Best Violin Bow Review – Top Rated Models in 2020 with Buying Guide
If you’re looking for a good violin bow but don’t have the time to do any extensive research on the matter, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gone through scores of violin bow reviews and customer reports and made a list of the products that are most likely to make a good purchase based on the feedback they received. Right now, the Fiddlerman Fid-8826 seems to be the most popular violin bow, as many players find that the sound quality it offers is very close to what that of a more expensive top-end model. It seems that carbon fiber technology came a long way, and you can now buy a bow made of this material with the full confidence that it will be able to cover a full range of tone — including strong sounds that require some weight behind them — just as well as a Pernambuco piece. Another viable pick in this category will be the Glasser X-Series.
Our Top Choice
If you’re looking for quality materials and affordability, this model should be part of your list of options. The item comes with a flexible carbon fiber rod that promises to deliver speed and agility of play. What’s more, advanced players will be able to enjoy the smooth, full sound wooden models usually provide. The unit is also stylishly designed to add a classy touch to your performance.
Given the thinness of the hair, the product might not survive aggressive playing.
With a stylish design and a carbon fiber rod, this bow will help you shape your playing skills.
Designed to provide users with a bright and snappy sound, this carbon composite bow is ideal for both advanced players and students interested in exercising their agility and dexterity and playing fast-paced pieces. Moreover, the product boasts a stylish black body and an ebony frog that surrounds an “ivory” insert. Thus, it will add to your performance both sonically and visually.
The bow is about an inch too large for a 4/4 violin case as one buyer points out.
Beautifully designed, this bow sports quality materials that will help you practice and advance your skills.
Constructed for a full-size violin, this model comes with features that promise to ensure a perfect balance and a smooth play. Featuring natural Mongolian horse hair, a synthetic grip, and a carbon round stick, the bow is committed to keeping its shape unchanged when exposed to varying temperatures or humidity levels. It, thus, makes a great option if you intend to play outdoors.
The product weighs 2.4 ounces, which some buyers might find a bit heavy.
Ideal for use in various temperature settings, this bow should not go unchecked.
10 Best Violin Bows (Reviews) in 2020
Nowadays, it’s not mandatory to look towards the most expensive pieces bearing the signature of famous violin bow makers in order to find the best violin bow for your purpose. While browsing through reviews of violin bows, we’ve noticed that a lot of affordable products were met with a high degree of enthusiasm, even from expert players who are used to top of the range models. The more acclaimed of these are highlighted below.
- 1. Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow 4/4
- 2. Glasser X-Series Carbon Fiber X-Bow with Horsehair
- 3. Crescent A8035 Violin Bow VL-4/4-CF
- 4. Carbon Fiber Violin Bow 4/4
- 5. D Z Strad Model 301 Pernambuco Violin Bow 4/4 Full Size
- 6. Giuliani Carbon Fiber Clearance Violin Bow 4/4
- 7. Kmise A1316 1 Piece Ebony Frog 4/4
- 8. Fiddlerman Wood and Carbon Fiber Hybrid Violin Bow 4/4
- 9. Vingobow Carbon Fiber 106VB
- 10. Glasser Accordion Accessory 201H3/4
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently asked questions about violin bows
1. Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow 4/4
One of the best selling violin bows out there, the Fid-8826 is the perfect marriage between quality and affordability. While it might not outperform the finest Pernambuco models, it is widely considered to be the next best thing, especially if you don’t want to up your expenses factorially for a quality increase that might only get noticed by discerning ears.
The rod is, of course, carbon fiber, which is considered to be the best alternative to what the legendary French makers were using back when they had tropical trees to spare. People who’ve used it were particularly impressed with the agility and speed of play it allows for, as well as the bright tone, which can be considered a trademark of flexible carbon fiber bows.
Its range isn’t restricted to that, however, since with enough skill this can deliver the smooth, full sound you would expect from a wooden model, which certainly makes it a piece that can keep up to the skills of experienced violinists who choose Yamaha violins.
Built with quality, speed, and reliability in mind, this violin bow is worth taking into account if you want a product that will up your sonic game without breaking your budget.
The rod is carbon fiber, which means that you will get to enjoy flexibility, agility, speed, bright tones as well as superior balance and resonance.
