What do you look for in a bow?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by bribass, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. bribass


    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB
    Experienced German bow arco and classical players: What qualities do you look for in a fine bow?
  2. SOUND! Balance,craftsmanship, comfort and price in that order.
  3. Machina


    Aug 1, 2005
    First: what am I looking for to help my sound? I just bought a new (very nice) bow this Christmas. Before I went looking I took several factors into consideration:
    1. What did I want a bow to do for me?
    I needed a bow that projected sound very well. Orchestra playing makes basses hard to hear and I wanted to help the problem. I also do a lot of solo playing, so a bow had to help me fill up an entire room by myself.

    2. What did I want in the bow?
    I had played on different types of hair and weights. This gave me a clear idea of what I liked and hated. For my taste: I needed a heavy bow, with white hair.

    3. Pernambuco vs. Snakewood
    This was a hard choice, but I went with snakewood since it was heavier

    In general: I think you have to know what you want your bow to do. I personally was looking at sound and function. The extras like silver, horn frog were not as important.
  4. Machina: "with white hair."

    What is the difference between Brown and White hair?
  5. bribass


    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB

    Why do you like heavier bow?. Do you think it draws a bigger sound or do you just like the way they "track" on the string? Do you find it a little more fatiging on faster passages during long performances?

    Thanks for your input.

  6. Machina


    Aug 1, 2005
    I went with a heavy bow after playing numerous types of bows. I have a played on a wide selection of bows from a $90 fiberglass Glasser bow to $3000 Snakewood and Pernambucos. Before I bought the Snakewood, I was using a very light Carbow. It is made out of carbon fiber and cost around $900. My school owned it and I needed a rehair for my Brazilwood bow, so it was what I was using.

    The Carbow, for my taste, was too light and I felt that I had to do too much work in order to get the sound that I wanted. In addition to this, the bow had black hair. This type of hair, in my experience, did not hold onto the rosin as well as white hair and I had to clean off my strings, because the rosin was collecting at an extraordinary amount.

    The weight issue: The carbow and this may have been partly due to the black hair, never seemed to vibrate the string enough. The bow was sometimes creating a very weak sound, when I knew technique wise everything I was doing was correct. During double stops, I felt like I had to press and squeeze my hand with the carbow. The weight of my new bow makes double stops easy and does not require me to work as hard.

    The weight of the bow is not so much associated with the sound, but with the issue I talked about in the last paragraph. Now a select level wood like pernambuco or snakewood is going to creat the big, full sound that you are looking for. Some people don't understand why these bows are so expensive, but the difference is amazing. The bow I am currently using makes a world of difference in my sound.

    Does weight make me tired during a performance?
    Well I can tell you I noticed a difference in the first weeks of playing. I did think that my hand was tired at first, but like anything I have grown used to it now. We are currently playing Petrouchka, a ballet by Stravinsky. There are not too many fast and crazy passages, but there are a few. I don't feel like weight has been an issue at all.

    The debate over weight (light vs. heavy) and hair (white, salt and pepper, or black) has been going forever. Every 5 years something comes along and everyone has to have it, even though it's been forever. It's more what you are happy with and what makes you perform your best.

    P.S. Also as a german bow player, I looked for a very small frog and have noticed that german frogs are crafted much smoother as bow price increases. The lower priced bows frog seems to be more squarish. I prefer smoother frogs, because I think it is easier on the hand and give a better grip to the bow.
  7. Other than looking for a frog, stick and hair on which to generously apply rosins, I MUCH prefer the Romantic bows... ie, bows of the Romantic style/era.

    Anyone know where to buy spray on rosin? It's the best I ever tried and now can't find it. O Fartuna.