Best Cello Bow Review in 2017

The best cello bow for your instrument will depend on your current level of playing, the characteristics of your cello and the timbre you want to evoke. The bow is an extremely important part of any cello player's arsenal. By getting the right bow to match your needs, you'll play more effortlessly, improve your tone and enhance your overall technique. By learning about the different cello bow components, you'll be better able to make an intelligent decision about the right bow for your needs.

Value Section

CELLO BOW

Cello bows come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes and styles. The bow that you choose will depend largely on your ability level. A beginner doesn't need a carbon-based cello bow, and a professional won't be able to get away with playing with a bow made from plastic. If you're serious about your playing, you should always invest in the best bow your money can provide. A properly balanced bow is essential for playing modern cello techniques and can also enhance your playing enjoyment.

Selection

The cello bow is arguably the most important aspect of your playing technique. A cello bow that is too heavy will slow down your playing and put too much emphasis on the string when performing articulations. On the other hand, a light bow might not provide enough power to get the right sound from your cello.

When it comes to brands, it's best to choose a Coda, Righetti, Hill, Numberger or Lamy. These are all popular brands and they are trusted worldwide for their performance and reliability. The most extensive part of the cello is the bow's stick. The vast majority of sticks are composed of four main materials, Pernambuco, carbon fiber, fiberglass and Brazilwood. If you're an intermediate to a professional player, concentrate on getting a Pernambuco, arguably the best type, or carbon fiber stick. The beginner should probably use a Brazilwood or fiberglass stick. The only real rule for a beginner? Don't select a stick that is made from plastic. It's simply not going to work well.

Benefits

A good cello bow will improve your sound and playing. The most important component is the bow stick itself. Choose a good bow stick, and you'll have an easier time playing. While you can usually get the best deals by purchasing online, it's not a bad idea to visit your local music store to try out a bow before you buy it. However, purchasing online is also fine, but you may need to purchase more than one bow. Make sure the online retailer has a flexible return policy so that you can return any bows that don't work out.

Buying Criteria

On the high end of the spectrum, you have Pernambuco and carbon fiber. If you buy a cello bow made from Pernambuco, you're virtually guaranteed the rest of the bow is in good working condition. This type of wood is rare, and it's becoming even rarer as more serious violinists enter the field. A good alternative is a high-quality carbon fiber bow, which will often play just like a Pernambuco.

On the low end of the spectrum, you have Brazilwood and fiberglass. Brazilwood is better than fiberglass, and it is made from different hardwoods that are typically found in Brazil. Fiberglass produces a noticeably inferior sound, and it should be avoided. Fiberglass is only suitable for grade school level players, and even then, it's not recommended because the young player should get used to playing with and caring for a wooden bow.

Other parts of the cello are less important, but you should aim to avoid any recently manufactured bows that contain ivory. This is mainly for ethical reasons, but it's also to avoid scorn from your fellow musicians. The mounting for a cello bow's tip will use a round mount if you go with a traditional bow. Modern tips may be octagonal in shape. However, the octagonal style bows are stiffer, and probably best-suited to the professional cellist. The bow fibers should be made from horsehair. Some synthetic materials do exist, but nobody should ever use a synthetic string.

Care and Use

Caring for your bow is important. Without proper care, your cello bow may become warped or damaged. Caring for your bow requires proper rosin technique, good storage protocols and a solid playing technique. A young player shouldn't use an expensive bow until they know how to properly care for the bow. When choosing a rosin, look for a light-colored rosin if you're playing in a high heat or high humidity environment. Find a dark-colored rosin if you plan to play in a low heat or low humidity environment. You may need more than one type of rosin if you travel, and it's important to clean the bow properly before applying any new rosin. Keep your bow out of sunlight, in a good protective case and in a temperature-controlled environment to extend the life of the bow. Light rosins tend to provide less friction while darker rosins are stickier.

Controversy

As with everything dealing with artistic expression, there is always controversy. Some of the controversies surround the use of ivory for cello bow parts. Since ivory doesn't affect the playing, you can play it safe and maintain your ethics by avoiding all ivory materials for your bow. The other main controversy is whether a beginning should play with a professional bow. Until a player has at least five years of playing under their belt or is competing, a beginner's bow will work just fine. If you're competing locally or nationally, go for an intermediate cello bow made of carbon fiber. If you're competing on the world stage, find yourself some Pernambuco, immediately.

