Essential Violin Information

Pernambuco or Carbon Fiber? Your Guide to Finding the Right Violin Bow.

No matter where you are in your journey as a violin player, having the right bow is just as important as having the right violin. But finding the perfect bow to match your instrument can be tricky and sometimes downright confusing.

A bow is very individual to a particular player. Some prefer a heavier weighted bow that will dig into the string and produce a loud sound. Some prefer a lighter weight bow that will not tire out the arm too quickly. Bows can also be individual to the instrument as multiple bows of the same model might play differently on the same instrument. One mistake players often make is to put the majority of their budget into the instrument, and then skimp on their bow purchase. Because bows can make such an impact on the sound of an instrument, it is wise to make sure the quality of bow you’re buying will match the quality of the instrument.

Violin Pros prefers bows made of wood or carbon fiber.

Wood is the traditional material for bows. Quality wood bows have a good flexibility while still being sturdy. Many wood bows are made of Brazilwood and Pernambuco because of their flexibility. While wood bows are weighted nicely, they are also more sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature, which can cause warping. Having a good violin case helps prevent this.

Recommended wood bows:

Knoll 303K Brazilwood Bow

The Knoll 303K is an octagon Brazilwood bow from a company with highest bow making pedigree. For three generations the Knoll family has been hand crafting violin bows. The Knoll family's craftsmanship is well displayed in the 303K as it is an affordable, high quality, and great sounding bow. Advancing violinists will appreciate the Knoll 303K. The bow is a good match for the Scott Cao 750, 850, 950, and 1500 artistic series violins.

Döerfler DO17 Pernambuco Bow

Döerfler's Pernambuco bows use only selected woods that have been stored and dried for approximately 30 years. Thanks to its great hardness and density, this wood type is the only choice for bow making of a high standard. Pernambuco wood comes from the northern and east-central parts of Brazil. The tree from which the Pernambuco is won is called Caesalpinia echinata, also known as Pau Brasil.

Economy Pernambuco Violin Bow

This octagonal Pernambuco bow is ideal for beginning and student violinists on a budget. The grip is made with imitation whale bone or silver and the bow has a fully-lined paris eye frog. This Pernambuco bow will pair well with beginning and student violins, such as the Scott Cao 017, 500, 600, or the 750 models.

Codabow Carbon Fiber Violin Bow - Diamond NXCarbon fiber is the newest bow material. Carbon fiber bows are typically made with a woven carbon fiber stick. Because of this, these bows have all the flexibility of wood without any weak areas and are typically lighter in weight. Because they are made from a synthetic material Carbon fiber bows are resistant to weather issues, such as warping. They are also sturdier and will likely hold up if dropped or whacked against a music stand.

We at Violin Pros have played on all types of bows from many makers and our featured bows have a consistency in their manufacturing, a good weight, and produce a quality sound. Happy bow browsing!


June 16, 2014 by Deidre Hamilton
Tags: How To

How to Choose a Violin for a Beginning Player or Student

The famous Comedian/Violinist Jack Benny’s famous line as he held up his violin was “If it isn’t a $30,000 Strad, I’m out $120 bucks!” Today Benny’s Stradivarius, donated upon his death to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, is worth several million. ;) With violins ranging in price from $75 to $2,000,000 and bows from $19 to $100,000, what should the average beginning violin shopper expect to spend for a good quality, entry level, beginner student violin?

If you read reviews from legitimate sources such as Strings Magazine, you’ll see that the same violin brand names pop up regularly. Some of the brand names that you will see are GligaHofnerJohannes KohrEastman, and Scott Cao. When purchasing a violin for your student, buying a brand name instrument will ensure that you will get a quality violin that is properly setup and ready to play. Also, many of the well known violin makers offer a beginning violin package (referred to as an outfit) that includes a bow and case. These violin outfits provide the best value for the money, and traditionally run around $400 for everything. These violin packages are normally available in fractional sizes as well, so you can find the right size violin for you or your student. When making the final decision, insist that the violin is strung with quality perlon core strings such as Dominants.

Each of the “name brand” manufacturers offers entry to professional violins costing several hundred to several thousand dollars. Avoid the least expensive beginner instruments, even from reputable companies. Why? They are trying to compete with the junk offered on the internet. There are too many corners cut trying to compete. Spending just a little bit more promises a much easier playing and better sounding student violin.

If you are searching for a quality beginner student violin, compare the Gliga Gem IIEastman 100Johannes Kohr K500Hofner AS-060, and the Scott Cao 017. Ask the dealer for a professional setup, which is crucial to the playability and tone of the violin. For more information about setup, see our article "Importance of a Violin Setup". If you are looking at a Scott Cao, ask that it is set up by the Cao company, which is standard practice at Violin Pros. Scott Cao's 017 violins are constructed in Cao’s China factory, they are adjusted or setup in their California workshop where their finest violins are constructed. No matter the company, it is well worth an extra $75 to get a master builder to setup the violin's sound post, carve the bridge, and true the pegs so your instrument can sound as best as possible. 

Good hunting and please remember to contact us if you have any questions about choosing any level of violin.

February 28, 2013 by Pat Haggerty