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carbon graphite vs. pernambucca - state your case

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by mike_odonovan, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. what do you gain what do you lose? and anyone who favours the graphite tell us what brand you use.
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I use a Gruenberger. I'm so source for comparison, as I dont' own a wood bow. My bow is quite light and easy to control (other players have noted it as well), and of course it's stable.
    Not cheap, though.
  3. Again, quoting Gary Karr from this Web-site forum:

    "Although there are pernambuco bows out there for less than $1000, I highly recommend that you consider a carbon fiber bow called, "Carbow" (the German bow has a snakewood frog). I believe that it is available for around $800 which I consider to be a great value. The bow feels like a fine pernambuco stick and is virtually indestructible. It would be hard to find a pernambuco bow for that price handles as well and offers you the sound and comfort of this carbon bow."

    I've used it for years and I've fooled a lot of people into thinking that I was playing on a pernambuco bow. Therefore, it's hard to detect any difference between carbon fiber and wood. In some ways, I prefer the feeling of the carbon bow. The sound is not as elegant as my $5000 pernambuco bow, but, when considering the price difference, "Carbow's" projection capability and sound is damn good."
  4. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    I have both. Pernambouc one is unsigned from Augagneur, a great outlet for student bows in Lyon, scarce yet afordable (500 €); luthiers have a hard time to get a couple of those per year. Graphite one is an ALG entry model, about same price. When shopping for a second bow, I tried many, up to 1000 €, including various Carbows. Didn't find one I liked. Yet they are very consistent, and I agree that they fall in the same league of "half decent bows" like mine. I switch between wood and synthetic depending on the type of music and type of string. For exemple, the ALG was not doing good on gut, but doing much better on Obligato. I do lend my bows to beginners so they have a chance to feel the sensation of playing with a "half decent bow" at 500 € a pop.

    I'd rather save on "Amp & Pickup" than on bow.
  5. Today I bought a Carbow French bow with snakewood frog, after much deliberation whether or not I should go for a carbon fiber bow. But after trying out this one, I was convinced that this bow would satisfy my very bowing needs. Now I really cannot blame my equipment anymore when my bowing is less than perfect.

  6. huw


    Jul 27, 2003
    Pacifica CA
    I also use a Carbow and it sounds every bit as good as my teacher's very expensive pernambuco bow. My 2 cents.
  7. I've played several very good carbon bows, and they do give you a lot of bang for your buck. I personally don't like them too much though, because they just don't seem to have as much warmth and personality as a good pernambuco stick even if they may perform just as well. They probably are less money for a comparable performing bow though, unless you happen to find a good deal on a wood stick. I think one would make a good second bow for traveling, outdoor gigs and things like that; but I'd never own one as my only bow.
  8. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    I have stated this opinion before in different posts, and I have yet to hear a differing opinion. I think that if you buy a great sounding carbon graphite bow, you are pretty much gonna have a great sounding carbon graphite bow for life. Don't expect it to get any better though.
    To the contrary, I expect my wood bow to continually get better. I also run the risk of damaging my wood bow by not properly taking care of it.
    That is what I believe to be the big difference.
  9. That about sums it up quite accurately, I think. Fortunately, I found such a great sounding carbon fiber bow.

  10. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Well Tim, this statement was not particularly confirmed (nor chalenged) by our Mid-Western conservative luthier.
    My experience is rather that it's better to have your bow rehaired and maintained by a bowmaker (camber...)
  11. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I own the grunberger carbow knock off, for $900, i didn't find anything better, and i tried dozens of bow up to $1200. I've had a few minor problems with the bow, but my repairman was able to correct them. I beg to differ that a wood bow will sound better with age, as well, my understanding is that bows are more like pianos; they sound best new and are in a constant state of decay thereafter. I wish i could remeber where i learned that, but it seemed a very scientific and well reserached article.
  12. If that were the case, why are people willing to pay so much for Tourte, Peccatte, and many other fine violin bows some over 200 years old. These bows certainly don't fit in the category of being in a state of decay. I don't know for fact that a pernambuco bow sounds better with age, but I have not seen any evidence that a good bow deteriorates provided it is properly cared for and maintained.