Prerequisites

It makes no sense to purchase a bow if you don't yet know how to use the bow. If you're a complete beginner, the bow that came with your cello should be fine. Use that bow and learn how to care for it, and when it breaks or you level up significantly, start looking for a new intermediate bow made of carbon fiber. You don't want your learning curve in the realm of care and maintenance to be spent on a bow that costs hundreds of dollars.

Watch this excellent video to learn how to rosin your bow.

Five Best Cello Bow

CodaBow Diamond NX Carbon Fiber (4/4 Size)

Best Cello Bow

Carbon fiber is very close to the real thing, and this bow offers exceptional playability. The cello bow is a professional-level bow, and it has all the features you would expect to find in a high-quality bow. It's sturdy enough for a beginner to use, but most beginners should look for a lower quality bow to learn with. The silver inlay and winding make it an attractive choice that won't tarnish over time.

The bow comes with a 10-year limited warranty, but the warranty is only applicable to the original customer and may not be transferred. So, it's important you purchase this cello bow new. The bow is made in the USA, and it features high-quality materials and construction. It uses a Moroccan leather grip and silver medal horsehair for a true and reliable sound.

This bow will make any cello sound brighter, and it's ideal when more clarity is needed in a performance. While the bow does offer a brighter sound, that typically isn't preferable for most solo literature. In the ensemble, the brightness can help it cut through, but it also means the cellist has to temper their playing a bit to avoid disrupting the delicate balance of the orchestra. Overall, this is an exceptional bow that in the hands of a capable player will provide a superior playing experience.

Pros

  • Sizing: Full-size bow makes it suitable for professional use.
  • Frog: Made using a traditional design and high-quality ebony.
  • Craftmanship: Hand-cut wood wedges and plugs bring a touch of class.

Cons

  • Price: Too expensive for most beginning and intermediate players.
  • Rosin: Hairs require an extensive amount of rosin to properly grip strings.
  • Sound: Gives a brighter sound, which might not be suitable for most purposes.

CodaBow Prodigy Carbon Fiber (4/4 Size)

Best Cello Bow

This bow offers many of the same features as the Diamond bow, but some of the materials are skimped on to shave off some cost. This bow is made of graphite-fiber materials, and it should provide years of use for any professional player. The bow is manufactured using a mixture of tradition and science to create a playing experience unlike any other bow. While the cost may seem a bit high, this is a good intermediate bow that is guaranteed for five years when purchased new and from an authorized dealer.

The bow is a full-size bow, so it's not really intended for a beginning player. Players can expect to get some professional characteristics without having to shell out too much cash. The bow also provides gentle forgiveness, which makes it suitable for beginning players and intermediate players who aren't yet precise in their playing. The trade-off is a slightly muted sound that a professional may not appreciate.

The balance of this bow is exceptional. This is one area where players of every level will appreciate. With a light rosin, the bow will have a very dynamic and fluid playing style, and this bow will feel comfortable in any player’s hand. Even though the bow is made from carbon fiber, the sound produced is one that can only be heard with a genuine Pernambuco bow.

Pros

  • Affordability: An excellent bow with quality components that produces an excellent sound.
  • Materials: Silver resists corrosion well and the silver medal horsehair is unmatched.
  • Warranty: Comes with a five-year warranty to the original customer.

Cons

  • Nickel: Uses some nickel elements, which may not resist corrosion as well as silver.
  • Quality: Exceptional quality, but may not live up to the demands of a professional player.
  • Rosin: The bow isn't pre-rosinned.

Kmise Z5248 Brand New Pro Light Carbon Fiber (4/4 Size)

Best Cello Bow

This is a suitable bow for a beginner. It's well-constructed and balanced, but it lacks any of the advanced features you would expect to find of an advanced or even intermediate bow. There is a lot to love about this bow, even though it is unsuitable for the professional player. It uses premium materials on some of the most important parts of the bow. Mongolian horsehair is often found on more expensive bows. An ebony inlay is also typical of higher-quality bows. Additionally, since it's a carbon fiber bow, you're getting a better-quality bow than a fiberglass or Brazilwood bow could provide.

As far as the balance is concerned, the bow is well=balanced. Although, the weight of the bow is a little bit heavier than some of the more expensive bows. This bow would be more than suitable for the beginning cellist. It should even work fine for use in a high-school orchestra, and it is made better than most bows that come standard with a new cello.

The fact that it is a full-size bow is also a plus since it will give the budding cellist the chance to learn to play using a standard-size bow. When choosing a bow size, it’s important to check to see the size of your cello. You’ll want to use a bow size that matches your cello’s size. Since this is a 4/4-size bow, make sure your cello is also full-size.

