Violins are one of the most commonly learned musical instruments. Famous for their diminutive size but potent tonal character, violins are an age-old instrument that is commonly heard in classical music but also features in modern music. Having a high-quality bow is very important to perform all kinds of musical tasks to a high level, whether that be practice sessions, auditions or live performances. Violin bows are typically made of wood or carbon fiber for the stick, with horsehair used to apply pressure to the strings.
But what are the best violin bows currently available to purchase? This article aims to help you answer this question by outlining various factors you should consider before purchasing. Factors we consider important to when purchasing a violin bow include the size, weight, hair used and stick material. If you are new to the buying process, it is vitally important that you take your time to do online research and read customer reviews before purchasing as this will give you the best chance of purchasing a great value violin bow.
Top 6 Violin Bows Review 2020
Information used in this article has been taken from a mixture of manufacturer websites and online customer reviews. The article begins with a comparison table, followed by the in-depth product reviews which include key features, description and pros/cons section. The reviews are followed by a buying guide and FAQ section, outlining all the factors you should consider before purchasing a violin bow. The conclusion ranks our top three best violin bows.
Vio Music 709 – Editor’s Choice
- Size: 26.7’’
- Hair: Mongolian horsehair
- Stick: snakewood
- Weight: 2.2 oz
More features: old German Baroque style, controlled balance
The Vio Music 709 is a premium range violin bow that contains very classical features, making it one of the most sought-after violin bows. The bow is renowned for its flexibility as it can easily adapt different musical styles.
The stick of the Vio Music 709 is made from snakewood. Snakewood is a large bush tree with many branches and is commonly found in Western Australia. The wood is very dark and close-textured and has limited availability due to the scarcity of the tree. Snakewood is known for its beautiful appearance, which has seen used for many craft purposes such as the violin bow.
Similar to the vast majority of violin bows, the Vio Music 709 uses horsehair to apply pressure to the strings. The horsehair used is from Mongolian horses which are known for thickness and robustness. Having a strong hair compound improves the quality and versatility of sound produced, encouraging many to purchase the Vio Music 709.
The Vio Music 709 is an old German Baroque style violin bow and is best suited to baroque violin instruments. Weighing at 58 grams, players will find the bow very easy to manouver across the violin strings. The bow is also incredibly responsive and will feel quite different for those who are more familiar with modern bows. The Vio Music 709 is an excellent choice for those wanting to delve into the classical origins of violin playing.
- Authentic, classic look
- Responsive and flexible on the strings
- Rare wood type
- Premium price
- Plays very differently to modern bows
Presto Audition Violin Bow – Best for Auditions
- Size: 27.3’’
- Hair: not specified
- Stick: carbon fiber
- Weight: 2.4 oz
More features: handcrafted, nickel mounted, open weave bow cloth
The Presto Audition Violin Bow is known for being a reliable and sturdy bow that is easy for violinists to use. The bow is rated as one of the best violin bows for auditions because its well-crafted design does not put added pressure onto to players who need to perform to the highest level during auditions.
The Presto Audition Violin Bow is has become very popular among players and teachers because of its unique combination of sturdy modern materials with more traditional handicraft. The stick is constructed from carbon fiber which is both light and highly durable compared to many wood choices. Although having carbon fiber may remove an element of the traditional violin bow appearance, violinists are increasingly after a bow that will reliably perform.
The hair of the Presto Audition Violin Bow is presumably a type of horsehair but it is not specified in the product description. When used to play, the Presto Audition Violin Bow is very agile to handle and has great straight-arrow tracking. These features produce a strong tonal power which is instantly recognizable.
Besides the bow, the Presto Audition Violin Bow also comes with an open weave bow cloth to help maintain the bow. The stick is also nickel mounted, adding a strong metallic glow to the appearance of the bow. The Presto Audition Violin Bow is a mid-range priced violin bow and beginners will certainly find it an upgrade to the bows the come with the purchase of a violin.
