Typical bass bow weights?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by bryce_bubbles, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. bryce_bubbles


    Nov 9, 2017
    I’m currently shopping for a French bow. I am intending to switch after several years using a German bow, generally for practice and simple songs (I’m a jazz bassist).

    I’ve noticed of late that some bows marketed to intermediate and advanced students are heavier by comparison to the 131g German I own.

    I’ve looked at a number of bows recently and I find that most good bows are generally over 130g in weight, with many close to 140g. I am aware that there are more factors to consider other than weight, particularly the undefinable quantity of “feel”, however are heavier bows the current trend?

    Also, which style is typically heavier, French or German?
  2. User4843936

    User4843936 Guest

    May 9, 2005
    Weight is one thing, balance and functionality in your hand can be quite another independent of the flat number of grammes in the stick. It’s more about the placement of the grammes and how you and they interact, and your preferences are definitely a factor which matter a lot and might even evolve over time.

    I reckon the best thing to think about is how a stick enables you to achieve your playing goals. You’ll find radical extremes at each end of the weight spectrum of either French or German if you look for them.

    There are quite a lot of French - made French bows which fall into the light and agile category, and that seems to make sense with the way I hear some French players approach sound. To quote something I heard yesterday there’s a sensibility of the French really being able to use elegance as a weapon. This video is a great example of that style.

    A few years ago I borrowed a tiny little bow by Louis Bazin which was an inch shorter than anything else I’d ever encountered and only weighed about 120 grammes if that. That remains to this day one of my favourite bows I’ve ever played.

    Really heavy french bows exist too like players in that (not so) New Dutch School use (is that still a thing?). I don’t see how they facilitate any gains that can’t be made via developing arm and wrist strength by practising Sevcik exercises etc.
    Fleo and Carl Hillman like this.
  3. slappahdabass

    slappahdabass Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2013
    I would almost be willing to say heavy bows are pretty much only beneficial to the hardcore and devoted orchestra player. There's a depth and immediacy to strokes that a lighter bow often can't achieve.

    I'd say most bows (I'm less familiar with German bows but assuming they're pretty similar) fall in the 120-140 range for the standard sized human. And to echo Adam, weight just gets you to the ballpark, and it's a big ole ball park. Balance and camber and response are the really important things to look for and develop feel for.

    I've known a number of jazz players who've been happy with Prochownik bows. They're responsive and quick but are on the lighter side, and relatively inexpensive as well.
  4. User4843936

    User4843936 Guest

    May 9, 2005
    I use a Prochownik bow as my main one. I’ve used it for a range of things including for orchestra playing over the last 8/9 years, and that has included leading the odd 8-bass section with cello rosin on the bow. I pretty much only play in orchestras and did so in the Philharmonia full time for 5 years before leaving at the start of 2019.

    That particular bow weighs 136 grammes and is made of massaranduba. It’s strong and compact in length, but slightly tip heavy and not flexible enough for a really easy spiccato, so it has its strengths and attendant flaws. It’s a matter of approach meeting technique, body and equipment in pursuit of a goal.
  5. User4843936

    User4843936 Guest

    May 9, 2005
    And to echo the ‘inexpensive not precluding useful’ idea, I picked up that particular bow sight unseen on talkbass for what amounted to about £800 at the time with a view to it being a spare. The best laid plans.
  6. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    There's a Prochownik French bow for sale in the classifieds at a seriously discounted price. FYI
  7. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    All those guys are good, but Lorraine Campet...

  8. cole-emma


    Apr 12, 2004
    Hmm. I dont see it there?
  9. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    piggywiddle likes this.
  10. Fleo


    Jul 1, 2006
    Bought a bow last year of Henk te Hietbrink, builder of many Dutch School bows including the one of Hans Roelofsen in the past. He told that he isnot making them anymore recently and his new models are Tourte based. Mine is 66 cm and 143 gram.

    Henk te Hietbrink bow

    Prices range from 1000 to 2750 non gold.
    According to my own experience and stated by Thomas Martin the ideal weigth is 136 gram with a proper balance of cause.
  11. User4843936

    User4843936 Guest

    May 9, 2005
    This tallies with my experiences as well. Something like 66cm, playing length of hair 53cm, weight 130-136 grammes and not too much weight at the tip end so the off the string strokes aren’t forced too far away from the hand at speed.
    Fleo likes this.
  12. Calvin Marks

    Calvin Marks Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2017
    that was my bow that I sold. It wasn’t heavy but the wood was very dense so it felt more like a bow 10g heavier, if that makes sense.

    weight doesn’t matter as much as wood density and balance