5 Best Viola Bows Reviewed

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One thing that continuously surprises beginners is that different bows can produce different sounds on the same viola. That means your music’s quality doesn’t depend on how expensive your viola is or how good you are at playing it. Your viola bow’s type (and quality) is just as crucial.

An essential factor to consider when buying a viola bow is how it feels in your hand. The right bow will feel like an extension of your arm. Technical considerations include the weight, material type, and stiffness of the bow, all of which contribute to the quality of music you can produce using a specific bow.

Top 5 Best Viola Bows

Viola bows are predominantly made from three types of material: Pernambuco, carbon fiber, and brazilwood. So, here is a list of bows that are inexpensive and well-suited to beginners.

ProductRating
SKY Brazilwood4.4
Vio Music Brazilwood4.3
VingoBow Horse Hair4.5
Vio Music Carbon Fiber4.8
CodaBow Diamond NX5

1. SKY Brazilwood Viola Bow for Beginners

SKY Viola Bow Brazilwood Beginner Student Level Well-Balanced

For beginners with 14″ to 16.5″ violas, this bow from SKY may be a good fit. It’s a handcrafted, round brazilwood bow with hair made from genuine Mongolian horsehair. Round bows are marginally more comfortable, so this product is highly suitable for beginners.

It’s not too stiff, and thanks to the varnish, it’s much more pleasant to handle. Moreover, it is well-balanced and lightweight, so practicing with it won’t feel like a burden.

Features

  • Mongolian horsehair
  • Round stick
  • Made from brazilwood

Pros

  • Easy to play with
  • Balanced
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Warps easily

2. Vio Music Brazilwood Viola Bow

Brazilwood Viola Bow, Full-size 4/4

It is a genuinely good viola bow if you don’t have much to spend but are still looking for quality. It is round, made from brazilwood, and the winding can be either artificial whalebone or silver. Even though this bow is 29″ long, its weight is well distributed, making it relatively lightweight.

The frog (handle) is made from ebony for better control and, of course, a striking finish. It isn’t a bow for performances, but if you need something cheap and easy to handle during practice, this is a decent viola bow.

Features

  • Parisian eye
  • Solid, round stick
  • Synthetic hair

Pros

  • Decent quality
  • Comfortable frog
  • Cheap

Cons

  • Not very durable

3. VingoBow Carbon Fiber Viola Bow

VingoBow 4/4 Size Black Horse Hair Carbon Fiber Viola Bow

Carbon fiber is more durable than brazilwood, so if you feel you can handle something more robust, this is the perfect product. This VingoBow viola bow has a stiff, stable stick that produces a clear tone.

Handling it is easy, not just because of the grip but also because it is quite responsive. Although dense, its weight is distributed well enough, so it feels balanced from the tip to the frog – precisely what you need when venturing into professional performances.

Features

  • Parisian eye decorations
  • Textured leather grip
  • Mongolian Horsehair

Pros

  • Great value
  • Neat and durable hair
  • Sturdy carbon fiber stick
  • Very responsive

Cons

  • It takes a few minutes of practice (and lots of rosins) to break-in

4. Vio Music Carbon Fiber Bow

Vio Music Top Carbon Fiber Viola Bow, Ebony Frog, Natural White Hair

This carbon fiber bow has made a name among professional viola players. Built from carbon fiber and natural white hair, it’s not the most sophisticated bow, but you might find it difficult to distinguish it from Pernambuco bows that cost twenty times as much.

It feels a bit top-heavy to some players, but its weight is nicely spread along its overall length for the most part. Most players have had to re-hair it almost immediately, but apart from that, the viola bow performs like a charm.

Features

  • Carbon fiber stick
  • Ebony frog
  • Natural white hair
  • Parisian Eye

Pros

  • Beautifully crafted
  • Durable
  • Strong stick
  • Resonant sound

Cons

  • Poor quality hair

5. CodaBow Carbon Fiber Bow

CodaBow Diamond NX Carbon Fiber Viola Bow

If you’re finally ready for a professional-level viola bow, feast your eyes on the CodaBow Diamond NX. The stick is made from a blended Kevlar core with excellent finishing.

Even with its modern carbon fiber blend, the frog is traditionally capped by a beautiful finish. It looks exquisite with its shiny silver winding.

Features

  • Imitated hard tip
  • Xebony Engineered Frog
  • Smooth leather grip

Pros

  • Exquisite craftsmanship
  • High-quality carbon fiber construction
  • Beautiful design
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • Quite pricey

CHECK OUR BEST VIOLIN BOWS REVIEW

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does the type of material make a big difference in viola bows?

Yes. You can feel a difference in quality between brazilwood, Pernambuco, and carbon fiber. Brazilwood is cheap and light. However, once in a professional’s hands, it may feel too weak and probably wouldn’t produce a good enough sound. Carbon fiber bows are relatively cheap and can be of astoundingly good quality. Lastly, Pernambuco bows are some of the best money can buy.

What’s the average lifespan of a viola bow?

Brazilwood bows have a reputation for being flimsy, and they typically last a few months to a couple of years with good maintenance. Carbon fiber bows may last over five years. They generally are the most durable type of viola bows.
Pernambuco bows are expensive but also tend to be stable with reasonable care and maintenance. If you buy anything over $100, you can expect at least three to five years of service.

How much should you spend on a viola bow?

A practice bow (for beginners and early intermediate players) shouldn’t cost you over $50. For performances, look no lower than a carbon fiber bow, which can go for $50 to $200, depending on the quality and features.
At the expert level, only Pernambuco viola bows can cut it. These exquisitely handcrafted bows typically cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Our Top Pick

When it comes to sheer value for money, nothing beats the Vio Music Carbon Fiber bow. Sure, it doesn’t come with the best quality hair, but once re-haired, professional musicians have a hard time putting it down. Even when compared to expensive Pernambuco, it is still an admirable viola bow that will suit any intermediate and expert player quite nicely.

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