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eBay bows: How bad is bad?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Rowka, Feb 10, 2003.

  1. Rowka


    Dec 9, 2002
    Jacksonville, FL
    In case anyone was wondering, I got the carved top Romanian bass I asked about a few weeks ago. I am glad I did. If I were to order one I try to research it to death and end up with paralysis by ananlysis.

    Now that I have it I would like to get a bow.
    I know that real horsehair is important. How are those bows that are on e-bay all the time? I see some Glasser fiberglass bows and some Brazilwood bows, all with horshair and aroung the $50 mark.

    What are your comments?
  2. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I bought an E-Bay $48 Brazilwood bow. It's okay, a little better than my Glasser glass bow. Then I bought a Glasser composite for $150 (Coda Strings, I think) and the others became spares. Nice bow. Even I can hear the diff.
  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    "Real horsehair" covers a wide range, including some crap. Some horsehair gets pissed on for the entire life of the (female) horse - I'm not joking; Barrie Kolstein makes this point. Quality varies by stock of the horse, Siberian and Mongolian being prized.
    So if a rehair costs me $65, and a bow with real horsehair costs $50, what do you expect to get?
  4. That's why I usually send my bow back to Barrie to be rehaired.
  5. Shlomobaruch


    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    Any time that you can't see the bow yourself, you're taking a chance. That being said, I'm currently using a bow I got on eBay for $200. No Sartory by any means, but I was just looking for something to replace my stolen Seifert so I could play again. It's served me nicely, though I'm starting to notice some torsional give in the frog.

    I've also seen antique bows on there all the time. Good sticks w/ rotted hair or similar items that haven't been used in years that someone needs to get rid of. Most of them aren't pretty, but assuming that they aren't warped, you could probably find a decent deal that way. My advice is to watch what comes and goes for a while and don't settle for anything less than what you want. If you don't have a lot of money to spend on a good bow, you have even less money to spend on a bow that you think might be good, but isn't quite what you're looking for. Good luck and happy hunting.
  6. Rowka


    Dec 9, 2002
    Jacksonville, FL
    I appreciate the advice and in truth, anticipated these responses.

    Is there a basically "safe," not great, but not horrible choice for someone new to the instrument. At this point I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a $2000 bow and a $20 bow anyway. I just wouldn't want to fight a bad bow while overcoming bad technique.
  7. Shlomobaruch


    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    Good point. If it's at all possible, try to learn the difference. If you have any shops in your area (I have no idea what your area is) see if you can try out different bows. Again, there really isn't going to be a lot from the eBay listing that will really tell you how the bow is going to perform - not *really* even price. If someone knows a bow has a known name, they could overcharge you (or two or more people could get in a bid fight) for a warped stick that you can't see. Or someone could have a really good bow left behind by a passing relative, or received one from some family member years ago, and have no idea how good it is. I've seen bows I'd *consider* using listing for $50 except they were German and I was looking for French. The auctions themselves will *tend* to show you the good from the bad. Watch what gets bid on a lot and what doesn't. Watch auctions and see the final bid an interesting bow closed at. Watching what goes for what price and least trying some different bows should give you a start on your instincts. The rest is blind luck. I easily could have gotten burned, so can you. But the deals are there if you're willing to take the risk.

    For starters though, *anything* is better than fiberglass. Don't even waste your time on that. Most low to mid-priced bows are made of pernambuco, which is entirely fine for what you're doing. If you can find a deal on Brazilwood or snakewood, those are higher up, but a lot still depends on the maker and condition.
  8. I think you probably meant to say the low and mid-priced are made of brazilwood. Pernambuco is what most "higher up" bows are made from.
  9. Shlomobaruch


    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    You're right... kind of. I've seen $400 or so bows made of pernambuco. Not what I personally would call "higher up" but I'm probably just being snobbish. I'm sure many people play much better than I do on $400 pernambuco bows. As far as labeling Brazilwood a higher quality, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Thanks for the correction.
  10. Hortense&bow


    Apr 15, 2002
    First time I hear of snakewood and of snakewood bows. Are there many out there? How good are they? What are the characteristics of snakewood in term of the bows that are mad of it?

  11. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I don't know about bass bows but, snakewood fiddle bows are pretty nice. Sorta speckled like a snake (hence the name). As dark or darker than pernambuco. Lighter in weight usually and lively.
  12. BrandonEssex

    BrandonEssex Commercial User

    Feb 21, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Troll Microphones
    A friend of mine has a snakewood bow, and compared to my pernambuco stick it was denser, meaning that the stick was thinner, and yet weihged more, and also very liveley, and easy to bounce (or hard to keep on the string). That being said, his bow cost over 2000, and mine cost my time to glue the broken pieces back together, and 50 for a rehair. What I can say is that snakewood is, like tsolo said, lively, but the bass bows seem heavy to me (maybe my stick is just light) and they are very expensive.
  13. I've got a related question. This may be a dumb question, but what is the difference between a 3/4 bow and a 4/4 bow? Is it the size? Would I regret buying a 4/4 bow for my 3/4 bass? The reason I ask is because I saw some of these $50 brazilwood bows on ebay and they are all 4/4 size. I figure they are probably a little better than my cheapo fiberglass bow (although I realize I could be sadly mistaken heh).
  14. Nominal length for 4/4 and 3/4 size bows are the same: French 750mm / German 750mm.

    Nominal length for 1/2 size is French 675mm / German 710mm.
  15. Excuse my typo. The length for 3/4 and 4/4 French should have been 725mm
  16. So 3/4 and 4/4 bows are identical? If so, why are they labeled like that? Thanks!
  17. Actually, the only place I've ever seen a 4/4 bow advertised is on eBay. Bows for "standard size" (3/4) basses are some times referred to as "full size". In the rest of the violin world, full size and 4/4 size mean the same thing. With double basses, however...
  18. Bob - thanks for replying. I am still confused though. Are you saying that by 4/4 they actually mean "full size" which implies 3/4? Is there any practical difference between a "3/4" and a "4/4" bow? Forgive me if I am missing the obvious, I wouldn't be surprised these days...
  19. No
  20. Thanks! I'm watching several bows right now to see what they go for. However, I am mildly discouraged by mje's feedback that the ebay brazilwood bow he bought was only a little better than his fiberglass (which is what I am using now). On the one hand maybe I should hold out until I can afford a bigger step up, but on the other hand I'd really like to get something at least a little better *now*.

    Also, my current fiberglass cheapo german bow from Lemur has a spot in the hair that looks like a dark patch. The rosin seems to get gummed up in this area. Anyone seen this type of thing?

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