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Cheap vs. Expensive bows

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by jneuman, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. I'm trying out new bows to buy. Right now I've got Pfreschner at $2000, a couple of bows by a small maker at $700 and comparing them to my cheap chinese bow made of unknown wood. My cheap bow is almost as good as the Pfreschner. Do I just happen to have a good cheap bow or am I just not used to good bows? I feel like I need a more "proffesional" bow, but not at the expense of my playing.

  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The P-Bow might not be the right one for you, plus keep in mind that you may have some habits from compensating for the cheap bow and this might be hanging you up.

    I'd recommend getting in a room with a lot of bows and spend the afternoon and see what you learn.
  3. Thanks Ray. That's exactly what I was thinking. The quality of a bow might not matter if it's not balanced right or the right weight for the player. BTW my cheap bow is extra heavy with flexible stick and a light weight tip so the balance point is close to the frog. This is the opposite of the other bows.
  4. Tim Pearson

    Tim Pearson Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Nashville, TN
    Its also a good idea to bring a friend to play the bows for you 9on your bass of course) so you can hear the differences yourself.
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    there are also a ton of p-bow fakes. plus p made "shop" bows that were lesser quality than their top o' the line.
  6. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    I was shopping for a bow last year and tried many bows
    including 2 P bows, carbon graphite, and some custom
    made "name makers" ranging from $750-3000.
    Besides the good advice from the other guys above:
    If you can have your instructor or a good classical bassist
    help you look or suggest a bow (s) to you.
    I asked a well known classical bass instructor (Bruce Moyer- San Jose) to help me out. He watched & listened as I played: then suggested several bows for my technique, touch. etc.
    Then: he also mentioned: to check the bow's different feel, sound, etc and response to me and to the my bass.
    (bows do sound different with basses or vice-versa).
    After all that: I traveled to his house several times with borrowed different bows until we agreed on one or two bows.
    I ended up with a used Boyd Poulsen (a known bow maker in
    Stockton). And am glad now I did all that leg work.
    Hope this helps.
  7. Hows does one go about indentifying whether or not the P-Bow in question is a fake or a lesser shop bow? Are there any obvious identifing marks or something like that? The bow I am looking at is octagonal pernambuco with whalebone grip (obviously replaced recently) abalone on the frog, ivory on the tip and show some very serious use wear on the top of stick at the frog. It is a very well ballanced and responsive bow and is the one I like best now after trying a bunch. I've been able to talk the seller down to $1,600 from $1,900 (its on consignment). Anything tI should be concerned about?

    Thanks for your help

  8. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Tuff question: If the bow is from a lesser known shop, If possible :would suggest If you borrow it for a week and
    take it to another shop or person who is knowledgeable on
    bass bows in your area. I could not recommend any shops
    down there, 'cause I don't live down there unforunately.
    There are several reputable dealers in NY you could call:
    Kolstein in Baldwin NY, Dave Gage Instr in NY City and
    describe the bow to them. Hopefully you'll catch them when
    they 're not too busy in the shop and they could help you.
    In my area (Bay Area) you could call Weinkrantz / Steve
    800 73 music, Bass House/ Hannah& Mike 510 382 0620.
    What makes P bows complicated is: some of them
    were made in W. Germany & E. Germany. (post WW2),
    and then there are preWW2 bows too. Plus; logos can
    have PR P or WR P. (That's the extent of my limited know-
    ledge of P's.)
    And I would not rush into buying a bow 'cause of it's name
    either, as I tried out 2 P bows (good but not best buy for $)
    as I found better bow for a better price. The other suggestion
    is look for a handmade bow instead of a factory made bow like
    the P's. You's be surprised how they can sound!!
  9. Thanks Dennis

    I will take it to a couple of other shops today and have it looked at. The interesting thing about this bow is that the frog is not the usual pfretzschner shape, but is of the usual German bow shape which is less rounded. Also there is not coat of arms on the frog. This could mean that it is a bow from the late 1800's which could be possible given the patina of the bow, or that the frog was replaced at some time. In any case it is a bow of high quality workmanship. It is stamped HR Pfretzner with no "Germany" stamp anywhere, so its either real old or a fake. BTW it is better than a Reid Hudson my friend owns - for me anyway - at about the same price.

