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How does the kind of bow make a difference?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by chasyboy, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. chasyboy


    Mar 7, 2004
    OK...I'm a newbie and probably an obvious and stupid question but if you have good bowhair, what does it matter what 'kind' of bow you play? Does the wood/carbon of the bow translate into tone?

    Could you get the best bow hair and put it on a fiberglass bow and be able to tell the difference from a high end wood bow?

    I'm not talking about balance and playability but mere volume and tone.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    The material, flex, balance, and resonance of the bow makes a HUGE difference- as a relatively newbie myself, I was amazed at the difference. I started with a solid glass bow, and when I bought a modest wooden Brazilwood bow from BobG I couldn't believe how much better it sounded. Then when I compared a better (~$800) bow, I was again knocked out. We're not talking tiny differences, but really obvious ones. Once you have enough technique to draw a good tone from the instrument, you'll notice the difference.
  3. chasyboy


    Mar 7, 2004
    Thanks, I did notice a volume difference from the bow from my teacher....so how does one go about finding a good bow...is it something you 'have' to try before you buy?
  4. Definitely, because something should be noted here, with in each price level bows will all have good qualities and you have to find which one you like best. Some may be loud, but not a very full tone, others full tone, but quiet. This all has to do with the factors mentioned above. That said carbon fiber bows are more consistent from bow to bow. They are more similar because they are made in molds with almost identical materials.
  5. chasyboy


    Mar 7, 2004
    Thanks, Eli. Sounds like a carbon bow is a good choice for me. How much difference does bow hair make...and what should I look for?
  6. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I just got one of the Finale carbon bows and I really like it.
  7. Finale, Upton, Yita, Gage Metropolitan and Codabow are the brands to look for in carbon bows. You get what you pay for, they're all good value (and the more expensive ones are great). For entry level, Finale and Upton are fine.

    As for hair, there's two kinds: fake and awful, and real and good. Once it's in the 'good' category, hair doesn't make that much difference. Later when you have the experience to know what you want, hair is something you can tweak, but for now the standard white horsehair (or black if that is what you happen to get) will do you fine. Yita bows sometimes come with the awful stuff, I gather, so you might need to rehair one of those to get it working right.

    BTW, carbon fiber bows are the only thing in DB playing where brands make any sense. Anything else, wood bows included, the only thing you can do is test the particular item. Even strings, because while the strings are usually pretty consistent, what they do on your bass is very unpredictable (although experienced folks can take an educated guess at what will work).
  8. chasyboy


    Mar 7, 2004
    Thank you. This helps a great deal.
  9. thewhale


    Feb 28, 2008
    north carolina
    IMO, bows make an enormous change in the sound of any instrument. I think I would rather have a crappy bass and a wonderful bow than a wonderful bass and a crappy bow. I've played a wonderful Vigneron on a little factory made bass that sounded almost as good as a little $800 Raposo on a $20,000 bass.
  10. lightningDolt


    Feb 9, 2008
    I love the stuff you learn here- Thanks All-
  11. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Joe Phillips of Orchestra London has two fine bows. One by Reid Hudson the other by Bernard Walke. Even in the hubbub of an orchestra warming up before a rehearsal, when he compares the two, it is quite easy to hear a difference.

    The Hudson has a more even tone and a bouncier spicatto and the Walke has a much heavier sound with a stronger fundamental but less colours.

    Both are German bows.

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