, that is why viola bows generally weigh a tad more. Average wt of a viola bow is 70g, but I think that depends on which article you read. Personally, I would not use a light viola bow, but that is me. As you know, some people prefer heavier and some lighter.

Have to get going.

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Gordon Shumway
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April 27, 2022 - 10:49 am
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I haven't been looking at violas recently, but I had decided a Col Legno Standard (viola version) was probably all I'd ever need. Fiddlerman doesn't stock these, but he has his own brand and a fairly wide range of them, as you can see.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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April 27, 2022 - 7:06 pm
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@Mouse -

Thank you for all the info! 

I have 3 Fiddlerman CF WEAVE Violin bows - it's ridiculous, but there are noticeable playing/sound differences between them.  My very 1st is my favorite (the one I like to currently use on my VIOLA), but it needs a rehair (even though it's not recommended on the cheaper bows).  I like that it's a firmer stick than the reg Fiddlerman CF bow.

I did try a Fiddlerman CF VIOLA bow - can't remember now if it was the reg or the Weave, but 70gms was WAY too heavy for me to hold/lift comfortably.  I think it's amazing you are able to play with it! 

 

@Gordon Shumway -

Thank you! 

I have been considering the Fiddlerman bows. 

 

So far, I'm thinking of these 3:

(No. 1) considering the Fiddlerman CF Pro VIOLA bow - but, possibly too much weight at 65gms. 

(No.2) the PRESTO Impulse VIOLIN bow. 

(No.3) the MUSING CF VIOLA Bow (Arcus). 

 

...looked through the Codabows - including the new "Escent" (considering, but would expect a lot for the cost), the Arcus & JonPaul.  I can hear the differences in reviews that compare models within one brand.

BUT, pretty disappointed that I could only find ONE review that compares different CF brandsThe video leads me to believe I could be just as happy with Fiddlerman Pro, instead of the more expensive Codabow GX

Still not completely convinced Viola bow is better for me than Violin bow, but think that may depend on bow brand.

 

Anyone try any Arcus or JonPaul CF bows?

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Mouse
April 27, 2022 - 7:58 pm
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Still not completely convinced Viola bow is better for me than Violin bow, but think that may depend on bow brand.

@ELCBK Viola bows are meant for viola for a reason. The strings, especially the C, need the wider hair area and weight to make the strings sing. You would not use a viola bow on a cello, any more than you would use a violin bow on a viola. It will be way more work, it will put a lot of stress on the bow because you have to get the sound with the narrower hair section and fewer hairs of a violin bow. 

Not telling you you can't, but if you are buying a bow for your viola, I would at least start with the tool made for the instrument, a viola bow. When you order it, tell them the maximum weight and they can weigh them to get that weight or as close to it as possible.

I can understand you like lighweight bows, but I would think you would want to at least try the tool meant to be used for your instrument. In the end, it is up to you. You might not get the sound you want with a violin bow in a viola. So, if you get a violin bow, and you don't like the sound, could be because you are not using the viola bow. 

You might have luck with a violin bow. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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SharonC
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April 27, 2022 - 8:05 pm
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@ELCBK  I've got the Presto Impulse--was my primary bow until I bought my new pernambuco last October.  It weighs 59 grams. 

The balance is definitely closer to the frog.  I do really like it. When I got it, I had been previously using the FM original carbon fiber bow, and felt the balance point gave me better control.

Of course, none of that really helps you, I guess dunnoI don't know how it would do for you on a 5 string viola.

I think there is a Presto Impulse Viola bow out there--but I don't know anything about it. 

Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.

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Mark
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April 28, 2022 - 12:04 am
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ELCBK

Just a crazy thought, call up Fiddlershop and talk to Michele O'Giblen about the differences, he pretty fluent with both types of bows.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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ELCBK
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April 28, 2022 - 12:36 am
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@SharonC -

Thank you, very helpful! 

I've heard that some of the early CF bows could loose certain qualities after 10-20 years.  Of course newer CF are made better, but not enough time has passed for thorough longevity results. 

I read that Presto made this a prime factor in engineering this bow to last & perform well - so, I think it's worth pursuing. 😊 

...thinking I may need to take a closer look at the warranty on CF bows.

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Gordon Shumway
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April 28, 2022 - 4:16 am
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Obviously I know nothing of viola technique. And offering advice is dangerous because to some extent I have to try to guess what your problems are, and I may inadvertently insult you by doing that, but here goes...

I have vague memories of lessons involving placing the bow on the strings and holding it there steadily and silently until a note was required. Resting a viola bow similarly on the strings when not moving it, I suppose, is also normal, but some people here have never had a lesson and perhaps don't do it? If you were bed-ridden, your posture may make that impossible, but I thought you were recovering and sitting upright?

The viola bow's extra weight is carried by the strings, then, not by your hand. Off-the-string bowing is rarer on viola than on violin, and is beyond our paygrade, anyway, to a large extent.

And you have to realise that when you say you are happy with a violin bow at 60g but are not happy with a viola bow at 70g, it's not really the percentage increase that's the problem, it's the absolute 10g, less than half an ounce, that is breaking the camel's back? If 70g is too heavy, then you have to ask if you are wielding it right, or are flailing it around like some kind of crusader's long-sword.

If you were bed-ridden and playing a 5-string violin, then I guess the best answer would be a violin bow and let the C string take care of itself.

