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the long and the short of the light and the heavy

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by chicabass, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. chicabass


    Mar 18, 2006
    How would moving to a shorter, lighter bow with a less-broad width of hair (not sure what that measurement is called yet) affect things like my technique, volume, hand/wrist position etc?
    I'm currently using the dark hair, and the bow I'm considering getting is the lighter hair.

    Is it possible to say things like 'bass generally plays/sounds better with a heavier/lighter bow' or does it really come down to how each player uses the bow?


    [I'm currently using a full-sized [3/4?] size bow which I'm told is comparatively light. I have no idea whether the new bow is a smaller 3/4 or actually a 1/2 size. I played using it (albeit on someone else's $15,000 bass) and quite liked the sound and feel of it the different bow. I don't know if I'm in the position to say whether that was the bass or the bow speaking, but I liked this particular bow better than another I'd been using on the same bass a few minutes earlier.]
  2. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Here's what I've gathered so far from my bow upgrade search. I cannot say with certainty any of the technical answers, but keep in mind that each bow responds differently on each bass. That is, you need to find the right bow for your bass, your hands, how you play and the style of music you play. It's a very personal choice, and the knowledge gathered from this site has helped me so much so far, but from this point, it is up to me.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Bad english, great straight-line. :D
  4. chicabass


    Mar 18, 2006
    I am SO changing that now \-:

  5. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Varying the bass as well as the bow makes it hard to
    judge, would be better to play them on your own bass
    and see what you think then. But at least keep the
    bow as the only variable in the equation :)

    There is also a significant difference in how two different
    bows sound to YOU while playing, and how they sound
    to a listener, so its nice if you can get a person to play
    them for you as well as you playing them for yourself

    The best sounding bow I've heard also happens to be
    the lightest I've held (not my bow btw), but I dont know
    that you can generalize.

    And in spite of Ray's comment I feel that your
    guess of what it comes down to is in fact the
    case :)

  6. luthierbass


    Jan 2, 2005
    Well in my personal experience.. a shorter bow is easier to use. Also from seeing poeple buy bows at the shop i work at, people from biginners to pros most people liked the shorter bows... my best advice is to try many bows on your bass as well as other basses...
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I prefer a slightly heavier Bow than lighter but Balance and quality of the Stick is the key. My Bows have about 21' - 21 1/4" length of playing hair when the bow is tightened. This is fairly standard French length. The longer German made French sticks are often way out of balance and have a thin tone causing the player to press to get the sound rather than draw the tone. My playing weight is about 140 grams on my two best bows but one of my others and formerly main bow was 152 grams.

    For orchestral playing you need a bow that you can dig in with when needed. I know of a player that has a Fetique bow and he is still looking for a heavier orchestral bow. The Fetiques average at about 120 grams and run around 7k or so give or take. They stay on the string and are great Solo or Chamber bows but to dig in on Beethovans 5th, you need a bit more meat on your bow.

    My main Bows are high end bows but still they are that way because of their performance and reputation. The name of a maker doesn't get famous if the product doesn't out shine the competition.

    Stay away from long thin haired bows. These are not the better sticks. Hair color is not much of a factor if the bow is good. I prefer white hair but have two bows with black as recieved. I will though change them to white when the need rehairing.
  8. chicabass


    Mar 18, 2006

    Thanks for this reply. You've given me a good idea of what to have in my mind when I take my bass to try out this particular (and other) bows :)

  9. chicabass


    Mar 18, 2006
    I went and tried the bow again.

    I was told that it's a 3/4 bow and that it's one that wasn't made all in one go in a factory or whatnot, but that it was worked on and added to by a variety of different craftspeople/bowmakers whathaveyou.
    It's made from wood of some sort, though I'm not sure what the frog is made out of.

    I've really really taken a liking to it. For a newbie like me, it feels like gold and seems to grip and PLAY the strings so much better than a dark-haired full size Glasser bow.

    I've been quoted at something like AUD$300 for it, but that price is a ballpark figure and has not been settled on.

    Any thoughts, suggestions or warnings I should heed?



    [I will get some pics if and when I can arrange to!]
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Show some pics of the Bow. No way to judge unless we can at least see the Bow, wood, frog, tip, condition and measurements like tip to screw without it and playing lenght of the hair with the bow tightened to playing tension.
  11. anthem274


    Jul 19, 2003
    Arlington, TX
    Makers today tend to make their bows too long. Only a few situations require a long bow (Shost. 5th, mvt. 4, quarter note slurs; much of Beethoven). It boils down to personal preference, but I think that shorter bows have to feel better in everyone's hand.

    Also, for solo work I wouldn't recommend anything above 134 grams, and for orchestral work I wouldn't suggest anything below 138 grams.

    I didn't think about until now, but I'm saying this assuming that you play french.

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