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goodmickey

Carbon bows and their technology

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I'm an italian cellist and this month I will have an important exam in my High School.

I have to talk about bows built in carbon and I want to describe this new technology from a chemical point of view. I also would compare traditional bows' technology with carbon technology.

So I ask you some information about this topic, thank you very much!

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Carbon fiber allows the maker to control the properties of the base material for the bow.  With wood, the maker must search for the piece with the properties they desire.  Carbon fiber if fundamentally a lighter, stronger, and stiffer material so it allows more control over these properties of the final product.  To date, most bow makers employing carbon fiber have attempted to simply emulate a good wooden bow, but a few, such as Arcus have utilized the potential to create a bow that has properties than cannot be achieved with wood (in this case ligher and stiffer).  This requires the instrumentalist to aquire new techniques, but in this specific case, most reports are positive in the possibilities it opens up for the musician, expanding what can be done with the bow.   Also the resonance properties can be controlled.  I have heard from 'experts' both that the bow should resonate and be completely damped and not resonate, so I don't know which is correct, but a composite material should be able to afford the maker control over this property as well.  Beyond this, composit materials offer the possibility of mechanized manufacture thus lower cost and environmentally speaking does not tax the supply of a possibly endangered tree (Pernumbucco).   From my experience it definitely provides, at the entry and intermediate level, a much better bow for the money. 

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I suggest you send an email to Bernt Müsing at Arcus. They did a lot or research, study, and experimenting during their development of bows. I think they have a good sense of what they are trying to achieve in the material properties. CHeck google.com because their website is in German but there are transation possibilities.

 

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.arcus-bow.de/&prev=/search%3Fq%3Darcus%2Bbow%26lr%3D%26hl%3Den%26as_qdr%3Dall

 

 

Andy

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The Arcus site was very informative but did not specifically say that CF bows do not warp.  On the other hand, their obvious expertise would certainly not tolerate a poor product.

 

My curiosity led me to surf a little more and the general report is that CF simply does not warp. 

 

I'm looking for a CF bow which will act like a light pernambuco.  My 2 pernambuco and 2 Brazil wood are probably crooked beyond repair.

 

My final issue is that most of the dealers selling bows do not say what "action" the bow has(?)

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I had a student buy a $350 coda bow that was vastly superior to my $1500 named maker pernumbuco (that I bought in the 70s), in sound quality, agility, and feel, and yes, they do not warp.  The downside to Coda is that they may be a bit fragile, I have a friend who has had 3 in a row where the tip breaks off - coda keeps replacing it, but he's pretty upset about it.  I think you might like Arcus if you are looking for light weight.  I'd like one but I can't afford them. 

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Just found this... Warping: No way an Arcus will warp. We give a 30 year warranty on this, but I can also report from the 15 years we are now making them that every single one the couple thousands bows we have made is still perfectly straight - or simply keeps a tiny little bend that it had from the very beginning.

 

Breaking: We have had a very small number of broken bows of all these years. Most of them due to a really rough accident (a "normal" fall on the tip will not break the stick), and a few due to manufacturing mistakes, especially from the early years. If you compare the fail rate of wooden bows with good quality carbon bows I would think it is at least 10:1 if not not a lot higher.

 

Hey Andrew, I hope you are find and still play a lot? Our website is completey translated in English - well I did myself, it so please grant me pardon for all the mistakes.  :)

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Bernd, I have a question. Is the carbon fiber material you use lighter than good pernambuco in a solid piece?  Will it float in water? I have a carbon fiber chunk from which I was going to make a tailpiece and it is too heavy. Does the carbon to resin ratio determine this factor?

 

This discussion would be better placed in the Pegbox section I think.

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  From my experience it definitely provides, at the entry and intermediate level, a much better bow for the money. 

 

Agreed, very strongly.

 

But shop for your carbon fiber bow the way you would a wood bow, that is, trying as many as you can.  If you have a specific model in mind, try 3 or 4 of that specific model before selecting one from the batch.  You may find that even in carbon fiber bows of the same model, there may be minor differences that do produce a different feel and playability.

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Took the words out of my mouth Skiing Fiddler!  Try before you buy, each bow it still a unique entity, even in the CF environment.

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 You may find that even in carbon fiber bows of the same model, there may be minor differences that do produce a different feel and playability.

I think you will find that Bernd agrees with this and their site suggests this is the case.

 

http://www.arcus-muesing.de/concept.html

 

"But as all bows are entirely handmade and the structure of the material is heteroganeous, they all have their individual character and resonance quality. As this varies in a wide range, we classify our bows accordingly."

 

I seem to recall him saying that they too cannot account entirely for the fact that some bows will sound or work better than others from the same materials and process. That is then how they also grade them, but the will be variation among bows of the same class or series.

 

I guess that would apply to other brands as well..............

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Howard Core has a new set of Carbon bows that they designed in conjunction with Glasser;  in other words, they're not just Glasser bows with the Core label, but entirely different make.   

Can you point to to where they are illustrated? Just interested to see what they look like. Thanks.

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Sure, Thanks. No I don't actually like the end-button is of narrower diameter that the stick.

I will try to find the Symphony and Soloist models you mention.

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Hi Bernd,

 

Good to see you there. I still play most days and have two weekly gigs (piano trio as a cellist, and a chamber orchestra as a violinist). I'm still using my ARCUS Concerto bows - I've returned to them recently, good clean sound and projection, responsiveness and ease of handling on the fast parts. Orchestra concert coming up in two weeks.

 

Andy

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I was talking with a dealer and importer himself German the other day as we was showing me a Coda bow.

I was surprised to hear he didn't seem familiar with Arcus (or didn't want to let on, if he did...?)

I don't use my viola Arcus very much and still find it takes time to adjust.

This site makes quite a few suggestions about making the transition to using an Arcus bow.

https://www.lindawest.com/more-information-arcus-carbon-fiber-bows-a/253.htm

I find these comments interesting:

As long as an Arcus bow feels “too light”, the learning process is not complete. During this period we strongly recommend that you don’t play with your regular bow, not even for a short time. If you do, then your old “program” will instantly take control again and the learning process will be fundamentally corrupted. The trial and learning period should run for several days in a row, so that the new information can be processed over night. Once you have gained total control over the Arcus bows you can very easily switch between different bows. Now is the time for a proper comparison of sound and play, as you can already use a lot of the potential of the Arcus bows. However most musicians still report their continued discoveries of new possibilities in bowings and the modulation of sounds.

Bassists usually need more time, often up to two weeks, violists about one week, violinists

Cellists quite often have full control after only 1-2 days.

Violas - The cause of many problems with sound or playing often doesn't originate in the instrument or the player. Many violists only find this out when they play an Arcus bow for their first time. Suddenly the sound is open and full, the play powerful but elegant. Pianissimo passages in the orchestra sound really good. If you play a quartet it is now easily possible to match the other instruments. The low weight, and especially the dramatically increased resiliency of the stick and its ability to jump naturally, require some adjustments in technique and some time to get used to.

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