How to Buy a Bow

Click here to read a Strings article in which Lynn Armour Hannings, George Rubino and David Bonsey share the keys to a successful search for a new bow. There are many factors to consider when trying out a bow for purchase. In addition to the initial considerations of price, size, materials, workmanship and age, you can evaluate a number of playability factors. When calling LAH Bows with the intention of trying out a bow/bows, I will ask you about your initial considerations (including what level of player you are) so that I am able to help find the best match for your needs.

Additionally, I hope you get something out of the July 2018 Strings article in which David Bonsey, George Rubino and I each share our advice for your successful search for a new bow.

Click here for a printable version of the chart below for use during bow comparison and evaluation. (Download the FREE Acrobat Reader to read, navigate, and print this PDF file.)

Initial Considerations




full size | fractional size (for children)


wood | other


new | restored

Playability Factors

Comfort of Frog & Grip

comfortable | moderately comfortable | uncomfortable

Perception of Weight

good | too heavy | too light

Strength of Stick

good | too stiff | too flexible

Tone Quality
of Long Tones

pleasing | too bright | too dark

Consistency of Tone

good | changes gradually | changes suddenly

Loud Dynamics

plays very loudly | plays moderately loudly | does not play loudly

Soft Dynamics

plays very softly | plays moderately softly | does not play softly

Action of Spiccato
and Sautillé

bounces well | too much bounce | too little bounce

Tone Color Contrasts

many colors | few colors | only one color

Vibrato Color Contrasts

allows many colors | allows few colors | allows only one color

Bow Directional

not noticeable | somewhat noticeable | very noticeable