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BigKahane

Salchow or Bigot?

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Hello all, I've been reading Maestronet for years, but this is my first post.

I'm a professional violist. I recently got the opportunity to purchase a gold bow, relatively recent, by Sylvain Bigot, and I found a bow I liked by William Salchow, silver, which is about half the price of the Bigot. I could purchase the Bigot, which I have not yet played (!), though I'm familiar with his bows, and confident it's high quality. If money is not an issue (though of course it always is!) which one is the better investment? I have a gold bow by Thomachot that is my main bow and I love it, but I'm hoping to expand my collection.

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I don't know who Bigot is but, for those who don't know, Bill Salchow was one of the first successful American bow makers of the modern era. He taught about half the current crop of people who are judging at the VSA, making great bows and heading the list of experts in the USA. As far as what to buy Dwight is right that the, if you can afford it, the one that plays best for you is your best bet but there is no question Bill's name will be remembered for a long time.

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The "value curve" of violins or bows by recent or active makers is a curious thing. William Salchow made excellent bows, and personally, I take a serious look whenever I come across one for sale. They are in my opinion seriously undervalued at the moment, the way J.J.Millants or Lauxerrois or Jacques Audinots were until recently. 

 

Sylvain Bigot is an excellent active maker, like the dozen or so you could visit here on the rue de Rome, or scattered around different cities in France. Whenever you buy a new bow from a living maker, (not unlike violins), you may wind up paying more than if one of their bows comes up at auction. On the other hand, working with a new maker means he can take your preferences into account and even "fine-tune" the bow with you as it's nearing completion. That shouldn't be belittled, I've seen numerous bows go from being okay to being superb as the bowmaker "dials in" the camber and last minute planing/scraping. Obviously, buying at a distance or "off the shelf" means that's not possible. I actually know of a case where one of the most sought after french bowmakers who's out in the country side asked one of my friends here in Paris to do some camber adjusting for his clients. My parisian friend flat out refused. It's one thing to stick one of your own bows in a bunsen burner, but he wasn't going to do that for someone else's. Another thing I've noticed is that new bows can change quite a bit in the first year or two, sometimes getting noticeably stiffer. A good maker takes that into account, or knows how to handle it with his wood prep and storage, but getting a bow that's a few years old can be a little more secure in that the bow will have totally stabilised, whereas a fresh one might evolve a bit.

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Hi BigKahane

If you are looking to make an investment, buy a certified Sartory or a Voirin in perfect condition and don't use it very much. Though obviously it's wise to choose one which plays well. It's not an investment if you can't sell it.

If you're looking for a working tool, buy a bow that you've played - probably the best value option would be a second-hand bow by a contemporary maker.

Trying to combine value for money, playing quality and investment value is a non-starter, and is a recipe for dis-satisfaction.

I would never buy any bow without playing it extensively first, in a familiar acoustic and on a familiar instrument.

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Have a look at some early 20th century makers who are deceased but are not yet "up there" such as bernard ouchard, jj millant, lauxerrois, these bows can be very good, of course i am not mentioning all the names as some makers i collect myself and don't want other to find out :)

I think sartory's have reached their ceiling a bit.. they are very expensive for what you get, yes I know that they are awesome, I have a few myself now in mint condition as investment but I don't think they will grow as fast as some other makers that are relatively unknown at present.

Whatever you do, don't buy lotte, morizot freres, ef ouchard or other maker that produced thousands of bows, these won't grow simply because there are too many of them.

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Whatever you do, don't buy lotte, morizot freres, ef ouchard or other maker that produced thousands of bows, these won't grow simply because there are too many of them.

Unlike Sartory?  :lol:

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The thing with Sartory is there is a consistency in playing characteristics, not to mention beautiful models, that make them desirable as playing tools and collectibles. Those other makers have many more duds than gems. Same thing with Vuillaume; there are a ton of them out there, but a high percentage are quite good instruments.

