Violins are one of the most commonly learned musical instruments and this is for good reason. They are an age-old instrument that is often heard in classical music but also features in modern music. So it goes without saying that in order to take your musical tasks to a higher level not only do you need to have the skills but you also need to have the right equipment. Having a high-quality violin bow is very important as it can really influence the type of sound you play. But what kind of violin bow should you be looking for? We created a guide that outlines what you should keep in mind when looking for the best violin bow and also curated a list of 5 of the best violin bows.
- The Best Violin Bows
- What to Look For When Buying The Best Violin Bow
The Best Violin Bows
1. Vio Music 709 - Best violin bow
- Beautiful Sankewood Stick, 4/4
- Genuine White Mongolian Horsehair
- Master Old German Baroque Style
- Perfect Weight About 58 gram/2.2 OZ
- Perfect Weight Excellent Balance and Fast Response
The Vio Music 709 bow is our top choice for the best violin bow. It is one of the most sought after bows because it contains very classical features. The violin bow is renowned for its flexibility as it can easily adapt to different musical styles. The stick is made from snake wood which is a large bush tree with many branches and is commonly found in Western Australia. The wood is very dark and close textured and is limited in availability due to the scarcity of the tree.
The Vio Music 709 bow’s horsehair is from Mongolian horsehair. Mongolian horsehair is known for its thickness and robustness and having a strong hair compound that improves the quality and versatility of sound produced.
The violin bow weighs 58 grams and players will find the bow very easy to maneuver across the violin strings. The violin bow is also incredibly responsive and will feel quite different for those who are more familiar with modern violin bows. The Vio Music 709 is an old German Baroque style violin bow and is best suited to baroque violin instruments. It is an excellent choice for those who want to get into the classical origins of violin playing.
2. Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow
- Fiddlerman Handmade Carbon Fiber Violin Bow
- Quality Siberian Horse Hair
- Nicely Decorated Copper Mounted Ebony Frog
- Great Balance and Weight Distribution
- Nice Arch with Good Bounce and Action
The Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow is a great choice for violinists who want a high-quality bow that will give them a great balance between affordability and quality. It is made from carbon fiber and is best suited for beginners or intermediate players looking to increase their playing repertoire. The stick is hand made, accurately enough such that it provides superior balance with its formulated weight distribution.
The carbon fiber bow has a nice arch to it and plays quite well. The violin bow weighs around 58 grams which makes it quite comfortable for practising over long periods and for rapid staccato playing.
One of the advantages of carbon fiber is durability. The material is way less likely to snap or be affected by water or dampness. The composition of carbon fiber follows a similar bendiness to wood hence allowing the players to feel at ease while playing the violin.
The hair of the carbon fiber bow is from Siberian horsehair.
This ensures that the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow delivers a strong and perky tonal quality. Additional valuables like copper mounted ebony frog and the leather handle make the violin bow appear to be very visually appealing.
3. CodaBow Prodigy Carbon Fiber
- 4/4 Violin Bow - Graphite Diamond Weave Finish - Blended Acoustic Core - Brown...
- Traditional Frog Design Made by Walter Paulus with Xebony Engineered Ebony -...
- Nickel and Silver fittings - Moroccan Leather Grip - Metal Alloy Tip Plate -...
- Limited 5-Year Warranty to Registered Owner. Bow must be purchased from an...
- Handcrafted in USA
The CodaBow Prodigy is known for being one of the best violin bows for professionals. It follows the traditional frog design and features a rare ebony engineered ebony, sterling silver winding and white mother of pearl slide. The stick is mainly constructed from carbon fiber, giving the bow fantastic lightness but great durability hence ensuring long-lasting performance. The brown tint to the stick also gives the impression of a wooden stick which adds a greater rustic authenticity to the bow.
The CodaBow violin bow measures 28.9 inches and is slightly longer than the standard length which is commonly found in cheaper bows. The added length is best utilized by professional violinists who have superior playing abilities.
The grip of the carbon fiber bow is made from high-quality Moroccan leather which strengthens the players grip as well as making the violinist’s playing experience more comfortable. A great addition to the CodaBow Prodigy package is the limited five-year warranty which gives you protection against any faults with the bow. Do ensure to read the terms and conditions so that you are aware of what is included in the warranty. The violin bow draws amazing sound from any violin and is suitable for an aggressive and wide variety of playing styles.
4. Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow
- Highest-rated violin retailer on Amazon and #1-rated customer service in the...
- The only bows backed by a full two-year warranty and 45-day money-back...
- Each bow set up and inspected by Kennedy Violins' professional luthiers in...
- All bows come pre-rosined and ready to play the moment you receive them.
- Handcrafted with solid Brazilwood, 100% genuine ebony frog, and hand-applied...
The Giuliani Brazilwood violin bow is an ideal beginner bow and provides a decent performance capability. The stick is made from brazilwood which is a dense orange-wood that is endemic to the Atlantic Forest. It features an ebony frog and is strung with unbleached horsehair.
The Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow is pre-rosined which allows it to be ready to play the moment you receive it. This makes it ideal for beginners who may be unware of how to prepare a violin bow for playing. It comes with a two-year warranty agreement as well as a 45-day money-back guarantee if you do not like the product. All bows are inspected by professional luthiers of Kennedy Violins before they are released for sale. It is on the heavier side but you can use this to help poise your arm early on and develop a stronger wrist. This improves the technique when you transition to a higher-end bow.
5. D Z Strad Model 600 Violin Bow
- Crafted with playability in a medium to strong range of stiffness
- Equipped with genuine white, unbleached Mongolian grade AAAA horsehair
- Properly balanced for quick response and resiliency
- Perfect Weight About 62g/2.2oz!
- Genuine pernambuco, nicely crafted and finished
The D Z Strad 600 is made from Pernambuco heartwood. The shaft is round and it features an ebony frog with a Parisian eye. The ribbon is grade AAAA Mongolian horsehair and has been left natural and unbleached. It is completely handcrafted hence ensuring quality.
The violin bow delivers precise balance and has an exquisite response and bright projection. It has a great camber and is fitted with great additional aesthetics such as an abalone slide and leather over silver lapping.
What to Look For When Buying The Best Violin Bow
Violin bows are made of 3 different materials:
Most student and intermediate violin bows are made from this material as it usually proves to be durable, strong, lightweight and very comfortable in practice. Octagonal bows are made of this wood and have proven to be a great value option that has a quality feel.
ii) Pernambuco Wood
Considered to be the best possible quality material to craft violin bows. Pernambuco is a dense, heavy wood that comes from several areas in Brazil. Pernambuco wood allows for the most plasticity, strength and comfort while playing and is used predominantly in creating intermediate to professional standard bows. Due to the decline of Pernambuco wood, the Brazilian government has limited the supply of it hence making this material fairly rare and a lot less accessible than it used to be.
iii) Carbon Fiber
Carbon fiber has become a common material for manufacturing quality bows in the 20th Century and has proven to be a great alternative to Pernambuco wood possessing similar characteristics in terms of its balance, feel, flexibility and balance. Carbon fiber is mostly used to craft student to advanced level violin bows.
Different violin bows can create different sounds on their instruments. The differences may be subtle but can be clearly heard by the player under the ear. A suppler bow has a smoother, fuller sound. If the stick is too soft, the sound can lack clarity and lack definition. A stiffer, stronger bow will give a brighter, more focused sound. Sometimes, an overly stiff bow can produce a rough, edgy sound. It can be quite difficult to find a bow that will give both a smooth broad sound and at the same time have great clarity of focus and the quickness of response that comes from a stronger, stiffer bow.
The average weight of a violin is about 60 grams. The key is to feel the violin bow in your hand. If a bow feels right in your hand, it probably is. A bow should feel natural in the hand – well balanced from tip to frog with equal weight throughout.
A violin bow can actually be heavier in grams but due to the distribution in weight, it can feel light. The heavier the bow is at the tip, the heavier it will feel. A heavy bow might feel secure in long bow stroke but it will be harder to make it jump in spiccato. A lighter bow can feel good to play with but it can feel nervous. In wooden bows, you often have to choose between heavy and stiff and light and slack. The great thing about good quality high-density carbon fiber like Arcus bows, is that it makes it possible to combine stiff and light, making them easy to control and lively at the same time.
A bow that’s heavy at the frog may feel jumpy and nervous while a bow that’s heavy at the tip might feel secure but hard to move. Cheap bows tend to have a balance and its very hard to control them. A bow should have the correct balance. It should not feel too heavy at the frog nor be too light at the tip. If it is too light at the tip, it will take extra energy to get a strong sound in the upper part of the bow. If it is too heavy at the frog, it will be too difficult to control. There will be trembling when doing an up-bow approaching the frog and a tendency to stiffen up when going toward the tip.
Traditionally, the hair on the bow is white horse hair. Many substitutes have been tried but horse hair is still considered to be the best material. When buying a bow, make sure it has been re-haired recently. Over time the hair stretches and loses its ability to hold rosin. A fine playing bow with poor hair is like a fine violin with cheap steel strings. Black horsehair is also an option. It is coarser and rougher and produces a sharper tone. Horsehair is often bleached to make it look like it is white. The bleaching weakens the hair and makes it vulnerable when used a lot.
The shape affects the stiffness of the bow and its sound. Most bows are made round and this makes them very supple and flexible.
Some are made octagonal hence making them stiffer. A bow that is made too soft will struggle to produce clarity and attack when it is needed. It then sounds like there are technical flaws in the playing when in fact the fault is in the bow and not the player.
On the other hand, a bow that is too stiff won’t allow the gentler nuances to be executed delicately. Violin bows make different sounds depending on these issues and it requires a careful ear to pick up on these differences. Many professionals prefer a round stick. For a student or beginner, a stiffer bow will probably make life a little easier at first .
For a violin bow to do its job, it must cling to the strings and to cling to the strings it must vibrate with the string. One way to tell if the bow is lively and can vibrate along with the string is to tap the tightened bow with the hair facing your wrist and feel the vibrations in the hold of the bow. Without this quality, the bow will slip and skate on the surface of the string rather than settling in, pulling a full tone and varying the tonal colors. The liveliness also contributes to making off the string strokes such as spiccato and richochet better and clearer while also making on the string strokes like legato and detaches better.