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New to Arco - Need Advice

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Ampig, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    One of our guitarists is a fine luthier and he made a bow for me as a gift. I got it last night, but don't know anything about playing Arco. I have a laundry list of questions..........
    How do I determine correct tension on the bow?
    What type of rosin to apply, how to apply it and how often?
    What's the proper angle of the bow in relationship to the strings (how much hair should be contacting the strings)
    Proper way to hold the bow?
    Correct hand-arm-wrist and body postioning?
    I know that taking lessons is the answer but I'm financially strapped due to a marriage break up and distance to a teacher is also an issue. I'm self taught, have been playing for about 5 years and work with this semi pro americana-swing band http://www.myspace.com/delvers. Any sage advice from veteran players is greatly appreciated.
  2. quenoil


    Jan 20, 2007
    Ok, all of this is very tough to answer without being physically in the room with you. The best way to go will probably be to get the Rabbath Art of the Bow DVD available from Lemur, Slava, probably Liben too. (if its a French bow). Any advice you get here is pretty apt to confuse you and guide you into the woods with this, unfortunately.
  3. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I would scrape together the cash for at least one lesson. As far as rosin, Pops is the standard so start there. Some use other rosins but IMO it is best to start there and form opinions accordingly. It is still around $5 or $6 so it is not a big commitment.
  4. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    Thanks guys
  5. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    How do I tell if it's a German or French bow?
    Insert dumb newbie joke here..............
  6. Hardly a dumb question.


    The French is on top, German below. The salient distinction is in the size and shape of the frog (that black piece which protrudes from the stick and holds and tightens the hair).

    It looks like the image didn't come through, for some reason. However, the German bow has a larger frog. A French bow will look more like a violinist's or cellist's bow, by comparison.
  7. JimGullen

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

    Oct 25, 2005
    West Bloomfield, MI

    Is the screw...the part on the end of the bow that turns to tighten the hair...a rather long (7cm or so) piece of black material? If so it's German.

    If the screw is shorter (2cm or so) and made of metal...possibly with a strip of black between two metal parts....it's French.

    Hope that helps and best of luck!

    Best regards!

  8. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    Per your guys assistance - it's French. Thanks.
  9. Play a few notes and pay careful attention to the accent....

    It really helps with arco to get an experienced teacher for a few introductory lessons. It's best to have a teacher anyway. They'll show you how to hold the bow, where on the string to play, how to stand. All of that is really important just to keep from hurting yourself. Bows are generally referred to here as the "stick of pain". Do it wrong for a week and you'll know why.

    Pops is great stuff. Use it sparingly. Oak is my more expensive preference, but a cake will last years if you don't goof it.

    Arco is great, so enjoy the new pursuit!
  10. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    Found the Pops rosin. The container says that it's soft and will run if laid on it's side, but this stuff is hard just like violin rosin. Did I get an old batch?
  11. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    Probably. I used to carry mine in my pocket and it would run into a different shape every day.
  12. Yes, unless it happens to be sitting in a cold environment. Down here in Florida my Pops' rosin is a completely different shape every day, and I keep it in my bass locker!

    You asked a lot of questions in your first post that would be almost impossible to answer if I wasn't there. The only thing that's answerable online is the tension question; your bow hair should just touch the stick when you give it a good amount of pressure (fortissimo) on the string. You will be able to tell if it's too tight or too loose just by playing when you get experienced enough.

    Good luck learning to play arco. I would highly suggest getting a teacher or at least taking a lesson or two. I didn't have a teacher the entire time I played in high school, and I never advanced at all because I never practiced because my playing position was highly incorrect and painful. You can side with the "there's no right way to play music" philosophy that electric instrumentalists (no offense) often like to use, but you'll just end up hurting yourself and/or not advancing if you don't learn to play bass correctly.

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