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Are gold mounted bows worthy?


LouisXVI
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What a strange thread.

Given the incredibly small percentage of the total weight of a bow that is contributed by metal, i don't think balance is an issue at all.

Gold mounts were always used traditionally on the sticks which were considered the best, both in visual appearance and in playing qualities. The choice of materials for the mounts indicates the quality of the wood/stick and the level of or exactitude in the work. Therefore gold mounted bows are de facto "better", even if a particular person might prefer the playing qualities of a stick that isn't gold mounted.

I believe that modern makers follow the same philosophy, though I can imagine some cheap trade bows might have gold mounts for no other reason than to have gold mounts.

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2 minutes ago, martin swan said:

What a strange thread.

Given the incredibly small percentage of the total weight of a bow that is contributed by metal, i don't think balance is an issue at all.

Gold mounts were always used traditionally on the sticks which were considered the best, both in visual appearance and in playing qualities. The choice of materials for the mounts indicates the quality of the wood/stick and the level of or exactitude in the work. Therefore gold mounted bows are de facto "better", even if a particular person might prefer the playing qualities of a stick that isn't gold mounted.

I believe that modern makers follow the same philosophy, though I can imagine some cheap trade bows might have gold mounts for no other reason than to have gold mounts.

Yup, understood.  That puts us back to bow by bow, and maker by maker. 

BTW, it's been my experience that what the wrap is can majorly change how a bow feels.  You don't agree?  :huh:

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8 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

 

BTW, it's been my experience that what the wrap is can majorly change how a bow feels.  You don't agree?  :huh:

Of course I agree, we choose or modify the lapping in order to create a balance point that suits the player. 

Having said that, wire lapping is a relatively modern innovation ... whalebone too

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On 5/13/2022 at 10:41 AM, Michael Darnton said:

Yeah, I'd wait and try them. Beautiful wood gets paired with gold, but playability depends on neither. I've seen some pretty bad fancy dressed bows.

That says it.

One might hope makers would decide on fittings as something of a comment on how they like the bow.  But, it doesn't seem you can rely on such things.

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When it comest to classic French bows you had the regular nickel mounted bows (although in some cases when nickel was first introduced there were some very fine nickel mounted bows as nickel was seen as the new "cool" material to use), Silver mounted was the next level, and Gold were the best bows. 

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Is this what the OP is trying to reconcile? Does premium equal best?

Best bows do not always sound or feel the way they are priced. That gold, like any attribution or indicator, may primarily be a visual cue for those who need or want it.

On a commission, a maker observed me play and made a viola bow for me which I proudly own. It is far too stiff, sounds glorious ( but still learning how to handle it and make it sound more open, generous ) and though silver, the workmanship is fantastic, ever so slightly tip light and weighs 70.0 grams. Easily paid more than most gold mounted bows by the currently living makers. I wish I could play on it, the way it deserves to be played, looks, but I am still learning. It fights my living maker viola. On an older instrument, it rattles them apart ( not that I am proud of it. ) The connection of the hand to the string is pretty immediate. 

I think the silver will last longer, play better and hope that the next generations will truly play it, explore the abilities without destroying it. Hopefully a relative will appreciate it ( which they don't/ won't ) as much as I do every time I look at it.

SO there is a saying that the perfect amplifier is a wire with gain. Is there a perfect bow? For some students, if they ever experience a perfect coupling with the string, though an expensive lesson, keep the bow for another week or buy it. It can be better than lessons and for all you adults out there who can't stand taking direction, lessons are worth it, or you can go looking for that elusive bow. Do NOT buy a bad bow that "feels" mushy. That's not the type of connection I am talking about. How many players feel the strings in their left hand(s)? Each instrument might feel different. If you do, one can and might develop the ability to connect the right hand to the strings.

Look, there are glorious bows that have no feel ( some of my bows, ) but if one is shopping, might as well go for it. 

The better living bow maker, in my opinion, anticipates the needs of the player ( sometime better than what the player comprehends. ) More so than that of the role of the instrument maker. This implies some form of a relationship. I know it can be difficult to make that connection, however that connection is made.

