Bow advice for an intermediate player

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by ethnotime, Aug 17, 2013.


  1. ethnotime

    ethnotime

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    Greetings,

    A little background: I've been playing bass for twenty years, but entirely in a jazz context. I started late so I was never comfortable with the bow. However I never neglected it and have been practicing on and off. These days it's been on and I'd like to be a little more serious about it and would like to upgrade from my carbon fiber Finale bow to a good wood bow.

    Now I'm not sure what kind of bow to get. From reading posts here I was thinking that $1000-range would be a good starting point, specifically Raposo bows. But lately I've started to think that maybe I should invest a little more. That said, what's a good price range for decent bows. Is there a larger selection at a certain price range?

    I guess it's mostly a matter of trying bows out but there is not a lot of bow selection where I live so I don't have much to go on. I'll be heading to NY next week to check out some bows, but I figure I should come fully educated before trying some out.

    To get an idea of my level, I can slog through the first movement of the Dittersdorf concerto, not at tempo but it's a reachable goal.
     
  2. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    French or German?

    At $1000 with some room, you are right on the edge of the factory/shop made bows and modern handmade bows. Adding to your budget is often encouraged, but you don't really open up a lot of the handmade market until you hit $2000-3000. You might find something older too, which is often a great option.

    If you are going to be in NY, check out as many shops as you can. I advise bringing your own bass, and setting an upper limit for price. Try everything in and even a bit below your range. I owned a $600 French bow that was amazing, and shouldn't have sold it. If you have someone from the shop helping you, tell them what you do and don't like about what you have played, they are there to help. If you narrow it down to one or two bows at one shop, most of them will let you take them on trial for about a week. (if you leave a credit card #, deposit or whatever) Consider this, as you might find something amazing at the next shop, you might find something you want to compare side by side too.

    I don't know NYC well at all, so I can't suggest shops, and I don't know that price range of the market very well. Go with your gut. Ultimately, the bow that you don't want to put down because you love playing it is going to be a much better option than the one with a good name stamped on it.

    Best of luck hunting! It really is a great feeling.
     
  3. ethnotime

    ethnotime

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    Thanks for the reply, I do tend to rely on brand names but I'll try out a few bows and see what I find. If I leave a credit card down I'm sure Gage's shop will let me borrow some bows. Unfortunately I can't bring my main bass down, but I'll have my backup ply to at least get a feel for what I'll be buying.

    And you're right, it does seem as if $2000-3000 is a good range for a really good bow. I honestly don't know if I'm that experienced to know the difference. But I'll try some out to see if I do.

    I play French.

     
  4. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    Having one of your own basses, regardless to whether or not it is your main bass is a good place to start. You know what it sounds like and how it plays, and unlike trying bows on a different instrument than you usually play, you won't be distracted by the bass.

    While there are some good names out there in that range, you are also in a dangerous price range to rely on stamps, as they sometimes are brand names. A lot of shops have factory made bows (sometimes Chinese, German, anywhere really) that they have either stamped with their own name, or that they have stamped with a German, French, Italian, or European sounding name, in order to sell bows. A lot of these are made to the specifications of the shop selling the bows. They have both quality control in the factory and again in the shop, but something with a name like "Lafrais" or "Stienhamm" or "Rogini" might have nothing to do with where the bow came from. For example, those were the first French, German, and Italian sounding "names" that I could make up...

    Knoll and Marco Raposo come to mind as two of the companies that make bows and sell them to shops as is, instead of "stamped however you want them" and they do make good bows. I am also not trying to discredit shops that have either their own name, or some other name stamped on their bows. It is a LOT easier to sell a bow with a name, regardless to what that name is.

    Ask for a bunch of bows in whatever your price range ends up being, and below it as well. Get them to bring out 6 or 10 or whatever from $700-the top of your range, and ask that they don't tell you what price they are. Gage, Kolstein, or some other shop won't sell you a horrible bow for thousands, they wouldn't be some of the best respected businesses in Bass if they did. You might be surprised and fall in love with an $800 bow. Your first choice might be $3000 and your second might be $1000. Trust yourself. And if you don't feel experienced enough to really buy an expensive bow or justify the purchase, buy something you do feel comfortable with, and consider upgrading down the road.
     
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  6. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

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    A lot of places will send out a few bows for in home trial.
     
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    If you get a chance, try out a Metropolitan from Gage and compare it to the Finale. It is carbon fiber too, but I'd be interested in any observations you have between the two.

    When I auditioned the Metro, my bow advisor, Jason Heath of doublebassblog.com, thought it had the balance/response of a fine bow, compared favorably to his $3500 stick. The sound is another thing of course. I bought it. It may be difficult to find a wood stick that has the b/r of a well made CF at $1k...
     
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    Yes...I found each wood bow I have auditioned produced a different sound with my bass and I went for the sound I preferred, big and fat. That bow sounds better to me than my Metropolitan, but the Metro is much easier playing.
     
  9. ethnotime

    ethnotime

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    Actually I did try out the Metropolitan recently. Where i live there's one shop where i could try some bows and it was the best bow they had. Compared to the $600-700 bows the shop had the metropolitan was way easier to play but it still seemed harder to play than my Finale. I wasn't sure if it was because of the bass or the fact that the met wasn't as broken in. It was tough for me to discern what was going on but also the sound was so nice and I'm pretty sure it was because of the bel cantos. I use olive G/D and Evah weichs A/E, they still sound good but they're 8-10 months old.

    Actually I really liked the Metropolitan and at another time I would have bought it. But right now I'd like to check out some wood bows first before I go there. When I decided to upgrade from my $100 bow 2 years ago, I was deciding between the finale and the Metropolitan. Maybe I should pay out a little more as I appear to be heading towards improving my bowing.



     
  10. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

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    The String Emporium (mentioned in another thread) has some excellent Chinese bows in the $900 range; Ken Smith has some good bows; and the Quantum Bass shop in Houston sells Jon Paul bows which I think are terrific bows in the $800 range. I believe Upton has an excellent shop bow in the $1200 range.

    Going a little higher gets you some good Brazilian made bows (Water Violet, Siqueros, Guasti etc) that are worth looking at.

    Having at one time or another owned most of the carbon fiber bows (I taught at a school in the high desert) the balance and playability on them is great, but I soon got bored by the sound.

    Louis
     
  11. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

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    Also, Martin Brunkalla makes great Osage bows @ $1200 - but he may only do German. I have one. Very sweet bow

    http://brunkalla.com/BOWS.html

    Louis
     
  12. Medve

    Medve

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    Heliomar Cirilo bow. Best value :)
     
  13. jessg

    jessg

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    I'm playing a French Infinity, atm. I like it a lot for it's camber and feel of attack. It's got a neat frog. Took me about 6 mos to really figure out, rough on the edges at first, but we're best friends now. Just my 2 cents.
     
  14. csrund

    csrund

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    +1 for Heliomar Cirilo. I have a french model that came with my bass, and I've been really impressed with it.
     
  15. ethnotime

    ethnotime

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    Thanks for the replies. Good to know I don't need to spend that much for a good bow. I'm pretty much looking for a good wood bow that'd be a good upgrade to what I currently have. I'll be hitting Gage's tomorrow, looking forward to trying some new bows!
     
  16. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U Supporting Member

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    Be sure to try the coda bow infinity.
     

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