The great thing about this specific item is that, if you are an experienced violinist, you can also enjoy the smooth, full sounds usually delivered by wooden models.
The unit was designed to ensure good bounce and action, which translates into a superior sonic output.
If you intend to employ it for outdoor gigs, rest assured that it won’t be affected by humidity and temperature fluctuations; therefore, it is ideal for traveling musicians.
Durability might be an issue according to a few buyers who say that the plastic might peel up if the item is used heavily.Buy from Amazon.com for ($66.64)
2. Glasser X-Series Carbon Fiber X-Bow with Horsehair
Like most other carbon composite bows out there, the Glasser X-Series will deliver a bright and snappy sound, perfect for playing fast-paced pieces. This quality is especially welcomed by students, who often need to exercise their agility and dexterity, but also more experienced violin players that would require something to balance their lazier Pernambuco with when practicing.
This doesn’t mean that the X-Series won’t hold its own in a string quartet, as within its favored ranges it sounds just as good as a $500 piece, at least according to the customers who have compared it with other items they own. People also liked the way it is balanced, with the only recurring complaints were made in reference to trivialities such as scratches on the non-vital parts.
If you’re willing to overlook these small flaws, the X-Series design is elegant enough for an orchestra, with a sleek black body and an ebony frog surrounding an “ivory” insert for which no elephants were harmed.
If you’re interested in playing fast-paced pieces and thus achieving bright and snappy sounds, this bow might be right up your alley.
Thanks to the carbon fiber used, the unit is a great choice for students who need to practice their dexterity and agility but also for advanced violin players interested in getting a good balance.
Buyers who have tried this model have appreciated it for sounding like a more expensive unit and for being well-balanced.
To make even long practice sessions comfortable, the unit is light; however, this does not make it less bouncy.
The product was not designed just to up your sonic performance but also to add elegant visuals to your gigs and, thus, comes with a sleek black body as well as an ebony frog surrounding an ivory-like insert.
The bow might be a better choice for fast-paced music as some users say and, thus, might not be ideal for the more melodic waltz and baroque pieces.Buy from Amazon.com for ($93)
3. Crescent A8035 Violin Bow VL-4/4-CF
If you’re looking for a carbon fiber bow to trust your little kid with or something expendable to play in bars without bothering the more discerning clientele, then this Crescent model could be your best pick for the price range.
Apparently, this plays just as well as a mid-ranged brazilwood bow with none of the impediments that come with it. Meaning it won’t change its shape when exposed to varying temperatures and it won’t start rotting if played in a humid environment for too long.
At 68 grams, it’s somewhat on the heavy side, which should complement the natural flexibility of carbon fiber when attempting to achieve “bigger,” fuller sounds by adding a little “depth” when the violinist would have otherwise been forced to apply pressure from the hand. And if you are a fan of electric violins you can improve the sound by using bass amplifiers like these ones.
It’s suspected that the very low price (in the fiberglass ranges) might be due to the fact that this series consists of factory rejects. Provided that the various kinks an item might have won’t affect its functionality, this should give you good performance for a fraction of the regular cost.
Designed primarily for beginners and amateurs, this violin bow comes with specs that will help you express your sonic personality with greater ease.
The item features carbon fiber that will provide you with flexibility and help you achieve fuller sounds as well as enhanced depth.
Thanks to the materials used, the product won’t be affected by temperature and humidity fluctuations; therefore, you can easily employ it outdoors.
The item comes with natural Mongolian horsehair and a design that promises to deliver good balance and keep up with extended use.
Buyers who have bought it have appreciated the great quality delivered since the unit is one of the most affordable alternatives in this range of products.
The bow might not be ideal for fast, upbeat sounding songs as it tends to be a little less “lively”, as one buyer points out in an online review.Buy from Amazon.com for ($29.99)
4. Carbon Fiber Violin Bow 4/4
At around 2.2 ounces, this Ace Music bow is very close to the average weight required by most violinists to play a wide range of sounds, at varying speeds and intensities. Customers also find it well balanced, for a good intermediary between big and small sounds. Like Cremona Violins (you can check them out here), it seems to be enjoyed by many violinists.
