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Student cello bows


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#1 Norway

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Posted 03 January 2020 - 18:52

I'm about to try out a variety of student cello bows (suitable for grade 5-8 kind of level). If anyone has any experience of bows in this range then please share. I'm going to try out both wood, carbon fibre and hybrid bows. :)


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#2 Flossie

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 14:37

I only ever had school cellos and the bows which came with those, so cannot comment specifically on cello bows.  For violin and viola bows at that level, you tend to get more for your money with carbon fibre.  That said, I went for carbon fibre on violin and pernambuco on viola because I didn't like any of the carbon fibre viola bows I tried.  Hybrid bows are basically carbon fibre bows with a bit of wood-effect coating stuck on to make them look like wooden bows (some people are snobbish about what bows are made from and turn their nose up at bows they think are made from carbon fibre).  

 

Test the bows for dynamics and articulation.  Also check at different positions in relation to the bridge, as you will need to move closer to or further away from the bridge in your playing depending on the tone colouring you want.  How do the bows deal with slurs, legato, martele, staccato, marcato and spiccato techniques?  Can you play col legno/battuto (with the stick rather than the hair).  Some carbon fibre and hybrid bows do not give a good sound when you need to play with the stick and this becomes more important from around grade 6 onwards (especially for orchestral playing or if you are going to work on 20th century or contemporary repertoire).


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#3 Norway

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 14:44

Thanks very much Flossie - that's really useful. Cello bow try out week starts on Wednesday - I'm notoriously indecisive but here goes anyway!


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#4 Flossie

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 15:02

You will probably find you rule some out quite quickly because just just don't like their feel or response.  I would expect you to end up with two or three which are worth trialling properly.  You will have a preference for weight (I seem to go for slightly lighter viola bows than some people), but you won't know what sort of weight you like until you try a range.  Some sticks are stiffer than others and I don't like stiff sticks - but some people love them.  


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#5 Norway

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 15:55

Thanks Flossie. My cello teacher is helping me. We tried out some cello bows once before at a violin maker's place, and he had a large range including some very expensive ones - we both spent ages trying out a whole load at very different price ranges and scored them all out of 10, with comments. It was interesting because we blind tested them and the very expensive ones were not necessarily better than the cheaper ones (and my teacher can really play - she was surprised too).


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#6 Tenor Viol

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 20:15

A lot depends on budget...

 

My bow is pernambuco and was £450 9 years ago. At the time, the equivalent priced Coda carbon fibre bow gave it a very good run for its money. I imagine carbon fibre have continued to improve since then. 


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#7 wendym

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:34

I think it’s really good that your teacher will be helping you - ultimately you should pick the one that feels best when you play, delivers a sound you can be happy with, and has the potential to grow with you as you improve. I’m relatively new to cello - currently working at gr 3/4 but I can sense what a difference a good bow can make. I bought a Coda carbon fibre bow when I got my new cello, and I like it a lot - however when I tried out 3 of the same Coda bows at Guiviers in London, each one of them felt very different, and I went with the one that felt most comfortable in my hand. My cello also came with a wooden bow which I initially didn’t use much as it’s heavier, but as I’ve got better at playing, I often prefer this one as it has a deeper, richer tone, and makes a much bigger sound. I also have a third bow which I won for next to nothing on an eBay auction, which is somewhere in between, a much purer sound, but it needs playing in and I have to work a little harder to get the sound I want - so within a practice session, I often flip between all three bows which is fun. My teacher tested all 3 of my bows, and then played with his £4.5K bow, and to be honest there wasn’t a huge difference in sound. Clearly in the right hands any bow is going to sound amazing
Good luck choosing yours and let us know what you went for?
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#8 Norway

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 10:03

I certainly will. Thanks to all of you for your kind contributions. This will be interesting! I'm sure that many people must be paying far more for their instruments and accessories than they need to because they think that if something is more expensive/ made of a particular material/ a particular band then it must be better.


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#9 Tenor Viol

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 10:29

I certainly will. Thanks to all of you for your kind contributions. This will be interesting! I'm sure that many people must be paying far more for their instruments and accessories than they need to because they think that if something is more expensive/ made of a particular material/ a particular band then it must be better.

 

It's a tricky one... There is SOME truth in you get what you pay for, but rather like French wine, sometimes the names are overpriced rubbish. I think we can be confident that in general a £250 bow is a lot better than a £30 one, but is a £3k one worth the step-up from £250? You will be in the region of marginal improvements and I almost certainly lack the technique to justify that level of outlay....


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#10 Norway

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 11:27

I do too! And I won't be doing any fancy bowing or kinky modern techniques anytime soon. I can do up and I can do down! :lol: This is what I've ordered to try out.

 

1) Col Legno carbon standard bow £182

2) Hybrid carbon/pernambuco Delille £312

3) Coda Diamond NX carbon £417

4) Pernambuco bow by Schaeffer £432

 

Unfortunately they can all still play wrong notes! :unsure:


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#11 Tenor Viol

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 19:51

I have definitely tried the Coda Diamond and quite liked it. My bow was about the same price as one of those, but it's a Pernambuco Dörfler with silver whipping


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#12 Norway

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 16:57

Update. Having tried them all, I'm not getting a significant improvement over my current bow, so won't be getting one this time. The search goes on though as my current bow is too weak when playing loudly.


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#13 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 16:48

This is what I've ordered to try out.

 

1) Col Legno carbon standard bow £182

2) Hybrid carbon/pernambuco Delille £312

....

 

I've got those two. I didn't pay those prices, though. Did you shop around? Someone commented that you get more for your money with carbon. My teacher's view is that pound for pound carbon will always be the better bow, perhaps up to about £1,000. I began with the Col Legno Standard, which I loved. Then I got curious about hybrid advocates, so I bought the Delille, as I could see the prices were going to rise. To begin with I hated it, but I couldn't be bothered to return it - I didn't know if bows broke in, or if hair broke in; I was sure the two bows weren't rosined the same, so I just stuck with it. Now I think the Delille is slightly better, as the sound is more complex than the Col Legno's possible clinicality. But I don't suppose the Delille is worth the extra money.  It's very much diminishing returns. Try a Hidersine at £18.75 if you don't believe me! (One came with my Hidersine electric violin)

My teacher's two bows are a Hill antique and a Col Legno Standard for backup!

My playing has improved since I last used the Col legno, so I can't guarantee anything I've said, lol!

 

I hadn't read much of the thread:

Update. Having tried them all, I'm not getting a significant improvement over my current bow, so won't be getting one this time. The search goes on though as my current bow is too weak when playing loudly.

Yes, I paid £136 and £240 for the two bows respectively (at thestringzone), so I'm glad you sent them back.

 

When I get my next violin upgrade, I plan to buy a Coda Prodigy and a Col Legno Deluxe, but nothing more expensive than those, and then it will only be out of morbid curiosity (the same thing that landed me with the Delille!).


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#14 Flossie

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 17:36

You cannot compare the prices of cello bows against the prices of equivalent violin bows. The bows are not the same. As with strings, cello bows are more expensive than violin ones (and viola bows and strings are in between in terms of cost). The prices Norway has stated for the cello bows she tried are the same as the ones on the website you are recommending. I know that you were trying to be helpful, but your recommendation for Norway to get a violin bow is not good advice. Violin bows are not the same as cello bows and are not suitable for playing a cello - especially not for grade 5 and above, which is the level Norway stated.
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#15 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 17:44

I meant a Hidersine cello bow - I wasn't unaware what the thread was about - but you are right that I hadn't considered how much more expensive cello bows are than violin bows.


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