Pernambuco Double Bass Bow
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We've been getting these genuine Pernambuco bows from the same manufacturer for over a decade now; they are crafted in the same shop as my Brazilwood bows, and have octagonal Pernambuco sticks with a fully lined* (French) and half-lined* (German) ebony frog, which at this price point is a great value. These bows are very commonly used by advanced students -- several of the bass majors in our local college's music program are using them -- and they're enthusiastically reviewed all over the internet.
Weight can vary a small bit from bow to bow, but they're actually quite consistent in my experience with these bows over the last two decades.
A representative French bow weighed around 132 grams, with the German/Butler at about 138 grams. They have a lovely silver wire wrap at the frog end, and a leatherette grip for comfort. The eyes in the bow frog are of white mother-of-pearl (not plastic).
They're similar to our Brazilwood bows in design, but I find that they have a "livelier" tip, which works well for solo work and fancier spiccato techniques -- but it is still a very good, comfortable, all-around bow for most any bassist.
All the Pernambuco bows have dark horsehair; we call it a "Chestnut Blend"; it's more accurately more of a mid to dark blend of black and chestnut, which players have found to be very agreeable. It's a really nice feeling hair, not too coarse but with nice grab. (Note that some of the photos below are older and show some bows with white hair, which is no longer available on this bow).
What the heck is Pernambuco? Pernambuco is a particular tree of the Brazilwood (Leguminosae) family that is traditionally prized for bow making; it's somewhat expensive to obtain, so a true Pernambuco bow is often also more expensive than a "Brazilwood" bow (which can be made of one of several woods that are generically called "Brazilwoods" - see more details in the next paragraph). We do have Brazilwood bows available, from the same maker who crafts these Pernambuco bows -- they're really nice, and are a bit more affordable, if your bass budget is tight. You can find these bows on our site as well.
A little learnin' for ya:
Brazilwood is not actually a specific wood, but a named grouping of closely related woods (several trees of the family Leguminosae, if you want to geek out a bit.) This grouping of woods is wonderful for making bows; they have straight grain, wonderful acoustic properties, and a warm reddish color. Further geeking out: the color is where it gets its name; Portuguese explorers finding the trees on the South American coast found that the wood yielded a valuable red dye, and named the tree pau brasil, meaning, loosely, "red wood." Trivia time: That's where the country of Brazil got its name!
Pernambuco is a particular tree of the Brazilwood family that is traditionally prized for bow making; it's more expensive to obtain, so a true Pernambuco bow is often also more expensive. That said, prices on Pernambuco bows can be all over the place; there are much cheaper ones to be found on auction sites like eBay, and much more expensive (into the several thousands of dollars!) Pernambuco bows are available from other shops. As with most anything, it's not just the base materials, but quality and craftsmanship that matter. Your bow is as much a musical instrument as your bass is.
As you can find by reading the many excellent reviews for these bows over the last several years, I provide a "better" quality bow at a fair and reasonable price. These bows are considered 3/4 size (though be aware that there are no strict rules on sizing). The French bow is 27¼ inches end to end, with about a 21 inch hair length. The German bow is 30 inches end to end, with about a 22 3/8 inch hair length.
Some sellers provide a service where they send you three or four bows to try, and you give them all a go, and send back the ones you don't like as much, keeping the one you do. We don't do that with these bows, and here's why: at this price point, it's simply not worth the cost or the trouble to either of us. Why not? When bows are played and returned, they must be inspected, cleaned, and restocked, and this costs time and money. Shipping bows requires care in packing, and insurance. This also costs time and money. And, to be fair, if you're a student, intermediate player, etc., you very likely won't perceive a meaningful difference between a random handful of these bows; they're very consistent, and -- with all due respect -- if you can, you're probably shopping for bows in a much swankier price range (like $1,500 and up.) So, rather than raising the prices, to subsidize the costs of providing this rather dubious service on bows that cost under $300, we instead provide you with an excellent, consistently-crafted bow at a really affordable price.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT BROKEN BOWS: A wooden bow is a fragile musical instrument in and of itself. Especially when under tension, a simple rap against a hard surface (like the post of a music stand) can easily break a bow. Bumping into a bow that is perched on the lip of a music stand is also a common "maker of unhappy bassists" -- the bow hits the floor, and suddenly the stick is in two pieces. I really hate taking those phone calls, because I feel bad - I really do - but it really is exceedingly rare that it's the bow's fault.
Breakage from seemingly innocuous raps against a chair leg is not a sign of a "defective" bow, any more than shattering a glass vase by grazing a marble countertop would be considered the fault of the vase.
We STRONGLY recommend that you (or your children) exercise prudent care with ANY wooden bow, whether bought from us or not.
There are bow "holders" available to help keep them safe; we sell bow quivers (a leather bow "holster" that ties to the tailpiece) as well as inexpensive hooks that clip onto the music stand, providing a safer means for putting the bow down for pizz sections.
It’s light, easier to play, and better sounding. I also liked the blue info sheet that came with it—nice touch!
The (Pernambuco) bow sounds wonderful and is a great value! Looking forward to putting it to good use.
Hello Bob and Mark - I recently purchased a Pernambuco German Bow and a double bow case from you. This bow was to replace a cracked backup bow. Needless to say, after a very quick break in, this became my go to bow!! I play in several university/community orchestras playing masterworks pieces. Within days of receiving this bow, I performed programs including Beethoven's Symphony #6, Pictures At An Exhibition, American In Paris and Carmina Burana. Needless to say, there is some VERY quick bow work needed to perform these pieces. This bow certainly stood up to the task giving me all that I asked of it. It pulls a very rich and resonant sound from my instrument that projects well in a hall without having to dig in. I also take occasional lessons from a professional orchestra bassist who was amazed at the quality of bow for the price! As a repeat customer, I continue to be very happy with my latest purchase and usual quick friendly service! Many thanks!!
I had started learning arco with a cheap bow of unknown origin. My back and right shoulder would sometimes hurt after practice. With the new bow I now realize what I have been missing all along. I've made considerable progress in a just a few days. Just letting the gravity and the rosin on the hair pull the sound without effort.
You guys are good! I received my Pernambuco Bow today, about 48 hours after ordering it, and I'm knocked out by how nice it is. Feels very solid and balanced, and it looks beautiful. Thanks very much for the excellent service and product. I'm a happy man.