Wooden Bow vs Carbon Fiber Bow… which to choose???
The difference between a wooden bow and a carbon fiber bow
I got a question about bows: Hi Zlata, question about a wooden bow and a carbon fiber one. Which one would you choose? I have both and so far I find playing with a carbon fiber bow more comfortable. What do you think?
Why have I chosen for a carbon fiber bow?
I personally play with a carbon fiber bow. I will explain a little something about bows. I have made a couple of videos that are viewable on my YouTube channel around bows, how important a bow is and what to look for in a bow. I have chosen for a carbon fiber bow because it is an arcus bow which is a different type of bow. As far as I know no other brands that make this type of bow. They are extremely light and at the same time they are stiff enough which means that with very little effort they can produce a very big sound. This makes it very easy to play: it plays fast easily and it plays loud easily. They have a lot of advantages and they have a very good response. This is an exceptional type of carbon bow which I picked out.
Most of the carbon bows are kind of the same as wooden bows
It depends a little in which price class you are looking. Anyway, if you are looking for a bow try it out first! Never buy something without being able to try out the bow or without knowing what the characteristics of the bow are. Then you can find maybe a wooden bow or a carbon bow that fits your needs best. But you really need to try out lots of different things to find out what works for you.
Bows in a low price class
In a low price class, and with that I mean below € 100,- so below $150,-, I would recommend a carbon fiber bow because in this price class most wooden bows are not made of Pernambuco wood. They are made from random selected or not really selected wood and the quality is not very consistent. You can find a good one but sometimes they do not last very long. The advantage of most cheap carbon bows (made of carbon composite: powder that is pressed together) is that the quality is very consistent. So if you are looking for a spare bow or a very cheap bow, then you might better choose carbon than wood. If you are selecting a bow in a web shop, then carbon has definitely a better quality in the lower price classes and carbon bows are most of the time a little lighter. Bows that are made of pressle wood, which is a kind of name that collects any kind of woods, just random wood, are most of the time a bit heavy and not very stiff. That is not what you want in a bow. So if you want a wooden one buy a Pernambuco one and it will probably be costing over €100,-.
Bows in a high price class
In a higher price class, so from €100,-, it is a matter of selecting. Often carbon bows are a little bit lighter. I see this as an advantage because you have to do little effort and your bowing technique can be more subtle and you have to do less effort to achieve what you want to achieve. So I am a big fan of carbon bows but I know there are so many good wooden bows or antique wooden bows so definitely see that as an option. There are of course wooden bows of a €100.00,- and so forth so just try them out. In the higher price classes you will try them out anyway.
Keep both wooden bows and carbon fiber bows in consideration and try them out!
Is this video useful to you? Please let me know in the comments!
PS: Do you want to see YOUR question answered in a Violin Lounge TV episode? Post a comment below!
As pernambuco trees can’t be chopped down anymore, wooden bows become more and more expensive.
With carbon fiber we can make things, we can’t make with woods. For a relatively low price bows can be made that are light, stiff and create a good sound.
Hi! I'm Zlata
Let me help you find a great bow for your violin, so you can improve your bowing technique and sound quality:
I’ve just finished watching your video on carbon vs. wooden violin bows. I agree with you – I much prefer my carbon bow over any of my wooden ones.
But my violin teacher friend recommended strongly that I get… an Incredibow. So I did, and I really like it! No worry about tightening/untightening it; no restringing worries, it’s inexpensive, and the synthetic bowstrings require less rosin than hair strings.
Here’s a photo of mine:
Okay, this won’t let me post a photo. RATS!!
(Yes, I hang my violin and bow on the wall. This way I have them easily at hand for any spare moments I can snatch for playing, whether it’s 5 minutes or 50 minutes or 5 hours.)
Your thoughts? Have you tried an Incredibow?
Hi Dot, thank you for your suggestion!
Perhaps you can post a picture by linking to it… (I have received the picture by e-mail, so know what you are talking about :)).
I watched the website of Incredibow… always interesting to see new developments… however it’s not so new as in the baroque age they used similar bows, which where also tightened in one way. What I wonder is (just my first thoughts):
– What kind of sound do these bows produce, lots of overtones or not?
– Tourte didn’t invent the modern bow for nothing… this looks a bit like a baroque bow. The advantage of the Tourte shape is that you can also bow with power and a full sound at the tip.
– I wonder if advanced bowing techniques are possible with this bow…
– Tightening the bow is personal: some tighten it a lot, some a little… depending on your personal preference and playing style… is that possible with this bow?
Of course I can’t judge as I haven’t tried the Incredibow yet… I hope to… perhaps they will be at the Frankfurter Musikmesse…
If you are in contact with the people behind Incredibow I am interested in interviewing them for Violin Lounge TV and perhaps having them send me a sample bow to try and review.
Hanging your violin on the wall or putting it in a violin stand is a great idea! Indeed it gets you to play more without the barrier of opening the case etc etc.
All the best! Happy playing!
Thank you Zlata for your explanation. I agree with you that we need to try many bows before we finally find one that suits our playing and our violin.
I am currently using a wooden bow, I tried a carbon bow, but I didn’t like it, somehow I found it too light.
In fact before my current bow, I was using a viola bow – I found it slightly heavier and I really like it. That bow is now ‘retired’ but for my next bow I am thinking of getting another viola bow.
Do you use a different bow when you play your viola?
Yes, I recommend using a viola bow when playing viola. I think a viola bow works better to get the C string moving. A violin bow is a little to light to make a beautiful deep sound with good response on the viola.
I wish you happy practicing and beautiful playing!
Zlata M A Brouwer MSc
Violinist and teacher