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Choosing a bow for your stringed instrument can seem daunting with so many products on the market. When you are looking into which bow you want to use, you need to know what designs to consider based on your needs. 

For example:

If you are a new player and your technical skills are limited, you don’t need to get as much out of your bow.

It is highly unlikely that at this stage a higher quality bow will make much difference. 

As a beginner you really just need a bow that has a string stick and good curve, known as the camber.

You need something that is the Goldilocks of bows: not too light and not too heavy, which is all based on your personal preference. 

As an intermediate player, your demands on your bow begin to increase and your ability to differentiate between bows improve. 

Cello bow vs. violin bow: What’s the difference?

There are a lot of differences, in size, shape, weight, and design. Cello bows, for example, are shorter and taller than violin bows. Cellos bows also weigh more. 

But beyond this, there are many similarities between the two. 

What is the best bow?

The “best” Cello bow vs violin bow is really whatever bow you can use while performing without thinking about.

A great bow should function as an extension of your hand, flow from you without much thought.

A modern bow should give you the power to improve the music you make, give you confidence, and make it easier for you to play.

Once you have the best bow, you will know that any failings in sound are a lack of preparation or skill, and not tools.

To help you with your hunt for one of these two, we’ve put together this guide to explore some of the characteristics you should know about before you choose.

Bow material

Whether you decide to use a cello or violin bow, there are three main materials used for the stick:

  1. Brazilwood
  2. Pernambuco
  3. Carbon fiber

Brazilwood gets its name because it hails from Brazil. This wood term refers to several tropical hardwoods you might get in a beginner bow.

Brazilwood is great for beginners or intermediate players. 

Pernambuco is a heavy, dense wood that also hails from Brazil.

However, there are a multitude of subspecies and variations which give a range of strength, responsiveness, and elasticity in bow design.

This is one of the rarest types of wood you will find and is reserved for high quality bows. 

In response to the limited availability of Pernambuco, carbon fiber designs have become quite popular over the last two decades.

The carbon fiber designs for cello and violin have different grades and are all bonded with a resin to make them durable.

Sometimes fiberglass is used for student instruments in large part because of its durability. 

No matter the material you choose, there are a handful of considerations shared by all bows. 

Size of the bow

The size matters too. The average weight of a violin bow is 60 grams. But the average weight of a cello bow is 80 grams.

This is, of course, an average and you can find a range of about 6 grams in both directions depending on the manufacturer. 

There are plenty of situations which might demand one over the other, even if you are using them on different instruments.

For example: if you are a small, with very small hands, a cello bow might be too heavy and large for long term play whereas you might be a violinist with large hands in need of a slightly heavier bow. 

More important than the weight of the bow is the balance. If you hold the bow in your hand and it just feels right, trust your instincts.

The bow should feel like a natural extension of your hand, perfectly balanced from one end to the other. 

Options for you

Remember that each bow will produce music differently on individual violins.

So find the bow that complements your instrument. Find one that isn’t too light for you, or too heavy to hold, and one that doesn’t flex or fall too easily on the hair. 

Everyone will have an opinion, from fellow musicians to those on forums to teachers, but it comes down to your opinion and which bow works best for you. To help with that, we’ve put together some details on the top bows for each for you to explore.

It’s important to always consult an industry professional to best determine the most appropriate product for you.

AMZZ Violin Bow 4/4 Brazilwood Bow for Violin Octagonal Stick Ebony Frog with Mongolian Horse Hair

This is a violin bow crafted with an ebony frog, the part you hold in your hand, and made with Mongolian horse hair.

It is a high-quality product that uses a standard brazilwood for the stick. 

This violin bow is lined with silver and made from high quality wood. The design has an octagonal shape to it with an ebony frog and an abalone inlay which makes it quite beautiful.

The bow is also properly balanced so you get a very even response as you play.

The thumb grip is designed with wrapped leather making it great for students who are just learning as well as professionals who play regularly and need that extra level of comfort and protection.

The design features unbleached, white Mongolian horse hair.

The Mongolian horse hair is more durable than other horsehair with uniformed thickness so that you get a better response and sound.

It is made for a full-size violin and weighs 65 grams.

Each of the parts are fitted by an expert from beginning to end handcrafted so at no point is it made or put together by a machine.

View at Amazon to learn more about how this product could work for you.

Pros:

  • Mongolian grade horsehair, white and unbleached
  • Properly balanced bow
  • Crafted with a range of stiffness from medium to strong
  • Handmade, entirely

Cons:

  • Brazilwood, so it is better for beginners and intermediate players
  • The thicker wood used for the bow can be cumbersome for advanced players, but is perfect for beginners.

AMZZ 4/4 Full Size Red Cello Bow Octagonal Stick Brazil Wood Mongolian Horsehair Ebony Frog

This is a better cello option for beginners. It offers warm, clear tones and is comprised of Brazilwood better for beginners and Mongolian horse hair.

The frog is Ebony with a natural wood grain and is fully mounted using nickel silver.

The thread winding is quite comfortable under your fingers and the overall aesthetic appeal of the boat is stunning.

The actual wood used for this design is red Sandalwood from Brazil which is air dried for 3 years.

The shape of the stick is an octagonal stick that weighs around 80 grams. It has a good balance point which makes it much easier for you to control.

Everything is handcrafted and ready to go as soon as it arrives.

the natural Mongolian horse hair is not manufactured with any chemical processes so it isn’t damaged.

The unbleached design means better durability and rosin adhesion.

Note that as you loosen the bow, the stick will relax and get closer to the hair. The longer you use it, the straighter and more tense the stick becomes.

View at Amazon for more information on how this product might work for your needs.  

Pros:

  • Brazilwood cello stick that’s handcrafted with an oil varnish
  • Ebony frog with abalone inlays
  • Octagonal shape for the stick
  • Unbleached white Mongolian horse hair

Cons:

  • Better for beginners and not for advanced or intermediate players because of the stick design.

VingoBow 3/4 Size Natural BLACK Mongolia Horsehair Carbon Fiber Cello Bow DEEP and POWERFUL Tone Nice Design Black Color Art No.100CB

If you need a cello bow, this is a high quality option. The carbon fiber stick is stronger and more durable than wood with greater flexibility, you have a good balance point as everything is handcrafted.

Another benefit to the carbon fiber stick is that it’s lighter and stronger than a wooden stick.

The grip is a genuine leather grip with an elegant winding that makes it beautiful to the eye but also properly balanced.

The shell is made of mother of pearl and looks very similar to a gemstone. 

What is particularly nice about this product is the different sizes of bow available for different models.

You aren’t stuck with a single, full-sized bow but rather, a full size and three different fractional sizes so you can invest in this bow if you have a young child who is playing a quarter-size instrument, a half-size instrument, or a 3/4 size instrument.

This design features black Mongolian horse hair. The black Mongolian horse hair is thicker than white Mongolian horse hair.

Being thicker it produces a louder and more wild tone suitable for bigger instruments like cellos.

The bow is quality carbon fiber which is stronger and more durable than pernambuco but still brings with it a lot of flexibility. 

View at Amazon to learn more about how this bow might work for you.

Pros: 

  • Black Mongolian horse hair for greater resiliency and easier rosin application
  • Straight stick with exceptional bounce stability.
  • Everything is made by hand and is ready to play as soon as it arrives.

Cons:

  • The higher quality design is suited for intermediate and advanced players, not necessarily beginners.

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