    Here's an ariticle from Strings Magazine on Finding Good Values in Bows. While is pertains mostly to violin bows, a lot of it should apply to bass bows as well.
  13. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Because they aren't making any more. It's scarcity as much as anything. Even the oldest violins of the masters- which are not playable, owing to the breakdown of the wood- still command high prices.

    I find it difficult to believe that the best makers of today aren't making instruments every bit as good as the masters of the past. They have all those centuries of past work to study as well as the advantage of modern tools to quantify differences, analyze varnishes and so forth and access to woods from all over the planet.

    BTW, here's another theory about the great 17th and 18th Century instruments:


    The claim is that the "little ice age" slowed the growth of trees and produced wood with closer rings. Having heard good sounding instruments with both narrow and wide grains, I'm guessing this is another red herring.
  14. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I think the emphasis on craftsmen of high skill is correct, also the ice age wood makes alot of sense as well. When i said that bows were in decay, I just wanted to make a disctinction between an instument, which actually improves from being played (ideally in tune) versus a bow, which will not get any tonal benefit from vibrating for years and years. I was under the impression that the same phenomomenon of molecular change that improves an instrument lessens the quality of a bow, although i'm not sure how long this takes to occur- and it could be over such a long period of time as to be hardly noticable. I was introduced to this idea by someone who was suggesting: don't buy a new bow and hope it"opens up" over time, as you might expect a new bass to do. I'll try and find my source for this- i just can't remember where it was . . .

    perhaps someone who has owned a bow for a long time could testify to whether it changed or not, for better or for worse.

    Of course there are people making great instruments and bows these days, it's just that there are only a handful doing it at high levels, as it has always been. Old bows can also be great , i think the best bow i've ever picked up was about a hundred years old.

    Old bows and basses of pedigree all get a little "pixie dust" mixed in with their pricing (hang on, we have to get your bow out of our vault)- and we end up paying for it.

    One more thing i like about the carbon fiber- if you abuse your bow for modern music or tango, you don't have to worry about it!
  15. If you like what that guy is saying, you'll love this one. He has discovered "the secret" twice in last 20 years and got a PBS special both times!

    Dr. Joseph Nagyvary

    BTW - neither man has gained much in the way of serious recognition in the violin community.
  16. If you are saying that bows do not get worse from age, then I could agree with you. I've rehaired and repaired hundreds of bows over the years and the only change I've seen in bows is from physical damage, not from any change in the wood itself.

    I was under the impression that the same phenomomenon of molecular change that improves an instrument lessens the quality of a bow, although i'm not sure how long this takes to occur- and it could be over such a long period of time as to be hardly noticable.

    The Catgut Acoustical Society and the Violin Society of America have been used the most advanced technology available for the past 50 years, and no one has found any change at the molecular level.
  17. oh... just so you know the actual name is carbon fiber. The difference is really tough to measure...Arcus bows use a completely different design than carbow...try all of them to get a good opinion...Arcus's higher model for bass is 1600 or so I think . carbow is 800...try them in comparison with good pernambuco bows in the same price range...form your own opinions...
  18. scienceteacher


    Apr 15, 2004
    this may be a dumb question, but what is the difference between the graphite and fiberglass?

  19. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Fiberglass bows sound pretty funky. They are OK for beginners, players like me who don't play much arco or players who need to bow in environments where they don't want to risk a good bow being damaged.

    Glasser seems to be the most common fiberglass bow out there and for about $50 with real hair (synthetic hair is a few $$ cheaper but not worth the savings) can be actually cheaper to throw away then rehair!!!

    Graphite (or carbon fiber) is a far superior material acoustically than fiberglass and makes for a better bow. The cheapest graphite bows I have seen are also made by Glasser, but they are in the $300 range...much more expensive than fiberglass and competitive with lower-end brazilwood bows.
  20. ... you really a Science Teacher or taking the p? Glass fibre is strands of glass set in epoxy resin, carbon fibre is strands of carbon polymer form of 'graphite', and often called 'graphite', set in epoxy resin. But graphite as we all know, is the lead in your pencil and best used for drawing bows on paper :D .

    If you want to buy a bow that is essentially a length of fishing rod, this is the thing to go for. Some people seem hooked on them.