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Why are bow sooooo expensive


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Mass-produced bows are not expensive. You can get a reasonably good composite bow from Glasser for $75-90. A really fine handmade bow will cost a lot more than that.

You could ask the same question about antique furniture - why should it cost half a million dollars for a colonial-era Philadelphia highboy or why a painting could cost millions. The top end of anything. particularly when it becomes antique becomes very valuable.

Likewise, you can buy a good fiberglass fly rod for $20 at the sporting goods store. A new split-cane rod takes about 60 hours of skilled work and costs $2000-$3000. A mint Garrision or Gillum (dead guys) will run $20,000-$30,000.

Why are fly rods so expensive?

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I've always felt you got more for your money when buying a bow than in a violin. I have seen a lot more over-priced $5000 violins than over-priced $5000 bows. Most of the over-priced bows I have seen were priced at $200 or less. Some of the most under-priced were also found in the under $200 group. Play a lot of bows before buying and you will find a good one in your price range.

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I have made bows and they are VERY difficult to make. There are just as many variables in making bows as there are making a violin.

Yes, you can get cheaper bows, but for that matter, you can get cheaper violins. Do you like the way a cheap violin sounds. If so, GREAT, don't waste your money on a good violin. If you like the cheaper bows, great!

I just think that people don't realize what kind of training is required to become a good luthier. It's not like framing a house. By the way. All good bows are made by hand. All good violins are made by hand. All cheap bows, violins, pencils, furniture, etc. are made by machine. Machines don't have to pay their phone, mortgage, health insurance, and tax bills.

-David (slightly perturbed)

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Not every bow made by great bow makers is a great bow. This tells one that there is "some" difficulty in the process. When you realize how much a great bow can deliver - what is really required of just a stick of wood with some tensioned horsehair - it is an engineering marvel.

These bows, when new, sell for about $3,000 and more. On a Sunday Moring (CBS) segment I once heard a NY bow maker (last name) Cohen (I think - or Cohn) say that he did not know until he was finished if the bow was good enough - and if it wasn't, he would break it and throw it away. Would that they all did that!

Andy

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Rosie smile.gif : The devil made me use that comparison.

Others I wisely edited out were:

chopsticks

arrows

Ben Franklin craft dowels

bamboo fishin' poles

a box of 200 toothpicks--now THAT'S a wooden sticky bargain!

It's just pretty darned hard to figure out how a STICK could really be worth 20 or more thousand dollars.

Best regards,

T.

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I'm not sure I'd really say its essential. The best of players can get away with playing any decent bow and sound about as good as if they were on Tourtes or Peccattes.

Its just that they DESERVE to play them, and the instruments deserve to be played by THEM.

But; I just called up the issuing shop of my newly purchased bow's certificate to check if I should get an updated appraisal before insuring it. I was told that a bow like mine increases in value approximately 5% per year. Or $1k per year on a 20K bow.

Thats not a bad investment for something that is useful, a piece of art, and pretty safe (as long as you have decent certification)

[This message has been edited by jake (edited 07-27-2001).]

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Ok lets take a tally.

based on you feedback this is what I got

A bow is expensive because:

1) a good luthier may spend many hours selecting the correct wood/materials

2) a good luthier will spend many hours /weeks / months constructing the bow

3) a good luthier may make several of these bows and destroy the imperfect ones thus increasing the time he/she took to produce one final product.

** Note ok if I am a luthier and I want to make $70,000/year income (just putting out a number)and it took me one month of dedicated work to produce one bow my price tag should be $5833 plus materials.

4) A machine can reduce the time it takes to produce a bow (thus lowering the price) but a machined bow cannot produce the quality and feel of a hand made bow.

5) inferior material can lower the cost of producing a good bow but, of course, it will produce an inferior bow.

6) The price may not be so bad because the value of a QUALITY bow will/may increase over time. <-- just needed to list this one smile.gif

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quote:

Originally posted by Theresa:

Rosie
smile.gif
: The devil made me use that comparison.

Others I wisely edited out were:

chopsticks

arrows

Ben Franklin craft dowels

bamboo fishin' poles

a box of 200 toothpicks--now THAT'S a wooden sticky bargain!

It's just pretty darned hard to figure out how a STICK could really be worth 20 or more thousand dollars.

Best regards,

T.

See my post above. Bamboo fishing poles is the crude way of saying split cane fly rods.

They are made from Arundunaria Amabalis, which most people would call bamboo, but more correctly is Tonkin cane. As mentioned, they

normally sell for 2K-3K new and can go for 20k-30K for a mint version made by a dead master.

And, basically, it is a STICK used to catch fish. However, it is a stick that can be made well by only about two dozen people.

I wouldn't be surprised if there were expensive collectible chopsticks.

