A bow is arguably the most important tool for producing a beautiful sound on the violin.
Whereas many professionals will often have multiple violins that they use, most will have just one bow, or a definite favourite bow that they use most often.
The violin is a fantastic instrument. It has the ability to create haunting music and is a wonderful instrument to learn if you want to improve your overall hand dexterity and ability to remember complex musical scales. The violins were created in the 16th century and they have come such a long way since they were created. The first violin bowstrings were made of gut and other natural materials that were tanned and treated to prevent them from deteriorating.
Some people even say that playing the violin is 90% bow (or right hand) and only 10% violin (or left hand). This is because many elements of playing like articulation, dynamics, rhythm, timbre, and tempo are controlled by the bow hand—and by extension—the bow itself!
That said, as a beginner, you should not get too hung up on bows before you know how to use them! The best violin bow in this case will be one that can help you get to the next level of playing.
This article has two parts. The first part contains six variables you should consider when buying a bow. The second part is a list of several of the top beginner violin bows for you to consider before you make a purchase.
1. Yamaha CBB-101 Standard Carbon Fiber Violin Bow
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This carbon fiber bow is a standard carbon fiber body and is made by one of the most trusted brands in musical instruments and accessories.
Since this bow is made of carbon fiber, it is going to be more durable, it is less likely to warp, it is hard to break and it is not going to be greatly affected by changes in temperature or humidity which is great for beginners that might not understand the nuances of a wooden bow.
It is responsive as well and is less expensive than those hand made wooden bows that are also on the market.
It also has a natural feel, you can switch between it and a normal bow, and it can withstand aggressive playing so it is great for any skill level, bust especially those that are just beginning to play.
2. NS Design Violin Composite Bow with Ebony Frog
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This bow has a futuristic design that does feature an ebony frog and that does have a modern shape and overall design.
It is made of composite and other materials and boasts the ability to transfer the vibrations to the fingertips so that you feel like you are one with your instrument.
It is pretty and easy to use and does have the durability that a beginning violinist needs in a bow. It is sleek and easy to use and does feature a traditional style with a modern construction to help update the bow type that has been so popular for centuries.
The ebony frog has a pearl inlay to help make it even more attractive and this bow is also resistant to temperature and humidity changes so it will work well with beginners that might not pay attention to the atmospheric changes.
3. Kmise Violin Bow Stunning Fiddle Bow Carbon Fiber for Violins (4/4 black)
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This bow is affordable and would be a great bow for beginners in that you are not going to have to pay a fortune for this composite bow.
It is made of both composite materials and carbon fiber and is designed to offer superior vibration transfer so that you can feel and improve your overall technique. It has superior balance and quick responsiveness to deliver a clear sound.
This is the perfect bow for beginners that want a high-quality bow but that might not want to splurge on more expensive options.
Again, this bow does not respond to humidity and temperature so it suits players from all climates and you can use it no matter where you are at the time without worrying about the temperature or the humidity changing the sound or feel.
4. ADM 4/4 Full Size Student Violin Bow
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This is a bow that is well balanced and that is handcrafted out of brazilwood with real horsehair strings. It also has an ebony frog and a pearl slide so it is visually stunning.
This bow is meant for a full-size violin and is made with real white Mongolian horsehair that is unbleached. The winding is nickel and silver-mounted and does have a synthetic leather thumb grip.
The fittings are quality so it is not going to tear up or fall apart as soon as you get it and it is well balanced to make it very responsive and resilient.
This bow is made by skillful craftsmen and would be perfect for expert professionals or those beginners that just want a very high-quality and beautiful bow to play with. This is a gorgeous and useful bow all around.
5. Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow ¾
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This bow is a ¾ bow that is hand-made from carbon fiber and that does feature high-quality Mongolian horsehair.
This is a gorgeous high-quality carbon fiber bow that is going to suit players of all skill levels and of all preferences as well.
The horsehair plays beautifully across the violin strings and is an outstanding bow all around. This is a bow that does have a nice arch and good bounce action so it is going to play all sorts of music well and is going to offer you the flexibility and movement that you need.
It has a fantastic balance and weight distribution that makes it easy to hold and use and it also comes with a copper mounted ebony frog that is pretty and fun and that gives the bow a gorgeous overall look paired with the horsehair.
6. Anton Breton AB-100 Student Violin Bow 1/10 size
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This is an exceptional bow for students as it is smaller and is going to fit their hands better. This is a round, hardwood bow stick that has great balance and that makes learning easy.