 

Bigot is a top rate maker and you can't find his stuff second hand anywhere. People are holding on to them for good reason. I would advise towards the Bigot.

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The thing with Sartory is there is a consistency in playing characteristics, not to mention beautiful models, that make them desirable as playing tools and collectibles. 

I haven't found this at all. I agree that they are consistent in quality of workmanship (in spite of the various people involved), but there is a very wide span of playing qualities. Similarly with Vuillaume violins, some are like nails on a blackboard and yet still they sell ...!

I would agree that Lotte, Louis Morizot and EF Ouchard were inferior craftsmen, and their work is more inconsistent when it comes to playability, but their best bows are equal in playability to a good Sartory, and EF Ouchard occasionally turned out a stunner of a bow. And of course René Morizot made a lot of the Sartorys.

 

Perversely, one of the things that makes Sartory collectable is the fact that there are so many changing hands at auction. I see no slowing down in the price - it rather seems to me that every dealer who missed one at £18K last time around will bid £19K next time .... 

 

The market is so mad for Sartory, people are making them as we speak.

 

Voirin still seems to me to be the most under-rated maker. His bows are expensive but why are they less than a Sartory?

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I haven't found this at all. I agree that they are consistent in quality of workmanship (in spite of the various people involved), but there is a very wide span of playing qualities. Similarly with Vuillaume violins, some are like nails on a blackboard and yet still they sell ...!

I would agree that Lotte, Louis Morizot and EF Ouchard were inferior craftsmen, and their work is more inconsistent when it comes to playability, but their best bows are equal in playability to a good Sartory, and EF Ouchard occasionally turned out a stunner of a bow. And of course René Morizot made a lot of the Sartorys.

 

Perversely, one of the things that makes Sartory collectable is the fact that there are so many changing hands at auction. I see no slowing down in the price - it rather seems to me that every dealer who missed one at £18K last time around will bid £19K next time .... 

 

The market is so mad for Sartory, people are making them as we speak.

 

Voirin still seems to me to be the most under-rated maker. His bows are expensive but why are they less than a Sartory?

 I wouldnt exactly state that they were inferior crafts men ,rather they made more for the mass market. I agree some of these makers were capable of making bows of much better quality if they so fit and had a buyer.

Ive never seen the fascination with Sartory, much prefer the  earlier 19th century makers .

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As far as playability/craftmanship/value goes The best modern makers are what I like the best, along with some more obscure makers of the earlier generation.  I cannot eeven sort of afford anything by the real luminaries of the past, nor do I deserve it.  All that said, the hunt is often the best part!

 

Bigot is very well thought of and sought after, if you wanted one of his bows you might need to search around a bit, they are in demand.

 

 

DLB

 

Support your local bowmaker!

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. I could purchase the Bigot, which I have not yet played (!), though I'm familiar with his bows, and confident it's high quality. 

 

I don't know Bigot, but unless you can return the bow if you don't like it you should not buy it.  

 

And if you plan to just buy a brand new "Hope Diamond" and leave it in a vault, forget it.  Only history tells us if given makers will go up in value faster than the average.  Investors take in all the facts and take a chance;  the ones who guess right make money.  But it's harder to make money buying what everyone else is already raving about.  You will be paying top dollar for an historically unknown quantity.

 

Posts 8 and 9 are very instructive.

 

Also, as a player you must already know that when you go to sell a bow the prospective buyer is most often interested in how it plays.  He will care less if it is a Bigot or a Gigot.  You can have the most beautiful example by any maker, but if it doesn't play well the prospective buyer is not going to be as impressed with names as you might expect.   

 

IMO, ALWAYS BUY BOWS THAT PLAY GREAT. Only then should you consider other factors.  And another piece of advice: remember that if you can find a fault with a bow or violin, a prospective buyer is even more likely to find it.  And, after all, you only have one bow to sell, while the buyer has a world of bows to choose from.  Advantage: buyer.   :)   

 

We have gotten into arguments on MN about "mystique" magically appearing, but Bigot or any other maker is not going to achieve mythical status over an extended period unless his bows are great playing sticks. Now, the only reason I don't automatically assume that Bigot makes great playing sticks is because I have seen too many "big-name" award-winning makers who make clubs.  I wish it were otherwise, and I hope the times are changing.     

