It doesn’t take long for even an absolute violin newbie student to realize that the best violin bows are just as important as the violin themselves. A violin isn’t like a guitar, which you can play without a pick. Playing a violin without a bow is simply not something you do on a regular basis. You need that bow.
With the right bow, you’re able to squeeze the best sound from your violin. It doesn’t make any lick of sense to spend a lot of money on a bow that’s supposed to sound great, only to sabotage your efforts by handicapping themselves with a substandard violin bow. With the right bow, you can make your violin sing.
Of course, to do that you better improve your violin-playing skills first. But the right bow can help with that as well. You then have a better chance of doing those fast runs right, and you’ll be able to learn the various bowing techniques more quickly. You’re then able to get the sounds you’re aiming for more consistently.
Finding the Best Violin Bows on Your Own
The best way to do this, in fact, is to not do this on your own. Instead, you should take advantage of the expertise of the violin experts you trust. So, ask for the opinions of your violin teachers and more experienced violinists you know regarding the best violin bows they prefer.
Of course, a lot depends on you and your bow. Your current skill level will greatly affect your choice, since a beginner bow is very different from a bow designed for a professional.
Also, it depends on the violin you’re playing. Two equally good violin bows may sound very different when used on your particular violin.
That’s why it’s best if you can try out a violin bow first. You can then hear the sound for yourself, to make sure if you like the sounds you’re able to make. Also, you can find out if you like how the bow works with you so you’re able to do fast runs and jumping bowing techniques.
Try the bows you find in stores, and see if you can borrow the bows used by your violinist friends. If you find something you like, you can then buy them online instead of from a regular music store. You will find that the online price is generally much lower, since there’s no need to factor in the overhead costs.
Pernambuco vs Carbon Fiber
Pernambuco is widely regarded as the best brazilwood for violin bows. Unfortunately, these have become rare and expensive. That’s why our list features carbon fiber bows along with bows using alternative brazilwoods.
So which one is better: brazilwood or carbon fiber? Some (including lots of violin teachers) insist that their students stick to brazilwood violin bows at first. But carbon fibers are more durable, as they’re not affected by the humidity and temperature. The choice is up to you!
The Top Reviews for the Best Violin Bows
With so many violin bows to choose from, we compiled a list of the best violin bows you can use. They’re for a wide range of playing skills and budgets, but they all offer good value for your money.
Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow 4/4
We went with the 4/4 full-sized version of this Fiddlerman violin bow, though other sizes are available down to the ¼ size. This bow isn’t exactly expensive, but it would be a mistake to assume that you’d get cheap quality in return for your money. In this case, you certainly get much than what you pay for.
This is handmade using carbon fiber, and it offers great balance and nice distribution for its weight of 60 grams. It features good quality Mongolian horsehair, with a decorated, copper-mounted ebony frog. It looks quite sharp and impressive.
An experienced violinist won’t be impressed by just the looks of a violin bow, though. But the performance of this bow can wow even a professional who’s been playing for several decades. It’s much better than any student-level violin bow that you’re likely to get for an equal amount of money.
True, this bow won’t exactly match the performance of a topnotch Pernambuco bow. But it’s only slightly less good, yet the price of this Fiddlerman bow is only a small fraction of the price of the premium-grade Pernambuco bow.
If you compare this to an intermediate-level Pernambuco bow from a reputable brand, you might expect that Pernambuco brand to do better. But that’s not really the case. You get better handling and less bow hiss with this carbon fiber bow.
In fact, lots of experienced professionals like this bow for their second violin bow. Professionals use this to practice their skills, and to their delight they find that after using this bow for several practice sessions, they’re able to handle their fine Pernambuco bow even better.
As a bonus, this bow also holds rosin a bit longer. It produces less dust, and it doesn’t need frequent rosin applications.
Perhaps the only drawback to the bow is that the packaging can be rather hit or miss. Some people find broken hairs upon delivery, though you can always just clip those broken hairs close to their ends. The good news is that after delivery, you don’t really have to worry about losing more horsehair.
- Handles very well
- Less bow hiss issues
- Great for practice sessions
- Terrific value for money
- Holds rosin for a long time
- Not as good as an expensive Pernambuco bow
- Broken hairs upon arrival
ViolinSmart Brazilwood Violin Bow Size 4/4
This is a rather inexpensive bow, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular. Plenty of students buy this as their backup bow, once they’ve bought their beginner violins that usually comes with its own bow.
Another reason for the popularity of this ViolinSmart bow is that it’s actually much better than you’d expect from its price. The packaging wasn’t impressive when it arrived, so we weren’t expecting too much. The battered box it came in didn’t exactly lead us to hope for the best.
Somehow, the bow managed to survive the delivery process without damage, and in this condition, this bow plays quite well. The weight is nice and light, and you can’t complain about the balance. It’s also made with brazilwood and horsehair.