It has a traditional design in the nonslip wrap that is going to be easy on the hand like shoulder rest are for the body. This bow has a half-mounted rosewood frog that has nickel and silver buttons to make it pretty and practical.
This bow has unbleached horsehair that is going to be durable and long-lasting as well as beautiful. The hairs are untreated so they are going to adhere to the rosin well also.
This is a great small bow that is going to work for students and make learning the violin more fun and easier overall. This student bow is a great choice overall.
7. PAITITI 4/4 Full Size Violin Bow
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This full-size bow is a round stick bow that is made of brazilwood and that also features Mongolian horsehair.
The round stick of this bow is hand carved for superior quality and it is also very lightweight so even smaller players can easily handle it. It is coated in a high gloss finish for added beauty and durability and it is very strong and durable overall.
This is a straight bow that is also balanced to offer a clear and bright sound and is going to be soft on the fingers. This bow is great for beginners in that it has a bit of everything and it is easy to use and easy to learn with.
Though it is meant for beginners, this would be a great backup bow for even the most experienced players or experienced violinist.
8. HAOYUE Violin Bow 4/4 Full Size
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This is another carbon fiber bow that is handmade and that uses black horsehair rather than white.
The carbon fiber stick is carefully crafted and only the finest carbon fiber makes it into these bows. It is very durable which is great for beginners that are going to be using it very often.
It is also expertly balanced with equal weight throughout and it boasts the gold weight, 60-62. The frog is also hand crafted from ebony and is mounted with nickel and silver and has a gorgeous shell inlay.
This is a bow that can be played with all violins, even electric violins making it an exceptional all-around bow that is going to work for so many different players no matter what instrument they are playing.
This is a gorgeous bow that is going to be durable and versatile and easy to use.
9. Richard Wilson Marais Snakewood Baroque Style Bow
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This bow is a bit unique in terms of those that we have already discussed. This bow is dark in color from the snakewood and it does have the baroque style overall with very rounded edges and details.
This bow features genuine white horsehair that is grade AAA and does have a traditional polished wood frog.
This bow is well balanced to help make it easy to use for everyone, even those players that might not have a ton of experience. It is a bit stiffer than some other bows and that does change the sound but it is still workable for younger players.
This is a gorgeous bow that is going to be fun and easy to use and that would also make a stunning display piece if you bought it as an extra bow for display purposes only.
10. HAOYUE Violin Bow Full Size
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This is a Pernambuco violin bow that is better suited for intermediate users but that could still work for some beginners.
This bow is rounded and has been made from Pernambuco to make it more durable. This bow does have a golden weight of 60-62 grams and is well balanced from tip to frog making it easy to use and easy to play with.
The frog is ebony lined and does have nickel and silver winding. This bow also has a genuine leather grip to make it easy to hold and easy on the hands.
This bow is great for all violins and can be matched with any full-size violin. This is a gorgeous bow that is going to help you make beautiful music and that is going to be fun and easy to play with. This bow would also look great on a mantle.
11. Glasser 201H-4/4 Fiberglass Violin Bow
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This bow is fiberglass and is going to be super durable and stand up well to saw like playing and to very aggressive playing as well.
This is not going to warp, and it is not going to break and it is going to keep its shape and overall structure. It is a round stick bow that has a leatherette grip and a satin black finish so that it looks as good as it sounds.
This bow has a half-lined frog, metal under-slide, and an imitation three-part button. This bow also has unbleached horsehair for added durability and rosin retention.
This is a great bow if you do have a first-time player that might be ab it more aggressive or that is going to be a bit harder on their bow than other players that are more nuanced and delicate.
12. D Z Strad Violin Bow
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This is a gorgeous bow that is truly going to stand out no matter where you use it. This bow is a Pernambuco bow and it has a stunning abalone frog that pairs beautifully with the dark wood.
This has a fully silver lined stick and each bow is inspected before it ever leaves the factory to ensure that it is top quality.
This is an octagonal bow that is going to be great for projection and response. Octagonal bows are unique and easy to use and are an outstanding bow for all players.
This bow comes with unbleached white horsehair and is a great bow for beginners and more experienced players as well. If you like a bow that is not only functional, but that is also stunning and beautiful, this is certainly the bow for you no matter what you like.
