Bow Pricing Criteria
Factors in Handmade Bow Prices
Here I will only be considering handmade bows, which are bows that are completely made by one person who makes both stick and frog from their primary materials.
A bow maker with a possible working life of no more than 40 years and working alone, producing about 40 bows per year will produce in a lifetime something like 1600 bows. Of these, about 30% may be considered very good bows and if the bow maker is very fortunate, 10% of these may be thought of as great bows.
The bows of Francois Tourte for example are very expensive. There are two main reasons for this, rarity and quality.
Looking to auction prices for guidance is useful, if the prospective buyer is considering all the determining factors.
Wood or Carbon Fibre?
When discussing prices it is useful to make comparisons.
It would be possible to make many thousands of carbon fibre bows each year if the demand existed or the market could cope.
In the last 20 or so years, the prices for good handmade and above average bows have been increasing by up to 10% per year. This increase in price is due to the difficulty of reproducing something that has been made by hand, one by one.
Carbon fibre bows on the other hand are easily reproduced, with the major component made in a mould, the same process used to manufacture all plastic goods.
When these factors are considered, I believe that this type of bow is over priced and as they are easily reproduced, carbon fibre bows will not increase in value.
It is true to say that carbon fibre bows are much less prone to breakage, but in the event of loss or theft, insurance will always be necessary.
What to look for when buying a bow
Many players choose a bow on the basis of the name or of what feels most comfortable. Selecting on the basis of name may seem reasonable if the name on the bow is genuine and its price is reflected by the condition overall, including the authenticity of the frog and its components.
If a bow by a major maker sells for some fantastic price at auction there are factors that have determined that price. These are authenticity, condition, and a factor many overlook, history. Who has owned the bow?
Comfort for many players can be a critical and deciding factor when buying a bow, unfortunately this eliminates many bows with potentially dynamic qualities.
There have been great and poor bows made in every period.