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Size and Weight Revisited

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by bassame, Jan 5, 2006.


  1. bassame

    bassame

    Mar 25, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    Paul Warburton started an interesting thread, some time ago, about the usual weight of bows (which seems to run from about 125g to 148g), but I have not seen discussion of size or length. I have two bows that are around 26 inches long and this seems to be what I generally see. But one of my teachers uses a tiny bow - I would say around 18 inches and very thin and light, which he uses to wonderful effect. This got me thinking: why does the bow have to be so long and heavy? Is this some kind of unquestioned musical tradition?

    You might think that a bassist needs a long bow to play long tones but then you consider that we are taught to make the reversal of direction silent (so that you cannot tell when the direction changes), so what does it matter?

    What other reasons are there? :bag:
     
  2. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I think it will always come down to simply getting the string started such that music can be made, period. The rest is vision which often goes hand in hand with excellent musicianship and one I think we all grow into individually.

    I, for one, currently am of the opinion that lighter bows are generally superior to heavier bows...but if a heavy bow is all I had that wouldn't stop me.

    Oh yeah there's somewhat of a "revival" going on all the time with gut strings and various gut-substitutes too, and there may be value in having a heavier bow for those kinds of strings I've never used gut don't know.
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    Actually the Hair length on a French Bow is about 21" or so. Try playing Beeth 5th from end to end with a shorter Bow and tell me how you do with all the slurs and other parts and do Mozarts Figaro while your at it and get a taste for what the Bow was invented for.
     
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    That reminds me, you know if bassists would start the Beethoven line upbow instead of downbow they'd get more length out of their bows...
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Which line? The piece is 5-7 pages or so!
     
  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Sorry LOL

    You know, the 3rd movement where everything is all soft hills and warm breezes until the basses start the 18wheeler up with dat dat dat dat dat dat dat dat dat dat dat dat daaahhh

    Which one is the Scherzo is it all scherzo or does scherzo happen only when the basses cut loose and the orchestra jumps on the semi?

    At any rate, when you do an upbow on the E string and then go to the A string, look at the contact point on the bowhair...you've just gained an inch (or whatever distance the strings are from each other)...add the D and G string and then you've got an extra 3 inches for a single stroke pretty neat I think

    Use upbow to play legato lines from E to G and downbow for lines from G to E when possible to take advantage of this
     
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I played a bow owned by another player at our Christmas orchestra thing. It is otherwise a nicely made but common variety, French, older factory pernambuco bass bow, but is happens to have about 1.75-2 inches of hair length over and above my French bow(s), which seems to be the "standard."

    I can definitely see some advantages to this type of bow. Although, it was difficult to hold tone and power at the tip. I don't know if this was the nature of the bow or simply something that would take some getting used to.


    The player watches over it like a hawk, knowing that replacing it would be expensive as it would require a custom order.