Are carbon fiber Bows acoustically "alive"?


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I'm not sure I am asking the correct question, but I'm wondering if carbon fiber has a resonance? A natural structure that allows it to resonate with the instrument? I have played countless carbon fiber bows, usually K Holtz, but also some Coda bows that cost $800 or more, and they all feel dead in my hand, as if they interfere with sound production instead of helping it. Is that just personal bias? Is it just that my own bows are good quality? Or am I identifying a legitimate problem with carbon fiber bows?

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Try with 10 (quality) carbonfibre and 10 pernambucco bows, blindfold yourself and have someone else hand them to you randomly as you play them one by one.. Can you still tell the difference, and say that they feel dead in all 20 counts? If yes, then you have identified a legitimate problem- for you atleast :)

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Playing "blindfolded" is really an accurate way to test most anything.

 

Seeing and hearing about what you're using (the maker, the age, the cost, how it looks and, etc...) can and very often does color your perceptions.

 

On the other hand, having to use it without these clues can really bring things into view that you may not have suspected before.

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Try with 10 (quality) carbonfibre and 10 pernambucco bows, blindfold yourself and have someone else hand them to you randomly as you play them one by one.. Can you still tell the difference, and say that they feel dead in all 20 counts? If yes, then you have identified a legitimate problem- for you atleast :)

Yes, blind and double-blind testing can be quite and eye-opener!

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I'm not sure I am asking the correct question, but I'm wondering if carbon fiber has a resonance? A natural structure that allows it to resonate with the instrument? 

 

If it is a physical object, then it has a specific or even perhaps (depending on what you're testing, exactly) more than one inherent resonance.

 

"Resonance" is a physical term having to do with very specific things inherent in every material thing - in any form, of any size.

It's basic physics.

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If it is a physical object, then it has a specific or even perhaps (depending on what you're testing exactly) more than one inherent resonance.

 

"Resonance" is a physical term having to do with very specific things inherent in every material thing - in any form, of any size.

It's basic physics.

During meals, it's fun to experiment with the resonance properties of jello. Is the "Mister Wiggle" brand of jello still around?

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During meals, it's fun to experiment with the resonance properties of jello. Is the "Mister Wiggle" brand of jello still around?

 

Yes - resonance is always there, and always interesting to observe -

 

(I sure hope so... with the Mr, Wiggles thinngy as my grand kids are only now thinking about such things... but - hey - they've got me here to bore half to death them with "technical explanations".)

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For the money, coda bows are hard to beat for intermediate level violin players (maybe a little above that too ).  They are a consistent manufactured item...  I'm sure they have a consistent resonance profile as good or better than most wood bows at their price point.  I own one and it's a good stick.  It's nowhere as good as the older german shop bow I just bought, (but again I paid a good bit more for the German bow)   It's just not as responsive.  It does, however, bring out a nice clear loud tone from my violin.   

 

Have fun with your coda...  it's a great bang for your buck.  I played a super great Lamy bow earlier in the summer....  It is now my standard of what a bow should be.

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Are carbon fiber Bows acoustically "alive"?

For that matter, are wood?  What about aluminum or fiberglass?  ;)  :lol:

 

 

I have played countless carbon fiber bows, usually K Holtz, but also some Coda bows that cost $800 or more, and they all feel dead in my hand..................................

 

IMHO, and FWIW, discussions of bow performance often remind me of discussions of paranormal phenomena.  There seems to be a subjective, anecdotal, and very idiosyncratic component to the observations which overwhelms objectivity as well as repeatability, and sends scientific analysis packing.  While this aspect also appears when comparing violin quality, one can at least scare up enough hard data to separate the player from the played, and get a dim reflection of the underlying reality of particular cases (such as comparing the output spectra of different violins and relating it to tomography).  Most of the operation of bows is hidden inside the stick, and everything reported on bows seemingly comes back to a player saying, "Well, it feels like..........". 

 

That it defies rational analysis does not, however, automatically mean that the case is unreal, or that the reports are false.

 

For me, personally, no two violin/bow combinations ever perform identically, and, from talking to other players, this is quite typical.

 

I will note that some, at least, of the differences in performance with regard to extremely expensive wood bows may relate to the specific "tweaks" that upscale bow makers and maintainers reportedly apply to bows to suit them to a particular player's style.

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I will note that some, at least, of the differences in performance with regard to extremely expensive wood bows may relate to the specific "tweaks" that upscale bow makers and maintainers reportedly apply to bows to suit them to a particular player's style.

 

I am willing to bet that at least one of the "tweaks" that makes bow sound better and easier to play is an adjustment upwards of the price.

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I have some pretty good modern Bows:

 

David Samuels, Pierre-Yves Fuchs, Douglas Ragus for violin Christophe Collinett, Gilles Nehr, Frank Kovanda for viola and a few others.  I also have an early Rolland Paris Arpege carbon bow I bought 20 years ago.  It's not that bad a bow.  I think I am going to buy a best quality Coda viola bow to try.

 

I think it takes months to get used to any bow or instrument on an intimate level.  It takes at least a year for a trap shooter to get used to a new shot gun, so I figure bows and violas are not overnight things.  The good news is that unlike a marriage there are no messy divorce proceedings if you decide you would like something else.  You are not commited for life.

 

DLB

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I think I am going to buy a best quality Coda viola bow to try.

 

 

I was torn between the JonPaul and the Coda Bow Diamond, and happened across a deal on the Coda I could not refuse. But, I still lust after the JonPaul, I liked it better! Someday.

