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My head is spinning! Which bow?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by NickyBass, Mar 23, 2006.


  1. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Ok, there are so many options and I've been doing as much research as possible, and now I think I'm ready to start auditioning bows. I mainly play tango and jazz, so my unmarked bow has been sufficient. Now I'm working on a lot more classical music and have a few unresolved questions before I finally decide on a bow. I know the main answer is 'whatever feels comfortable and sounds right for my bass.' What price range should I be looking in? I've heard that one should spend about 1/4 of the amount paid for the bass. Does this seem right? Also, do the 'upgrades' effect the performance or are they merely ornamentaion? For example, silver mountings and ivory frogs.
     
  2. I wouldn't rely on fractions to determine anything. Get what you can afford. A $5,000 bow is probably going to be better than a $400 one.

    Silver/gold mountings, ivory, and so forth do not affect the performance of the bow. They do, however, increase its resale value and add to the bow's worth as an investment.
     
  3. You aren't buying an engagement ring, you're buying a bow!!!
    You should get the best quality that you can afford. Those pretty little extras are nice, but to me, they show that the maker took a little extra care with this baby, and it is probably a better choice stick as well. I've been through quite a few bows in my experience, some good, some not so, and I haven't even approached the experience of, say Ken Smith or some other people on here, but do shop around in your price range and don't always buy the first thing you see. From my limited experience experience in Bow prices , it seems that $100-$300= Decent Student bow $300-$700=intermediate to advanced Student Bow
    $700-$1200 College Level Bow $1200-$3500 Grad Student to Semi Pro, $3500- $ 5500 - Pro Bow, $5500 up, You have too damn much money to worry about cost!
     
  4. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Ah-a, very good points and I thank you so much for the info. It is probably best to play every bow I can get my hands on. Even if the perfect one is out of my price range, at least I know what qualities to look for in bows that are in my price range. Good point that quality ornamentation is probably done on quality sticks.
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Right now the first question to you is how much do you have to spend on a Bow? Do you have a teacher that is or was a professional Orchestral player to help judge the bow?

    These are just some basic questions because buying a Bow or Bass is much much easier than selling one. For instance, if you want to Bow better, first set your Bass up for Bowing with good Orchestral strings that you can also Pizz. My choice is Flexocor Starks. I buy them and do not get free strings so this is my favorite for my money.

    Next, consider that a Bow upgrade can last you the next 2, 3 or 4 Bass upgrades and at a much lower price. For Bow performance I see price points under $3,000 varying a bit but 5-10k or 10-20k is a different species. Bows in the 2-4k range will wake you up. Bows in the 5-15k range will make you think you just got 10 years better or at least 1 or 2 years. lol

    Imagine having a Bass and Bow that almost plays itself. You play in a Bass section only making music with effortless fingering and Bowing. That is your dream Bass and Bow. Now, work backwards from there. A 5k bow will make a 5K Bass sound great. A $300. Bow won't. If you put your money in the best Bow you can afford and make a good purchase, you will be all smiles. The thing is, you need a good Bowing teacher to tell you what is better because you will be buying a Bow for a level you haven't reached yet but can get there easier with that better Bow.

    Recently I had 3 customers over in 2 days trying out two Italian Basses and one English Bass of mine. All Pro Symphony players. I got a free lesson just watching them. I also gave them 2 of my Bows to compare. One is about a 5-6k Bow now and the other a 7k Bow. They had some bows in the 4-5k range and one classic about 13-14k. Only my 7k bow came close. Mine was darker sounding but not sweeter. How do you add sweetness or darkness or response to a Bow? You don't. You need THAT Bow to get That sound. I was able to hear each Bow as these great players tried different Basses with each Bow and different Bows with each Bass. That was a treat for me. This is the reason I suggest you have someone with Orchestral experience help you make your choice. they will hear and feel the difference years before you get there. The good thing is that when you do get there, the Bow will be waiting for you on a platter......
     
