How to Select a Violin, Viola, or Cello Bow

A guide detailing how to select a violin, viola, or cello bow that exceeds your expectations.

Players want to spend less time working and thinking and more time playing and enjoying their music. You need something that will accomplish what you want: unlock your potential, solve your problems, work with you and support you, and meet your technical and expressive needs. A good bow feels like a seamless extension of your arm and is easy to play.

So, where and how do you start to choose a good bow for your violin, viola or cello? CodaBow has answers.

Our leading scientific research and master bow making experience have given new insight into bow performance. Specific attributes suit different styles, genres, and levels, and exact technical properties influence bow characteristics. Using pioneering materials and methods and by adhering to exacting specifications, we are able to offer models that specifically suit the performance and preferences needs of each player.

dynamic balance and weight chart
action and stiffness chart

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With a CodaBow in-home trial, you can test any of our bows for 7 days to ensure you choose a violin, viola, or cello bow that feels good and plays brilliantly.

How to Select a Violin, Viola, or Cello Bow That Enhances Your Technical and Expressive Needs.


As the single largest influence on bow character, action describes the nature of a player’s connection with the string during play. A bow’s action is ultimately determined by how and where the bow flexes. Most associated historically (in the case of wooden bows) with the extrinsic camber, action of engineered bows is also a function of intrinsic design (fiber blend, quantity, and orientation). Because string connection is the essence of player sound, it is important to select the action best-suited to your style, approach, and genre.

FIRM ACTION bows offer hard and rapid string connection, capable of direct and focused expression, and appeal to fiddlers and rock musicians.

SUPPLE ACTION bows offer compliant and sensitive string connection, capable of nuanced and layered expression, are preferred among classical artists.


STIFFNESS is a static measure of how much effort is required to flex the bow. Specifically-engineered stiffness affects how a player experiences drive of the string and resistance in the bow.

STRONGER bows hold up to sustained bow speed and heavier arm weight commonly used by active, intense players requiring more resistance in their pull.

SOFTER bows are best suited to gentler, lower-pressure play.

Dynamic Balance

Perhaps one of the most important and least understood contributors to the bow’s handling, DYNAMIC BALANCE refers to how the bow balances in a player’s hand during play. Not to be confused with the often-referenced static measurement, dynamic balance is the measure of mass in motion and is critical in order for the bow to feel comfortable in use.

Players who like to control and direct the bow and require high response and nuance will prefer a FROG-FAVORED balance.

For more stability and contact with the string, a TIP-FAVORED balance will feel steady in the hand and produce a focused tone.


Commonly a distracting factor in bow assessment, WEIGHT is static mass of the bow. Within a limited measure, weight affects the comfort and efficiency a player experiences with a bow with some preferring a slightly lighter bow while others appreciate the heavier end of the spectrum. Provided a bow falls within the long-accepted norms of bow making, its other characteristics will ultimately have more impact on its performance.

Violin bows generally range from 58-62 grams, viola bows from 68-72, cello bows from 78-82, and bass bows from 132-142 grams.

Explore our innovative carbon fiber bow collections.

Now that you have a clear idea of how to select a violin, viola, or cello bow that will fit your needs and aspirations, you are ready to browse our industry-leading carbon fiber bows.