Carbon Fiber Violin Bows
There are many carbon fiber violin bow choices on the market these days, a significant improvement from the early 2000's, when only a few companies even dared to test the market waters. That being said, there's a lot of junk out there as well, so if you're looking for a carbon fiber bow there are a few things to consider:
1. The first category of bows is the largest--these carbon fiber bows are intended to try and reproduce the same characteristics of wood bows. In the sub $250-$300 range, carbon fiber bows tend to be more consistent all across the board than their wood counterparts. For a student who doesn't have an experienced teacher and/or player to try them out, the chances of getting a stick within the standard playing parameters is better with carbon fiber than with wood. In this range, there are dozens of manufacturers and all of their output is quite similar. Personally, I'm not a big fan of CodaBow's current bows...they all seem to have a very limited range of tone color and their response is sluggish. Their original "classic" model was actually quite good, but they don't make them anymore. The latest lineup, the Marquise is hit and miss...of the demo models I sampled, one did play quite well, but they are expensive, in the $1300-$1500 range. For only half of that, around $700, your best bet is the JonPaul Avanti, a superb carbon fiber bow which has the response and articulation of much more expensive bows, and outplays the CodaBow Marquise GS. The sound is clean and clear, and it is best suited for orchestra playing. I have colleagues in full-time orchestras who use the Avanti for all of their daily work in their ensembles. Check out JonPaul's website for more details.
2. The second category of bows is small--these carbon fiber bows are intended to behave completely differently than wood bows, but offer a number of advantages because of their unique construction. As a result, their use is limited to those who are wiling to invest the time to learn how to use them effectively, and certainly are not good choices for people who don't plan on playing them full-time. My preference on this end is the S8 model by Arcus. At an advertised price of around $5600, it's not something you use as a spare, but my experience is that at that price point, it outplays many traditional bows I have tried upwards to $20,000-$25,000. However, it requires one to re-learn how to execute many bow strokes, since the camber, weight, and response are totally unlike traditional pernambuco bows. You can read my review of the S8 on the Arcus site, and you can see the bow details as well. Someone asked me why I didn't go the S9, their top model? Well, the S8 I selected I felt performed about 98% as well as the S9 I tried, and didn't need to spend $8000+ on the S9! :)