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Jul 7, 2024 - 3:48:31 PM
16 posts since 3/26/2018

I would like to upgrade to a better bow but not sure what's the best process on finding one that fits my fiddle.

Jul 7, 2024 - 4:22:48 PM
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2632 posts since 8/27/2008

Need to know what you have now, what you think you'd prefer, what you can afford. etc.

Jul 7, 2024 - 4:35:11 PM
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2517 posts since 12/11/2008

If it's at all possible, take your fiddle to a shop where fiddles are sold and have at it with their bow selection. Let the salesperson give you advice. If violins are sold on the premises, chances are excellent that they won't hustle you. It there's something there that both you and the salesperson like and is affordable, do it. In any event, I have to say that my favorite bow in my collection is the one made in China. I like it more than either of my German bows.

Jul 7, 2024 - 4:49:34 PM
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2595 posts since 10/1/2008

Indeed , a good inexpensive bow is appreciably more expensive than you might think. Somewhere between 500.00$ and 1,000.00$ will purchase you one that is well made and equally importantly, well balanced. Some bows are stiffer than others some are more flexible. Going to a violin shop to test drive several bows on your instrument is a very good idea. Even if you have to make a weekend of it.
Pernambuco is regarded as "best" material followed by brazilwood and carbon fiber. I have bows that I enjoy made of each of these materials. Good luck in your search.... don't be in a hurry.

Jul 7, 2024 - 5:09:13 PM
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2632 posts since 8/27/2008

For me, with no experience with expensive bows, I believe inexpensive carbon fiber bows can do the trick. As Richard and Ed advise, however, find a way to test different bows and find what you like. I could be missing something, but I've just never felt the urge to try the high price merchandise. (I use Fiddlerman bows). Why, I'm so poor I even make my own fiddles.

Jul 7, 2024 - 5:13:35 PM
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3416 posts since 10/22/2007

I'd almost say it's better to have your old bow to compare. But if you have both, all the better. I have been fooled by not comparing my old bow during the test.
Remember, hair and rosin are consumables, but the new one should have fresh hair. But one pays for the stick. Remember too, pernambuco comes from the very same tree as brasilwood. This will undoubtedly start a frakus. "Experts" will tell you pernambuco is the heartwood of the brazilwood. But them that sell bows sometimes fluff up the description of the bow by calling brazilwood, pernambuco. When I worked for a manufacture, they called it a sales specification.

Edited by - farmerjones on 07/07/2024 17:16:05

Jul 8, 2024 - 5:27:17 AM
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Erockin

USA

970 posts since 9/3/2022

I am anxious to upgrade one day. Just keep getting a better one each time. I noticed a huge difference with a $100 CF bow from what I did have and eventually the next one will be even better. Good luck

Jul 8, 2024 - 7:16:54 AM
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287 posts since 11/26/2013

I always tell new folks to fiddle that an upgrade to their bow is going to show more results (most times) that getting a new fiddle. A good quality bow is really essential to furthering expertise, its like night and day.

Jul 8, 2024 - 10:06:45 AM
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6584 posts since 8/7/2009
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I went on a hunt once. I took my fiddle and my best bow to The Violin Shop in Nashville. Fred Carpenter (owner) helped me pick out several to try. He took the time to point out the qualities of a good bow, and highlighted what he thought was good about each of the bows he helped me pick out. He took me to a room where I could sample them all as long as I wanted. 

The he gave me the best advice I could have gotten. "If you can't find a bow that noticeably feels better in your hands, plays better, and sounds better than the one you have - then you should probably wait and not spend your money on something that is not going to be an improvement." 

I took his advice. I couldn't find anything that I thought was that much better than what I had. I don't think it was because my bow was so exceptional, I just wasn't at a "place" where I could really tell the difference. I left - and thanked hm for that advice.  (Good man!)

I do have a few good bows. I appreciate them. I'm not looking to replace them. But I am always in the market fro something "better". And I'm not in a hurry.
 

Edited by - tonyelder on 07/08/2024 10:08:25

Jul 8, 2024 - 12:38:07 PM

2517 posts since 12/11/2008

I'll continue to be the outlier here and profess that it's the fiddle that counts more than the bow. I have three fiddles and four bows. In every single case, it's my best fiddle that provides me with the most tone & satisfaction. No matter what bow I might play them with.

Jul 8, 2024 - 1:46:50 PM

6584 posts since 8/7/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

I'll continue to be the outlier here and profess that it's the fiddle that counts more than the bow. I have three fiddles and four bows. In every single case, it's my best fiddle that provides me with the most tone & satisfaction. No matter what bow I might play them with.


That reminds me of something I hear from time to time....

I have a number of fiddles and fewer bows. During my time of searching for bows, I remember hearing folks talk about how "this bow works best for that fiddle, but doesn't work so well with my other fiddles".  That made me wonder - do I really need to find the perfect bow for each fiddle?  ...or should I expect to be able to find a bow that will work perfectly with all of my fiddles.

I'm not willing to call "BS" on folks who are well enough "versed" in those kind of things. I mark it up to my lack of ear "sensitivity" and bow handling experience  to be able to tell.  But then again, I have to remember that folks with those kinds of abilities are "exceptional" - not the norm (imo). If I can't tell the difference, should I expect others (the norm) to be able to hear the difference - while I'm playing. Are they thinking, "Boy, if he would just get a better bow!" But more importantly, how important does "that" whole idea need to be - for me? I'm the one using my bows. Should I expect "me" to feel and hear the same thing they do with the bows I have? Is that fair?

