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Bow Camber, Weight, and Balance

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by DaveAceofBass, Apr 12, 2006.

  1. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    I've been trying some Prochownik bows from George Vance and have narrowed it down to two. They are both very similar...

    One is 133g with a deeper camber, and slightly shorter than the other which is 132g, not quite as deep of camber, about a half inch or so longer, and a tad bit more tip heavy. The 133g has a thicker stick and feels as though the balance is more toward the frog. The 132g feels great too, has great grip--better grip than the 133g, but the 133g may focus the sound a bit more. I like them both and am having a hard time deciding.

    Right now I'm using them on my plywood 1930s King Mortone with Corelli Tungsten Forte strings. I will be buying a fully Kolstein (most likely the Guarneri model) bass over the summer. I might also switch strings--I've tried several kinds before. I sometimes use Obligatos or Thomastik Spirocore Weichs (not great for arco) or Superflexibles. I'm not sure what I'll use on the new bass, but the Corellis are nice.

    Both bows have good weight and balance, with the 132g slightly heavier tipside, and the 133g the opposite. I feel like I get a better grip with the 132g, but then sometimes I'm not sure if my hand is more comfortable with the 133g.

    I could use some advice and help. I'm a jazzer, but I'm a grad student who is trying to learn to play legit at a higher level.

    What do you think?
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The hardest thing to do when testing Bows is what music styles to test them with. If you are leaning towards Classical them work on a variety of Excerpts like Beethovans 5th or Mozarts Figaro. Play heavy hard passages and sweet slow ones. The Bow that works the best for all dynamics and tempos is the better bow. A concert I did last week had a variety of styles from hard and heavy Mozarts 41st to a Soprano singing a Mozart Aria which for the lower strings only required 2 of the Cellos and one Bass to fatten it up. Talk about being exposed. It was like walking a tight rope with no net under me in case I fell. I ended up using two different Bows to have the best of both playing styles in my bag. I could have used either one but each Bow has something it does better than the other so playing to the strengths of each bow made me stronger.

    If you do find a single bow for all styles of playing then you have found a great bow.
  3. I have found that it is very important to try out bows in a variety of playing situations that represent how you would actually use the bow. Last year, when I was doing some French bow shopping, I had 3 LaPierre bows, a new Reid Hudson and a new Zabinski sent to me to demo. I discovered that it was difficult to assess all the differences and features for the bows by just playing them at home. Playing them in rehearsals for two different symphonies, in different halls pointed out significant contrasts in the sound and the response of the bows; plus playing the various symphony pieces really helped to determine the feel, balance, responsiveness and general capabilities of each stick. It also helped to have feedback from the other section bass players regarding their impressions when playing the bows plus the sound produced out in front of the bass. So my advise is to try the bows in as many different venues as possible that represent the type of playing you will do with the bow.

    I ended up choosing one of the LaPierre bows. It was more beat up than the other LaPierres, but is an incredible bow. It is quite light at 121g, but works well in just about any playing situation and has allowed me to play difficult passages much easier than I could do previously.

    BTW, I have about one year left on the waiting list for a Sue Lipkin bow. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the LaPierre. I think Sue's will be top notch, but probably different than the LaPierre.
  4. Red Comfort

    Red Comfort

    Apr 5, 2006
    does it chance something if the bow wights 133g or 132g, I tasted 2. The diference at them was at around 3g, I took the havier one becauce for me it was better to play with it!
    Red Comfort
  5. More important than 2-3 g difference in the bow weight is the balance of the bow, the response of the stick and the sound you get. There has been quite a bit of debate in this forum regarding bow weight; some like heavier bows in order to "dig in" more and get a louder sound, where others find a lighter bow is more nimble and easier to play. I think weight is secondary to these other factors in finding a good quality bow.
  6. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    The weight was so close it wasn't a big difference. The 133g is not as long by about 1/2 inch, and the 132g had a very pointy interesting looking tip--it looked cool. The camber of the 132 wasn't as much, allowing you to dig in more, but it was heavier toward the tip. I decided to buy the 133 because the weight was more toward the frog, and I felt that the balace created less fatigue in my wrist, which is a major issue for me. It was a real tough call though--the 132 was really nice and had a great bite on the string. I hope I chose the best one...but they're both excellent. Now the guy in Chicago will get them and maybe he'll buy the 132. You can't go wrong with the Prochownik bows. Email or call George Vance to try some....www.slavapub.net


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