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Old 10-20-2012, 10:32 AM
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Default Bow woods

This question is mainly directed towards mr smith as I value his opinion & also know few others who have had/have such a vast & pricy collection of bows/basses, but anyone feel free to chime in. What are your thoughts on the 3 main bow woods? Do you own any snake wood bows?
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Old 10-20-2012, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Joshua Phelps View Post
This question is mainly directed towards mr smith as I value his opinion & also know few others who have had/have such a vast & pricy collection of bows/basses, but anyone feel free to chime in. What are your thoughts on the 3 main bow woods? Do you own any snake wood bows?
I don't recall ever playing a snakewood bass bow. If I did, it didn't leave much of an impression or I would have remembered it.

I think you have more then 3 woods for bows unless you want to mix Brazilwood and Pernambuco as one wood. They supposedly come from the same tree but possibly there are a few varieties of species but on they varieties, I am no expert. Ipe is another old wood that was used for Bows as well. It is known also as Pau d'Arco.
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Old 10-20-2012, 12:32 PM
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Default Snake wood

I think as far as bows go snake wood is revered as a dense & heavy wood compaired to pernambuco but I've never gotten to try one.
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Old 10-20-2012, 09:49 PM
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I played at least one snakewood bow and some point, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was or even who had it. My only impression was that it was "different", and not in a good way; but who knows, that may not have anything to do with the wood itself.
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Thomas Erickson View Post
I played at least one snakewood bow and some point, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was or even who had it. My only impression was that it was "different", and not in a good way; but who knows, that may not have anything to do with the wood itself.
True. My first pernambuco bow had horrible camber & felt horrible to play but it defiantly wasn't the wood that made that bow a junker
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:59 AM
Gerry Grable Gerry Grable is offline
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Default Bow wood

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Originally Posted by Joshua Phelps View Post
True. My first pernambuco bow had horrible camber & felt horrible to play but it defiantly wasn't the wood that made that bow a junker
I assume that you meant definitely wasn't the wood. Which brings me to the question: What kind of wood is my bow made out of?
I bought it (my one and only bow) in 1963 in Albuquerque. It is a French style with no name or stamp, perfectly straight with a (I believe!) good camber. I've had it rehaired several times but have never thought to ask any of the luthiers if they could identify it. Can the wood be identified by just looking?
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:52 PM
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Default Bow wood

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Originally Posted by Gerry Grable View Post


I assume that you meant definitely wasn't the wood. Which brings me to the question: What kind of wood is my bow made out of?
I bought it (my one and only bow) in 1963 in Albuquerque. It is a French style with no name or stamp, perfectly straight with a (I believe!) good camber. I've had it rehaired several times but have never thought to ask any of the luthiers if they could identify it. Can the wood be identified by just looking?
Usually so. I think periodically its hard to tell the difference between brazil wood and purnambuco if the coloring & grain are tighter on the pernambuco but someone who knows wood would spot it right off. Post pics or ask your rehair guy next time.
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Old 10-21-2012, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Joshua Phelps View Post
Usually so. I think periodically its hard to tell the difference between brazil wood and purnambuco if the coloring & grain are tighter on the pernambuco but someone who knows wood would spot it right off. Post pics or ask your rehair guy next time.
Please, do a bit of research on your own, everyone with that question and see the name of the Botanical species of both Brazilwood and Pernambuco. You will be enlightened.

Basically speaking, Pernambuco is Brazilwood that grows in the town of Pernambuco. Like Sparkling wine and Champagne.

Before this wood became the standard for bow making, woods like Snakewood and Ipe' (Pau d'arco) were used for bows. Many old violin bows by the great masters of a century ago have been seen with nail holes in them. Why? Because the wood was used to make barrels for goods imported from Brazil. The Bow makers got the wood cheap and I assume used what they could as long as the holes did not affect the integrity of the strength of the bow or were easy to fill.
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Old 10-21-2012, 07:46 PM
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Please, do a bit of research on your own, everyone with that question and see the name of the Botanical species of both Brazilwood and Pernambuco. You will be enlightened.

Basically speaking, Pernambuco is Brazilwood that grows in the town of Pernambuco. Like Sparkling wine and Champagne.

Before this wood became the standard for bow making, woods like Snakewood and Ipe' (Pau d'arco) were used for bows. Many old violin bows by the great masters of a century ago have been seen with nail holes in them. Why? Because the wood was used to make barrels for goods imported from Brazil. The Bow makers got the wood cheap and I assume used what they could as long as the holes did not affect the integrity of the strength of the bow or were easy to fill.
Weird. I thought that pernambuco was the core wood of the tree & the brazil wood was closer to the outside. Guess I'm a noob
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:45 PM
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Not sure if this helps, but I've played two or three 'brazilwood' bows, and I would say generally that they have less density and resilience than pernambucco. Not as responsive to play, as a result. That's not exactly a large survey sample, but I personally would not buy a brazilwood bow other than as a cheap option for a student. From what I have seen, for the price one might be better off looking at carbon fibre bows...

This past summer I played my first snakewood bow. It was an absolutely beautiful bow but way too heavy and not at all balanced in a way I'd like. Snakewood seems to be used often for baroque bows, but I have never played one of those.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Whitla View Post
Not sure if this helps, but I've played two or three 'brazilwood' bows, and I would say generally that they have less density and resilience than pernambucco. Not as responsive to play, as a result. That's not exactly a large survey sample, but I personally would not buy a brazilwood bow other than as a cheap option for a student. From what I have seen, for the price one might be better off looking at carbon fibre bows...

This past summer I played my first snakewood bow. It was an absolutely beautiful bow but way too heavy and not at all balanced in a way I'd like. Snakewood seems to be used often for baroque bows, but I have never played one of those.
I just sold an inexpensive Brazilwood bow with a flamed stick @ about 146 grams. It doesn't get much denser. I have seen Fetique bows in Pernambuco @ 126 grams. Do the math and don't go disliking all bows from Brazilwood. What if a great maker used Brazilwood and a hacker of a maker Pernambuco? Which is better? The Wood or the maker?

Look up the botanical species names of the two woods and tell us what you find.
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
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What if a great maker used Brazilwood and a hacker of a maker Pernambuco? Which is better? The Wood or the maker?
Certainly can't argue with that, Ken. As I said, I've only tried a couple of brazilwood bows and that was my impression. I'm sure plenty of hackers have used pernambuco, and I have played many expensive and not so expensive pernambuco bows that I didn't like very much. Not sure if many master bowmakers have use brazilwood. Again, that's probably above my pay grade

(A quick online check says that 'brazilwood' refers to a family of trees, but that for bowmaking purposes pernambuco is Caesalpinia echinata and brazilwood is anything else from the family, but another site said that they're from different parts of the same tree...)
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