I believe both offer home trials, you should compare them.

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I have some pretty good modern Bows:

 

David Samuels, Pierre-Yves Fuchs, Douglas Ragus for violin Christophe Collinett, Gilles Nehr, Frank Kovanda for viola and a few others.  I also have an early Rolland Paris Arpege carbon bow I bought 20 years ago.  It's not that bad a bow.  I think I am going to buy a best quality Coda viola bow to try.

 

 Amazing list of modern makers, Dwight. How do you like Collinet, Nehr, Samuels, and Fuchs? I haven't tried any of them.

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I think I phrased the question incorrectly, my reaction to wood or carbon fiber isn't really the question.

I am asking if a wooden bow has a fundamental resonance that a carbon fiber bow lacks because of the different materials used in construction.

I might even be phrasing this second question incorrectly as well, but I hope that it is clear

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I am asking if a wooden bow has a fundamental resonance that a carbon fiber bow lacks because of the different materials used in construction.

 

I see no reason why a carbon fiber or some other synthetic bow can not be designed to have very close if not exactly the characteristics of a wood bow.

However, at least for now each carbon fiber will be almost exactly the same as every other carbon fiber bow of the same model by that manufacture. Where the different bows by the same maker can be very different from each other because of a lot of very minor details.

So, If you take the time to try a lot of wood bows you could find one that is exactly your soul mate, but if you were to try a lot of coda bow diamonds - for example - they would be very very similar to each other. 

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Arcus deliberately engineers their carbon fiber bows to have different resonant frequencies than wood (or other synthetic) bows. I'll leave it for you to read about it here:

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

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

Note that I'm not confirming or denying what they say. I don't have the scientific resources to do that. I will say that I'm an Arcus user, and have been for years, so something about them works for me. Arcus bows are a whole different paradigm. They didn't set out to simulate the characteristics of fine wood bows. Instead, they used the unique qualities of carbon fiber to create bows with very different performance traits.

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 Amazing list of modern makers, Dwight. How do you like Collinet, Nehr, Samuels, and Fuchs? I haven't tried any of them.

To be sure I am not deserving of a single one of them.  I have days with my playing that I think I should not have a tire iron!  They are all fine bows, David Samuels (violin bow)is an old friend from high school and I just spent a few days with him at Interlochen with our teacher.  The fit and craftsmanship of Davids bows are quite extraordinary. Mine plays with great agility and delicacy.  The Collinet (viola) was one of my crazy auction buys (who buys a bow unseen!) It turned out to be very nice. Josh Henry rehaired and touched it up for me and it is a great playing bow. The Nehr (viola) is a very unusual early Tete-Besch model that plays very well.  The Fuchs (violin) has a lot of power and I use it as my LOUD bow :-)

 

Probably not very helpful, but I tried.  I am afraid of hijacking the thread and I apologize in any case.

 

DLB

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I think I phrased the question incorrectly, my reaction to wood or carbon fiber isn't really the question.

I am asking if a wooden bow has a fundamental resonance that a carbon fiber bow lacks because of the different materials used in construction.

I might even be phrasing this second question incorrectly as well, but I hope that it is clear

I don't think the term "fundamental resonance" is the correct one to use.  Every bow will have resonances at various frequencies and amplitudes and the maker can chose his own targets. There will be a sequence of bending resonances (1st bending, 2nd, 3rd...) and also a sequence of torsional resonances.  The frequency placements of these might vary between bows but I don't think any will be missing. 

 

The term "fundamental resonance" frequency is often used to describe the lowest resonance frequency f of a vibrating string.  Higher resonance frequencies are integer multiples of this fundamental frequency so the sequence goes 1f, 2f, 3f, 4f...   For example an open A string would have a fundamental frequency of 440Hz and the second resonance would be 880, the third 1320, fourth at 1760 and so on with the same 440Hz spacings between them. 

 

The sequence of a bending stick or bow or violin plate doesn't have this integer spacings of its resonances.  Stick might have its lowest bending frequency of 440Hz but the higher ones aren't integer multiples of it so the frequency spacings between higher resonances are all different.  

 

Maybe a bow maker will provide us the sequence of resonance frequencies of actual bows.

 

Besides the issue of resonance frequencies and their amplitudes being different for different bows there is also an issue of their vibration damping.  I'm not sure but a "dead" playing bow may not vibrate for a long time after it is struck.  The various tropical hardwoods used for bows have low damping.  The complaint about some carbon fiber bows being "dead" probably means they had too much damping. 

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To be sure I am not deserving of a single one of them.  I have days with my playing that I think I should not have a tire iron!  They are all fine bows, David Samuels (violin bow)is an old friend from high school and I just spent a few days with him at Interlochen with our teacher.  The fit and craftsmanship of Davids bows are quite extraordinary. Mine plays with great agility and delicacy.  The Collinet (viola) was one of my crazy auction buys (who buys a bow unseen!) It turned out to be very nice. Josh Henry rehaired and touched it up for me and it is a great playing bow. The Nehr (viola) is a very unusual early Tete-Besch model that plays very well.  The Fuchs (violin) has a lot of power and I use it as my LOUD bow :-)

 

Probably not very helpful, but I tried.  I am afraid of hijacking the thread and I apologize in any case.

 

DLB

 

 Extremely helpful. Thank you so much!

 

 I have not tried a CF bow, but I will get to pretty soon, I think. If I form any opinions, I will post!

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