Possible bow upgrade opportunity, next logical step up?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Aragorn35016, Jan 21, 2022.

  1. Aragorn35016

    Aragorn35016 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Arab, Al.
    Hey guys, so I’ve got a birthday coming around the bend and the lovely wife is hitting me up for birthday ideas (1st world problems :D). And I’m getting close to the timeline in my development that my teacher said I could start to consider a bow upgrade. I currently own 2 cheaper bows, a Krutz CF that came with my NS Cleveland and a vingowbow I bought off Amazon pictured below. There are zero places in my area that has nicer (300 to 1000 dollar) bows on hand to try, and my teacher has nothing he wants to get rid of. In the practice room at the store he has what he calls a “pit bow” that’s relatively short, that he just leaves it there for lessons, and that’s the only other bow that I’ve played (and didn’t like). I had the Krutz rehaired a while back and sounds decent, but it’s a little thin/hollow but smooth sounding whereas I think the vingobow actually sounds better in the low end and has more resonance but it’s also way more scratchy than the Krutz. I thought about having the vingo rehaired to white, but it’s a cheap 80 dollar bow and not worth the money. Since it seems my only option is to order online what do you guys recommend I look at to potentially “upgrade” to? I know I want a wood bow as the vingo feels right in the hand. I also know that this is the last bow I want to buy until the magical day I’m good enough to consider dropping 8+k on a carved or hybrid bass. But other than that I’m kind of wondering in the dark.

    Your input is greatly appreciated,


  2. Can't beat Marco Raposo, Guasti, Botoni, or the occasional way-too-cheap Prochownik. Also, Broner McCoy just started making amazing bows on the cheaper end for a US maker but they are a little out of your price range and I know he has at least a short wait list.
  3. Aragorn35016

    Aragorn35016 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Arab, Al.
    I should add an example for what I’m asking. I’ve looked at Gollihur’s bows (I love Gollihur’s btw great store!) and they have a 270ish dollar pernambuco shop bow and a 800 dollar G.Werner pernambuco bow. Based on my current bows would the 270 dollar bow be a pretty substantial upgrade or would the 800 dollar one? Again I know this is all somewhat subjective as I’m the only one that has the access to what I actually own to do any comparisons, just trying to hedge my bets before throwing good money at something for potentially little or no gain from what I currently have.
  4. You can't judge a bow upgrade by price alone. There are many examples and stories out there of bows that cost less that players like better with their setup than much more expensive bows. It's worth it to find a shop that will mail you a variety of bows in different price ranges etc. that you and your teacher can try out and then make a decision objectively rather than just using the "shot in the dark" method.

    I just picked up an Arco Brasil bow made by V. Schaeffer that feels and sounds better to me than some bows twice its price. Check out Jason Heath's youtube site Contrabass Conversations (https://www.youtube.com/c/ContrabassConversations) for discussion about selecting a bow. Good luck!
  5. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Just sharing my experience as a neophyte arco bassist.

    I play a graphite French bow my wife bought me as a present, just to get me started w/ arco. Probably $300 range. Given my lack of ability and dedication, I can't say that it is holding me back.

    A few months back, I was thinking of upgrading and brought home a few bows from a local shop on trial. Forget the prices (posted about them here somewhere), but all were wood and more expensive than mine. Bottomline, I didn't feel strongly that I preferred any of them better than mine.

    If your current bows are really cheapos, you might be able to see/feel a difference by just going up to the $3-500 range. But I'd be VERY hesitant to buy ANY bow unseen/unplayed. I bet Gollihur's $270 bow is a decent bow - but there is no guarantee that YOU will like it better than either of your current bows. The $800 bow is most likely a step even better. But again, it may not be the bow for you. Also, as you observe, really cheap bows might not be made to rehair well. IMO a cheap bow is not worth the price of the rehairing.

    Another option is to see if any makers/sellers will mail you bows to try. When my wife was considering a nicer graphite fiddle bow, a maker just mailed her 5 or so bows, priced up to $1k or so. Really amazing service I wouldn't have expected.

    The alternative I'd suggest is simply wait until you guys can travel somewhere w/ a decent shop, and then figure the price of a bow into your vacation budget. Seriously - nowhere w/in 1000 miles? :jawdrop: You must seriously be in the middle of NOWHERE. I didn't know Alabama was THAT big and barren! :D
    Winoman, elberon, Fretless55 and 2 others like this.
  6. Aragorn35016

    Aragorn35016 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Arab, Al.

    Lol nah with the it’s just double bass barren :laugh:! I can quit being salty and lazy boned and travel 2.5 hours to Nashville to look around. I’ve been wanting to go check out Williams violin shop anyway, though I’m terrified some nice carved bass is gonna call to me and I’m gonna want to irresponsibility drop serious money. I’ve been told it’s important to match your bass to the bow, and I know the wife and kid are gonna want to go, so he can go banjo his brains out at Carters so it would have to be a 2 car traveling day.
  7. Fat bob

    Fat bob Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2013
    I have a couple cheapo bows myself, and am also looking to upgrade. It was recommended to me that a Finale bow would be a good upgrade from where Iam at, and then down the road it would make for a good backup- if I decide to get a nice wooden bow that I shop around for. But for the price I hear the cf finale from string emporium is pretty good
  8. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    There are a lot of really capable and committed players around here who would have more experience than me. But to express more of a newbie amateur's perspective, I'd suggest that in the price range you are talking about, that isn't so much of a concern. You could probably pick the bass most similar to yours in terms of construction/strings/setup (I forget what you play), and you'll get a good enough idea. Plus, you'll have your own bows with you to compare.

