Over fifteen years ago, I played on an Arcus bow from Bernd Musing, who pioneered a hollow carbon-fiber bow with exceptional stiffness and very light weight, which drew an incredible sound and had superb articulation, while also being supremely maneuverable. At the time, carbon fiber bows really hadn't made it into the mainstream, so "bowing" to peer pressure I eventually sold it and bought a vintage French bow, which has been superb.
However, given the recent issues with animal and plant species becoming endangered and/or extinct, along with the CITES regulations that limit the transfer of protected species, and the international ban on ivory, I have given the thought of using alternatives a lot of thought. Not being able to travel internationally easily with my primary bow has also been frustrating (and I'm not about to risk it going through customs, even with the pile of paperwork I have for it!).
I recently did a trial of three models from the current production line in Germany (the first lineup was made in Austria). Despite reports that the new bows were not as good as the old ones, I was happy to discover that they were as good as ever. The fit and finish is superb, the engineering and production of every single component to supremely precise tolerances. It is particularly interesting to note the difference in resonance qualities between the various grades of hollow carbon fiber sticks, with a noticeable difference in that regard from lower to higher end models, and even as a result of the shape as well (round vs. octagonal). Without getting too much into technical details, I have selected an Arcus S8 Round, which draws an incredible tone while being incredibly stable, focused, and clean. In articulation, the quality of the staccato, spiccato, and sautille is exceptional, and complicated bow pyrotechnics seem much simpler to execute. Having played them in the past, I didn't have to spend as much time getting acclimated to the reduced weight, and have thoroughly enjoyed being re-acquainted with Arcus once again. Even two weeks into it, I'm still discovering the potential of this bow, finding new ways to color the sound and push the boundaries of interesting bow strokes, which in blind tests with colleagues and students people have overwhelming selected over all the other bows I have played.
If you plan to try one of these in the future, do note that they behave very different from standard wood bows or the carbon fiber equivalent of wood bows from most major companies. Purists will dismiss them entirely, as their shape, camber, weight, etc. is all "wrong." All I can say is, experiment, gather evidence, and reach a conclusion that way. Blind testing with lots of people is really helpful, especially from those who have heard you play a lot and can perceive the small things that may actually weigh the most heavily in your decision to use a specific piece of equipment or not. It must suit your playing needs...and I wonder why I waited so long to try them again, they work so well for me!
Thank you, ARCUS for a fantastic bow and your efforts to advance bowmaking technology.