Friday, May 28, 2010

A. Cavallo Violins, LLC

What to Know When Buying a Bow
outside of shop
Dear Friends:

In the last few weeks bows seem to have been on our customer's minds. Since knowledge is power, we thought it was a good idea to give you an outline of the choices you have when buying a bow, and the advantages or disadvantages you have with each materiel and making technique.

If you have any questions regarding instruments or bows, do not hesitate to call us, as we are always happy to help you increase your knowledge and discernment.

Above all, make beautiful music!

Musically Yours,

The Staff at A. Cavallo Violins, LLC
A. Cavallo Violins, LLC
Bows, Bows, Bows
How to make the right choice

Your bow is as significant to your playing as your instrument, but it is often ignored during the purchase. We remind our customers that proportionately you get "more bang for the buck" when you spend more on the bow. Conventional wisdom is that the bow should be about 25-35% of your total instrument and bow purchase, and we believe that proportion is about right.

Bow sticks are made of at least four different materials: Pernambuco, Carbon Fiber, Brazilwood, and Fiberglass.

The gold standard for bows is Pernambuco, but the wood is endangered and the bows are quite breakable. Typically pernambuco bows start at around $200, and the finest examples are over $200,000! Bows are usually graded by the company or maker by their fittings. Nickel mounting is the entry level, Silver is usually second, and then fancier silver or frog materials such as snakewood, shell, or ivory can reflect the maker's assessment of the stick. The best commercial bows are now coming out of Brazil, as the Pernambuco is no longer available anywhere else due to import/export restrictions. Pernambuco combines a strength, flexibility, response, speed and ability to hold camber (the curve, induced by heat) at a higher level than any other natural product.

Brazilwood it thearcos brasil bow other natural product used commonly. These days it refers to any wood that mimics pernambuco. Typically, these bows do not have the playability and ability to hold camber like pernambuco, but they often produce a warm sound. Brazilwood bows can be as inexpensive as $30.00 and are often the choice of beginners.

Fiberglass is the student choice. Usually fiberglass has more strength and resilience and less camber issues than brazilwood, but is usually not very playable. Cost is low, usually under $50 for a violin bow.

Carbon Fiber bows are attempts to create a process and material that rivals pernambuco. Carbon fiber is practically unbreakable and will almost never lose its camber. The quickness and response of the better carbon fiber bows, such as the JonPaul and CodaBow brands, come close to pernambuco in warmth and tone. Many professional players have a carbon fiber bow as a "pit bow," for such playing as opera, musical, or pops that does not demand individual tone, and is used in a dangerous environment for fragile pernambuco or any other wood.

So far we have only written about the stick materials. There are many other materials and workmanship issues that affect the quality, cost, and performance of bows, but we will reserve that for a later discussion!

Interesting Bow Websites

A. Cavallo Violins, LLC

8705 Shamrock Road

Omaha, NE 68114

toll free
877 838 6222

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