True, the sound seems thinner and quieter compared to other bows. But for lots of beginners, this is actually a good thing. Plenty of student violinists say they like the sound, and you probably will like it as well.
- Extremely inexpensive
- Works best as a backup violin bow
- Quieter sound
- Inadequate packaging
- Not really meant for concert hall performances
Crescent Well Balanced Carbon Fiber Violin Bow 4/4
We’re back to a carbon fiber violin bow, with natural Mongolian horsehair. The ebony frog comes with an abalone shell inlay for the frog slide. There’s no plastic here, but just genuine abalone and genuine ebony.
Using this seems like you’re using a standard brazilwood bow with a middle-of-the-road quality. It’s much better than most of the student violin bows you will find. It’s great for slow music, but it’s not really lively enough for upbeat music.
The carbon fiber material also doesn’t react too much to the temperature, and the tension you set on this bow stays consistent. This is great to use when you’re playing in places where the heat (or just the temperature in general) may be an issue with your violin bow.
The price here is also on the low side, but it’s so good that it’s an absolute bargain. It’s basically a steal, though, because it performs about the same as a carbon fiber bow that costs twice as much. At this price point, you can get a quick backup bow in case you have sudden issues with your main bow. It’s great for playing in bars, since if it’s damaged then you won’t really shed too many tears due to the low cost.
- Very affordable
- Carbon fiber is great for temperature issues
- Plays much better than you’d expect
- Very durable
- Fine for dreamy music
- Not quite as lightweight as a fine Pernambuco bow
- Not very lively
Vizcaya Hardwood Home & Studio Wall Mount Violin Hanger with Bow Holder (VLH30)
This holds both your violin and your violin bow. It comes with all the necessary hardware you need to mount this on your wall. You get the mounting screws and the drywall anchors required, so you can assemble and install this without too much fuss.
You can use this for violins as small as ¼ size, and even for violas measuring 13 to 17 inches. Sometimes you just want to show off your violin on your wall, and with this setup you can play the violin with the bow at any time. The bow holder is adjustable as well.
The wall mounts are sturdy and secure, and they’re convenient as well. If you have a Phillips screwdriver and a hammer at home, you won’t have any trouble putting this up by yourself.
Your best bet, though, is to hang this over a table underneath it. That way, it’s less likely that people will bump on your violin and bow as they move around your place. It’s a great setup when you’re taking a short break for violin practice, instead of just putting the violin and bow anywhere else.
- Easy to assemble and mount
- Works with violins and even violas
- Holds the bow as well
- The presence of the bow encourages spurt-of-the-moment practice sessions
- The storage case may be more secure over the long haul
- You still need to assemble it yourself
D Z Strad Violin Bow - Model 300- Brazilwood Bow (4/4-Full Size)
The D Z Strad brand name is among the most famous in the violin industry, so it’s not surprising that the brand is also on this list. This features the standard 8-sided stick, and it’s made with carefully chosen, dense Pernambuco brazilwood with full silver lining. The ebony frog also has the fleur-de-lis inlay and abalone slide.
You have wrapped leather over silver lapping for the thumb grip, with the unique 8-eye design with abalone button for the turning screw. This also has the genuine white, premium-grade (AAA), and unbleached Mongolian horsehair.
The price isn’t really cheap, but it’s quite reasonable nonetheless. It weighs a nice 61 grams, with great balance and quick response.
- Uses premium-grade materials
- Nice weight balance
- Fast response
- Not really cheap
YR-Seasons 4/4 Full Size Violin Bow Black Handle Pure Handmade Well Balanced Arbor White Horse
We opted for the 4/4 full-sized version for this, which means it’s 29.13 inches long. This is a wood bow, which many teachers recommend for students instead of carbon fiber. But since Pernambuco wood is rather rare and expensive these days, this violin bows uses natural arbor wood instead. It also features high-grade Mongolian white horsehair, along with copper.
The bow is also made by hand, and with these materials the bow is quite stable and sturdy. The level of the stiffness is quite good, offering fast response and nice control. Students will like how it’s soft on the fingers, while the sound is bright and lively.
As it’s not Pernambuco, it’s certainly not for professionals. But it works as a violin bow for students, and also as your backup to your main violin bow. The bow is actually basic, but the most important thing about it is that it works as it ought to. You can rely on this at a moment’s notice.
- Wood bow
- Sturdy and stable
- Soft on the fingers
- Bright sound
- It’s not made with Pernambuco (or even carbon fiber)
- It’s best for students or as a backup bow in your storage case
GLASSER Violin Bow (201H-44)
We also went with the full-sized 4/4 version, and this time it comes in at 29.5 inches long. It’s made with fiberglass and also uses natural horsehair.
