Best Violin Bow Review in 2017
Shopping for a violin bow means doing a lot of research. It also means considering a large number of variables related to both the musician and their instrument. After doing some of the research for you, here are the best violin bow reviews in 2017.
Things To Consider
It has been said that, "It’s not the bow that makes the man; it’s the man that makes the music.” While that may be true, having the right bow is very important to making the music. Of course, there are probably as many opinions about this as there are violinists. That is okay though. Some things that might influence your decision include:
- length of time playing the violin,
- age that you began playing the violin,
- type of music you prefer to play,
- style of violin education you received,
- amount of money available to spend on your next bow,
- how you intend to build your bow collection,
- your preference for natural or synthetic materials,
- depth of playing skills, and
- the specific violin it will be used with.
Let us look at some more information in a few of these categories to help you make an informed decision.
What material is used to make the violin bow?
There are three primary materials used in bow making. Brazilwood, Pernambuco, and carbon fiber. Within each of these categories, there are varying degrees of quality.
Brazilwood is not wood from one specific tree. It is a category of wood culled from trees grown in Brazil and other tropical climates. Entry-level players consider these bows most frequently. Some of the higher quality Brazilwood bows are also suitable for early intermediate violinists. Prices will range from $20 to $200 based on the quality of the wood and other components.
Pernambuco is also made with wood from Brazil, but it is a very specific tree. Bow makers have been using it since the 1700s. Unfortunately, after many years of deforestation, it is much scarcer. The Pernambuco that is available is not believed to be of the same quality as that from the last century though because that particular species of tree may be extinct. The export of Pernambuco from Brazil is rare due to the extreme restrictions placed on it by the Brazilian government. Prices range from $500 to $5000 for a new Pernambuco bow.
Thanks to technology though, modern violinists have better choices than bows made from cheaper wood or fiberglass. Now, carbon fiber is beginning to take over. With extremely limited access to Pernambuco, carbon fiber bows can address the need to keep a bow light yet strong. The flexibility of carbon fiber is easily manipulated by wrapping it around stiffer objects to reduce the bend or using it alone to have greater bend. Carbon fiber bows also come in varying degrees of quality, ranging in price from $70 to more than $1500.
Wooden vs Carbon Fiber
Based on the description above, it may not be clear that there is a raging debate in the violinist community about whether or not carbon fiber is good enough for professional performers. The truth is that older, Pernambuco bows are better. However, those bows can be temperamental for traveling or outdoor performers. Add that to the fact that the best Pernambuco bows are rare and extremely expensive, and carbon fiber becomes the default choice for most violinists. Pernambuco bows were not considered on this list because they are most often available only from custom bow makers and are harder to come by.
Other Factors to Consider
While the type of material used for the stick of the bow is very important, there are other details to consider. Questions to ask as you consider each bow in your price range include:
- What type of hair is used?
- Is a particular brand or quality of rosin necessary to get the best sound from the bow?
- How durable are the fittings?
- What shape is the shaft?
- Does it have a warranty and what are the details?
What does the bow sound like?
At the end of the day, the most important thing about any bow you purchase is what kind of sound it produces. Once you have the bow in your possession, playing with it for a couple of weeks is ideal. It may take you that long to get used to the weight, balance, shape, and quality of the bow. That is perfectly normal. If at the end of a couple of weeks it still does not seem like the best fit, contact the company you purchased it from. Often the people who run these businesses have a passion for music and want you to be completely satisfied with your purchase.
Five Best Violin Bow
Now that you have absorbed the essentials to shopping for violin bows, let us consider which ones are the best. In the process of compiling this list, only full size bows were considered. This was done to keep the playing field even. Here are all the bows that were considered.
Giuliani Brazilwood 4/4 Bow
Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber 4/4 Bow
Glasser X-Series Carbon Fiber 4/4 X-Bow with Horsehair
SKY 4/4 Bow
Glaesel GL-2213-4 4/4 Brazilwood Bow
Baroque-style 4/4 Bow, Richard Wilson Marais Model
CodaBow Prodigy Carbon Fiber 4/4 Bow
JonPaul Bravo Model Carbon Fiber 4/4 Bow
However, the goal is to highlight the top five. Considering all aspects of these bows, here are the five best violin bows.
Giuliani Brazilwood 4/4 Violin Bow
To understand the quality of this bow, you need to understand the quality of the individual components. The bow is made of solid Brazilwood that has a springy, light quality. A 100 percent genuine ebony frog is fully metal-mounted. This bow has a good reputation for its bounce and responsiveness, which is due to how carefully the manufacturer weights the frog and stick relative to one another. Mongolian-horse hair is the not-so-secret material used for the bow. This type of horsehair stands up to long-term use because of its strength and durability.
