Getting used to a heavier bow

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by anonymous12251111, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Inactive

    Apr 6, 2007
    So my teacher lent me a very nice bow for the summer, but it weighs 146g and is quite stiff. I'm used to bows mainly at 133-135, though I have a Snakewood Walke bow at 142. Is there any way to approach playing on a heavy bow without injury? I've been using less arm/hand motion and have been concentrating on relaxing but I can't play for long periods of time with this bow without my hand becoming tense. When learning how to play with a heavier bow do any of you do "strength" training exercises for your hands? Thanks...I'm just worried that I might injure myself using a heavier bow even though the bow has more volume and tone.
  2. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    I have found that doing extended technical exercises that take over 30 minutes of continuous playing have been very helpful to me for loosening up. When you don't allow yourself to stop, it forces your body to relax, other wise you simply cannot get through the entire exercise. My favorite example of this is all the bowings in the very beginning of Rabbath 3. I haven't mastered all 200 and something of them, but it takes me about an hour to get through the ones I do know without stopping.
  3. It's hard to believe that 12 grams difference in weight would have such an impact on your bow hold unless you are already holding your own bow stiffly and this is tipping the balance, so to speak. The index finger does two jobs, providing the leverage downwards onto the string and holding the point of the bow up to draw sounds at 90 degrees for best tone. Perhaps what you are also feeling is the difference in balance. Is this bow more head-heavy than than your own?

    Some other factors. Is this French or German style? Are you sitting or standing? What part of your hand gets tired? Is it your big thumb muscles?

  4. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Inactive

    Apr 6, 2007

    K, 12 grams is a lot of weight. I don't play with any tension at all. Something about the qualities of this bow make it hard to use for longperiods of time. It's made out of Snakewood (which I've used before), but it's very tip heavy.
  5. Hemispheres85


    Jun 15, 2006
    My teacher once told me that he was sucked into a fad many years ago that the lighter the bow, the less you had to work. He went on to say that the opposite is true.

    I'm no expert, but I'd say just keep loose and let the bow do most of the work.
  6. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Inactive

    Apr 6, 2007
    Well ideally your weight comes from your arm, regardless of the weight of the bow. You can create a bigger sound with a lighter versus heavier bow because it may be more comfortable in your hand. It's really how the persons arm works.
  7. JimGullen

    JimGullen orch. bassist trapped in a statistician's body...

    Oct 25, 2005
    West Bloomfield, MI

    It's quite possible that it's not the weight that's giving you trouble but rather the tip-heaviness. Balance is often a more important factor than the weight of the bow. A poorly balanced bow can feel heavier than it really is.

    Obviously, since it's your teachers, you can't just go out and get the balance adjusted. Does your teacher think it's tip-heavy? Balance can be adjusted fairly easily if your teacher wants that done to his/her bow.

    Best regards!

  8. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Inactive

    Apr 6, 2007
    thx, just out of curiosity. how would this be done? obviously i'm not going to take his bow and do it heh.
  9. JimGullen

    JimGullen orch. bassist trapped in a statistician's body...

    Oct 25, 2005
    West Bloomfield, MI

    As Ken mentioned, above, it might be possible to get a heavier screw. The thickness/material of the winding can be changed as well.

    If those don't work, there is also the possiblity of lead tape under the grip. Since this bow is already heavy, this might not be advisable...but it's a reversable adjustment.

    Best regards!
  10. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Inactive

    Apr 6, 2007
    Thanks for the good advice, I do appreciate it (really I do) thank you very kindly. I was unaware that I judged your skill, if I did it must have been a misinterpretation or poor phrasing on my part. Either way, my sincerest apologies. :bag:
  11. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Inactive

    Apr 6, 2007
    Awesome. So have you guys used those Henk de Heitbrink New Dutch School bows??? I tried a 300g Ironwood Bow. lol. It's "interesting"
  12. Felessan


    May 4, 2004
    Long Beach, CA
    I have.. and I agree with you.. it is, "interesting." LOL. If someone has an insane amount of muscle mass or plays an extremely large bass (I mean, really extremely), I could see it possibly being useful. I have a theory that the "heavy" bow may be an attempt to compensate for basses that are set up poorly, bows that are totally inadequate, and poor technique with standard equipment. That said, the heavy bow requires a different technique than a "standard" bow, and it takes time to learn. You could get used to it, and some people have.