This is also inexpensive, but its quality is way above that of the wood bows in this price range. The fiberglass material is quite durable. It won’t break, warp, contract, or expand as easily as any wood bow. It’s not really affected by factors such as the temperature and the humidity.
This is designed for beginners and other students, so don’t expect pro quality. Yet it’s very comfortable to play, which is a relief for a lot of newbies trying to master violin playing techniques. The sound is also much better than you’d expect in this price range.
- Reasonably priced
- Very durable
- Won’t be affected much by humidity or temperature
- Comfortable to play
- Sounds good for the price
- Not for pro-level violinists
Vio Music#709 Old German Baroque Style Beautiful Snakewood 4/4 Violin Bow
Normally, the violin bow tends to weigh in within a range of 59 to 61 grams. But some people prefer a somewhat lighter bow, which leads us to this Vio Music#709 Master model violin bow. It weighs only 58 grams, and it’s perfectly balanced.
This doesn’t use Pernambuco, but instead it uses gorgeous snakewood instead. Unlike Pernambuco, it’s an exotic wood that’s not among the threatened species. So, you can use it without feeling guilty.
Besides, the wood is quite gorgeous. The muted brown color comes with tight patterns of patches, which make it look something like snakeskin. With the Master Old German Baroque style, this bow won’t embarrass you with its looks.
Snakewood is also quite dense, which is why it’s perfect for musical instruments. It’s very firm, and you can get quite a powerful tone out of this. It also combines with AAAA-level Mongolian horsehair to really give you that performance you want.
If you’re a fan of Baroque music, it makes perfect sense to get this bow. Even those with decades of playing performance say that it produces outstanding sound. But students will also appreciate this as well, along with more advanced players who practice constantly. With this, you can move through the notes with greater control and without lag at all.
It’s beautiful, and its performance can sure match or even exceed that of modern bows. Try playing pieces by Pachelbel, Bach, and Vivaldi in the baroque manner with this bow, and surprise yourself with the terrific music you’re able to produce.
Just be ready for the different feel of the bow, as it doesn’t feel much like modern bows. But you can get used to it quickly.
- Gorgeous bow
- Great balance
- Low weight
- Great tone
- Not made with Pernambuco
- Feels different from modern bows
CodaBow Diamond GX Carbon Fiber 4/4 Violin Bow
The CodaBow brand is known to combine traditional manufacturing methods with cutting-edge technology. They’ve patterned their bows from the best bows in musical history, and they’ve carefully studied the bows of masters such as Tubbs, Peccate, and Tourte.
This is made of carbon fiber, and the “Diamond” in the model name indicates that the brand expects this bow to pretty much last a lifetime. It’s made by hand in the US, and each bow is even individually numbered. This GX is the best in the Diamond collection, which is why its price is almost at the 4-digit level.
This is a bow for professionals, and plenty of soloists will certainly appreciate having this bow in their collection. It features a Kevlar acoustic core, along with a traditional frog made by the specialist Walter Paulus, using polished premium ebony. This gives you the traditional balance and weight you can depend on.
The bow is quite expressive, as it is sensitive to the subtlest hand movements. It allows you to try out a wide range of playing techniques. With this, you won’t have trouble with quick articulated strokes. While the tone blends in nicely in ensembles, it offers terrific projection for soloists.
- Great for pro-grade violinists
- Terrific for concert hall performances
- Allows for lots of different playing techniques
- Lets you play quick strokes without too much effort
- Not affected by humidity and temperature
- A bit heavy at 62 grams
HAOYUE Violin Bow - Violin Bow 4/4 Full Size - Carbon Fiber Violin Bow
Now we’re back to more reasonably priced bows within the 2-digit range, which is suitable for most students. This one doesn’t seem cheap at all, starting with the premium carbon fiber used to make this. The weight is in the midrange, weighing in somewhere between 60 to 62 grams.
This works very well with just about any violin, and it uses unbleached Mongolian horsehair. This comes with the ebony frog decorated with abalone shell inlay. This features a grip made from genuine leather, and mounted with elegant nickel silver winding.
- Comes with its own casing
- Feels lighter than it really is
- Easy to use
- Great sound
- Quite durable
- Beautiful patterns with subtle coloring
- Only works as backup bow for true professionals
The best violins aren’t all that great if you don’t find a violin bow that also matches your violin. That’s just a fact. Unfortunately, sometimes you get substandard freebie bows with your violin, and that just won’t do especially as you get better.
It’s crucial that you match your violin bow with your actual playing skills, so you don’t waste your money. An inexpensive bow may be the best bow for a beginner, though on our list we made sure that these bows don’t come with cheap quality as well.
But if you’re a pro, then the best violin bows will cost you a lot more. Still, these are great investments since you have the skill to get the best use out of these bows. Bows like the CodaBow GX Diamond may seem too expensive for newbies, but you’ll love them if you’re constantly playing in concert halls.
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