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Upgrading Bows

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Ron Plichta, Feb 18, 2013.


  1. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I switched instructors recently and like the progress I've been making with him, especially with my bow technique. I've gotten to the point where I've concentrated solely on my French bows and my German bow collects dust.

    I stopped by the shop where I bought my German bow and they offered me the full purchase price on a trade toward a higher priced bow. I took a JonPaul pernambuco bow priced about $1k out on trial. So far, I like it since it's lighter and seems more articulate than my current French bows (Ary and H.R. Wilhelm).

    I took all three bows to my lesson tonight and let my instructor play them. His opinion was that the JP wasn't significantly better than the other two (although we both agreed the Wilhelm was a bit tip-heavy). Then he made a comment that took me by surprise - instead of getting another bow of the same price, why not upgrade to something in a higher price range?

    My idea was to sell either the Ary or Wilhelm and keep just two bows, but then my instructor also said that moving up would be more beneficial for my long-term playing because he found faults in all the bows he tried. I thought I was still too new to move up, but he retorted that if I plan to stick with the double bass and money isn't an issue, spending $2-2.5k now would be a good investment in my long-term playing.

    Thoughts/comments are welcome.
     
  2. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    He's right. If you like the JP bow (I have a German one) then I would suggest an upgrade to one of Mike Prochonik's bows (under $2K)
    Louis
     
  3. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I've read good things about Prochownik bows. Does anyone else have any particular bowmaker suggestions?
     
  4. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    I third Prochownik bows.

    I have one of his. I searched for about 2-3 years to find a new bow. I tried a Prochownik in the first year, and loved it, but also wanted to try others. I tried Pasquino, Raposo, Walke, a lot of different bows, but my mind always gravitated back to the Prochownik. In the time I spent trying different bows, I really found out what I wanted, and I sent an email to Prochownik detailing everything that I wanted. At the end of the email, I asked if he would be open to making me one to try. He replied 'expect two bows to come to your house in a month'.

    He sent me two of the most amazing bows I've ever played (the most amazing being the one I bought), and at a fraction of the prices I was looking at ($3000-4000). I spent $1,900 on my Prochownik, and don't think I'll ever need another bow.

    Seriously, I've heard that almost everyone in Dallas symphony plays one, I know people in Montreal Symphony, Ottawa, Toronto, so many people play them. They're really amazing.
     
  5. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    +1 (for his German bows)

    Louis
     
  6. Adam Wynter

    Adam Wynter

    May 9, 2005
    You really can't beat a Prochownik for the money. I've got one of his ones made of massaranduba and it's great. Does everything I need it to. I have a nice Louis Bazin as well but I prefer the Prochownik, it's just much more agile...
     
  7. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I located a Prochownik locally and am going to try it out Sunday. I've also come across two Pfretzschners in the 1750-2000 range, so I'll have some basis for comparison.
     
  8. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I brought the Prochownik home today for a trial and all I can say is WOW! I haven't found a $2k bow yet that matches this one in a combination of warmth, clarity, weight and balance. I have it for a 10-day trial and will be trying a few more over the course of the upcoming week, but this one has become the clear front-runner.
     
  9. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I took the Prochownik bow to my lesson tonight and we compared it to an H.R. Pfretzschner and a locall-made custom bow. My instructor liked the Prochownik the best and I agreed that it was the best of the lot that I've trialed so far. I have a Schicker coming in tomorrow (if the storm doesn't stop Fedex from delivering it) and unless that bow really wows me, then I think I've found my next bow.
     
  10. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    My Prochownik German bow beat out bows costing twice as much (by more "famous") makers

    Louis
     
  11. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    I'm really happy you found a Prochownik to try. They really are something special. The archetiers that I've brought mine in to aren't too keen when I say they're under $2,000..
     
  12. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    Well after a week of trialing against other bows, including a $3500 Schicker, I decided to keep the Prochownik. It sounds the smoothest on my bass.

    As a bonus, I trialed a Coda Revelation that a local shop had on closeout for $500. Man was I surprised by that bow! Nice pull, good articulation, perhaps a bit brighter than the Prochownik, but definitely a good consideration as a backup bow. Best yet, I sold one of electric basses today and so I have the funds to afford both. Bonus!
     
  13. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    Great!

    However, maybe you could consider shooting an email to Prochownik asking if he'll make you one? He sells bows all of the time, so perhaps he won't say no. A good thing to try, especially since he'll make it just for you!
     
  14. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I'll give that some thought as my skills improve and I get a better idea of what I want my gear to do. The Prochownik I have now has black hair, which is fine since I'm looking to get into a community orchestra one of these years, but I may go to white eventually.

    I played the Coda a little more and it's going back. It's a good bow at the price, but the sound isn't as smooth as the other bows I've tried. Instead, I'm thinking of keeping a Schicker I got from Southwest Strings. It was advertised on closeout for $800 and the shop told me it normally retailed for $1600 or so. It came up just a bit short of the other Schicker I tried, but it's also $2700 less. It's as light and well balanced as the Prochownik with maybe a bit more articulation and brightness.
     
  15. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    And for the "pics or it didn't happen" crowd, here's the Prochownik:
     

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  16. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    So which did you choose in the end?
     
  17. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta Supporting Member

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I bought the Prochownik in the photo. I'm still pretty new to DB and that bow represented a step up from what I was using at a price I could afford. I have my Ary up for sale and may look at a backup bow when that goes.
     

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