Bow locks up with Kaplans. Strings? Setup?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by bengreen, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. bengreen


    Jan 26, 2016
    San Diego
    Hi all,

    I play a 5-string Pollmann orchestrally.

    Switched from Helicore Orch. Med. to Kaplan Med. a couple of months ago.

    I loved them at first. The bass is way louder and the tone richer than with the Helicores.

    But I noticed the bowing response was very different and expected I just had to get used to it.

    Last concert, In the middle of a ff passage, the bow just kind of glued itself to the string and stopped. Yes, of course I was sitting right behind the principals. And yes, they noticed.

    With the previous strings, if I were going for maximum sound and pushed it too far, the tone would break up but not actually stop the bow.

    It happens at moderately loud volumes on up. Speed doesn't seem to help. It feels frankly like it just wants a lot of sideways muscle behind the bow.

    Starting the string feels different too, like I'm cocking it a bit more before it releases. I wonder if this is the "rolling" I hear players talk about but that I've never quite got a real sense of the meaning.

    Has anyone else had this issue? With these strings, with others, with setup?

    Most of my luthier chops are with bows, but I did fit the bridge and sound post, so I'm comfortable adjusting them if anyone feels it's warranted.

  2. You migh want to try a harder rosin. What do you use currently?
    But clean the strings and the bow hairs from the old rosin first (by playing the rosin out or maybe by washing the rosin out).
  3. bengreen


    Jan 26, 2016
    San Diego
    Have been a long time Kolstein Soft user, but recently have been giving Pops another try.
    I'm in a dry climate. It tends to desiccate rosin pretty quickly. But I'll give harder a shot.

    As far as cleaning, my usual indication that it's time to rehair is when the hairs start breaking more than usual. They have been, so I'll skip the cleaning and just put fresh hair on. But I actually am in the habit of going occasional practice sessions without rosening because I don't like buildups.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  5. Greg Stevenson

    Greg Stevenson Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2011
    Newtown (Danbury), CT
    I agree with the suggestion to try a harder rosin. I had been using Pops rosin and had encountered the "bow stall" problem with Evah Pirazzi Orchestra and Spirocore Mittel. A few months ago I put Kaplans on my bass, still using the Pops rosin, and still encountered the "bow stall." A couple of weeks ago I switched to Carlsson rosin (a harder rosin than Pops) and noticed that the bow seemed to be smoother and less likely to stall. My bow is a String Emporium brazilwood German-style bow with salt-and-pepper hair. I live in the northeast US with large seasonal swings in temperature and humidity but my practice room has relatively constant climate control year-round, say 70-75 oF and 40-45% humidity. So I use the same rosin year-round.

    Which string did you stall on? Where on the string was the bow, toward the bridge, fingerboard, or in the middle? When I used Pops my stalls were mostly, but not always, on E and A when bowing closer to the bridge on long sustained notes (i.e., very slow bow speed) at a f or ff dynamic. Maybe when the bow speed gets slow enough it cannot overcome the friction of the sticky Pops and stalls. If one presses hard enough on the bow on a string close enough to the bridge then stalling is more likely.

    You could pose your question in the Luthiers forum. I'm no luthier, but I'm willing to bet that the problem is not with the bass but rather with the physics of the slip-stick mechanism of bow hair, rosin, and string.
  6. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I had a similar experience with them. Do you play German bow? (I do) I did make a rosin adjustment, but I do think there is something odd about these strings once the honeymoon wears off. I'm using Kaplan solos (tuned down) and they don't seem to have this issue

  7. bengreen


    Jan 26, 2016
    San Diego
    Yes, it was mostly stalling on the A and E with the Kaplans, and usually close to the bridge at loud dynamics. The low B is a Helicore Hybrid. And no, it doesn't seem to be a problem down there.

    This never did happen with the previous Helicore Orchestra sets, regardless of rosin.

    Sorry, haven't tried harder rosin yet. Ordered some but it was a no-show. Have to do over again.

    I posted here first to see if others had had issues with the Kaplans before I started messing about inside the bass

    It actually does seem to be getting a bit better though. Maybe I'm finally getting used to them or they're just settling in. I'll wait a bit longer and see how it goes.

    Thanks for the responses.

    Oops, almost forgot. I play French bow (that happens when you grow up in Philadelphia, there were regional loyalties involved when I was young). But my shoulder is such a mess nowadays I've been trying some occasional switch hitting to get some relief even though I have zero German technique.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
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