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Author Topic: bow recommendations?  (Read 7556 times)

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Offline raindr0ps

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bow recommendations?
« on: Jun 11, 2009, 08:48:30 PM »
Hey yall,

I'm looking for a decent quality cheaply priced bow. The one I have right now sounds so horribly fuzzy on my violin... I can't take it anymore.

I'd like to be able to get something that can give out more of a dramatic sound... something pure. And intense-like. But I wouldn't like to pay more than $100 for it (less is better) as I'm just a beginning/intermediate violinist who just for fun. (although I'd like to branch out...)

Anyone have any recommendations? Either of a quality bow in my price range, or of a more expensive bow that'll bring out the sound I'm looking for?

Thanks in advance!


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Offline river

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: Jun 11, 2009, 09:08:22 PM »
for $125 you could get an Incredibow.  some people think these are great for the price, other people hate them.  probably worth finding one to try before you buy.

you probably won't get much in wood for that price, and most of the CF bows are quite a bit more.  i have heard good things about the Glasser fibreglass bows--i believe they make a couple which would be well within your budget.

Offline Steve_W

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: Jun 11, 2009, 09:29:44 PM »
I doubt you can find anything reasonable at below $100, but I might be wrong.  Around $150 or so gets a Glasser composite (I wouldn't bother with a Glasser fiberglass bow) or reasonably cheap student-level wood bows--some of which can be reasonably good.  If it was me I'd be looking at around the $350 price point.  Then you can get into Glasser Braided and the low end of the Coda Diamond line.  I think it's worth trying out a bunch of bows both in and above your price range, just to see what you think.

Offline raindr0ps

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: Jun 11, 2009, 09:53:49 PM »
thanks for the suggestions thus far! I'm open to spending more, but the cheaper the better. I'm a poor college student. haha

What's the main differences between a fiberglass and wood bow?

I've never bought a bow before, so I'm new to all of this stuff.

Thanks again =)

Offline Joe Gerardi

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: Jun 11, 2009, 10:06:48 PM »
What's the main differences between a fiberglass and wood bow?

Well, the main difference is that one is made of fiberglass, and the other, wood.

;D

I see by your IP that you're in the States. Give Steve Perry a call at Gianna Violins.

..Joe
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Offline giannaviolins

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: Jun 11, 2009, 10:56:21 PM »
Steiner 5A  $99.  Wood.

Offline fiddlejen

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: Jun 11, 2009, 10:57:40 PM »
I'd second Steve W's recommendation for the Glasser Braided and/or a codabow.  I've got a Glasser braided viola bow - (which came from Steve Perry; I'd also second Joe's recommendation to give him a call!) - which I love, and which I've thought many times of getting one for violin also.  

Instead, I took a risk & got a cheap knockoff from ebay; it came in just under your $100 mark.  But, I really wouldn't recommend going that route; my ebay-bow meets my needs - but - it has some quirks.  One of which is a rather buzzing-sound to the tone - not what you're looking for.

Also - regarding the difference between wood & carbon fiber bows:  my experience so far has been that wood bows are better at producing a sweet, violin-y sort of tone, but that (at least in the low-ish price range), that cf bows tend to handle & respond somewhat better.  

Fiberglass bows... well... as far as I know, I've only tried one, once.  It was very inexpensive... and my recollection is that it kind of felt a bit like a club.... ::)  (But... well, that was only the once; perhaps I chose a poor sample.)  
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Offline madmat

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: Jun 11, 2009, 11:57:32 PM »
There are Chinese fiberglas bows labelled "K. Holtz" at Sam Ash. They are black in color, and have a proper wire-wound grip with a lambskin finger pad, instead of the slick molded plastic grip the Glasser fiberglas bows have. I remember paying $35 USD for mine.For on-string bowing they work fine, bouncing it deliberately is harder, but advanced technique. Jim Dorans (Worldfiddler) tried it at Fiddle Hell Groton and actually liked it.

Glasser has fiberglas bows wtih wound grips also, but I'll bet the balance is as off as the plastic gripped ones. (every one I've tried has been tip-heavy.) They have the X-bow and the Composite, which are both around $100, decent improvement over the fiberglas.