Me?  LOL... At one time (not too long ago) I had a dozen or more bows. I gave all but three away / 2 wood bows and one CF. Could I get by with only 1? Yeap. Sure could. But I'm too fickle. I have discovered that when I hear or feel something I don't like when I play fiddle, Eventually I'll pick up another bow and feel like "this bow" feels more comfortable and is making a difference.     ...until the same scenario gets played out again in a month or so.  Maybe it is the bow, but most likely - it's me. Changing bows when I feel the need helps me feel better about what I am doing.  (Same thing happens with the fiddles.) 

This has happened enough now that I am convinced - I'm not going to find a perfect bow - not for one fiddle or all my fiddles. I practice being content with idea that what I have is all I need. But - the door is open for another bow that might "grab me" and say, "I'm your next level".   (...not holding my breath.)

How many think it should be a goal to have the perfect bow for each of your fiddles? 

 

Edited by - tonyelder on 07/08/2024 13:50:50

Jul 8, 2024 - 2:53:29 PM
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3416 posts since 10/22/2007

It was hard enough to find one bow, let alone several. But we may be looking for different things in a bow, maybe? Maybe I just got lucky, as I have played much more expensive bows I wouldn't want. All I can say is my bow makes it real easy to play compared to any other bow. I think it may be a little stiffer, but otherwise I figure tone comes from hair and rosin and mostly the operator. I also used to cut all the wrapping and grip off to change the weight, but this bow I didn't. Other than Micheal Cleveland, I see most heavy hitters look like they're playing on the stick, because the bow has so much camber, yet they really are not playing on the stick. 

Edited by - farmerjones on 07/08/2024 15:04:27

Jul 8, 2024 - 3:17:26 PM

6584 posts since 8/7/2009
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I agree. The character of any bow is not going to have the same appeal to everyone. I think it is personal. It doesn't surprise me that we would all be looking for something different. And I think for me - that changes - perhaps - as I improve, or as my perceptions of what "good" means today.

I guess my perception changes often enough for me to need more than one bow.  blush

Jul 9, 2024 - 1:58:08 AM
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2517 posts since 12/11/2008

After a lot of experimentation, I've matched my three fiddles with three different bows. My fourth bow, meantime, just rests in a case, taking a long, long nap. I'm extremely happy with my decisions, as well. What can I say? I'm satisfied enough to say good bye to any sort of upgrade-itis.

Jul 9, 2024 - 5:34:14 AM
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1540 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Collins

I would like to upgrade to a better bow but not sure what's the best process on finding one that fits my fiddle.


I would start with a price range that's comfortable to you. You can always get more if you pay more, but you may regret it if you overspend and it will tarnish your enjoyment of the bow. Once you have a range established, you have a lot of room to explore. 
 

I agree completely that bows are both unique and uniquely appreciated by players. If you have a close relationship with a knowledgeable seller who know your playing, you may be able to rely on that person to select a bow, but even then there's no certainty that it will be exactly what you like. You really have to try playing and/or having people listen to you play.

I would recommend getting a bow that's made well enough to be worth rehairing unless you're just looking for an entry level bow. Many commercial bows are made horribly and the plugs and slide are glued in while the mortises are routed out and not even squared off at the ends. Some of the bows simply can't be rehaired and those that can be may cost you more as they need extra work to be rehaired.

I don't recommend choosing a brazilwood stick generally, as they are pretty soft and tend to warp easily. On rare occasions there are usable sticks, but they are made so cheaply that the crudeness of the work clashes with any quality in the wood. Carbon fiber is often a lot better at the entry level. 

If you're looking for an intermediate or better bow, carbon fiber has its limitations, and this is where pernambuco comes into its own. You get more flexibility than carbon fiber with better strength than brazilwood. 
 

Bows are made with metal fittings, and the fittings used impact the price. Nickel-mounted bows are the cheapest, then there are silver and gold. Nickel bows are often good players but they don't have much resale value, as the market for nickel bows is not very good. Silver tends to be the most common among good bows. Some companies grade their sticks and then put fittings on based on their grade, so in theory, the gold-mounted bows will have the best sticks. I've found this to be accurate for some companies, but even then, if you play 50 bows of the same level, you'll likely find two or three that will really stand out.

Some bows work well with one instrument and poorly with another. It can be a real challenge to find a great pairing, and many players spend decades in their search, although that's more of a quest for perfection. If you're just looking for something solid, it won't be such a difficult task if you select options that are solid and within your means.

I do recommend finding a violin you like before finding a bow, and it's often worthwhile to play the violin with different bows when you try it just to see how it responds. Once you have that, you have a baseline to work with and then bow selection is refined by what works with your violin.

There used to be a common saying in the violin community: if you're thinking about making an upgrade (assuming you already have decent equipment), unless you're spending more than $10,000, put it into a bow. I haven't found this to be completely accurate, but I would agree that a bow can make a gigantic difference, in some cases, more than the violins you try.

When you look, make sure you can return anything you try so you're not stuck with something you don't like. If the bow is good enough, you may even be able to trade it in someday if you take care of it and decide you want to upgrade again. 

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