Pros

  • Size: Full-size economy bow for the player who is rising up in the ranks.
  • Material: Carbon fiber provides a higher-quality bow than similarly priced Brazilwood or fiberglass bows.
  • Hair: Uses Mongolian horsehair, which is a hair that can often be found in the finest bows.

Cons

  • Quality: Materials are economy-grade to make the bow more affordable while still including some advanced features.
  • Grip: Uses a sheep-skin grip, which some players may find uncomfortable to use.
  • Materials: Copper thread winding and round stick are not suitable for a professional-level bow.

Glasser 403SH (3/4 Size)

Best Cello Bow

Glasser has a reputation for making above-average economy bows. This bow is well-balanced and offers some useful features, but ultimately is not constructed with the best quality components. For the beginning cellist, this bow will work well. It is a reliable bow, and it is ideal if you need a bow that can handle a bit of a beating. The bow won't warp or fracture at the tip, which is something that happens commonly with other student bows. This allows the student to learn to string the bow without worrying about breaking the stick or the tip.

The finish is clean and elegant with a satin finish that glistens during a performance. This is also a bow that would be exceptionally well-balanced and comfortable if it wasn't for the faux lizard grip that makes the bow less than believable. For the player who doesn't know any better, this bow will work perfectly. However, once a player uses a carbon bow, the difference will between bows will be much more noticeable.

For the beginning student who doesn’t yet know how to care for a bow properly, this bow could serve a useful purpose. If you treat it as a training bow, then you’re getting a good value. This bow is ideal for the elementary school, junior high and the first year or two of high school orchestra. Advanced students should skip this bow altogether.

Pros

  • Hair: Uses horsehair for a realistic and reliable grip.
  • Reliability: The bow offers good reliability and decent materials for the price.
  • Reconditioning: The company offers a reconditioning program if the bow ever stops performing well.

Cons

  • Brand: Doesn't have a reputation as a top-notch bow brand.
  • Materials: The bow is made of fiberglass, which is generally not recommended.
  • Grip: The grip is an imitation lizard grip, which may feel unnatural to most players.

D Z Strad Pernambuco Cello Bow (4/4 Size)

Best Cello Bow

This is one of the more authentic traditional bows available. The bow uses real Pernambuco wood, which is hard to find. Most often, carbon fiber is used to replicate the feel of this rare wood. Finding a quality bow that is this affordable is rare, especially when the rest of the materials match the quality of the wood. This is a great bow to have simply for the material and the ability to practice with an authentic and traditional bow.

The bow is heavier, as would be expected from a bow made from wood. There are a total of four sizes available, including a 1/2-size, 3/4-size, 4-4-size and full-size bow. Only the full-size bow uses Pernambuco wood, though, and the other sizes use Brazilwood. This is a great bow if you want to upgrade from a beginner or even medium-quality intermediate bow. The bow comes with a lot of premium features, which are available for only a little more than economy bows.

The nice thing about this bow is that it has all the important components that match what you might find in a professional bow. This allows the developing cellist to get used to playing on a higher quality bow while still saving some money by using cheaper components in the less important areas.

Pros

  • Materials: Exceptional materials that are normally found in only the finest bows.
  • Stick: Made from Pernambuco wood for an authentic and unmatched cello sound.
  • Frog: Made with a flower-inlaid design and ebony materials.

Cons

  • Size: The full-size bow may not be suitable for a beginner, but the bow also comes in three other sizes.
  • Weight: Slightly heavier than most carbon fiber bows.
  • Grip: Some cellists complain it requires a lot of rosin to grip well.

Conclusion

For one of the most effective bows on the market, the intermediate or advanced player simply can't get better than the D Z Strad Pernambuco cello bow. It has everything an advanced player could want. It uses a modern octagon design; the wood is the highly sought-after and difficult to find Pernambuco wood and it has an ebony frog for a supple and smooth feel.

The bow is well-balanced, and it will provide the right amount of grab to ensure you get a perfect performance every time. The bow hairs are made of Mongolian horsehair, which is known for its exceptional strength and suppleness. You'll love the fact that this is a full-size professional bow. While this shouldn't matter to the professional violinist, the bow is also exquisitely decorated. It has an inlaid flow design, and you'll love the feel of the silver-mounted ebony frog.

If you're looking for a bow for a beginning student, this might not be the best bow. Get the Glasser bow if you're interested in finding a bow for a student who has not played before or is young. However, even for a young player, this bow isn't so expensive that it's unattainable. At its low cost and high level of quality craftsmanship, this bow is suitable for any player.

Stephanie Su
 

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