I recall getting a couple of Glasser Braided Carbon bows for $235 apiece online... I have four of them, that's how much I like them. ;D
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Offline Lachri

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: Jun 12, 2009, 12:03:27 AM »
I am currently using a Jon Paul carbon fiber bow that I'm happy with. I paid $80 for it.  It is serving me just fine until I can afford the coda bow I want so badly.  The bow I played with before was horrid so my high opinion of the Jon Paul may be a bit warped to be honest.  I agree with everyone else, go try it out at a music shop before you buy.

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: Jun 12, 2009, 12:11:23 AM »
K. Holtz, an Eastman product.  The best cheapie glass bow I've found.  Numerous decent carbon around  100.  No Coda at that point.  Generally the wood sounds better, but carbon handles better is true.

Steiner 5A brazilwood.

Offline madmat

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: Jun 12, 2009, 12:30:42 AM »
Well, the main difference is that one is made of fiberglass, and the other, wood.
You don't have to worry about playing a synthetic (fiberglas or carbon) bow in weather, no warping, cracking or splitting from drying out or absorbing moisture. You can leave them in the car trunk without worry. :)

I'm one of the people that actually prefers the synthetic bows, they just play more consistently day-to-day for me. I had a Glasser carbon re-haired with the synthetic Incredibow hair, so that one's well-nigh indestructible!
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Offline midiviolin

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: Jun 13, 2009, 12:49:43 AM »
I don't know how much are they in the USA I got mine for 35  but that was a special price for a violin maker and in offer and directly from DICK.
 search for Carbondix***              I think normal price is about 100
good luck

Offline raindr0ps

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: Jun 14, 2009, 05:22:18 PM »
thanks for the suggestions!

So the other day, I was roaming about my mom's basement, and I found this old cheep 4/4 violin. It has horrible sound... but in the case, there was this amazing wood bow! It's a teeeeensy bit warped, but it still works. I'm quite excited!! It's like... not fuzzy. And it'll bounce how I want it too!

Thanks again for all your help & suggestions! I bookmarked this thread for next time I go about bow shopping. =)

Offline Bradivarius

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: Sep 16, 2009, 01:19:48 AM »
 ;)
« Last Edit: Dec 24, 2009, 12:53:42 PM by Bradivarius »

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: Sep 16, 2009, 01:11:29 PM »
Personally, I can get any number of cheap violins sounding pretty good with a good bow, while I find many cheap bows very difficult to handle after a while.  I am not alone in this viewpoint.

As an example with modest prices involved, I have a customer who recently purchased a decent trade violin for a fiddle.  It has the right character.  With the stock outfit bow - a basic Asian wood stick - the instrument was a bit thin and squeeky.  I always test with better bows because this is a typical result.  I picked out a decent imported bow to match this instrument.  The outfit was around $700; I picked out a bow listing close to $300.  Anything below that and the instrument simply didn't respond that well. 

So I'll go out on a limb and counter Bradivarious' viewpoint.  I recommend getting a decent bow to begin with and upgrading as soon as possible.  With the upgrade being something along the lines of a nice commercial nickel mounted German pernambuco stick, Brazilian stick, or perhaps something like a mid level Coda.  This will do more for playing and tone than any amount of scratching away on a good fiddle with a wimpy stick.

Offline pigcat

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #15 on: Sep 16, 2009, 01:39:22 PM »
I purchased a china made carbon fibre bow for my student from a local shop, with simple "Carbon Fibre" branded, painted black stick instead of braided.

To my surprise, the sound is pretty clear and smooth with a very quick bite/respond, and the handling is remarkable for the price - stable, and yet agile enough when needed. Spiccato (brushing stroke) sound clean and clear, notes between a running passages are well articulated. Though, like many carbon fiber bow, the bow draws a sound with a touch of brightness (edge) than wooden bow. It was also a little thin in the mids. Nevertheless, the pros outweighted the cons.

It was around $65+, plays better than many wooden bow that cost few times more than the price. Sadly I'm not sure if it's available in the west as I'm from south east asia region. My student was happy, I'm happy too.

Offline woodwiz

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #16 on: Sep 16, 2009, 01:43:29 PM »
I'm so glad to see that no one is recommending that you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a bow, because
a good violin with a cheap bow will sound much better than a cheap violin with a good bow.