13. The Piano Guys Carbon Fiber Bow
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We have all heard of the Piano Guys and their outstanding talent and this bow is just fantastic. This is a full-size carbon fiber bow that has an inlaid ebony frog.
This bow has a matte black finish and is a high-quality bow that is going to last you for years to come. It has a black nickel winding and a custom ebony frog that has a simulated pearl signature.
These bows offer a reliable and clear sound that is going to be suited for performances of any type and style making them a gorgeous bow option for players of all types.
This bow is well balanced to make it easy to use and it does offer great responsiveness. These bows are water and humidity resistant making it easy to use no matter where you are playing or what condition.
14. Hailo Axiom 4/4 Violin Bow in Red
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This is a full-size octagonal bow that is made of high quality brazilwood and is suited for players of all skill level. This bow is lightweight and fully balanced so that you have full control of your violin and your overall movements.
This bow is durable and pretty and is a great option if you are looking for a bow that is going to be versatile. It also comes with a violin mute that can easily and quickly change the overall sound of the violin.
This is a full-size violin bow so it works best with full-size violins. If you are looking for a great bow that is going to work well and fit with any style and any skill level overall.
This is a great standard bow that will work with any violin and any skill level that you may have or maybe working with.
15. The Piano Guys Carbon Fiber Violin Bow with Horsehair
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This is another outstanding bow that you might want to consider if you are looking for a great bow for all experience levels.
This is the Luke version of the bow and it does come with a composite blend stick that is going to be durable, flexible, and that is also going to offer you premium style and overall sound.
This bow has a silver-plated winding and an ebony frog with a deep green inlaid signature. This is a bow that is guaranteed for life.
This bow produces a reliable and clear tone that will work with any style and any sort of music as well. It is water-resistant and humidity resistant so you can play anywhere and it does have a lizard grip and green horsehair for a super unique overall look.
Buying a Bow
There are a few important things you should consider before buying a bow:
As with many things in life, a more expensive bow may not be better.
Since there are so many variables in a violin set up, if you have the opportunity make sure to try out several bows. You may find that a less expensive bow is a better fit for you.
Also, you may find that many people will suggest that you should spend a quarter to a half of your violin’s value on a bow.
Of course, this all depends on the level of your playing. If you are a beginner, it is not so important to have a very valuable bow; you will only need something that will support your development.
There are four main materials that are used for the stick of violin bows. These are brazilwood, pernambuco, carbon fibre, and synthetic materials.
Brazilwood is actually a name for several types of wood from tropical areas in Brazil. These types of wood are generally inexpensive and thus are used for student bows.
Pernambuco is the best wood for violin bows. It is both lightweight and strong, allowing for the wide rang of motions necessary to play the violin. It is from the Caesalpinia echinata tree in Brazil.
Unfortunately this spices is in danger due to extreme deforestation. Thankfully, there are several important efforts underway to save this tree for specialised use in violin family bows.
Carbon fibre is a material that has gained popularity in the past decade for use in violin family bows. These bows are typically sturdier than wood bows, and react very little to changes in temperature or humidity.
Many people swear by these bows and higher quality models have been said to be comparable to pernambuco bows. Carbon fibre has the added benefit of not warping like organic materials.
Synthetic materials used for bows are either fibreglass or composites. These are often of lower quality than carbon fibre and pernambuco bows, but they are very durable. This makes this type of bow well suited for students and beginners.
This is a measure of how the bow reacts when under tension. When you tighten your bow, it will ideally still have some give and bounce when used. This will make many different types of articulation more easily attainable by the player.
4. Weight and Balance
Every bow has a slightly different weight and balance, especially if it is made out of organic materials. A heavier bow can create a bigger sound, while a lighter bow can make different bow strokes more facile.
A bow is generally weighted more heavily at the frog than the tip, though there should still be some weight at the tip in order to draw out a bigger sound from your instrument.
Make sure that any bow you buy is not warped, as this can negatively affect the balance. You can check for this by holding the bow in front of one eye and looking down the stick from frog to tip.
Do not buy the bow if there is any bending or twisting near the tip!
There are two shapes for violin bows, round and octagonal. Traditionally, the great French bow makers would only produce round bows.
Round bows are less stiff than octagonal bows, allowing for greater control. However, this is all dependent on the player; some people prefer the stiffness of octagonal bows.
This is, of course, a no-brainer. Make sure that the size of the violin bow you buy corresponds to the size of the instrument.
