This research, undertaken at Ircam and subsidized by the French ministry of Culture, is based on the study of a set of prototype bows, made out of carbon fiber composites by one of the authors. Its principal objective is to highlight objective critera of the quality perceived by the violinists, the characteristics of these bows, and the connection with the manufacturing processes. Wooden bows (recently manufactured and older) are also considered, although less systematically, allowing comparisons and suggesting possible modifications of prototypes. The study consists of two complementary phases. In the first one, a dozen expert violinists were requested to evaluate these bows by dissimilarity judgements between all pairwise combinations of bows, and then to comment on each one (free verbalization). These two tests aim to construct a perceptive space of bow quality. We then try to link the dimensions of this space to mechanical and physical properties evaluated in the second phase : static properties (mass, centre of gravity, flexion stiffness, torsion, tension of the hair) and dynamic ones (bounce tests, modal analysis). Concurrently, a computer simulation base on a finite element model was developed to help interpret the experimental results and anticipate the manufacturing modifications. A preliminary list of descriptors based on lexical analysis of the free verbalizations, as well as the development of procedures of functional evaluation for bow makers, are presented.