Improving Arco Tone

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by VTDB, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. VTDB


    Oct 19, 2004
    At the moment I am playing with a cheap bow (with equally cheap hair) and Spirocores (double red winding, not sure whether they are Orchestra or Weich) and I am trying to improve my arco sound. Admittedly I have not been playing with the bow for very long and I don't expect any change I make to suddenly solve all of my bowing woes, anything I change will be accompanied by copious practice. With that said, I don't want to be fighting my bow or my strings trying to get a decent sound, so my question is: what should I change first? Get a rehair for my bow, or change to a more acro friendly string, or is there something else that would help?
  2. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    If you don't already have a teacher, get one quick.

  3. VTDB


    Oct 19, 2004
    A teacher I have. That helps my sound more than anything else but as far as gear, what would make the most dramatic change: bow re-hair or new strings?
  4. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Double red winding = Spiro Orch's.

    IMuneducatedO, I would keep the bow for now and switch the strings. I slapped on a set of Orch's and after having started with Corelli's, them Spiro's are godawful for arco, at least with my bowing skills. I had a smoother tone with the corelli's. On spiros, I'm lucky if I'm not scratching my way through. Bleah. I won't dare play around my girlfriend. :)

    I have a set of Kolstein Heritages on order, but seems that Barrie Kolstein is slow at either getting back to me or pushing the order through. I might have to prod him again today.
  5. Bubbabass


    May 5, 2004
    Spirocores taught me how to bow, because they are so unforgiving. Make sure you have good hair on the bow (a full width ribbon, preferably fresh), and use good rosin. Many people like Pop's and/or Carlsson or Nyman's. The latter two are the Swedish rosins--good and sticky. Make sure your bow is parallel to the bridge, and play lots of long tones, up to 20 seconds per stroke with minimal weight--that is, use only the force required to make the string speak. This will lead you to the combination of placement, speed and weight that works for your gear/arm at various dynamic levels. In other words, when the sound gets nasty, adjust the variables of speed, weight or placement one at a time. When playing fortissimo, you will be unable to sustain a 20 second bow, but the slow work will yield a smooth, controlled core of sound when you move the bow faster. This worked for me, good luck.

    BTW, my old LP of Ludwig Streicher shows what appear to Spirocores on his bass, and he managed pretty well with the bow.
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I can understand forcing yourself to play spiros BUBBA, but when I'm spending 90% of my time pizzing, so I don't intend to spend half of my time struggling with unyielding strings. I'll take the quick and easy route so that I can improve my intonation & LH strength first and if I happen to have great arco skills as a byproduct, great.

    FWIW OMG *** BBQ: I'm using carlssons. :)

    EDIT: IMO, even if I focused on arco, why use a string that's mainly used for pizz to do arco? Why not just get an arco string? :confused:
  7. VTDB


    Oct 19, 2004
    I'm definetly practicing as much as I can. Lots o' long tones. I'm resonably happy with my progress so far (as is my teacher) but I don't want to blame poor sound on a cheap bow or scratchy strings, I would like to take full responsibility for my sound (good or bad).

    So far I have 1 for new strings and 1 for a re-hair. I would love to do both but at the moment I really can't afford it.

    Also - I do use carlsson.
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    When I was using Spiros, I used Pop's rosin because it was the only rosin available here. When I finally ordered some Carlsson's from Lemur, things got a lot better, much smoother sounding.

    I recently switched to Obligatos, which improved things even more. It's as if my bass expanded its lung capacity :smug:. But the rosin switch made a big difference in my case. YMMV.
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
  10. FidgetStone


    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    I vote for new strings!

    Good Luck . . . :smug:
  11. I wouldn't worry too much right now about the quality of bow or hair, unless the current hair is not real horse hair, or unless you know it is worn out.

    I played for two years on a $40 fiberglass bow (with real hair), and until the hair wore out my arco sound continued to improve.

    More important if your hair is still good, is the strings. I have bowed both Pirastro Flexicores and D'Addario Heliocores. In my opinion the Flexos sound better, but the Heliocores are easier to bow.
  12. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France

    Keep the Spiro Orch on, the older they get the more arco friendly, and save your dough for a decent bow. Maybe you could try one of the BobG bows, several experienced TBers were positively surprised by their bang for buck value. They sell for about the price of a new set of strings.
  13. VTDB


    Oct 19, 2004
    I'm starting to think that I will just leave everything the way it is. I've only been bowing the Spiro's for a couple of months so I think I will wait to see if I want to change them at all. On the bow front I'm wondering if a Bob G. bow would be enough of an upgrade from my current cheap-o brazilwood to warrant the purchase. Unfortunately I only learned of their existence after I had purchased my current bow.
  14. Eric_J

    Eric_J Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Flower Mound, TX. USA
    I'm curently playing with Spiros and one of Bob's french bows, using Carlson.

    I do strugle with trying to get notes to speak, ie not have scratchy attacks.

    With my teacher, we work on long tones. My warm up includes a single long tone for several bows on D, A and E. The hard part is to keep the turn smooth and minimize the attach and sound disruption. Its hard to have a smooth turn.

    Next in my warm up, I do a bow retrieval exersize. 1/2 note down bows on E, A, D & G at 88. Then D-G; A-D; E-A; A-G; E-D; E-G; with a quick full up bow, while L.H. muting, to get back to the frog. This exersize really works on my attacks.

    Then I do scales, 1/4s at 88, 3 flats to 3 sharps, concentrating on making every note speek.

    For me, thinking about drawing the bow accross the stingings, rather than using significant pressure, helps avoid poor attacks.
  15. Bubbabass


    May 5, 2004
    At the time I had only one bass, and needed a decent jazz sound. These days with a better setup and chops, the same bass works well for both using Flexocore G,D, A and Spiro E.

    KPO has a good post in the "Big Bow Sound" thread that may apply.