Once you understand the materials, consider the company that sells it. Kennedy Violins offers a complete two-year warranty on this bow. Violin teachers appreciate this because students can be hard on their instruments, even the adult students who require a full size bow. A tender touch comes with time and experience.
This bow also shows off in the design as well. The genuine silver winding, real leather grip, and inlaid mother-of-pearl eyes make this bow something exquisite to look at. Not only is it pretty to look at, but it produces a clear, full tone
Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber 4/4 Violin Bow
The materials used in this bow contribute to it being in a top five. As you will see by this and the rest of the list, carbon fiber is the preferred material for most violinists. You may be tempted to measure it upon arrival because it is going to feel lighter than you expect it to be. Do not be alarmed though, this is a good sign that it is well weighted.
As the least expensive carbon fiber bow on this list, it has some good competition. The reason the price is lower than other carbon fiber bows is that this is a composite carbon fiber bow and not a braided carbon fiber bow. It has been confused with carbon graphite, but that is not the case. Two other factors that keep the price low include the Chinese manufacture of it and a simulated winding.
The bow is made of Siberian horsehair and the frog is copper mounted. This bow has a good reputation due to its balance, bounce, and action.
Glasser X-Series Carbon Fiber 4/4 X-Bow with Horsehair
Like our last bow, this one is also made of molded carbon graphite to keep the cost down. Unlike the last bow, Glasser manufactures this one in the United States of America. The faux pearl eyes add beauty without adding tremendously to the cost of this bow. Some musicians prefer the look and feel of a round stick and this bow delivers on that preference.
While it may not be obvious to novice players, you will need more pressure to play a lighter violin bow like this one. That adjustment comes with practice. With the low price and weight of this bow, there is a tradeoff. Its lightness produces a brighter sound, but you will need additional pressure to have enough volume to fill a large space.
Setting the tension on this violin is also a little trickier than usual. It is very sensitive and even the smallest over or under turn can produce an unwelcome result. This is something you will adjust to with experience as well, but it is important to note that you will need to address prior to any performance. Otherwise, you might have an unanticipated sound on stage.
CodaBow Prodigy Carbon Fiber 4/4 Violin Bow
As you move up in price, it only makes sense that you move up the quality of the bow. The high quality components of this box make an incredible difference to how it feels in your hands. There is a sterling silver winding, mother of pearl slide, Moroccan leather grip, and other small details that account for the large increase in price of this bow.
At this quality level and price point, the individual preferences of players are the biggest factor. One factor of personal preference is color. This is one of the only high-end, carbon fiber bows that has a brown tint. CodaBow wraps a brown carbon fiber weave around a Kevlar core, which results in a springy, supple stick that is well suited for quick, fancy bow work. This bow is also compatible with electronic violins.
CodaBows are all handmade, which means that each one may sound a little different. This is similar to the experience of wood bows. Additionally, when purchased from an authorized CodaBow dealer, musicians can register their bow and receive a limited, five-year warranty.
JonPaul Bravo Model Carbon Fiber 4/4 Violin Bow
If you are a serious player but need to stay to a limited budget, then this bow should be on your list. It is also carbon fiber, but JonPaul makes it with a single-piece, which results in extra strong bow. The round stick has a beautiful black finish that makes the silver alloy tip pop. A pearl eye on the ebony frog accentuates by a nickel-silver mounting.
One-reason professionals often rate these bows so highly is that JonPaul has been making carbon fiber bows longer than any other company has. They have had more opportunity to perfect their methods and approach to bow making. This definitely works to the advantage of the consumer when you consider there are priced comparably to other high-end carbon fiber bows.
In a product category that relies so heavily on personal experience, skill, and preference, choosing a favorite violin bow is incredibly difficult. It is a guarantee that critics who are completely confident that they are right will dissect the winner to prove it wrong.
So, two winners were chosen. For the beginner to intermediate player, the Giuliani Brazilwood 4/4 Violin Bow is the best. The JonPaul Bravo model is the professional player winner.
The Giuliani bow is best for the beginner to intermediate player because the hair used to make it is strong and can withstand the abuse a new student will subject it to. The Brazilwood makes it affordable for a group of people who are not yet fully committed to advancing their violin skills.
The JonPaul Bravo model is the best pick for the professional player because of the strength it brings. It is made of a single piece of carbon fiber and that makes a difference. Additionally, the long-standing reputation of the company puts it at the top of the list.
Ultimately, the only way you will know if a bow is right for you is when it is in your hands and you have had some time to practice with it.