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Any advice on buying a violin bow

Will Fly 24 Feb 09 - 11:07 AM
davyr 24 Feb 09 - 11:17 AM
Wolfhound person 24 Feb 09 - 12:05 PM
meself 24 Feb 09 - 12:22 PM
Will Fly 24 Feb 09 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,Smokey 24 Feb 09 - 02:11 PM
Harmonium Hero 24 Feb 09 - 03:24 PM
meself 24 Feb 09 - 03:36 PM
Harmonium Hero 24 Feb 09 - 03:48 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Feb 09 - 03:50 PM
Harmonium Hero 24 Feb 09 - 04:04 PM
Mark Clark 25 Feb 09 - 03:50 PM
Catherine Jayne 25 Feb 09 - 04:17 PM
Louie Roy 25 Feb 09 - 08:16 PM
Will Fly 26 Feb 09 - 02:45 AM
GUEST,meself 26 Feb 09 - 03:47 PM
GUEST,fiddler 05 Mar 09 - 08:55 PM
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Subject: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:07 AM

I mentioned in a post to a previous thread my luck in acquiring a rather nice 1920's amateur-made violin for around £250. It's the opinion of a local maker and restorer that, if for sale in his shop, it would be priced at £1,000 - which is pleasant news.

The bow (of the period) is, in his opinion, "adequate", and has a very slight kink in it. So I'm thinking of replacing it at some stage in the future. Is there any advice from experienced 'Catters on points to consider when purchasing, and a suitable sort of price - given the worth of the violin?


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: davyr
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:17 AM

Unless you specifically want another "period" bow, I'd consider getting a modern carbon one - their performance compares favourably with pernambuco costing considerably more.

The Glasser Braided Carbon Graphite is a nice bow for the money:

http://www.elidatrading.co.uk/glasser.htm


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:05 PM

I've heard it said by fiddlers - pay 3 times as much for the bow as the fiddle. If it's worth 1000 that could be a mite expensive....

Paws


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: meself
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:22 PM

Not clear what your purpose is - are you a fiddler yourself wanting the "right" bow, or are you trying to put together a suitable "package" for sale, or ... ?

If you're a fiddler, I would recommend trying a variety of different bows, and choosing the one that feels most comfortable for you, and that best suits your budget. It will depend somewhat on your own playing-style. Many do like the carbon graphite bows, and if you're one of those people, then that bow is a good deal for you. Personally, I prefer a heavier bow, so, when I was buying a new bow last year, I spent much more on a wooden one. The cheaper carbon bow would not have been a good deal for me.

That bow cost about the same amount as my fiddle. It's the first "good" bow I've had, and it makes a difference.


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 01:31 PM

Hallo Meself and others - no intention of selling at all. I'm keen to get fiddling and stay fiddling! So your advice is very useful. I shall certainly try a selection and see what transpires.

Thanks,

Will


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: GUEST,Smokey
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 02:11 PM

I don't play one myself but I've played with more quality fiddlers than I can remember. Time and time again I've heard it said that the quality of the bow is of equal importance to that of the violin, if not more so.


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:24 PM

Hi Will. I have been using a baroque bow for about 30 years. I always felt that the modern bow - which, after all, has been developed for violin, not fiddle music - is too long for fiddle playing. You'll often see fiddlers holding the bow two or three inches or more above the frog. This has the disadvantage that half the weight of the bow is acting as a counter-balance, and cancelling the other half out. You need the weight for fiddle music. Mind you, you wouldn't want to take too much notice of what I say. I'm the worst fiddler in Christendom.
JK.


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: meself
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:36 PM

Sorry, HH - that's a distinction you'll have to pry from my cold, dead hands ...


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:48 PM

What - you mean I'm only the second worst? I must be improving. JK


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:50 PM

30% to 50% of the price of the instrument is the usual rough rule-of-thumb in my experience, but you'll hear different things from different people. I'd go with carbon fibre unless you would really miss the feel of a wooden stick; you'll get a much better bow for the money. There's an increasingly wide range of choice and quality, and the good ones are a lot more resiliant than wood.

This is one situation where buying new is usually the best option, unless you have a lot of good contacts and a great deal of time (or just luck). Some years ago I bought a mid-range Coda (a 'Conservatory'), and I haven't regretted it. Good balance and not over-light: my playing sounded better, a lot of decorative techniques immediately became easier, and it reduced the overall physical effort required. Something along those lines is all that the average amateur player will ever need.

The original Coda range has been discontinued and I don't know anything about their new lines, but you can find out more at  http://www.codabow.com/models_violin_main.html.

Like a lot of other people, I got mine from Tim Phillips; he keeps a good range in the UK and will give you good advice. He has a separate website for the bow side of the business nowadays (just as well; his range of fiddles is a constant temptation):  http://www.bowshop.co.uk/

Unsurprisingly, there have been other threads here on the same topic, and the general advice given is usually much the same. Have a look, for example, at  Recommended beginner fiddle bows?  which also contains links to other discussions.

Baroque-type bows are growing in popularity, but I'd go with the standard design for the time being. You really need to do all the basic groundwork before starting to explore more specialised options.


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 04:04 PM

But in the eighteenth century, the baroque bow WAS the standard design...JK.


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Mark Clark
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 03:50 PM

A critical consideration is that a bow, at any price, must be selected for the particular instrument for which it is intended. One must take the instrument along while bow shopping and be very sure to play a number of candidate bows through the same pieces and exercises.

If you can't do this yourself, take along someone who plays well to try each bow on your instrument. Other things being equal, buy the one that consistently sounds best on your instrument. You will be able to hear the difference.

Of course a bow will sound different in the hands of different players so, if you can do the testing yourself, you should.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 04:17 PM

Try lots of different bows, don't just buy one off the peg without trying it out first.

I have got 6 bows, all of different weights, some wood and some carbon fibre. I've got a couple from Tim Philips and I can recommend them, mind you I can recommend his fiddles too, I'm still in love with my octave fiddle!

Best of luck!


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Louie Roy
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 08:16 PM

I've got a Snake Wood for $400.00


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: Will Fly
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 02:45 AM

Many thanks for all the solid advice here - it's greatly appreciated. I shall certainly try before I buy - always do where musical instruments are concerned.


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 03:47 PM

I second the advice of taking your own fiddle along when trying out bows - you want to know how they sound and feel with YOUR fiddle.

And if you have someone at the music store who is knowledgeable and honest, they may be quite helpful in your decision-making (but if they keep steering you towards the more expensive options, then, well, ... ).


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Subject: RE: Any advice on buying a violin bow
From: GUEST,fiddler
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 08:55 PM

just thought id emphasise the timescale involved in trying, as long as possible!!! many violin shops will let you pay for insurance and with deposit you can take 2/3 bows home wuth you

worthwhile if you get chance,

good bows give you more options as a player but it's unlikely to be a case of picking it up off shelf and suddenly your playing's significantly better.


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