Which is Better, a Carbon Fiber Violin or Wood?
Carbon fiber violin vs wood – which is the better choice? There has to be some benefit – right?
Let’s find out if modern technology truly has caught up with the violin.
Out of all the string instruments, theviolin is the one with the richest history. For hundreds of years, luthiers made violins in well-known workshops where they carved wood until getting the perfect shape.
That’s how all the famous and most expensive violins are made – through a thorough and lengthy process.
Nowadays, there’s a lot of innovative materials and ways to produce superior musical instruments. With carbon composites, it’s possible to make one much faster than from wood.
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A violin made of wood may be the traditional way to go, but it a carbon fiber violin can be made stronger, and faster.
Plus, this works well for today’s market, where nobody can wait for months until their instrument is ready.
Every violinist also has an opinion regarding carbon fiber violin vs wood violin. After all, beginner, intermediate or professional violinists have different requirements for the quality of an instrument.
And if you’re more inclined to modern music than classical pieces, that will also influence your opinion.
In this short guide, we’ll try to explain all the factors involved in deciding whether a wooden instrument and bow are better than carbon alternatives.
Or, indeed, if there’s any middle ground.
Wooden Violins vs Carbon Fiber Violins
Characteristics of Wood Violins
Every luthier knows that a good piece of dried wood is the key to success. The instruments they hand carve are marvelous in their sound properties as well as looks.
Usually, wooden violins are made from spruce, maple, pear, and sycamore, depending on the luthier’s knowledge and preference.
Luthiers often use maple since it features flame-like lines that a suitable varnish accentuates.
The varnish quality alongside the wood has a significant impact on the future sound as it makes it warmer and adds more depth.
Of course, if the wood has gone through a long drying process that lasted for more than ten or twenty years, its quality is marked as premium.
That’s why violins like Ming Jiang Zhu 925 Violin and Scott Cao Superior Signature Series come with a serious price tag.
These instruments are handcrafted, and the wood quality guarantees the best possible sound.
Wooden Violin Features
- Flexible instrument
- Easy to play on
- Rounded sound
- Strong projection
Characteristics of Carbon Violins
Everyone agrees that a carbon fiber violin sounds slightly different from a wooden violin.
Due to the specific construction method and other materials used to create it, carbon fiber instruments have a more profound and louder projection than their wooden counterparts.
You see more and more carbon violins in orchestras, even among professional musicians, especially if they want to perform in various indoor and outdoor locations.
Instruments like the progressive five-string Glasser AEX Carbon Composite violin are examples of how carbon violins combine advanced technology and great acoustic potential.
The flexibility of a carbon instrument is very different from that of a wooden instrument. Hence, why you see a lot of carbon fiber fiddles used by performance artists.
Any Glasser violin could be a great choice as you can find them in various colors, thus adding a visual component to any performance.
For gig performers, a violin often used as a fiddle is Glasser Carbon Composite 5-String Violin.
Carbon Fiber Violin Features
- Strong carbon body
- Good projection
- Sharp sound
- Great for outdoor performances
- Variety of colors and designs
Wooden Violin Bows vs Carbon Fiber Bows
Characteristics of Wooden Bows
Wooden bows are usually made from brazilwood if they’re mid-class and Pernambuco for the middle and upper class.
These were standard materials for violin bows as they were the only light and flexible materials available.
In recent years, Pernambuco became an endangered plant; cutting it was prohibited. That’s why wooden bows became scarce and very expensive.
On the other hand, a brazilwood bow is often a combination of several types of wood. In terms of price, they can vary from less than $50 to several hundred.
The factor determining the cost of any wooden bow is the craftsmanship used to combine its five parts.
Wooden Violin Bow Features
- Lightweight and easy to maneuverable
- Sensitive to humidity
- Fragile and easy to break
Characteristics of Carbon Fiber Bows
Carbon is a composite material you can use to create strong and flexible instruments at only a fraction of the cost compared to wooden ones.
Composite materials have the same level of flexibility, and they’re often stronger and scratch-resistant.
A lot of professional players opt to use carbon bows to create better resonance and better projection.
More recently, both intermediate and professional violinists have started using carbon bows. Some even have several to choose from.
As far as the sound is concerned, the bow’s most crucial feature is its balance, but every player decides what fits them better.
When it comes to band gigs or concerts, players mostly use carbon bows to suit their strength since they find wooden ones too sensitive to humidity.
To find the best carbon violin bow, you’ll have to hear how it sounds first. But keep in mind that all of them have various characteristics, features, and price points.
A braided carbon fiber bow is one of the best you can find on the market. Unlike standard composite carbon bows that are hollow on the inside, braided carbon bows have a solid core that makes them stronger.
The braids come from carbon fibers, making the bow look more refined than a standard model.
One of the most recommended premium quality braided carbon bows is the Glasser Braided Carbon Fiber Sterling Silver Bow.
But if your budget has its limitations, you can also check more budget-friendly options like Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Violin Bow as well as Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Weave Violin Bow.
Carbon Fiber Bow Features
- Extremely strong
- Excellent performance in various conditions
- Responsive and light
- Great for outdoor performances
- Suitable for low hours of practice
Carbon Fiber Violin vs Wood Violin FAQ
Are Carbon Fiber Violins Good for Outdoor Performance?
Yes, carbon fiber violins are ideal for performers as the temperature and humidity don’t affect the sound quality.
Whether it’s a wedding on the beach, a gig in a crowded place or a concert on a boat, carbon fiber violins will sound equally good.
Are Carbon Fiber Violin Bows Good?
Some of the best performers use carbon bows at their concerts. However, keep in mind that if you want to get a good carbon fiber bow, it needs to have at least 60% carbon fiber for the best resonance.
And if you want a premium carbon fiber bow, those that have more than 80% of fibers will feel better than any wooden bow you’ve tried. Of course, it comes with a price tag.
Top quality carbon fiber violin bows are exceptionally good
That said, there are still musicians who still prefer wooden bows. In the end, it’s a matter of taste and preference as you can achieve superior performance with both.
Is Carbon Fiber Stronger Than Wood?
Because it’s a composite material, carbon is more robust than wood as it’s tough to break.
Another benefit of using a carbon fiber bow is that humidity can’t change its structure; it will stay the same for a long time.
Ensure that you’re buying a bow with more than 60% carbon, and it will be very strong.
On the other hand, if you get a bow with 45% or fewer carbon fibers, the bow might break easily.
Can a Carbon Fiber Bow Break Easily?
In terms of durability, carbon bows are almost impossible to break during a performance.
Braided carbon bows like the Glasser Braided Carbon Fiber Sterling Silver Bow are among the best since they are not hollow but filled with carbon fibers.
In Conclusion, Do You Prefer Modern Violins, Traditional, or a Combination of Both?
The debate about carbon fiber violin vs wood violin still rages on. It seems that carbon and other composite materials have become more prominent as wood is more expensive and harder to find.
Since every violin and bow feel differently depending on the material, each artist must decide what feels more comfortable while performing.
Every violin and bow will feel different
For some, the wood will always be more refined, while carbon composite allows more freedom.
In a way, with new versions of traditional instruments, the performance possibilities become endless.
Before you make a final decision on whether you’ll get a wooden or carbon fiber violin and bow, make sure you try as many as you can.
You’ll get a better sense of their benefits and drawbacks – and In the end, you can also combine them for the best effect.