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Does a tighter bow

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    generally produce a louder sound?

    Regards to all
  2. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    For me, not a yes/no question. Maybe. Every bow will have a tension that brings out its best qualities. Exceeding that will let you press harder, and maybe play louder, possibly at the expense of other qualities. Producing volume is also a matter of technique. Without that, you'll not be able to produce the maximum a particular bow can provide.
    Neil Pye, csrund and David Potts like this.
  3. BostonPop01


    Jan 1, 2009
    It’s actually a far more complex question you’re asking because it’s not just the hair tension that makes sound come from a string instrument, of course. But in general looser tension allows the hair to wrap more around the string and pull a fatter, more overtone rich sound. A lot of great old-school German players use quite low hair tension and a lot of rosin and can really pull out a huge tone with minimal effort. Tighter hair might give you the feeling you can press more, but that typically doesn’t correlate to a “louder” sound.

    It’s all about the relationship between wood density and quality, camber, flexibility of the stick, amount of rosin, and playing weight used by the player, which is what I think neilG was alluding to.
    s van order and Selim like this.
  4. It's a balancing act. If the hair is too tight the hair might not be able to wrap around the string enough to grab it well and if it's too loose the hair doesn't have enough tension to grab the string well. The rule of thumb that I usually go by for finding the hair tension that I like is if I put the bow on the string towards the middle of the bow and put the maximum amount of weight into the bow that I'll use the bow hair should just about touch the stick. This can be different with every bow though. The balance between all the things that BostonPop01 said will determine how tight the hair needs to be to find that sweet spot that's right for you.

    Also, depending on the piece that I'm playing I might have to tighten or loosen the hair every once in a while because the friction from bowing can heat up the hair a little causing it to stretch out, or contract if I'm not playing for a while after doing a bunch of loud playing.
  5. I find that sound and response dial in at a particular way if the hair it tightened to just the right tension, assuming camber and tension are in order.

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