What is the Best Violin Bow?
The best violin bow is determined only by the player’s needs.
There are so many different bows out there and finding one that suits you best is really the goal. The Yamaha CBB-101 is a great all-around beginner bow if that is what you are looking for.
This is a great bow that is going to be beginner-friendly, that works for a ton of different users, and that is going to work for a ton of different playing styles as well. When you do set out to find a bow that you can use for your playing, it is important to take the time to find a bow that not only works for your particular style but also that works for your budget.
When choosing a bow you should look at different factors, the first is size. If you are working with a smaller violin you do want to get a bow that is to scale, playing a smaller violin with a larger bow and vice versa can be very difficult.
You also want to pay attention to the materials used. If you are using a carbon fiber bow, a wooden bow, or fiberglass bow these all change the sound and the way that the bow works.
You should also pay attention to cost, all bows are different and careful inspection is a must.
How Much Does a Violin Bow Cost?
Violin bow price goes from afforadable to really high, but you get exactly what you pay for.
The overall cost of a violin bow is going to depend on a few different factors. The first is the materials used. If you are using a carbon fiber bow you can expect to pay less than you might pay for a hand-carved wooden bow that is made of some exotic wood.
The material that the stings are made of also makes a difference. Horsehair costs more than synthetic hair. The quality of the hair being used also has an effect on the overall cost.
Aside from materials, the method of production can change the overall cost. If you are buying a bow that is made in a factory rather than a bow that is hand crafted or hand carved, you are going to pay less.
A violin bow can cost anywhere from $20 for very basic student bows to hundreds of dollars for high-performance bows that are made of the best materials and that are also made by expert craftsmen.
If you are looking for a high-quality bow you can expect to pay around $100 for a high-quality bow that is going to be well made and gorgeous overall in look and feel.
Why are Violin Bows so Expensive?
There are so many different factors that make them so much more expensive than other items.
The materials that the bow is made from and the way that they are crafted is what make the biggest difference it the cost of the bow.
Since violin bows are such a specific thing, and since they do take great craftsmanship to create, they tend to cost more. The rarity of material can also make a difference in the overall cost.
The type of wood, the rarity of the wood and of the material, and how hard it is to work with all affect the cost.
A great example is Pernambuco, which is the heartwood of the tree rather than the exterior which means that it is harder to harvest and rarer, making it a more expensive material than a composite that can be poured or fiberglass that is easier to acquire.
The stings also make a difference in cost. If the strings are made from Mongolian horsehair, for instance, one of the most sought-after materials, that is going to cost more than if you were to buy a bow that uses synthetic strings.
How Long Does Violin Bow Hair Last?
There are a few different factors that affect when you should change your bow hairs.
If you are playing very often the hairs are going to naturally break when you play and that will make it necessary to change your bow hairs more often.
If you do not play, your bow hairs might seem like they are fine, they may even look fine, but if you are not playing and not adding rosin to the bowstrings they can dry out and will become more fragile.
It is recommended that you change your bow strings every six months to keep them the right consistency and to make sure that when you do try to play they are not going to break or sound different because they should have been changed.
Temperature, exposure to moisture, use and more are all going to affect when and how often you should be changing your bow hairs. If you are not playing your violin and it is just sitting, you can go without changing them, but if you want to play again, you are likely going to need to change your bow hairs.
The bow hair not only affects the hair itself, but also helps to maintain the bow and the overall durability of the bow. When the hairs are in great shape they apply the proper tension to the bow keeping it in good working condition.
The overall weather conditions that you are working with can really affect how the hairs perform and how they react as well. Taking care of your bow is going to help it stay in good shape and is going to help it last longer overall.
When it comes to finding a bow that is going to work for you, there are so many different bows out there. There are bows that are designed specifically for beginners, bows that are meant for sharper sound, bows that are meant for expert players and so much more.
There are so many bows out there that you do really need to do the research and take the time to consider what is going to work best for you and your particular needs.
We have worked to collect information about a ton of different bows and there are so many great bows that are going to work for a range of different users and players of different skill levels.
The violin does make a difference but the bow makes a huge impact as well so finding the right bow is important. Carbon fiber bows are great for durability and being impervious to humidity and temperature change, wooden bows are traditional and offer great sound, and fiberglass bows are unique and fun.
Finding the right bow is essential and there are tons of great bow options out there that can change the way that you play and the way that you enjoy your violin.