It seems that most manufacturers can get the carbon fiber rod “just right,” and this, of course, includes Ace Music. What was found to be less than ideal about this product is the rosin it comes with (basically the resin used to keep the horsehair in shape, probably misspelled some hundreds of years ago).
This doesn’t seem to stick on properly and it will only work well only in especially dry environments, so you might want to stock up on your own if you intend on purchasing this bow. The reasons for doing that are many: it can act as a good backup, practice piece or as a main bow for an intermediate or advanced student.
Committed to enabling violinists to play a wide range of sounds at different speeds and intensities, this unit is an option you might want to take into account before making your final decision.
The item has been appreciated for delivering good balance and for making a great choice as a practice piece or even as a main bow for intermediate or advanced students.
Due to the Mongolian horsehair, materials used, and design, the bow promises to help you achieve rich, vibrant notes.
The item comes with premium non-irritable violin bow rosin as well as a stylish design that will add cool visuals to your performance.
The carbon fiber used makes the unit lightweight yet robust and durable enough to keep up with extended use.
The rosin featured might not stick on properly and thus might work well only in dry environments.Click to see the price on Amazon!
5. D Z Strad Model 301 Pernambuco Violin Bow 4/4 Full Size
If you want a Pernambuco bow that won’t break the bank, then this should definitely be your pick. Although the level of overall craftsmanship might not be top notch, the sound quality delivered rises up to par, with full and warm low tunes truly worthy of the material is made of. Don’t forget to use tuners just to make sure that your violin isn’t out of tune.
It will be easy enough to hit all the right chords since this model is reported to be well balanced, which is especially welcome, since it’s significantly heavier than all the carbon fiber bows we’ve looked at.
The 3.2 ounces of weight will make it easier to play bigger sounds for slower, more melancholic pieces, and due to the wooden construction, this will come off noticeably lower than with a synthetic piece.
This makes it particularly good as a for those that aim to improve their lower range play, but it will also work well as something to accompany higher pitched violins with.
Built to deliver high precision and, thus, help you get the sonic outputs you’re after, this bow is worth paying attention to as it has received positive feedback from people who tried it thanks to the specs it comes with.
Due to the materials employed and its design, the bow will enable you to achieve full and warm low tunes with greater ease.
The product weighs 3.2 ounces, which contributes to the good balance it ensures and enables musicians to achieve bigger sounds usually required by slower, more melancholic pieces.
Given its features, the bow is a good choice for violin players interested in improving their lower range play but could also accompany higher pitched violins.
Some users have appreciated it for being a nice choice for music genres less often associated with violins such as rock and blues.
At least one buyer says the bow felt uncomfortable for slow and gentle music.Click to see the price on Amazon!
6. Giuliani Carbon Fiber Clearance Violin Bow 4/4
Special attention has been given to craftsmanship for the Antonio Giuliani series with a series of details bound to catch the eye. Genuine abalone has been used for decorating the frog, on a hard ebony support that should keep it lasting for decades on end.
Like with most other models, the mounting elements of the frog are made of copper for good corrosion resistance and nice looks. This bottom part is reported to offer a good counterweight to the rest of the rod, which handles well for both fast and slow pieces.
Woven carbon fiber was used in this item’s construction, which gives it superior tensile strength at no expense in weight. The lower section of the rod is covered in a silver winding, which besides looking good provides for a stronger “base” to absorb the tension of the string. This means you can tighten the screws quite a bit without worries of the bow snapping.
This model has been built to help you take your practice sessions and gigs one step closer to your sonic goals and do so with greater ease as well as to add nice visuals to your performance.
Thanks to the hard ebony support, you can rest assured that this item will keep up with extended use.
Durability is further enhanced by the copper mounting elements of the frog that provide good resistance to corrosion.
The woven carbon fiber used ensures superior tensile strength without affecting weight and the entire build of this bow makes it a great choice for both fast and slow pieces.
The silver winding that covers the lower section of the rod adds a stylish touch and absorbs the tension of the string.
At least one buyer says the rosin used might be a bit dusty and thus might cover the top of the violin in dust.Buy from Amazon.com for ($39.89)
7. Kmise A1316 1 Piece Ebony Frog 4/4
Affordable and unpretentious, this brazilwood model promises to work well as a beginner’s fiddle and might make a good gift for the young violin players in your family. The low cost might recommend it as a “baby’s first bow” for which it should perform acceptably well, as brazilwood models are capable of delivering a somewhat richer sound than fiberglass alternatives.
