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Bow weight and volume

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Rob W, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. This idea that a heavier bow helps make a bigger sound is something that I'm inclined less and less to agree with. This idea seems to keep resurfacing - recently, in a discussion of Prochownik bows (which I own three).

    I have to say I agree with Prochownik's idea that a heavier bow does more to tire you out (and risk injury) that it does to add to your sound.

    My main bow is a 127g Prochownik Sartory model french bow. I get a huge, warm, well defined sound and it is the lightest french bow I've ever owned.

    If I do need more sound, I can always relax my arm weight more, play a little closer to the bridge and/or use a faster bow stroke. I almost never get a sore bow grip anymore, even after playing 30 bars of fff tremolo in Tchaikovsky, which leaves me relaxed enough to get more sound with the aforementioned methods.

    I mean, honestly, what are a few measley grams of bow weight going to do for you that relaxing your 15-20+ POUNDS of arm weight won't (even considering that you won't manage to get all of that transfered to the string)?

    The other issue I have with heavier bows is that they usually don't respond as quickly, so articulation can be a real issue. What's the use in having all that extra weight if you can't get the notes in a tricky rapid passage to speak?

    I suppose a bow that is really extra light could have some dissadvantages, but I still contend a medium light bow is capable of being just as loud (or more) because the player can more easily direct their own weight and energy to the bass rather than lugging the extra lumber around. In short, I feel the more relaxed and rested I feel, the more I am able to get a big sound out of the bass. Lugging a heavy bow around interferes with that IMO.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    A heavier bow might masque some bad technique.
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have two heavy type Bows now both made by Peter Eibert about 15 years apart.. One is 146g and the other 152g. I also own two light bows, 128g and 132g.

    I have owned many many bows. My main bow was a Sartory which I sold after I retired from full time playing. It was fairly dense and I assume heavy but I never weighed it back then.

    My 146g Bow is a Sartory copy. The 152g is more on the lines of a long Picatte type. Both Bows are about the same length. The 146 sounds smoother when I play it but listeners from a short distance tell me the 152 sounds more powerful and deeper. The lighter bows sound much thinner all around and weaker. They are easy to play but I have to work harder to get the sound out.

    When Practicing recently on BEETHOVEN 5th and SHOSTAKOVICH 12th I noticed the heavier bow played the fast low notes better and cleaner and with less effort. I remember in my younger years having Seifert, Morizot, Bisch, S.Kolstein, Vitalle, G.Villaume, Roche and many othe bows as I collected them, bough and sold them.. The heavier, more dense Sartory beat them all hands down for tone and playability..... I sold every one of them..

    As a matter of fact, when I recently contacted Sue Lipkins to order a Bow, she reminded me that we met in the mid-late 70s. She was studing with Homer M. I believe and was in one of the NY music Colleges and needed a good Bow. Someone gave her my name and she came over and bought the Bisch. She told me this was her first good Bow.. and now look where she is. One of the best Bow makers around...Go figure... BTW, I didn't get any discount at all for old times.. and I didn't ask either.. Business is Business and work is work.. I can easily respect that...