    $500 isn't chickenfeed, but it isn't the end of the world either. If you really take this bass journey further, as you observe, most likely down the line you be replacing whatever you upgrade to now.
    Aragorn35016 likes this.
  9. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Damn! I forgot you were so close to Nashville! Now you're just being stupid! :cool:

    What you doing this afternoon? Road trip! Who's playing at the Station Inn tonight?
    Aragorn35016 likes this.
  10. You need to play several bows in your price range at once. This is a very personal purchase and you need to make sure you're getting exactly what you want. How far are you willing to drive? Texas has got to have a few places you can go to, and if there's nothing there that you like, you can always take a 7-10 day trip to Albuquerque to go to Robertsons which is probably the biggest shop in the US.
  11. Aragorn35016

    Aragorn35016 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Arab, Al.
    Now that’s the kind of brutal honesty to slap you back into common sense town that I like and respect! Thanks Ed I can always count on you :roflmao:!

    Haven’t been anywhere in a while, Road-trip it is. :D
    Ed S likes this.
  12. Aragorn35016

    Aragorn35016 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Arab, Al.
    Just got off the phone with Williams Fine Violins, they had 1 in my price range the rest were 3k and up!:D Where else in the Tennessee or NW Georgia area might you guys suggest I look?
  13. notabene


    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    just to make things more complex... I have a few bows, all German. An Ari, a Finale, a short no-name from Amazon, and an old bow, of which I know nothing except it wasn't the work of a great artist.

    The hardest one to play is the Ari, but it is by far the best sounding one. So... good luck in your quest.
    Aragorn35016 likes this.
  14. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I have both the Krutz CF and the $270 Gollihur bow you reference. Nothing wrong with either of them as long as they have good hair. But my best/favorite bow is one I bought here, used - an unbranded German shop bow that's a little shorter than the others.

    The most important thing: NEVER buy a bow without a trial period, and don't feel bad about returning it if it doesn't float your boat. Any reputable seller will give you that.
    Winoman, LeifTheBeef and Aragorn35016 like this.
  15. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    The String Emporium pernambucco bows are quite good (@$750) and they come with a trial period. Lemur used to have some good boys in the $500-700 range (Ary etc); the Guasti, Botton and Jon Paul Martin bows all play above their price points. If you are looking to upgrade for your sound etc, I would not get a carbon fiber bow - even one of the better ones.
    JeffKissell likes this.
  16. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    A well made pernambuco bow has the best sound and playing performance in my experience. (I own a bow of most every material)

    Play a number of bows side by side. Don’t be shy to play the crazy expensive ones. Don’t buy a new bow unless you are sure it is an improvement on what you have. When you find the bow that rings your bell, you will know it.

    Balance is very important. The bow needs to be able to spiccato. Try playing ‘Beethoven’s 5th 3rd movement excerpt’ or something similar 1) at the balance point, 2) mid bow and 3) tip. That is a great way to feel how the bow really performs. My best bows will spiccato at the tip, not just the balance point.

    Dustin Williams would be a good guy to buy from as he is an orchestral principle bassist. He should be present when you audition bows and give advice.

    Auditioning and learning about bows is a lot of fun. Enjoy it!
    Anne Millington and Phil Rowan like this.
  17. Anne Millington

    Anne Millington

    Dec 16, 2017
    Yeah, a good bow is worth spending a bit extra for. I have always heard that your money is better spent on an exceptional bow than on an exceptional instrument. I have a favorite cello bow made by a fairly well-known maker, but was given to me when I bought my cello. I like it better than my couple of expensive, fancy boutique bows, and use it almost exclusively. It makes my instrument sound great, has wonderful presence, and is easier to play. It has some "conformational flaws" in that it is slightly warped to the inside, which is a big no-no. But it is just phenomenal with my cello, so I will never let it get away.

    Regarding bass bows, the one thrown in when I got my bass was nice, but I never appreciated it till I got it re-haired after playing it for 6-8 years. (I know, not the greatest protocol.) But when I got it re-haired, I bought a backup bow for $100 just to keep playing, and it is probably like the pit bow you describe. Short, light, quick, but not capable of a rich, deep nuanced sound. And when I got my "regular" bow back, I was pretty amazed. Easier to play, and a nice rich sound. I absolutely love it. Who knew it could offer such a nice sound.

    My point with all this is you cannot let price guide you. Try to get a handful of quality bows to try, and for your teacher to try, and don't stop till you find the one that makes you say "wow"! If you don't like the first bunch you try, keep looking. It is well worth the quest.
    AGCurry and Aragorn35016 like this.
  18. Aragorn35016

    Aragorn35016 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Arab, Al.
    Yesterday when I took my kid to his banjo lesson his teacher requested I take him to spbgma next weekend. Maybe there will be some bow makers at some of the booths there!
  19. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    See if you can get a list of vendors, and contact them, asking if they could bring bows.

    For bluegrass, I could imagine vendors not figuring there would be a huge market for bass bows. But if they now there will be a potential customer, it would be easy to bring a few along.
    Aragorn35016 likes this.
  20. CSBBass


    Sep 21, 2013
    I think your best bet might be to request that a shop like String Emporium, Quantum Bass Center, or others with a trial-period policy to send you a handful of bows within your price range. I ordered a baroque bow from QBC last year, and they sent me the three they had in stock in a big tube, with a return shipping label inside the tube with the bows. I had 7 days from the day the bows arrived to play them all, decide what I liked, and send back either all the bows or just the ones I didn't want to keep. They kept my card info on file and charged me for the one I kept when I sent the other two back. I have had friends do similar with String Emporium, and it makes for a really nice, effortless way to try a handful of bows without having to commit to buying any of them. Also, it would allow you to take them into your lesson with your teacher, have them try all the bows and give their opinions/recommendations as well.
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