1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Bow Quality- Woods..hairs..pearl

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by basslax, Jan 11, 2001.

  1. basslax


    Apr 20, 2000
    Washington, DC
    i am just learning bowing on the upright and play with the school bow (low quality). when my teacher showed me his bow it was very high quality..wood as opposed to plastic..pearl instead of plastic (on the frog(i think thats what it is))and wire wrap, again, instead of plastic.
    does the wood or the kind of wrap really affect the sound that much? i dont want to sound like the ignorant drifter from BG but i think it is excessive paying half as much as your bass for a bow.
  2. Does the wood affect the tone?


    The bow has almost as much to do with your tone as the bass. That's also why lots of people don't think twice about dropping a lot of money on a great bow. The other factor to consider is the response of the bow which can be greatly affected by both the particular piece of wood and, more importantly, the bow maker's skill.

    It's true that the prices of good handmade bows are pretty inflated relative to the cost of materials and even the bow maker's time, but the bottom line is that a lot of players are willing to shell out big bucks for a bow that will deliver the tone and response they are looking for. Supply and demand.

    I guess for the electric bass folks, consider this... if you have a great electric bass but you play it through a 10 watt piece of crap amplifier, your great bass won't seem so great anymore! The bow is as important as a great electric bass amplifier.
  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    The bow stick itself vibrates. It contributes to the message being sent to the bridge by the strings, which in turn is converted to sound by the body of the bass. As with the bass itself, there's no telling how the wood will really sound until the wood is shaped and assembled. It is reasonable to assume that if a major player is going to pay $5,000 for a bow, it's because of the sound it delivers. And $5M won't be half the cost of his/her bass.
  4. The pearl does not have to be pearl, in can be replaced with mother-of-pearl, even with mother-of-kitchen-sink or mother-of-toilet-seat-cover. The function of the wrap is to give weight and balance.
    The story is, if the bow is made of expensive wood ( pernambuco for example ) the price of the settings does not play a remarkable role in the final price of the bow. Why not then make them out of qualified materials instead of plastic?
    I do not know any bowmakers personally, but consider their work just as valuable as luthiers who make stringed instruments. When you buy a good bow made by a good maker, you pay for "handarbeit" and lots of experience. It´s not easy to value all that, but it can be heard in the sound...
    and there are exceptions of course. Edgar Mayer plays a 15-bucks bow, and how does HE sound with it?
  5. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    My bowmaker's bows sell for $2,800. If you think her lifestyle is anywhere near the level of the people who buy her bows, you're mistaken.
  6. Dear Don Sama,
    if it were a lifestyle question only, I´d consider twice before suggesting anybody to think about becoming a jazz bass player...
  7. Actually, his sound is breathy and pretty thin, which is a direct comment on his bow. Those who heard him play along side Gary Karr last summer agree that, for two guys who are playing old Italian instruments, there sure was no comparision.

    Just listen to any album he is on - it's a thin sound without depth or breadth. Amazing l.h. technique crappy bow and sound.

    Playing styles aside, it's clear that Edgar couldn't get a full sound from his bass if he tried with that bow (and I've seen/heard him try in masterclasses).

    True, it's apparently not what he's after, but it's kind of a pity to see such an amazing old bass being played so overly carefully with a truly awful sounding bow.
  8. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I thought it was just me. I don't care that much for Meyer's sound, either. Big sigh of relief.
    Part of greatness is being able to cope with whatever you're using. I've had teachers who could get a good sound out of barbed wire.
  9. No, it's not just you. I've had that reaction and I've heard others articulate it as well. Another thing I don't like is the way his top two strings almost sound like a cello. That may be in part due to his bow and his tuning.

Share This Page