Buying a violin bow can be as dizzying as buying a violin itself. There are so many options and so many price ranges, it’s hard to know where to begin and what’s reasonable. Luckily, the process doesn’t have to be too daunting. We’ve compiled these Tips for Choosing and Buying a Violin Bow that’s unique to you and your budget.
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How to Choose a Violin Bow
The interesting thing about violin bows is that they are usually very personal to both the player and the instrument. What is popularly considered a “great bow” may not necessarily be a “great bow” for a particular player and their violin.
When choosing a violin bow, make sure to use the bow with your instrument for a trial period and compare it with other bows. Retailers will often loan multiple bows out for short trial periods for this purpose.
Play each bow with a variety of music (fast, slow, quiet, loud) and see which bow feels the easiest to play, and which gives you the best sound you are looking for. It is advisable to do a “blind” playing test (with the listener closing their eyes) for a teacher or fellow musician to see which they truly prefer.
How Much Does a Violin Bow Cost
Violin bows have a huge price range, with some at under $100, and others costing as much as $100,000. The good thing is that you don’t have to break the bank to find a good bow well suited for your violin and playing style.
While there are exceptions, a beginner player can generally find a great bow in the range of $100-$300, an intermediate player in the range of $300-$600, an advanced player in the range of $600-$1,000, and a professional player is likely to be looking at bows above $1,000. Again, these aren’t hard-fast rules; just typical ranges.
Check out our violin bow reviews for a comprehensive guide to violin bows for all budgets!
How Often Should You Rehair a Violin Bow
The frequency of your rehairs will greatly depend on the frequency of your violin playing, just the same as it is for replacing something like shoes. The more you use something, the more wear and tear it takes, and the more quickly it will need servicing. Someone who jogs in the same sneakers every day is going to need to replace their shoes sooner than the one who only wears those same sneakers once a week.
Professional violinists who play for at least 3 or more hours each day will need to have bow rehairs on a more frequent basis – usually around every 3-6 months. Beginners, intermediates, and “retired-from-playing” musicians can get away with having a rehair every 6-12 months.
Teachers often need rehairs more quickly as well if they’ve been spending a lot of time around students who have touched their bow hair too much. The oils in our fingers ruin the bow hair and will definitely force you to get a rehair sooner than you may have originally planned.
How Much Does it Cost to Rehair a Violin Bow
Getting a violin rehair generally costs somewhere in the range of $45-$90. The price varies depending on who you go to and their level of expertise and experience. You’ll find that once you find someone you like, it’s worth every penny. Getting a rehair is often like a bow “check-up” as well, and the luthier will check for any abnormalities or damage. If the bow needs repairing or servicing in any way, this will, of course, become more expensive than just a normal rehair.
Check our Violin Care & Maintenance Tips for Beginners for tips on preventing damage for your instrument and bow!
Find Your Match
Choosing a violin bow is not unlike Harry Potter choosing his personal wand. Just because a wand – or, a bow, rather – is expensive or fancy, it doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Take the time to try bows in different price ranges and find someone you trust to help you evaluate them for sound quality.