I have the same experience as Steve.  Most of my customers who are working fiddlers say they would rather have a good bow than a good fiddle. Doesn't have to cost a ton of money, but it has to be good.


Offline giannaviolins

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #17 on: Sep 17, 2009, 03:31:27 PM »
Money paid and performance in specific hands are certainly different things.

I regularly see uncomfortable players, fighting with their equipment, light up when handed a decent bow in place of their club or whip.

Offline Bradivarius

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #18 on: Sep 17, 2009, 05:28:04 PM »
  ;)
« Last Edit: Dec 24, 2009, 12:54:48 PM by Bradivarius »

Offline river

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #19 on: Sep 17, 2009, 05:53:53 PM »
Anyone can say what, but a $2000.00 fiddle with a $30.00 bow, will sound better than a $100.00 fiddle with a$100,000.00 bow.

but those are ridiculous numbers.  given the choice of a $1000 fiddle and a $50 bow, or a $500 fiddle and a $500 bow, i know which i'd rather use.

Offline Bradivarius

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #20 on: Sep 17, 2009, 07:27:56 PM »
 ;)
« Last Edit: Dec 24, 2009, 12:57:17 PM by Bradivarius »

Offline woodwiz

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #21 on: Sep 17, 2009, 10:25:18 PM »
I merely try to share what I've learned from personally, handbuilding, from scratch, 94 violins, about 50 acoustic and electric guitars, having an acoustic guitar design that Martin Guitar Co. was going to manufacture, but it fell through because the design was already patented in the 1890s, and also having a Patented string bending system that Hipshot Corp. was going to manufacture, but in trying to make it easier to mass produce, strayed too far from my original and couldn't get it to work properly. If all of this doesn't account for having at least little bit of knowledge about sound, structure, instrument design, and sound production, I really don't know what does. So from now on, to save myself from getting frustrated, I promise, no more posts, and that I'll keep my opinions myself, unless someone has questions about my new pickups.   

No point in getting frustrated.  Are we here for an exchange of ideas and experiences, or to dictate our opinions to others? I certainly hope it's the former. The other way's not much fun. ;)

With all due respect, that may be your experience, but it's hardly universal. Opinions and experiences do differ, and I know that from what he says, Steve's and my experiences differ from yours by about 180 degrees.  (Might be a good idea not to talk about credentials and numbers, either. There's always someone who can claim more / better. )

BTW, did you ever hear my $100 fiddle played with Dave Reiner's French bow? :D :D :D

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #22 on: Sep 17, 2009, 11:36:59 PM »
Generally the way I work bow selection for visiting individuals is to line up the bows in house, or a reasonable selection, in order of price.  Which is how they're in my cases.  This takes most of our display table. 

The client, or me if the client isn't particularly sure of themselves, starts at the top and works down, rejecting some bows and keeping others in the mix.  Generally there's a point where none below that price work well for the player with that instrument. 

The cheapest instrument outfit I carry is $189.  Discounted.  I don't particularly like it.  It comes with a matching bow.  Most players trying the outfit bow against other cheapies pick a $36 list fiberglass bow, say 20% of the outfit cost.  Universally even the beginners notice the differences.

With better beginner outfits, say $500 discounted, the ratio stays about the same in selection ($100 bow gets upgraded to), but comments about the additional playability of the better bows get made.  Some people jump on fairly decent $200 sticks. 

At the $800 violin alone price point, I'm surprised at the number of people who jump to German or Brazilian nickel mounted sticks running (discounted, of course) in the $300 to $400 range.  That's getting close to 50% of the violin cost.  Nobody is picking a $100 bow to go with the step up instrument.  Nobody.  Never happens.  In contrast, some look long and hard at decent silver mounted sticks before they compromise on the $350 one.

And so on.  A surprising number of $1500 violin players choose $600 to $900 bows. 

The experienced players are all over.  They generally have a fiddle that works.  They want a bow that will do what they want.  At festivals I've sold a surprising number of silver mounted sticks to people wailing away on instruments I'd probably attempt to sell when fixed up for perhaps $400.  But some love the Holtz FG at $30.  So they're all over. 