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And don't forget about the 'mind games'! ^_^

If we are convinced that a gold mounted bow IS better, and that consequently it MUST sound better and play better...it WILL!!!

...no matter what the reality is . :ph34r:

Isn't this part of Marketing 101? Or is it Marketing 202?

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On 5/14/2022 at 3:59 PM, martin swan said:

What a strange thread.

Given the incredibly small percentage of the total weight of a bow that is contributed by metal, i don't think balance is an issue at all.

 ( ...)

There's more to be said about the behaviour of a bow besides balance. This is likely a new thread.

The playability of gold mounted bows might not be a consideration for all, but some might have opinions. One shop owner did a remarkably good job of selecting bows without playing them when they came in for sale. Many without rosin. But when it was time to buy a bulk of older bows, I would participate.   

Bows are evaluated based on sound and the degree to which they can be controlled. With a variety of grips, I think it is possible to tell the difference on both counts. Though it might be .3 grams, given a rehearsal or two, it's possible. I am not sure that everyone can tell. But given an hour and having try to 30 bows, one develops sensitivities to quick cues and responses.

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On 5/14/2022 at 6:36 PM, germain said:

When it comest to classic French bows you had the regular nickel mounted bows (although in some cases when nickel was first introduced there were some very fine nickel mounted bows as nickel was seen as the new "cool" material to use), Silver mounted was the next level, and Gold were the best bows. 

Though I own many of the important bow books that are read, am NOT entirely sure of the eras or the periods of availability when certain metals, materials, were developed and deployed. I have hung out with a collector of artifacts from American silversmiths. Except for the bits they might have engraved, the passive absorption of information does not help much with bows. I am in search of sterling fret wire, though.   

I have yet to play a carbon Bazin or a Snakewood Richaume.

Certainly by the 20th century, gold was being used by bowmakers. As a child, before the intricacies of collecting developed, older bows retrofit with gold parts became an "in" thing. I recall seeing them, and though way too big to play then, thought how impressive a gold mounted bow would look on stage. 

And the dilemma of a great playing stick is that it will get played. And worn. I am not a purist when it comes to fine tools so will take a bow spliced or inlaid, displaced, feathered ten ways if the stick behaves. So some of the bows of the historic past in great condition now, were likely bows that were not enjoyed. For various reasons. Life is full of twists and turns.  

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1 hour ago, GoPractice said:

 

So some of the bows of the historic past in great condition now, were likely bows that were not enjoyed. For various reasons. Life is full of twists and turns.  

This is a nice form of sophistry which allows dealers to sell bows in poor condition.

personally I have found no correlation between condition and playability, adverse or otherwise. Many very clean bows play excellently, many heavily restored or buggered bows play abysmally.

As you say, there are innumerable reasons why a bow might not get much use, and heavy use is no evidence of discernment on the part of the heavy user!

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On 5/13/2022 at 12:22 PM, Brad Dorsey said:

No.

But bow makers often use what they consider to be their best wood on gold-mounted bows, and they often take extra care making gold-mounted bows.  These things could improve performance. You really have to try bows and judge their performance for yourself using your own instrument, regardless of the color of the metal.

 

On 5/13/2022 at 12:56 PM, Dwight Brown said:

The gold does not contribute to sound or playability but with most makers it indicates what they think is their very best work. The couple of bows I have that are gold mounted are quite beautiful.

DLB

 

On 5/13/2022 at 12:59 PM, Rue said:

Caveat emptor.

Just because it looks good doesn't mean it has some guaranteed playability...for every single player.

Bows are so individual.

Don't know that a gold mounted bow would even have a better resale value - if you are thinking of buying one as an investment.

 

On 5/13/2022 at 1:47 PM, Violadamore said:

Leaving questions of whether it simply "gilds the lily" [:lol:] out of it, gold (assuming 18K alloy) weighs roughly 1.8 times as much as either the silver or nickel alloys also used on bows.  Does this ever cause any problems, either with the bow's properties, or with the player changing from one to the other?   :) 

 

On 5/13/2022 at 1:48 PM, GoPractice said:

Enjoy the process. 

