Oh, my. I’ve been away from you for way too long. I’ve been playing so much music over the past two months, and it has been such a joy. Even so, I long ago promised suggestions for buying a carbon fiber bow, and here are a few remarks. While there are several good brands of carbon fiber bows available, we usually recommend Glasser products because we know Andrew Glasser. He produces his bows in the USA, and he always stands behind his products.
The least expensive of the Glasser bows is the fiberglass bow that is so often associated with school orchestras. Many years ago, when I first started teaching, I would cringe if a student showed up with a fiberglass bow. Now I’d rather have the student use a Glasser fiberglass bow than a cheap wood one. The fiberglass bow can always be rehaired, and it won’t warp in two months.
We are really pleased with a bow that Glasser makes for the school market and sells through Howard Core Company. These are the Core Academy bows. They are a great, serviceable bow; the violin bow sells for under $100.00. If you get on the Glasser website (glasserbows.com), you’ll see the full range of Glasser offerings. For what it’s worth, I have the high-end violin bow (not the gold-mounted one!) as my good violin bow. It’s braided carbon fiber with a lovely, snakewood frog. (Remember that Madagascar ebony is now extinct in the wild.) I’m careful with it, but have no compunctions about playing an outdoor gig with this bow.
The adage “You get what you pay for.” applies in buying a carbon fiber bow as it does in most other aspects of life. There are some truly awful cheap synthetic bows out there that can’t be repaired any more than can a cheap wood bow that has the hair glued in. On the other hand, we have customers with, for instance, Coda bows that are very nice bows. The old K. Holtz bows that we find ubiquitous in school orchestra programs were a real work horse, but I don’t believe they are made any more.
No matter what the bow, always look for real hair. There are some players who are now actually espousing synthetic hair, and that product may get better over time as have synthetic stick products. That said, at least real bow hair is sustainable, and we only use real hair in the Con Brio shop.
You should also have the balance checked no matter what bow you are using. The balance point on even a very good bow can be off. This is easy to fix, and makes a huge difference in the playability of the bow. More on that in another post.