    The heavy bow itself wasn't poorly built as far as I could tell, but the specimen that I obtained exhibited all of the same problems that mediocre bows of the "standard" variety have: slow response, odd balance point (in this case, very tip heavy), difficult articulation... also, since it was so damned heavy, it took forever to cross strings--playing octaves felt like moving through molasses. :rollno: However, someone with massive bow-arm strength could deal with it.

    There are some videos floating around of people using these "heavy" bows... It's quite obvious that the bow's weight is inhibiting certain types of bow-strokes and acrobatic maneuvers.

    They are so heavy, that as an added bonus you could probably club someone to death with one. (if you are so inclined) :ninja:

    When all is said and done, though, I believe that a "standard" bow is the best available solution for current mainstream orchestral and solo playing styles. They are light enough to allow facile, acrobatic, playing, and heavy enough to get your Mahler on without ruining your shoulder. The design of our "standard" bow is pretty good, and there are many good bows out there that can do everything the "heavy" bow can do (and more)--provided you get one that is actually made well, and made of good materials.

    For my purposes (contemporary orchestral, chamber, and solo arco bassist) this "heavy" bow I tried is a no-bow--suitable for experimental bassists, ogres, and Robert Wadlow. I do, however, encourage people to experiment more. The future is exciting!

  13. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Inactive

    Apr 6, 2007
    I think Robert Wadlow would have taped 4 New Dutch School French Bows together and used them as one. Perhaps something totalling 1200g would be sufficient.
  14. pmad_bass


    Oct 24, 2004
    I got a French bow tail end of last year. It is heavier than my than main bow (also French). I would say heavier in the tip. I don't know how much either weights. I think early on, I did notice it took a littler more effort due to the weight...but now I'm used to that aspect. Two of the things that I do find I am encountering are:

    1.) It takes a bit of a concerted effort to maintain the bow being parallel to the floor/perpendicular to the string. and:
    2.) There is a bit more bounce to the new heavier bow. This is especially noticeable (at least with my level of technique) during fast repetitive strokes (16 th notes etc).

    With regards to maintaining the bow perpendicular to the string, I gone back to practicing in front of a mirror. Doing pretty well in this regard, save for the upper most regions of the fingerboard where it seems to be particularly difficult. I've only recently ventured into playing scales/reparations up to/into the (Robertson) 6th position...almost exclusively on the G string by the time I'm up in that region. This could be largely due to not being familiar with bowing in this area in general...or perhaps that my 7/8's may be a tad too big for me.

    Any tips for dealing with issue # 2 above (dealing with the increased bounce) would be appreciated. I did notice this bounce (albeit at slower strokes) at the time of purchase and is a good bit of what attracted me to the bow, as it seems to do spicatto almost on it's own (compared to my old bow).
  15. User4843936

    User4843936 Guest

    May 9, 2005
    Anything distinctive about a piece of equipment can be as appealing in one situation as it is annoying in another.

    It might just be a case of familiarity that sorts out the bouncing issue - in my way of looking at things, spiccato is a controlled bouncing that comes from player intent/control. Obviously, some sticks will be more active than others in the hands of different players, but that added responsiveness you mentioned might reward some more exploration.

    No substitute for scales at different tempi and levels of intensity as far as I can tell. If you want to control the way a particular bow bounces, it might be best to do lots of different types of bouncing with that bow in as many parts of the stick as you can face doing...
    pmad_bass likes this.

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