 

—MO

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Voirin still seems to me to be the most under-rated maker. His bows are expensive but why are they less than a Sartory?

 

 

I don't think Voirin are much less than Sartory, and in fact the best silvers fetch more than silver Sartory's. I know of the best Voirin silver examples going for 45 US, but those are the earlier, normal weight, vuillaume style Voirins. Unfortunately, Voirin doesn't tend to fetch as much on a consistent basis because there are too many that are overly light and weak sticks (while still boasting stunning craftsmanship).

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Investment implies that you wish the prices to increase so you get something back on resale. 
If you don't intend to resell then where's the investment....
Most modern maker's prices will likely not increase, unless you buy from a very talented young maker
who is selling for 'good value' now. 

I tried a few top bow makers recently and watched them working, it's fascinating.
If I had it would I spent 8k Euros on a new bow ? Nope. :-) 

Look at what Bashmet achieved with a cheap bow and a metal tailpiece. 
 

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I would not argue about Bashmet's choice of bow.  I am not worthy to even shine his shoes.  On the other hand a fine bow that you enjoy playing is a great thing.  It is sort of like going from driving my wife's SUV, which is just fine and does a good job, to driving my Nissan 370Z gets you there all the same but much more precise and enjoyable, not to mention more fun!

 

 

DLB

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 Well, Salchow or Bigot, two big concerns I have about modern makers is 1) choice of wood 2) transparency in doing business with them. I have reasons to believe that either Salchow or Bigot would not pose a problem in #2, given the reputation and demand they command, but #1 is a perennial concern of mine because I have not seen good wood much - in my limited experience - among modern makers. Wouldn't the OP have a better chance going after a German bow? Underpriced, great sticks if you know how to tell them apart... 

 

 As for investment, I would be of the opinion that violins and bows are primarily tools, not collectibles. Sure, it's nice to look at a mint-condition Voirin, Kittel, and what not, but people outside of the trade are much too involved, muddying the price and all that... And I wouldn't be surprised that, in the instrument investment race, many - if not most - were actually losing money. Profit may be present, but is it big enough in general to be of significance in oikonomics (as in more than just pocket change)? I do not know. 

Edited by Kenmore M

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Quite interesting to come across this thread.

It has been many years that I have had the pleasure of dealing with Sylvain Bigot.

I met him in mid 1990's when he was working (as a young man) at Raffin's shop on Rue de Rome. I had realized then, the great talent he possessed!

That is why I have been representing him since then.

He has proven himself in every aspect of his profession:

1. as one of the great bow makers today  (Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2011)

2.one of the leading experts on antique bows (along with Yannick LeCanu and J. F. Raffin)

3.one of the greatest restorers today!

 

His bows are highly sought after around the globe, and are in the hands of top professionals.

The choice of wood he has is exceptional.

As far as secondary markets go, one of his violin bows (circa 2006)  sold at Tarisio in 2014 for $6,600.

 

Also a word about our American Makers.

At a time when French bow-making was on the decline in the mid-20th century, people like Frank Kovanda and Ernst Lohberg were producing masterpieces (between 1930-1940's).

I own a spectacular example by Frank Kovanda in Gold/Petrified Prehistoric Ivory (one of a kind), copy of the ex- Sam Bloomfield F.X. Tourte.

Since that time, makers such as William Salchow, Frank Passa, Charles Espey, Paul Siefried, Keith Peck, Jose DaCuhna, Matt Wehling, Morgan Andersen, Robert Morrow and many others  have followed in their footsteps, producing bows in the best French tradition.

 

Many of the American bows from mid 20th century from some of these makers, are indeed undervalued (IMO).

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