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Putting weight on tip of bow

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by TonyD, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. Hi!

    I am using Pirastro Flatchrome Steels which are nice too bow. But an upbow on G-string starting at the tip of the bow still gives me headaches. Since the frog is heavier than the tip, you must put some more weight on the bow when you upbow starting with the tip. Especially on the G-string.

    I watched 'The Art of the Bow' by Rabbath. He pushes his right elbow up to ut some more weight on the tip. For some reasons this doesn't work for me. Practised in front of a mirror, but somehow just can't make it work.

    Any ideas? Thanks for your help...
  2. Don't forget that the first finger also plays a role in weighting the tip. I keep my fore finger stretched out a little and use it when starting a note at the tip. On the G string you shouldn't need very much extra weight.
  3. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Another approach to consider-

    Make sure your arm is at extension at the tip- almost completely straight. This adds weight naturally where you need it without complicating the movement of the arm. Many European schools advocate this pedagogy- the frowny faced bow arc. Lifting the elbow doesn't work for everyone.

    Note- the fingers DON'T APPLY WEIGHT. They simply transfer the weight of the arm. Make the arm heavy, and the fingers can stay relaxed.

    Also, try flattening the hair a little at the tip. Additional contact= easier to bow.

    Finally, maybe it's time to upgrade your bow.... Or to work on Sevcik!:hyper:
  4. Thanks for your advice, I will try the straight arm approach. Few questions in return:

    1. what do you mean by 'flattening the hair at the tip'? Can I make it more flat myself?
    2. upgrade the bow - buy another more balanced one?
    3. what does Sevcik offer in comparison with Streicher, Rabbath or Petracchi?

    Thanks again!
  5. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    If I may answer..

    1. What I think chicagodoubler means here is that when you start a note at the tip, make it so that more or the most possible amount of hair is making contact with the string (i.e. flattening the hair).

    2. Yes. That or see if a bow luthier can make any adjustments, though it might make more sense to just upgrade.

    3. The Sevcik deals specifically with the right arm/hand, so you just play the same simple melody for every exercise (and there are many), focusing entirely on bowing.
  6. This is actually the excuse I used to experiment with a bent endpin... great decision but on floors my point can't stick I do have some trouble.
  7. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Phil said it quite well.

    Regarding a straight arm-

    When everything is relaxed the tip wants to drop at the frog and rise at extension. All the way at the tip, this will place more of the weight of the bow below the perpendicular contact line. This places more natural gravity in your stroke, making things easier. I believe Andy Anderson has a video showing this.

    To clarify- at the frog the elbow is bent. At the tip the arm naturally straightens. I am *not* advocating a strict stiff arm "Frankenstein" stroke.

    As always, if it hurts, it's wrong. What does your teacher say? :)
  8. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Right, a straight but naturally relaxed bow arm (and think of the elbow almost as the epicenter of that relaxation.. non-locked elbow style).
  9. Furthermore, Paul Sharp on YouTube is demonstrating his bow sound. But when you listen carefully, there is a fundamental change in sound when he is changing bows. I don't like this at all, and this is precisely what I mean (at 1:21 from up to down, you can a scratchy sound):

  10. Peder Waern

    Peder Waern

    Feb 17, 2009
    You could try to let go of almost all the pressure
    in the bow change. Also IME the open strings need less weight and perhaps slightly more speed than the stopped notes.
  11. Factors I would consider -

    Arm weight (not index finger pressure)
    Bow Placement
    Hair tension
    Not bowing closer than about an inch from each end of the bow hair (too stiff)
    Angle of the ribbon of hair to the string
    Draw the bow at 90 degrees to each string
    Bow speed (varies according to thickness/weight of string)
    Brand of rosin and how much you use
    String brand and characteristics

    Two of the attributes of a good bow are that you can start notes easily and draw an even sound in either direction from anywhere along its length. But you still have to consider the other factors. Bow tension is important because the hair should bend around the string in order to grip and deflect it before it releases (ie in order to "pluck" a note into life - IMO you cannot move as fast as the string will rebound after it releases). The art of note starts becomes that of managing and timing that release.

    The G string is the lightest, most responsive string that requires faster, longer bow movements to match the faster vibrations. Bow placement is important. Stay away from the end of the fingerboard. Conversely bow a little closer to the fingerboard on the E string, where the string is more flexible.

    In general look down at the strings , observe the string movements and listen as you experiment all over the useable hair length in either direction. If the hair will still not grip the G string when out towards the tip then consider upgrading your bow. But before you do this ask your teacher or colleagues if you can try their bows and they can try yours.

  12. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    What you are facing is the the ultimate challenge in double bass playing (at least for me):
    to get a good and consistent sound out of the bow. To get this kind of bow control in all registers is much more difficult than the left hand (again in my opinion).
  13. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    This certainly applies to me-- especially after having played 99.9% pizz for all of these years. I have one or two questions regarding the left hand which you may choose to ignore they are too trivial:
    When playing in, what is for me, the most problematical area of the fingerboard (VI, VII positions on and up through the thumb) where you change back and forth from 1-2-4 to 1-2-3 to the thumb, etc.
    Is it correct, when playing lines or runs, to use the thumb at the mid-string harmonics and the ring finger on the higher harmonics instead of pressing the strings to the fingerboard? I often find the back and forth, from open to closed, awkward, and there is also an obvious difference in timbre between the harmonics and the same notes closed.
    Thank you in advance.
    Gerry G
  14. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    That's a bit off topic. But it is pretty standard to use the octave G harmonic and the high D harmonic (in TP) in fast runs. However most of the time I prefer to use a stopped note instead of the harmonic. When playing slow passages it is better to use the stopped tones anyway because it is more expressive.
  15. You can often start a note on the harmonic, and very quickly push it down. Done good, no-one will notice and you'll know you got the note. you feel if youre on the harmonic, you don't have time to listen.
  16. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Let's start with: What bow are you playing on? Is it French or German? What does it weigh? There are lots of German made French bows floating around whose heads are simply to small and light. I actually had a bowmaker add some wood to the tip of such a bow to correct this - with good results, but you have to decide if it's worth the investment. I've also tried wrapping some 10 Gauge copper wire onto to the end of a light-tipped bow, with less success. The thing to do first is to audition lots of bows and decide whether it is the bow itself or your technique!
  17. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    It's the ultimate challenge for all strings. Every time I pick up Strings Magazine or The Strad I see an article talking about bow control, vibrato, or intonation. It's hard, that's why we practice it. right? ;)

  18. I am finally able to achieve putting more weight on tip.


    By switching from French to German bow :hyper:

    And by closely watching this vid:

    The German bow also has black hair - instead of French (white). Not sure if that has anything to do with it, but I can manage now!