As of today - I'm the new owner of a $50 carbon fiber cello bow. This was bought somewhat on a whim after reading on the ICS boards that Shar was clearancing out these cello bows for less than half of the normal price and that several ICS members had bought them and found them to be functional with a good sound for the price - comparing to other student bows in the $300-$500 price range.
The final selling point was that ICS members first complaints was that the bow was "insubstantial/very light". I struggle with tendonitis in my hands and wrists and so my cello playing time is very limited due to that.
Furthermore, my good cello bow is in need of a re-hairing AND a possible repair. Something feels not quite right where the frog meets the stick. My back up bow is a decent wood bow - but quite heavy. The rehair alone for that bow (assuming that the rehair fixed the issues and no other repairs are needed) is $80. So I figured why not get the carbon fiber bow?
The total cost even with shipping and taxes was still less than the cost to rehair my good bow. I told Allan that no matter WHAT it sounded like - I would practice on it until it needed rehairing so we wouldn't actually be out any money in the long run. I was lucky to get one as the next post I saw after placing my order was titled "Sold out - I don't think we'll see a deal like that again".
So the bow came today and I was eager to try it out! As expected - the tone is not as good as either of my wooden bows. It's clearly even a cut below my "2nd" cello bow and there's just no comparing to to my good bow. However - it doesn't sound BAD - just not as good, the sound is a bit thinner/quieter/not as rich. But the bow actually seems to perform decently - I can do differnet bowing styles - just spiccato takes quite a bit more control. My good bow practically does it on it's own! Basically - it's a good back-up bow to my back-up bow. BUT as I had hoped for - playing with the lightweight carbon fiber stick doesn't hurt my wrist. After practicing cello today, spending time writing out math problems and then playing through 3 hours of FVS rehearsal - my wrist remained pain free all the way to the end of rehearsal! I am even here after orchestra actually typing on the computer!!! That wouldn't be happening before.
So in light of THAT - I believe the dollars were $ well spent! The plan is to practice with the carbon fibre bow the majority of the time and use the wooden ones more for performances - at least during this life-stage where I will be doing more typing/writing. So I once again have 3 cello bows. My previous 3rd bow has gone out to my cousin on the East coast. It was a lovely bow: bought to go with the cello I played in high school, that just didn't sound good at all on my current cello and was quite heavy - so I never actually played it. It sounds wonderful on my cousin's cello however - and had I not sent it out to her - there's no way I would have justified buying a 4th! cello bow and this bow is going to allow me to play cello more than I otherwise would be physically able to.