Regardless, the near uniform response from the public buying here is to select an upgraded bow early in the process of equipment acquisition.  The reason being that a poor bow won't make anything work at it's best, while a good bow will.  Were this not true, why would there even be good bows?  Certainly the cheapskates shopping here wouldn't spring for them if they didn't do much better!!

Note the above isn't some half-baked opinion of mine.  It's what I see.  This is what I do, sell things to people.  In addition to making things and fixing things.  The vote that really counts is the one involving cash, check, or credit card, and the above represents how people seem to make that vote here in my shop.


Offline frodopogo

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #23 on: Sep 18, 2009, 06:28:54 AM »
I tried out some Heinrich Siegler bows at a local shop,
and the cheapest of the 3, the one for $109 had a much larger, more dramatic sound than the other two, which had a smooth feel though.
So I bought it.
It pulls a bigger sound out of my fiddles that either my K. Holtz fiberglass or my Glasser fiberglass.
It's allowed me to really enjoy playing waltzes and slow tunes for perhaps the first time in my 22 years of fiddling.
However, it's also my heaviest bow, and it's taken some getting used to that.  It also has a stiff precise feel, and I have to be precise with the hair tension or it's too bouncy.

Offline yancypup

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #24 on: Dec 17, 2009, 12:40:06 AM »
I've just started playing, but what do you look for in a good bow?  It looks to me that the hair is tensioned and the scales or roughness in the hair "grab" the strings and make them vibrate.  It would seem that anything that could tension the hair would work as well as any other.

That being said, I have some real garbage bows that came with a $70 fiddle outfit and one good bow, an Otto Adler.  Even at my stage, I can notice the difference but I really don't understand why they should be different, from a physics standpoint.  Can someone enlighten me?

Offline nhfiddler

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #25 on: Dec 25, 2009, 10:20:05 PM »
I can only speak to the bows that I have used.  My most expensive bow is an Iesta carbon/pernambuco hybrid bow.  Goes for about $500, I got mine for less.  Light, well balanced and sounds great on my Gypsy fiddle - doesn't work well with my 5 string at all.  I recently bought an Arcus viola bow $200 range which drives much better on the 5 string esp on the C string, I don't have to dig into it so much to get a decent sound. 

Violins are picky instruments, the bow that sounds great with one doesn't always have the same effect on another...can't tell you how disapointed I was when the Iesta didn't work out with the 5 string.

Jean

Offline nhfiddler

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #26 on: Dec 25, 2009, 10:22:45 PM »
I can only speak to the bows that I have used.  My most expensive bow is an Iesta carbon/pernambuco hybrid bow.  Goes for about $500, I got mine for less.  Light, well balanced and sounds great on my Gypsy fiddle - doesn't work well with my 5 string at all.  I recently bought an Arcus viola bow $200 range which drives much better on the 5 string esp on the C string, I don't have to dig into it so much to get a decent sound. 

Violins are picky instruments, the bow that sounds great with one doesn't always have the same effect on another...can't tell you how disappointed I was when the Iesta didn't work out with the 5 string.

Jean

Offline frodopogo

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Re: bow recommendations?
« Reply #27 on: Dec 27, 2009, 05:52:13 AM »
I've just started playing, but what do you look for in a good bow?  It looks to me that the hair is tensioned and the scales or roughness in the hair "grab" the strings and make them vibrate.  It would seem that anything that could tension the hair would work as well as any other.

That being said, I have some real garbage bows that came with a $70 fiddle outfit and one good bow, an Otto Adler.  Even at my stage, I can notice the difference but I really don't understand why they should be different, from a physics standpoint.  Can someone enlighten me?

You basically look... or rather listen and feel for a bow that both makes your fiddle sound better and helps you play better.

The ingredients that contribute to this are things like stiffness vs. springy flexibility,
and balance.

It's kind of like automobile suspensions-
do you want comfort, like an old Buick, or do you want responsiveness, like a sports car?

Like with cars, novice DON'T need something too responsive, they need something more forgiving.
Fiberglass bows are popular with violin students for that reason, and also for their low cost and relative toughness.

However some of the difference  can be adjusted by bow tension-
tighter will be more responsive, looser will be more forgiving.
I like a happy medium

« Last Edit: Dec 27, 2009, 01:03:48 PM by madfiddler »

 




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