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Good question! I WANT TO KNOW MYSELF!!! I have just purchased a gold mount Benoit Rolland violin bow circa 1994 for $5,000. Loved it... can't stop playing it... its just simply GREAT!!! All the little things I can do... It's definitely a players dream to own such a bow...

Prior to this bow, I owned a gold mount A. Voigt (Arnold Voigt, $2,000), a nice quality chinese stick ($900)... I have tried about 50 bows before I bought the Rolland. The bows I tried ranged from 3,000-8,000; from aged french bows (Husson, Thomassin, Gillet, Lapiere, Morizot fere, Emile Ouchard, Dupuy, Dupree...) to contemporary masters (Bernard Ouchard, Richard Grunke, JS. Finkel, Lee Guthree, Raguse, Thomachow, David Samuels, and the list goes on...)

I still chose Rolland... the flexibity, the strenght, the way it bites into the strings, the clarity, the subtlies... 5 grand well spent...

I don't know how many bows Rolland makes a year, but when a maker who can produce bows with qualities comparable to the old french masters, you just got to cough up that bucks if you want the works.

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"I'm not sure I'd really say its essential. The best of players can get away with playing any decent bow and sound about as good as if they were on Tourtes or Peccattes. "

No, that's definitely NOT the case.

Have you ever tried an authentic $90,000 Tourte, jake? I have, and it utterly blew away my Sartory (which is no cheap bow either at $1800 due to its broken head).

The sound and feel of a Tourte (haven't tried Dominique Peccatte) is like nothing I've ever heard or tried before. I'd get rid of my Sartory and get myself a Tourte in a heartbeat if I could. My Sartory is no slouch either.

If Tourtes weren't such incredible playing specimens, there's no way players of the highest caliber (e.g. Rosand, Heifetz) be interested in acquiring them.

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Well, I've only played on a 20k "school of" tourte, but I've also played on a pair of 65k dominique Peccattes and many other great bows. It felt they they almost "played themselves," and I agree, they do blow away Sartorys, Voirins, Lamy's, etc.

But a good player gets beyond the limitations of the stick, although there must be some minimum level of quality that would not likely be fulfilled by a glasser composite.

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Playing a Peccatte is like playing a machine. It's a weird sensation -- the one I tried had a feel that was really different from anything else.

Except for some really awful bows, you can, as a good player, generally do what you need to do with a given bow -- it just takes more effort. And even really awful bows will do certain things (but not others).

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I learned that even the best bowmakers, after spending precious time and precious materials to make bows, can only know the quality of their masterpiece upon finishing the product and trying it out. Somehow, there seems to be some uncontrollable factors in this bow making business. From a batch of bows from one maker, the best are usually fit with gold fittings at the frogs, ivory frog, etc. The bad ones are either thrown away, or sold at ordinary price, or I suspect, the maker would not even bother to write his name in it. So it seems that making a very good bow is not that easy, some uncontrollable factors to consider, and that may be responsible for the expensive price. I suspect that if we discover what are these uncontrollable factors in its making, making everything controllable, and consistently producing good ones, price will be down. Just think, who wound purposely produce an inferior bow when they use the same time and materials in producing such. I also suspect that there are also poor Tourtes, etc. Or did Tourte discarded all his poor ones.

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A good bow is expensive because the bow is an extension of your arm. A cheap bow is cheap because the materials and craftsmanship which go into making a good bow are not retailable at the price they fetch.

The time and experience of a master bow maker and good materials require more money than does an inferior bow.

A good bow will be constructed so that it feels very natural in your hand. A great bow will seem to not be there at all. The best violin is useless without a bow to breath life into it.

Must you pay a fortune to obtain a good bow. I don't think you do. I do believe you have to play a lot of bows before you know what you want. When you find the bow which is meant for you then you will pay what you need to pay to have the priveledge of using it. After all, we don't own these things, we just pay for the priveledge of being their care takers for a while.

Happy bow hunting,

Don Crandall

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I've tried many more fine bows than fine violins: Pecatte (4), Tourte (3), Fetique (2), Sartory (6), Lamy (5), and a huge number of fine modern sticks... My favorite bow of all times was a Tourte followed very closely by a Sartory... But I've liked every bow by the aforementioned makers that I've tried (aside from one Sartory which was a bit thin up top). I play on a David H. Forbes Sartory model and I'm happy that I bought it years ago before his prices started sky-rocketing (I guess that's the liberty you're allowed when you win prizes at the French bow competitions). His top bows (the gold medal winners) sell for (last I checked) $5-7K.

PS- the 5% increase per year is accurate for a good bow of decent lineage or of a well-known modern maker

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I agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Wolf... I see a bow is an extention of my arm, that's why I insisted on purchasing a great bow by a living great french maker.

I am a piano player, violin is my new emerging hobby, so having the "right" hand matters to me a lot.

And I have to say, I would spend big bucks on good quality bows because even if you don't play them,it's a collective item. So financially and musically, the owner will always benefit.

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