Have you spent much time using a violin bow on a viola? Do you find you have to apply a lot of pressure with the RH index finger? This may be fatiguing, or it may be that the Russian hold is better for you.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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April 28, 2022 - 10:53 am
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@Gordon Shumway -  

Thank you - I can clear up a few things and I'll use the word, 'unusual', as a reference to my amateur skill level. 😊

 

 I don't have any unusual problems playing my 16" 5-string VIOLA with a VIOLIN bow.  I've been doing it for 3 months, now - the Fiddlerman CF WEAVE Violin bow has a firm enough stick to handle it, NO stress to my right hand/arm/fingers.  BUT, it's in need of a rehair.

 I don't have any unusual problems playing 'off string'.  I view VIOLA as a SOLO INSTRUMENT - so, I use 'off string' techniques, too.

 I don't have any unusual problems playing while in bed - been doing it for almost 3 YEARS, now (where there's a will, there's a way). 

• I have tried only ONE VIOLA bow (didn't like it).

 I've heard a 'better' tone from 'better' bows (Viola and Violin) - while listening to comparisons done for reviews.  BUT, most reviews only compare bows by ONE maker - so hard to compare different brands.

• I understand how my skill level effects my tone - as well as the instrument.   

 

So, if a better bow improves what I hear - GREAT!  If a 'better' bow makes it easier to play - then, EVEN BETTER!  

 

...I don't expect anyone to choose for me, but everyone's experience is VERY helpful to me. 😊

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ELCBK
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May 4, 2022 - 12:49 am
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 I took into consideration what everyone said here, did a lot of listening/reading of reviews & I've looked over threads in several other forums - where I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few people say they preferred a good quality VIOLIN bow, or a light weight VIOLA bow on their VIOLA. 

I've been noticing enough differences in my cheaper bows and feeling ready for a better CF bow for my 5-string CF VIOLA - good for exploring more advanced and 'off string' techniques, but also easy to play fast at the frog, because I need to BOOGIE WOOGIE! 

I really appreciate everyone's help here! 

THANK YOU! 

...still trying to decide - so we'll see what happens. 😊 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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May 18, 2022 - 7:48 am
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With everyone's help, it's still taken me a whole grueling month to try to narrow down a choice of bows to try for my 5-string CF Viola, Edgar. 

Fiddlershop allows up to 2 bows for a home trial period 🤗 and I really don't want to be trying bows forever - so, really tough decisions. 

I decided to try VIOLA bows (not 1 Violin & 1 Viola bow) - and ones I thought would be VERY different from each another, since I don't have enough actual experience to be 100% sure of what I'm looking for. 

 

The Codabow Joule weighs 62gms (2gms heavier than my current bows) with a medium-strong stick and a balance more center to tip.  Several people have recommended this bow, plus I like it's made in the USA. 

The Arcus P4 with Optional Octagonal Stick, at almost twice the cost of the Joule, weighs a mere 57gms (lighter than my current bows) with a very strong stick and a unique screw mechanism for longevity (important because I've had some issues with some of my screws).  The Octagonal stick is supposed to allow for more agile playing and I like that these bows are categorized/placed in a series after they are made - not made as a series (where it's left to the customer to sort out), hopefully meaning quality control. (lol)

 

One re-occurring comment I hear about good bows, that had me a little baffled, was "ah, that bow has a great draw".  I kinda thought that was really up to the operator, not the bow, but found a comment at "Strings", where James Mason says, “When trying bows, draw a long slow bow on a single note to check for any shimmies or unwanted vibration.”  I suspect I might be working extra hard to compensate for some of this in my current bows.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d3/b3/2b/d3b32bec1a55d0badfefc17928604bf2--violin-cartoon.jpg

 

Very excited to see what I discover. 🤗 

...finalizing details today.

- Emily

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Mouse
May 18, 2022 - 8:13 am
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Have fun with your try-outs. I thought you may have already decided on a bow. I am sure you will make a decision you will be happy with.

🐭

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Gordon Shumway
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May 18, 2022 - 8:26 am
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I read that viola bows are shorter than violin bows. Is that right? If so, and someone had mobility issues, then that might be a reason to choose a viola bow.

Andrew

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Mouse
May 18, 2022 - 8:28 am
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They are a little shorter and the hair width is a tad wider.

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ELCBK
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May 18, 2022 - 1:32 pm
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If I felt length was an issue, or thought I'd benefit from a shorter one - think I'd just opt for a fractional or Baroque bow. 😉

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ELCBK
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May 18, 2022 - 3:31 pm
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I do want to mention that I had a hard time making a decision about whether, or not, to try the Fiddlerman CF Pro VIOLA bow. 

It looks very much like the Arcus bows, and I've seen great reviews, but I was on the fence about whether to try  light VIOLA bows or try VIOLIN bows. 

If I end up trying VIOLIN bows, the Fiddlerman PRO will be one, but I was surprised how much heavier the PRO VIOLA version is (65gms).  I know that's not heavy for many people.

So, depending on what I discover about the bows I have coming, it's possible I may still try a comparison between both the Violin & Viola versions of the Fiddlerman Pro. 😊 

 

Btw, Zlata (Violin Lounge) did a review of the Fiddlerman CF Pro VIOLIN bow, and compared it to the Codabow GX, JonPaul & Müsing of comparable quality. 

I believe she thought the Fiddlerman Pro was brighter and sounded more clear - great qualities. 

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Mouse
May 18, 2022 - 3:34 pm
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It never ends.

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