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Going to Europe, looking for a bow, any suggestion


jamest
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Hello everyone,

I'm new and this is my first post, I'm traveling to Europe this summer with the family I'm going to Prague, Krakow, and all over England and Ireland. I know that music is significantly cheaper over there but I don't know about actual products. I need to get a new bow and i wanted to get one in Europe. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to approach finding a shop or if you even know one from personal expierence. It would be much appreciated.

Thanks

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Looking at US versus UK prices, I doubt that you will find things are cheaper here - usually the opposite. The dollar is still pretty weak against the pound. Sometimes I buy from the US, and even with import duties and shipping it often works out cheaper than buying from the UK.

Can't speak for Eastern Europe, though - I gather things are cheaper there, but whether they are any cheaper than the US I don't know.

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On a similiar line, I have two chinese students visiting Taiwan this summer, and they are interested in finding a bow and cello. I'm thinking that Taiwan products must be extremely cheap, because even with import duties and shipping costs, acceptable Chinese instruments are very cheap here.

Any suiggestions as to where to send the kids(who will be with parents, all of whom of course speak fluent chinese)

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As Michael Darnton has suggested, you may not be getting any bargain by buying in Europe at this time. The reasons are:

-- The dollar's weak against the euro. So it doesn't buy generally as much in Europe as it does here in the USA.

-- The Value Added Tax (VAT, Mehrwertsteuer in German) (Here I invite other posters' correction, because I may have this wrong.) The VAT is a sizable sales tax of about 15% as I remember it --I hope I'm remembering it wrong and it's a lot lower than that. By buying in Europe, you'd pay the VAT. If you bought the same item in America from an importer, you wouldn't pay the VAT. Thus you may actually pay more for the same item in Europe than you would if you bought it in the US.

-- Customs duties when returning to the US. I don't know how much of your European purchases can be brought in duty free, but if you're spending a couple thousand for a bow, you may be exceeding the duty free allowable.

I'm very unsure of the info that I've posted here but thought it might be worth identifying these points to get some clarification from others who would have better info.

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You can possibly avoid import duties by doing the following(

I don't personally know if this works, but I have heard from player/dealers that it does.)

Take a junk bow or two with you, and when you buy your new bow in europe, throw away the old bow. Bow leaves the states, bow returns to the states, and no one knows the difference.

I've heard this works... if it does, lemme know.

Philip

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Quote:

-- The Value Added Tax (VAT, Mehrwertsteuer in German) (Here I invite other posters' correction, because I may have this wrong.) The VAT is a sizable sales tax of about 15% as I remember it --I hope I'm remembering it wrong and it's a lot lower than that. By buying in Europe, you'd pay the VAT. If you bought the same item in America from an importer, you wouldn't pay the VAT. Thus you may actually pay more for the same item in Europe than you would if you bought it in the US.


VAT is currently 17.5% in Europe.

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I don't know if it works when shopping in a violin shop, but many retailers in Europe can sell items "tax-free" to avoid the VAT. In Sweden you collect the receipts while shopping, and the packages are sealed by the seller (so you don't resell or exchange the item). You pay the VAT ("moms" in Sweden) at time of purchase, but then at the airport you show the tax-refund person your boarding pass, receipt and purchase, and they refund the tax before you get on the plane. (Allow plenty of extra time for this - lots of folks in line who don't know how it works, plus you'll likely get the refund in local currency, so off to another window to exchange it...)

I think in Europe, with the dollar where it is, you'd need to look at things that might be unappreciated there compared to here - maybe German bows in Germany, something like that. Your dollar doesn't go very far these days in western Europe.

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Stephan Tomachot has moved to southern France. He closed his Paris shop. I would love to get Noel Burke's email address. He's a great bow maker and an old friend. Can you send it to me? I've been meaning to get in touch with him. Tim Baker will be at Oberlin this June, order a bow and evade the VAT.

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  • 1 month later...

I am not quite sure if you've made your trip yet (original post was in early May). In any case, i'm going to let you in a little secret...cheap good bows are not in Europe, not in Taiwan, not even in America...but they are from Brazil!!!

Think about it...some of the best Pernambuco...actually, all best Pernambuco are in Brazil. The reason I said "in" Brazil, because with the new strick law, it's is very hard for anybody to export raw Pernambuco to outside of Brazil. Plus... mark my word, it is just a matter of time, the Brazilian bow makers will master the bow making technich. As the matter fact it's already happened. I happen to own several new Brazilian bows (at a fraction of the cost of french bows) that play better than some European bows, including famous french makers.

If you don't beleive me, ask some of my professional college friends. We've done all kind of tests... sound, playing tests...you name it... And it is true that some of these Brazilian bows, which cost about $600 retail in any violin shop in the US can play better that "Victor fetique", "CN Bazin"...

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