- Strong and reliable performance
- Agile handling
- Full tonal power
- Horsehair type not specified
- Sometimes there is looseness in the frog/shaft junction
CodaBow Prodigy – Best Professional
- Size: 28.9’’
- Hair: horsehair
- Stick: carbon fiber
- Weight: 2.2 oz
- Warranty: 5-year limited
More features: graphite diamond weave finish, blended core, white mother-of-pearl slide on the frog, Moroccan leather grip, hand-cut, metal alloy tip plate
The CodaBow Prodigy is a top of the range premium violin bow that is known for being one of the best violin bows for professionals. Constructed with a diamond weave finish, this bow has remarkable attention to detail which is a huge draw for professional players who want to use the best-constructed violin bow.
The premium price of the CodaBow Prodigy comes from high-quality and rare materials used in the construction. The bow follows the traditional frog design spec made famous by Walter Paulus. This features rare Xebony engineered ebony, sterling silver winding and a white mother-of-pearl slide. The stick is mainly constructed from carbon fiber, giving the bow fantastic lightness but also supreme durability, ensuring long-lasting performance. The brown tint to the stick also gives the impression of a wooden stick, which adds a greater rustic authenticity to the bow.
Measuring at 28.9” long, the CodaBow Prodigy slightly longer than the standard length more commonly found in cheaper bows. The added length is best utilized by professional players who have superior playing ability. The grip of the bow is made from high-quality Moroccan leather which strengthens the players’ grip as well as making the playing experience more comfortable.
A great addition to the CodaBow Prodigy purchasing package is the limited five-year warranty which gives you great protection against any faults with the bow. Do make sure you read the terms and conditions so that you are aware of what is included in the warranty.
- Superior construction
- Use of rare woods such as ebony
- Highly durable
- High price
- Poor packaging
VingoBow 200BFB – Best for Home Practice
- Size: 28.5’’
- Hair: Mongolian horsehair
- Stick: carbon fiber
- Weight: 4.6 oz
- Warranty: 2 months
More features: controlled balance point, handmade, silver braided
The VingoBow 200BFB is a mid-range priced violin bow that is perfectly suited to violinists who want a solid bow for home practice. The bow is known for having a controlled balance point and its slick silver-plated design. In the design phase, there is considerable attention to detail to get the balance point of the bow correct. This focus on balance by the VingoBow 200BFB designers ensure the instrument is easy to play as well as being comfortable. Comfort is a concept that many violin bow designers neglect, that cannot be said for the VingoBow 200BFB.
One of the best-known design features of the VingoBow 200BFB is the use of black horsehair which comes from black Mongolian horses. Mongolian horsehair is famous for its high resilience level and them much easier to maintain. The advantage of black over white horsehair is that it is thicker, making the sound much louder and tonally wilder.
The carbon fiber stick is silver-braided to add a strong metallic glow as well as ensuring a great balance between elasticity and hardness. The bow length measures at 28.5” and weighs around 132 grams, making the VingoBow 200BFB very easy to play.
Although many purchases the VingoBow 200BFB for home violin use, the design spec is good enough to withstand the demands of concert performance. The combination of modern elements with conventional handicraft, ensure a strong and balanced tone reverberates from the instrument. The VingoBow 200BFB is a great all-round, mid-priced violin bow.
- Combines modern materials with traditional handicraft
- Affordable price
- Suited to home and concert play
- Short warranty agreement
- Cases where the bow has not been robust to withstand fast bow action
Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow – Budget Pick
- Size: 27.8’’
- Hair: Mongolian horsehair
- Stick: brazilwood
- Weight: 2.8 oz
- Warranty: 45-day money-back guarantee, 2-year full warranty
More features: leather grip, abalone bow slide, mother-of-pearl frog inlay, pre-rosined
The Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow is one of the highest-rated violin bows currently available to purchase online. Known for its bargain price, the bow has been the go-to option for violinists who want an upgrade on the poor standard bows that come with a violin purchase. This upgrade bow provides decent performance capability and is suited to less experienced violinists.
The stick of the Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow is made from brazilwood. Brazilwood is a dense orange-red wood that is endemic to the Atlantic Forest. It is the most commonly used violin bow wood because of its flexibility and due to its relative abundance, brazilwood violin bows are cheaper compared to rarer woods such as snakewood.
Purchasing the Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow is an investment solid engineering and intricate handicraft. Each bow is inspected by professional luthiers of Kennedy Violins before they are released for sale. This attention to detail has allowed the Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow to become the leading good-quality affordable violin bow in the marketplace.
The Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow pre-rosined which allows being ready to play the moment you receive it. This is perfect for beginners who may be initially unaware of how to prepare a bow for playing. One of the best advantages of purchasing the Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow is consumer protection. There is a two-year warranty agreement that accompanies purchase as well as a 45-day money-back guarantee if you do not like the product.
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Good quality design
- Bow hair is not fully threaded
- Limited durability
Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow – Best for Beginners
- Size: 29.5”
- Hair: Siberian horsehair
- Stick: carbon fiber
- Weight: 2.1 oz
More features: cowhide leather wrap, ebony frog, abalone inlay
The Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow is a popular seller among violinists who want a high-quality bow that is available for an affordable price. This bow is available at a low to medium range price, giving a great balance between affordability and quality. The bow is suited to intermediate players or beginners looking to increase their playing repertoire.
The stick of the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow is made from carbon fiber, hence the name! For traditionalists, carbon fiber sticks may seem a bit too modern and out-of-step with the authentic wooden bows that have been long-established. One of the key advantages of carbon fiber is durability. The material is much less likely to snap or be affected by water or dampness. The composition of carbon fiber follows a similar bendiness to wood, allowing players to feel at ease while playing the violin.
The hair of the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow is from Siberian horsehair. Horsehair used for violin bows comes from cold climates as the hair strands from these climates are thicker and stronger. You can’t get much colder than Siberia. This ensures the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow delivers a strong and perky tonal quality, which is what any violinist desires.
Small additions such as the copper mounted ebony frog and the leather handle, allow the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow to be very visually appealing in addition to being a great value performin violin bow.
- Robust carbon fiber construction
- Great additional design features
- Super strong horsehair
- Jagged edged tip
- Hair too tight making the sound scratchy
Having the best violin bow is important in producing the best violin sound. There are a lot of violin bows in the market and can be hard to find one that suits you and your needs. This is because there are different violin bows for beginners and professionals.
This guide will give you information to help you purchase the best violin bow.
The importance of a violin bow for your music
Violin bowing is really important for a correct and truthful passage of musical phrase in violin performance. The player’s right hand, arm and bow produces the tone’s rhythm, quality, articulation, dynamics and changes in the timbre at times. Therefore, a violin performance is greatly affected by the violin bowing techniques that the player chooses to use.
If the player wants to produce louder notes, he/she should increase the pressure on the strings which can be achieved by using the index finger of the right hand. The volume produced by the violin can be increased by a greater bow speed. Timbre is affected when the bow intersects the string.
The sound of money
There are a lot of varieties of violin bows. If you have the opportunity to try several bows, that would be good as you may find out that the cheaper one is good for you. Most people would recommend spending a quarter to half of the value of your violin on the bow.
This all depends on your playing level. If you are a beginner, buying an expensive bow is not important. You just need one that will help you in your violin development. The violin bows reviewed above range from $50 to $340.
Choose the perfect violin bow by the following features
The following features will help you in deciding the best violin bow that suits you:
There are different materials use to make violin bows, they include synthetic materials, carbon fiber, brazilwood and Pernambuco. They are explained below
These are either composites or fiberglass. They are durable but low in quality compared to Pernambuco and carbon fiber bows. Bows made out of synthetic are suitable for beginners and students.
This material has gained its popularity in the past decade in the making of violin bows. Bows made from carbon fiber are sturdier than bows made from wood and they react less to changes in humidity and temperature. Carbon fiber also has the advantage of not warping compared to organic materials.
This is a name given to the different types of wood from the tropical regions of Brazil. These woods are cheaper hence suitable for beginner and student bows. The Giuliani Brazilwood Violin Bow reviewed above is an example of a brazilwood violin bow.
This is the best wood to make a violin bow. It is strong and lightweight, hence the wide range of movements that are needed to play the violin. It is from the tree of Caesalpinia echinata in Brazil. Unfortunately, due to deforestation, this species is in danger but there are important efforts done to save it for the use of violin bows.
Different bows produce different sounds on their violins. A suppler violin bow will produce a fuller and smoother sound while a softer stick will produce a sound that lacks definition and clarity.
A stiffer and stronger bow will produce a more focused and brighter sound. However, an overly stiff violin bow can produce edgy and rough sound. It is difficult to find a violin bow that produces both smooth sound and clarity at the same time.