However, it should bear in mind that it won’t hold quite the same way to environmental factors, such as moisture or heat, and it might chip or rot away over time. This shouldn’t really be an issue, however, as the violin players this is intended to serve will probably switch to more advanced models after a couple of years of use.
A fickle child might often abandon violin altogether, which would make this a particularly attractive option since it doesn’t constitute a big monetary investment. Otherwise, it has all the functionality you’d expect from a bow, with the addition of being octogonal in section, which makes it less flexible than other units.
If you’ve just started your violin playing adventure and you’re on the lookout for a bow that is thus suitable for beginners, this model might serve your needs.
Given the brazilwood used for this unit, you can employ it to achieve richer sounds than when using a fiberglass alternative.
The unit is a great choice for young violin players as it was designed with the sensitive hands of little ones in mind; therefore, it is soft on fingers and can thus be employed for long practice sessions.
The product is decently priced, which makes it even a greater option for beginners who might want to upgrade to a more expensive bow once they advance their skills.
Despite being affordable, the unit is stylish and promises to last.
The tip of the bow might be a bit heavy and durability might be an issue, as one buyer mentions in an online review.Buy from Amazon.com for ($19.99)
8. Fiddlerman Wood and Carbon Fiber Hybrid Violin Bow 4/4
As the name suggests, the American manufacturer chose to experiment a little with this model, which contains both wood and carbon fiber in its structure. The most noticeable thing this unusual solution resulted in is a reduction in weight, at least compared to 100% wooden rods.
At only 2.08 ounces (or 58 grams) this bow should effectively dance upon the strings, with great speed and agility, allowing you to approach the fastest music pieces without feeling dragged down by the equipment.
Another noticeable thing would be its remarkably narrow girth, which combined with the pleasant color and texture of the wood gives it an elegant look, although the octagonal section will make it less flexible than you would expect judging by the diameter alone.
The overall level of craftsmanship employed seems to be high, with a natural abalone inlay used for the ebony frog and solid-looking steel screw and winding. While it can provide a fuller sound than a 100% carbon piece, it doesn’t borrow any of the downsides associated with wood and can safely be used in demanding environments.
Built to deliver speed and agility, this hybrid bow is worth considering if you often engage in fast music pieces and you want a bow that will keep up with such needs without affecting your comfort.
The unit features an innovative combination of wood and carbon fiber, which translates into a significantly reduced weight.
At 2.08 ounces, this item will make sure that you can up your sonic output and play for hours without getting tired hands.
The violin bow was not only designed to help you improve your performance but to add nice visuals to it as well and, thus, features an elegant body.
Given the materials employed, you can rest assured that the product won’t break anytime soon and will help you engage in lots of practice sessions and gigs before that happens.
At least one buyer says that the unit needed tension adjustment after just a few practice sessions.Click to see the price on Amazon!
9. Vingobow Carbon Fiber 106VB
Designed with advanced players in mind, this bow should not go unchecked as it comes with features that have gathered positive feedback from the players who tried it. Unlike other items in this category, this model comes with black Mongolian horsehair which provides greater resilience and is also easier to rosin.
The materials employed render this item ideal for both indoor and outdoor gigs as the product won’t be affected by moisture or heat. Plus, using it for frequent practice sessions and gigs will not damage it anytime soon as it promises to last thanks to the carbon fiber featured.
The bow also ensures flexibility and ease of use since it weighs only 11.2 ounces. The well-balanced item is carefully handmade and boasts a stylish design that will also enhance your performance from a visual point of view. Employing it properly will help you enjoy clear and warm tones.
If durability, stability, and a lightweight build are the things you have in mind when thinking of your next bow, this item is worth paying attention to as it ticks all such boxes.
Thanks to the carbon fiber used, the unit is not only stronger and more stable but also lighter, so you can engage in frequent practice sessions and gigs without your comfort being affected.
Ideal for advanced players interested in getting louder sounds, this unit can be employed both indoors and outdoors as heat or moisture won’t damage it.
Each bow is fully made by hand, which adds to its value, quality, and the great balance ensured.