  10. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Hi: Jnueman:
    Good luck to ya!! Sounds like you have preWW2 bow or
    most of it. Hopefully someone can give you an accurate
    I assume you are playing jazz and not classical music, and
    play small clubs & venues like I do. (the weekend warrior!)
    For me, I was a little paranoid about bringing my Poulsen
    bow to some low paying gigs :so I started to worry about
    it getting damaged by someone or myself by accident,
    even tho' I have insurance.
    SOO :I got the 2nd bow backup bug. A second bow to use at the clubs and not to worry as much!!
    Like the bassist: who owns 2 basses: an expensive pedigree
    or early 19th century bass and a cheaper one like a
    plywood type to use in small clubs. ( I have some friends
    like that.)
    That was one of my goals for this year. Now I have 2 bows
    and use the less expensive one on the gigs. ( actually my second bow wasn't that much cheaper either- but I could live with it (myself a little more) if it ever got damaged. Hopefully
    it ' ll never happen.
    Congrats if you end up with the real one.
  11. Dennis

    I had the bow looked over by my local bow specialist and he was very impressed. He said the bow is made of very good wood, shows excellent craftsmanship and is in well preserved condition and that it is much older than it looks. based on the extreme thumb wear on the top of the stick it was played a lot but was well taken care of. He says the bow is definitely pre 1920's and is worth more than I'm paying for it. Actually I am mainly a classical bassist who is in school but I work proffesionally when ever I can. I have been limping along on my $150 cheepie for years now since I switched over to German, and I am ready to step up - hence the better factory bow (from when good pernambuco was more plentiful). This bow is valued at basically 20% of the value of my bass, so I think the investment is well proportioned. Mainly I like the way the P-bow sounds, looks and feels.

    Thanks again

  12. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Is the P bow frog stamped with the Pfretschner mark ? Even the lesser quality sticks had the stamp on the frog.
  13. Don

    No it does not. And the frog is apparently original. The frog also has a full heel plate up the back too which is not like the more recent Pfretzchners I've seen. The bows made before 1901 did not have the stamp. My bow guy seemed to think that only the silver mounted bows had the stamp based on what he has seen. This one is nickel mounted. It probably was not made by HR himself but was a workshop bow. In any case, it is a very nice bow of fine wood, and he felt is was worth more than my offer. So I'm inclined to buy it.

  14. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Hi Jon:
    Glad to know you have pre WW1 P bow. Didn't know that Pz
    did not stamp their frogs before 1920 or so. All I 've seen are
    the post WW 2 bows.
    Out of curiosity: what kind of bass (s)do you own?
    For me: the P's and some other German bows were polite sounding on my 40's Juzek, but not very definitive on the low
    end (missing the "under tones" but had the mid & upper tones).
    My 2nd bow- 1950's?? Roth (German) is that way too. But it's
    light, well balanced, and very easy to play. It actually sounds
    better on my 40's?? King bass surprisingly. The repairman at
    Weinkratz thinks it was made W. German P. (subcontracted by Roth in those days.)
    The Poulsen on the other hand captures the undertones but
    is heavier, slightly slower, and bit harder to play. It also sounds better on the Juzek. According to Boyd Poulsen, he
    modeled it after the Satori's. ( I would just like to see one
    in the wood!!)
    Good luck to you so far in your quest.
    The main thing is if you 're happy with the bow,(as I am with
    the Poulsen)
  15. Dennis

    Isn't it strange that bow can make such a difference in sound? One woudn't think that the case. Anyway, I play a Poellmann, but it's unusual in that it has a very pronounced lower register and is rather dark sounding. The P-bow helps my articulation. One reason that P-model bows might sound a little different, and also why they balance so well, is that the heads are smaller than on many German bows.

  16. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Not always so... I have in my possesion a nickel mounted P bow that has the coat of arms stamp in the frog.
  17. Don

    When was your bow made? Is it a newer one? This is very interesting and means that the bow I have is an enigma. Maybe it is from the late 1800's. I would like to think so, but it makes more sense that it was one of a series of bows built for a conservatory or it was a special order from someone who wanted a different frog (maybe the frog from an existing bow they had) or it's not a Pfretzschner at all .... but this would be unlikely since one would think if you were going to fake a stamp on a good bow, that you would use something other than a factory name. I don't know. BTW the ebony on the frog is way dried out and starting to look and feel a little rough. What would one use to refurbish it ?

  18. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Hi Jon:
    Now That's interesting:
    your Pollman bass is dark sounding & the Pz bow is probably more midrangey.
    and my Juzek is more midrangey and the Poulsen bow is darker
    my King is dark sounding and the Roth bow is midrangey
    Confirms how bows & basses can match up, And how bows &
    basses can definitely sound different too.