The length of a violin bow is affected by the size of the player. It is appropriate for a small child to have a shorter bow compared to an adult who is playing a bigger violin. The length of the bow also affects its stiffness.
A shorter bow is stiffer and is not capable of producing the different range of expressions that a more flexible bow would. However, it is more controllable to a younger and less experienced player.
Weight and balance
Each bow has a different balance and weight especially those made out of organic materials. Heavier bows make bigger sounds while lighter bows can make the bow strokes facile. The frog of a bow is generally heavier than its tip. However, they should still have some weight to enable the instrument to produce a bigger sound.
Make sure that the violin bow that you purchase is not warped because it will affect the balance negatively. You can know if the bow is warped by holding it in front of one eye and looking at the stick from the frog to the tip. Therefore, if the tip of the bow is twisted or bent, do not buy it.
There are two shapes of violin bows, namely octagonal and round. Traditionally, the round bow would be made by the French bow makers. Round bows have greater control because they are less stiff compared to octagonal bows. However, it all depends on the person playing the violin as some players like the stiffness that octagonal bows provide.
How flexible is it?
Flexibility is the ability of the bow to react when under tension. Tightening you bow should still have some bounce when you are using it. This will enable the player to attain the different types of articulation easily. The Vio Music 709 is known for being one of the most flexible bows currently available to purchase.
This is an easy factor for you to consider. The size of the bow that you purchase should correspond to the size of the violin that you will be using. Larger bows such as the VingoBow 200BFB are typically more suited to professional or experienced players.
Generally, violin bows made out of carbon fiber such as the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow last longer compared to those made out of wood. This is because wood is easily affected by humidity and temperature and can cause dampness to the bow. However, you can find a violin bow made of wood that is of high quality and durable but you will have to pay more as they are expensive.
Some violin bows such as the CodaBow Prodigy reviewed above have up to 5 years warranty while others have a two-year warranty with 45 days of the money-back guarantee. This means that you can return the violin bow if you do not like it even if it is not broken.
However, some bows do not have a specific warranty period but it is always advisable to check with the manufacturer what security they have for your money before purchasing a violin bow. Many forget to read the terms and conditions of the warranty, make sure you do this so that you are aware of what aspects are covered.
How to tighten a violin bow
Before playing your violin, you need to tighten the bow first. With your left hand, take the frog and then turn the screw clockwise using your right hand. Tightening the hair will make the bow stick straighter because the bow wood is made with a natural curve.
You mustn’t tighten your violin bow too much. Tighten it to a point where the hair is close to the stick and a pencil can barely fit in between them. When you have finished playing the violin, make sure to loosen the hair by turning the screw in an anti-clockwise way. If you do not loosen the hair, the bow stick can easily warp.
The following are the most frequently asked questions by customers of violin bows:
Yes. A violin bow that professional use is different from that of a beginner. For a beginner, a violin bow that is easy to use and understand is necessary. Beginner violin bows are also cheaper. When you advance to a more experienced player, you can purchase a violin bow for professionals which is more complex.
Follow the following tips to be able to a violin tip well:
- Ensure that your hands are relaxed and then turn your wrist to the left side and let your fingers to easily drop into place.
- Your thumb should be bent and the tip should touch the contact point of the frog.
The fingers can now gently curve over the top of the violin bow stick. Make sure that the middle finger is opposite the thumb.
Yes, there are used violin bows available online that you can purchase and use it for practice. They are cheaper compared to new ones. However, the hair may not be in good condition which means that you would not use it to perform on stage. It is just recommended for practicing at home and when you are experienced enough you can purchase a new violin bow.
Hopefully, this article has given you all the essential information that you need to know to help you in the process of purchasing the best violin bow to suit your playing needs.
Our verdict on the top three best violin bows is:
The Vio Music 709 finishes top of our ranking to its classic and authentic look in addition to being very responsive on the strings.
The Presto Audition Violin Bow comes second in the rankings due to its agile handling and full tonal power.
The CodaBow Prodigy comes third in the rankings because the superior construction quality as well as using rare woods to give high authenticity.
Do take time to do as much research as possible before committing to purchasing the best violin bow to suit your needs, it will give you the best chance of purchasing a great value product.