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Questions About Bow Characteristics

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by David Kaczorowski, Aug 28, 2000.

  1. What do people see as the differences and advantages/disadvantages of shorter bows vs. longer and
    lighter vs. heavier?

    How does cambre affect the bow; more cambre, less cambre?

    How do you all like your bows haired? The gentleman that hairs my bows installs the hair in such a way that it is
    tight. I've seen bows with hair very loose, even after the screw is tightened. That was very different from what I'm accustomed to. What are the pro's and cons?
  2. Hmmm...one question at a time....Shorter vs longer- Obviously the balance point is going to be different, and I
    think a shorter bow offers greater maneuverability for fast passages,but with a longer bow, it is easier to play unbroken sustained notes without changing direction, and IMHO, a longer bow works better for orchestral playing, and a shorter bow works better for solo work. But that is an obvious generalization,and I could be wrong...

    I think the amount of camber affects the "Bounciness" of the bow on the string,like in spicatto work.
    perfect example-Beethoven 3,third movement.

    On tight hair- If the hair is still tight, even when the screw is loose,it could affect the integrity of the stick.
    If the hair is loose when the screw is tight, it could easily pull out of the frog when you are playing or putting rosin on it. Some bass Players prefer their hair slightly loose,to get more of a "wrap" on the the string, but to do that the bow must be perfectly straight on the string.
    I prefer to have my bow hair tight enough so that I can
    just fit my little finger between the hair and the stick while I am pressing on the string.
  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I make the comparison to short and long skis. When you're just learning, and you need maximum control, short skis give it.
    Obviously, on a sustained note, with a short bow you're going to have to play closer to the bridge if you want to avoid changing direction. The resulting tone might not be appropriate.
    I used to play with a tight bow. It was more forgiving of my bow angles. Now, I work with looser hair. The extra "wrap" allows me to use less rosin, and I like that sound. On the other hand, spicato becomes more challenging for me. Once when I was at my luthier's, Lou Paer showed up. He's the principal with Orch. of St. Luke's. They could sell tickets to watch this guy warm up. I was shocked at how loose his bow was. The hair was about 2 milimeters from the stick.
  4. Lighter and heavier, lots of camber or little all really depend on what you need to help you play in the style you use most often.
    Consider trying lots of bows with great differences in these characterics, then make your own observations on what these differences mean to you and what you prefer.

    A bow's sound depends almost entirely on the quality of wood and hair, so adjusting more camber for more bounce or getting a shorter bow are only ways of changing how you use the bow.

    As for hair length, a good bow guy will probably make the hair a *little* bit short if you're in the muggy midwestern summer so that the hair can stretch to the perfect length in a day or two. It will be the opposite with the dry southwest, or with winter in most places. Give a fresh rehair a week to set in before you go calling for a re-do. If you have a good craftsman doing the work on your bow then there's a reason for the length of the hair!

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