The lightweight design promises to deliver ease of use and a comfortable playing experience.
According to one buyer, the hair used might not last for more than a year, otherwise, the unit delivers as promised.Buy from Amazon.com for ($49.85)
10. Glasser Accordion Accessory 201H3/4
This ¾ sized model from Glasser aims towards the upper ranges of quality for fiberglass violin bows. That won’t be much, some purists might comment, but let’s not forget that every violin player must start somewhere, and fiberglass bows make great pieces for early training.
It’s not just that they will hold up much better when the kids decide to play swords with them, but it is far easier to get the balance right with one of these things than with a wooden model in the same price range.
This is important because a beginner will have trouble enough applying the right amount of pressure on the right chords without an improperly balanced violin bow making the job more difficult.
As it seems to be the rule with newer composite models, this sounds a lot better than what you would expect, effectively covering the full range of sounds and tones that a beginner will be able to produce.
Ideal for musicians who have just embarked on their sonic journey, this violin bow comes with quality materials and thoughtful design that are committed to taking your performance one step further.
The fiberglass bow is thus worth adding to your gear if you’re a beginner or a young player as it will make it easier for you to enjoy the right balance when playing.
Thanks to being a well-balanced unit, you won’t find it difficult to apply the right amount of pressure on the chords of interest.
Since it was built with beginners in mind, the bow promises to cover many of the sounds and tones beginners usually produce.
Buyers have appreciated the bow for being sturdy and delivering great sounds and tones.
The unit might be a bit heavier than a wood bow, according to a buyer who tried it.Buy from Amazon.com for ($51.32)
Yearly Guide & Report
Often times, looking for a good violin bow for sale may prove to be a more challenging task than buying the violin, as it is widely considered that the bow plays the greatest part in how well the instrument will perform. The right hand, manipulating the bow, will be the one determining articulation, rhythm, timbre, dynamics, and tempo, with the violin hand only in service of hitting the right notes. The factors to have in mind when deciding upon a bow are to a large extent dependent upon your level of play, but there are a few hard rules to follow as well.
Pernambuco wood has been established to be the best material for violin bows and it was preferred by the great French makers of the 19th century like Tourte, Peccatte or Simon. The sound it produces has been described to be “as smooth as butter”.
Due to environmental constraints, Pernambuco has become substantially rarer, and most bows today are manufactured from generic brazilwood, which can refer to any of the essences harvested from the forests of South America.
A more modern alternative is carbon fiber, which can vary in quality to the same extent as brazilwood, with the added advantages of superior durability and a somewhat better value. Due to advances in technology, the best carbon fiber violin bows can sound pretty close to Pernambuco, and will make good choices for a money-strapped professional player.
Other composites, like fiberglass, don’t perform nearly as well but supplement this with a low price and good durability, which makes them ideal didactic tools. They won’t be the best violin bows for advanced students, but you can safely purchase these in bulk for a class of 9 year-olds so they are appropriate for kids.
Physical properties and sound quality
Weight is said to influence how well the bow can be used for either “bigger” sounds, where it is dragged across the strings for a continuous tune, and “smaller” sounds, which are produced by a series of fast strokes. Heavier bows work better for bigger sounds, while lighter ones make it easier to snap at the chords.
Balance is arguably a greater factor to consider, especially as most manufacturers tend to stick around the 60-gram value in regards to weight. Bows tend to be weighted more heavily towards the frog (the part it’s held by) to offer better balance, with the tip acting as a counterbalance when performing longer strokes.
A supple bow that can flex easily is considered to make the sound smoother and fuller, but it shouldn’t be too soft either. Otherwise, the tune might lack clarity and distinction. For sounds that are forceful and well focused, a stiff bow will be the tool to use. These also give a quicker response, which makes them better suited for approaching faster sections.
Most modern bows present a round section, but octogonal ones are starting to become more common. These are usually stiffer than their more traditional counterparts, but other than that, the differences are minimal.
Other factors to consider
When seen from above, the bow must be perfectly straight. Otherwise, you might run the risk of causing surplus vibrations on the strings. The stick can also lose shape due to factors like temperature and humidity, especially wooden ones, as synthetics are less prone to this problem.