  6. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Wow, thanks Ken for the solid advise. I don't have an orchestral teacher. My teacher is excellent with the bow, but mainly plays jazz. I'm sure he can give me some great advice. Also, my Luthier's main gig is an opera company, so he may shed some additional light. But, here's what I was wondering while I read through some other posts. If I'm buying a bow for a level that I haven't reached yet, and I am relying on a third party, even though the third party knows my playing very well, how will I know that the bow will be right for me and not my teacher? Is it something that I will know when I find the right bow?
     
  7. jfv

    jfv

    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    You cant take the step at the top of the ladder before you
    take the lower ones :)

    When I bought the bow I just did I had a retired bass teacher
    of 30 years from Mt Hood College here in the area playing
    them so I could listen, and he gave me his opinion about
    10 different bows.

    After hearing them I played them all myself at my level
    of ability and listened again. I then made a judgement
    based on price and sound.

    In a few years I can see again based on my technical
    ability to play then.

    See what I mean?? There is no perfect decision, do
    your best with the tools you have available and get
    on with it :)

    Cheers,
     
  8. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Ok, I'm getting deeper into finding the perfect bow. I think I've played every bow in the area, but I'd still like to audition more. What is the standard procedure for dealing with out of state makers and shops? I found another bow that appeals to me, but I don't feel right asking a store to mail me a bow for a week. Also, I've narrowed my search based on my main style. I've noticed that a few people here have several nice bows. Do you guys use different bows for different styles? For example, I've found the perfect orchestra bow for me, that is, if I played in any orchestras. Actually, this bow makes me want to join one so I can use it.
     
  9. olivier

    olivier

    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    That the only way for that store to get a chance to sell you the bow... you should not worry.
     
  10. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005

    Yea man, that's how a lot of places operate. If you're serious about possibly buying it, call them up and ask if you can arrange a trial period. I don't see any reason they would deny you.
     
  11. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Yeah, I've noticed that was basically standard. Since I posted, I've talked to a few stores who didn't think twice about it. Sorry for asking so many questions, but when I bought my main bass 10 years ago, I don't think that i asked the right questions and did enough research. The bass plays great now, but I could have avoided huge headaches if I had just done my homework. The bass had to have the top removed, a new bass bar, alot of patch work. This work was already done by a luthier, but it was done badly and all the repairs needed to be re-repaired. I don't want to make the same mistake with bow shopping.
     
  12. olivier

    olivier

    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Try them bows untill you find one that you like and can afford. In the meantime, the dough you spend to return the unwanted bows is an investment to acquire knowledge. Even the stores have not found out any other good way to sell a bow besides the occasional but suspicious "love-at-first-sight".
     
  13. appler

    appler Guest

    Off topic, but who is your luthier? I can't seem to find a good luthier in New Jersey. After two or three bad experiences, I've been going far away and it's quite a hassle.

    On topic, I agree with what most people have been saying. It seems that within each price range (perhaps with the exception of inexpensive bows), there isn't a huge difference in quality. Just find a comfortable bow that makes you play and sound your best.
     
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Quality is not the issue here. I think playability, sound, feel and that kind of stuff is what makes the Bow. At sight a $300 Bow can look as good or better than a $6,000 Bow. Now pick them up and play then and see the night and day differences. Even in the 3-6-10k range you will feel and hear differences between Bows and between 2 or more Bows by the same maker. You don't know how good the stick is until you play it on a great Bass. Then all other variables are put aside.
     
  15. appler

    appler Guest

    That's what I'm saying, man. It's a matter of which bow speaks to the individual playing it. In my opinion, of course.
     
  16. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Appler, I have been taking my bass to Bob Riccardi's shop for over 10 years. He does great work and is very fair. He will always do checkups and minor repairs of my basses for free. PM me and I can give you his number. Oh, and he is located right outside of Philadelphia.
     
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    I'm just curious. How many Bows in the 5-10k range have you played and how long have you been studying with an Orchestra professional?

    I know you had some type of agreement with my last post but it is important to really know the difference in Bows and be able to play them as well Orchestrally to really make judgement. That's why I always suggest to have an Orchestral professional help to choose your Bow and Bass as well.
     

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