With a reputable maker, one must assume they know what they are doing. But I have done research and settled on some known makers. The most recent Parisian purchase was in silver. I was sent three to try.

Of my favorite modern bows of all time, that were ultimately unattainable, more than half were gold mounted. Currently, I own only one gold mounted bow. I believe that the sticks were/ are better or better chosen for appearance? The better makers truly consider the player.

I have 4 bows by a bowmaker considered to be a player's maker. I never question their work and learn an incredible amount from the bows. It takes about 2 years to fully understand what is heard and felt in the fingers and arms and body. About the time it takes to get a bow on the waiting list. I rotate bows constantly so a new bow gets played about 3 days a week. During the pandemic, the would be 5th bow became available and I passed because I was unable to pay for it. There was very little income, so it was prudent to pass.

It would have been the best time to practice and learn from the bow. but it was impractical. How long would the situation last?

Things to consider. Cites. Taking your own instrument. Do not leave instrument unattended. Back ups when appointments might get cancelled. Being objective. Balance point and behaviour of bow. If you meet the maker. do not be shy. Be critical of style and ask about the uniqueness of his work. Most feel exceptional enough that there are unique qualities. Unlike some restorers that can be unbelievably transparent and selfless. Some are original, adapted designs and some are personalized copies.

Otherwise, enjoy the process. How lucky to be in the city of lights. Our mascot is a rodent with round ears.

My idiot friends, whom I love and respect and look up to, fly to Tokyo for sushi. I have burritos here. They have stories, I buy bows I like. Our priorities are different.

Do they keep a room for you ready at Versailles? 

 

On 5/13/2022 at 2:01 PM, David Burgess said:

This has me wondering if I should install gold-plated E strings, and platinum E string fine tuners on all my violins. ;)

Hi guys!

I do appreciate your responses, indeed, I was told gold mounted bows tend to be better because of the material itself. I was told gold makes the bow more forgiving and sticks better on the strings... I had my doubts because as an engineer I know gold do have the property of absorbing vibrations, but I wanted to know the opinion of some experts like you.

I do appreciate all the feedback received in this thread because it will help me greatly to make my decision, and negotiate xd.

Thank you so much for the help!.

PSD: pardon me for the late response, these days have been really crazy since I have been traveling through all Europe!!

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12 hours ago, LouisXVI said:

 

 

 

 

 

Hi guys!

I do appreciate your responses, indeed, I was told gold mounted bows tend to be better because of the material itself. I was told gold makes the bow more forgiving and sticks better on the strings... I had my doubts because as an engineer I know gold do have the property of absorbing vibrations, but I wanted to know the opinion of some experts like you.

I do appreciate all the feedback received in this thread because it will help me greatly to make my decision, and negotiate xd.

Thank you so much for the help!.

PSD: pardon me for the late response, these days have been really crazy since I have been traveling through all Europe!!

It's a rabbit hole leading to expenditure if not madness. Some violinists obsess about finding "the one" violin, usually one costing millions; some say that is nonsense, but obsess about choice of strings and learn their history; some obsess about bows (just watched Kavakos on Youtube talking about trying a range of bows for each piece of music and each violin, and claiming that using a range of bows on a violin develops its sound colours); and some obsess about setup and want the soundpost shoved back and forth all the time; and some obsess about none of those things. There are good violinists in all of those categories. You don't need to be sane to be among the world's greatest violinists.

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1 hour ago, John_London said:

It's a rabbit hole leading to expenditure if not madness. Some violinists obsess about finding "the one" violin, usually one costing millions; some say that is nonsense, but obsess about choice of strings and learn their history; some obsess about bows (just watched Kavakos on Youtube talking about trying a range of bows for each piece of music and each violin, and claiming that using a range of bows on a violin develops its sound colours); and some obsess about setup and want the soundpost shoved back and forth all the time; and some obsess about none of those things. There are good violinists in all of those categories. You don't need to be sane to be among the world's greatest violinists.

Here's one that may have been debated before but I haven't come across. Should one wear a watch on the left wrist or the right? What weight should it be to get the best vibrato or depth of tone? Apple or Rolex?

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