December 14, 2020 at 5:01 pm #44881
I’ve been fiddling for 16 months. I’ve bought a couple of fiddle “packages” that included bows. With one kit, the included bow was a wood bow weighing 74 grams. On the second outfit, bought from the “Bluegrass Shack”, a wood bow weighing 64 grams was included. The 74 gram bow was junk. The 64 grams wood bow included with the Bluegrass Shack fiddle was pretty good and even better after I removed the wire windings and “pad” and replaced it with a piece of heat shrink tubing thus dropping the weight to 61 grams which improved things quite a bit.
I did a lot of research on bows to find an “upgrade” and came across the “Fiddlerman” carbon fiber bow from the “Fiddlershop” for $70.00 and bought one. That bow seems to have a large following and high grades. It was vastly superior to the two wood bows that I had experienced and the wood bows soon were hanging on the wall. But, the Fiddlerman bow shed hair in the 8 months I owned it faster than I shed my own hair so I decided to buy another one. That one didn’t work out nearly as well so I sent it back and went on with the search.
While pursuing the “FiddleHangout” forum, I saw mention of a low cost, C.F.bow made in China for $30.00 and bought one from Amazon.com. I’ve played that bow for a year or so, no broken hairs and it suited me just fine. I recently ordered another one because I liked the first one, just so I had a spare and it’s even better but the price went up to $35.00 Still on the hunt, I took advantage of the bow trial offer from Shar Music to further investigate a new, improved bow. You can trial 4 bows for $25.00 shipping, round trip and, if you buy one, the shipping cost is applied to the bow purchase you make.
As “Coda Bows” have a good following (and I have a friend who has one of their very expensive models and really likes it), I ordered a Coda Bow Prodigy ($345.00)and a NX ($430.00) and a Shar Presto Encore ($199.00)and Presto Ovation ($289.00). My first pick was the NX, 2nd was the Prodigy and very close 3rd, the Encore. I didn’t care for the Presto Ovation. The “pad’s” on the Coda bows were too large in diameter and too slick for me and, even though the NX sounded a bit better, I bought the Presto Encore. BTW, I took advantage of the “Black Friday” deal prices so the cost on the Encore (and others) was discounted 25%.
The Encore is a nice bow but, when comparing bows with the $35.00 C.F. bows that I bought on Amazon, the best bang for the buck I’ve found so far was the Kmise, Chinese bow purchased from Amazon. The Encore I bought from was four times the cost. Was it worth it? If money is tight, I don’t think so. But, wanting to support Shar and their trial program, I decided to buy the Encore for $150.00 just because I could.
I’d like to point out that I’m 73 years old and wear hearing aids. But, the Kmise bow is probably the only bow I would ever need and I think it represents a very good value. For those that buy higher priced bows, the low cost Kmise bow would be a good backup bow and one that you might want to take with you when playing “in the sticks” so as not to expose a better bow to damage. No worries about re-hair with a $35.00 bow. Just buy another. And now that I’ve bought a second one, it seems like the “repeatability” factor is intact.
So, I think the Kmise bow is something worth considering. https://www.amazon.com/Violin-Stunning-Carbon-Fiber-Violins/dp/B01J19ABGI/ref=sr_1_5?crid=RBR41ZS1H5X6&dchild=1&keywords=kmise+violin+bow+stunning+bow+carbon+fiber&qid=1607994016&sprefix=Kmise+bow%2Caps%2C280&sr=8-5
December 18, 2020 at 2:33 am #44911MoonShadowsModerator
Thanks for that review, WyoBob. I first used a Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber bow and thought it was OK, but I had never used another bow. A few months in, I bought a Fiddlerman Holstein 1-star Pernambuco Bow, which I liked better than the carbon fiber. The third bow I purchased was an Incredibow (https://www.incredibow.com/), and I have stopped looking for any further bows. I really like my Incredibow. It is permanently tensioned, about 1/2 the weight of traditional bows, light as a feather, and I find playing with it much easier than my two traditional bows.
February 17, 2021 at 4:43 pm #45903
Hi, Moon. I bought an Incredibow when I first started. My instructor didn’t like it (because it wasn’t traditional) and, after playing it for awhile, it didn’t feel right when compared to a couple of other bows I tried so I sent it back.
As mentioned, the Kmise is a pretty good value. There were some things that I didn’t care for on the Presto so I once again used the Shar trial and had them send me 3 Coda NX bows as that was my favorite with the exception of the fat thumb pad. I was interested in seeing if there was consistency in the NX line. I told them about the “fat pad” issue and the NX’s they sent seemed to be a bit smaller in diameter but they were still slick. I’d decided to experiment with the TUF (thumb under frog) hold before the NX’s arrived and the TUF worked out very well on them. I bought one of the NX’s and got credit on the Presto.
Is the NX worth 10 plus times the cost of the Kmise? Probably not but, I’ve been a good boy and decided I needed to buy a really nice bow so I bought the Coda. The “playability” of the NX is better but, I switch back and forth between the two and I stand by my comment that the Kmise is a heck of a good value and I enjoy playing it. If I play the Kmise enough, I’ll never need to rehair the Coda. The NX and Kmise are easy to switch back and forth with and I like both of them. The Coda will probably stay home and I’ll take the Kmise when I’m out and about.
August 22, 2021 at 5:00 pm #50170
An update on my bow adventures.
I’ve been playing the freebie, wood bow that came with the GEWA fiddle that I bought from the Bludegrass Shack. I removed the pad and windings from the bow and slid some “shrink wrap” on it and really like that configuration. I removed the pad from my two, Kmise, $35.00 carbon fiber bows and did the shrink wrap thing. I’ve not done anything to the Coda NX bow. It still has the “fat pad” on it. All three modified, low cost bows are working quite well.
When I practice, I set my bows out and play each one on two different fiddles. It’s fun to see how each bow works with the two different fiddles. One fiddle has Helicore medium’s on it, the other, Prim mediums. The two Kmise bows and GEWA “unknown maker” bow’s get the most use. I’d love to remove the pad from the Coda NX but I just can’t bring myself to mutilate that beautiful, high dollar bow. There is so much difference playing the three, low cost bows with no pads, just heat shrink and the Coda NX. I think the Coda would benefit from a “mod” but I’m not going to do that.
What I’ve found out. I’m just as happy to play the low cost bows. I’d bet that I’d like the Coda bow if I gave it the same treatment but, I just can’t do it. So, the Coda spends most of it’s time hanging on the wall. For old time fiddle playing, I don’t think you can beat the Kmise bows or the GEWA wood bow. I’ve been playing for two years and the lower cost bows just seem to work the best for me. Of course, I’m 74 years old and wear (really good, finally) hearing aids. I thought that, if I bought a higher priced bow, my fiddle playing would improve a bit. In my case, that didn’t seem to happen and I don’t have a problem with that.
I found that, tightening the bow hair the right amount, using the right amount of rosin (I’m using “Magic” rosin) and the grip that works best for me on the bow enables me to play good enough to suit. My wife says my fiddle playing is catching up to my banjo playing and she now enjoys it just about as much. I agree.
So, instead of chasing a better fiddle or bow, I’ve found that I just need to spend time doing what I’ve been doing.
August 25, 2021 at 11:04 am #50278KvmceffParticipant
That is a nice summary of your journey. And what a nice compliment from your wife! Thank you for being open to sharing about your process. Your could spend most of your time changing strings and bows to find the right combo OR you could be playing.
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