Durability is something that the best cheap violin bow should excel at, as constraints regarding sound quality don’t factor as heavily in this case as they would with high-end models. The frog must be made out of a corrosion resistant material, usually ebony, and it shouldn’t allow for gaps with the other parts. It’s good for the rod to have a good memory, and promptly return to shape after being bent.
Another thing to check for is small bends and twists near the tip as this is a sure signal of inferior quality.
The strings themselves are almost universally made of horsehair and don’t represent an important point of distinction between different models. You should just check that they are tight enough and form a cohesive mass before deciding on the bow. Just like choosing a pick for your mandolin you need to pay attention to certain aspects of the manufacturing process as described in our latest article on this subject.
Finally, make sure that you buy a string that’s the appropriate size for your violin, measured in fractions of 4.
Deciding upon the price
The cost of violin bows can vary widely, depending on the materials used, overall quality, and not in the least, brand recognition. Among these, the material is the most obvious price driver, with pernambuco wood bows being generally more expensive than all other alternatives.
Although broadly speaking wood does offer some advantages over synthetics, the cost difference won’t always be justified in terms of quality, so if you are not particularly fond of the type of sound that a wooden bow can produce, then a carbon or glass fiber model might provide you with better value.
A second thing to consider is the player’s experience levels. There are two ways to look at this. First, someone who lacks experience won’t be able to use a high-quality bow to its full potential. Hence the added expense can be considered a monetary waste, especially if the student is not sure about pursuing this path.
On the other hand, a high level of trust in the equipment at hand might assure beginners that any mishap is on account of their own lack of skill, rather than the instrument, and convince them to make the necessary adjustments. All things considered, a mid-range, competent bow might mean the best of both worlds.
Frequently asked questions about violin bows
Q: Can a violin bow be used on a cello?
The short answer is no, even for a particularly heavy violin bow. The strings on a cello are significantly thicker than what you will find on a violin, so they will need more pressure to vibrate and produce a tone. The violin bow is just too nimble for that and might even get damaged if a sufficiently eager player tries to force it to work.
Q: Can you wash a violin bow?
All the solid parts of a violin bow can be cleaned using a whip soaked in a light solvent, such as denatured alcohol. If in a tight spot, you can use water provided you wipe it dry afterward. More corrosive materials should not be used. The hair is cleaned by gently rubbing across its length with a toothbrush dipped in denatured alcohol. (Note that it should be loosened from the stick beforehand.)
Q: Who invented the violin bow?
While string instruments trace back to ancient Egypt, the first bows were most likely used by the Indo-Iranian civilizations of the Middle East during the 7th century. The technical improvements that brought the modern bow into existence are the work of French bow maker Francois Tourte and this only dates to the beginning of the 18th-19th century. His bows had the same parts and were balanced in the same way as what we have today.
Q: What are violin bow strings made of?
Violin bow strings are most commonly made from the tail hair of horses that live in very cold climates, such as Mongolia, Siberia or Canada. This is because horses who grow in these regions tend to develop more ample tails with thicker strands. Between 150-200 of these are used by a bow maker and because the violin is a high pitched instrument, their color will be light.
Q: What size violin bow do I need?
A size that will correspond to that of your violin, which should, in turn, correspond to the size of your arms. This is generally expressed in fractions, as parts of 4. A full violin will measure around 23” (4/4) in length and will require a 29.5” (4/4) bow. This is recommended for a person older than 11, with an arm length of at least 23”.
Crossrock CRF3000SVGN Carbon Fiber Shaped Violin Case
This Presto is said to compare well with finer models in the $1000 range and isn’t prone to any of the usual misgivings that might be associated with affordable fiber carbon violin bows. It doesn’t “scratch” or “crunch,” while also softening up the sound to make it more comparable to what a wooden bow might deliver.
This makes it a reliable piece to use for chamber music, even for the more demanding baroque variety, especially since it is slightly stiffer than what you would expect from carbon fiber, which should give a greater degree of control over the tone.
It will be easy to take advantage of this thanks to the remarkably good balance this product is said to have. Combined with the lightweight, this should allow you to draw both long and short strokes with the same level of comfort and precision.
While you might want something more prestigious if you get invited to play with the Paris Philharmonic, the Presto should deliver well for an itinerant musician, since its tough enough to handle the rigors of bad weather and the road.