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will I see a difference if I change bows

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by dennison, Feb 2, 2005.


  1. Hello all,

    I have been playing out of simandl for around 7 months. I have a fully carved roma bass and a cheapie fiberglass bow that came with it. I have read some posts about how not to skimp on buying a bow. Is it time to buy a decent one? What kind of difference will a novice like me notice?
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    In a word: a lot.

    Do you have a teacher? Ths would be the best place to start. The next fall back is to go to the luthier and ask to mess around with his bows (take your bass). Give each bow some time so that you can really get a feel for it. Once you have picked a few bows you like, ask about prices. Then go through them again. :)

    If you can't find anything in your price range, them go home empty-handed and keep looking and saving your sheckels.
     
  3. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    What Ray said.

    In my opinion, the bow is half the equation in getting a good arco sound.

    Since good to great bows are MUCH cheaper than good to great basses, it makes sense to me to get the best bow possible as early in one's playing career as possible.

    But you be the judge -- do as Ray says and try out some better bows on your bass. There are plenty of good bows available in the $400 to $800 range, and I'd be stunned if you didn't notice a big difference from your fiberglass bow.

    If you need tips on where to find a bow, check the other threads or post again.
     
  4. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    One more thing, also echoing Ray: if you don't have a teacher, it's high time you found one. Bowing -- especially with the French bow -- is something pretty counter-intuitive. There are many more ways to do it wrong than right. Bad habits can get locked in early that are very difficult to amend later.
     
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    A bow is a piece of wood or other material held in tension by horsehair or some other material capable of accepting rosin well. There's no magic except what you cast upon it.

    That being said, the better you are at arco the more "refined" your taste regarding bows will be - balance, weight, responsiveness, evenness, liveliness, et al. It's all subjective...except for what you produce from your efforts...that's a little more complicated.
     
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Two of my three bows are within less than two grams of being the same weight. They are the exact same length. Both Oct. Both Ebony French frog. The two bows were rehaired at the same time by the same luthier with hair from the same bundle. I use the same rosin (Carlssons) on each.

    One is a modestly priced, better quality Brazilwood (@$300) The other is an older Pernambuco bow from The Roth factory. Insured for $1,200 and probably has an honest street value of $800-900 dollars.

    I can warm up for as long as you want with either bow, play a passage with one. Then quickly switch to the other and tone difference is absolutely obvious. I know this is true. I have done it dozens of time, switching back and forth, because it is difficult to see how such a difference can be made since on the hair touches the bow.

    But it is real. Absolutely and positively real. The Pernambuco bow produces a thicker, deeper, warmer, more mellow tone than does the Brazilwood.

    I'll gladly offer the same experiment to anyone who wants to stop by. All other things equal, the bow absolutely makes an honest difference in the way a bass sounds.

    My third bow (also pernambuco) is in the middle as far as tone, but has the amazing ability to simply never fail when it comes to starting a string. On any given day, I will get a cleaner start with a better snap with that bow than either of the other two. Don't know why, but it's true.
     
  7. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I accidentally stumbled on some information in this regard a few days ago.

    I was practicing with the bow, and my 16mth old son, who is fascinated with my bass playing, reached out and lightly touched the bow as I was playing a slow note. He only touched it very lightly, not enough to stop the note, but enough to damp the bow resonance and alter the tone dramatically.

    That's when I realised that the bow must be vibrating in sympathy with the string, and it's resonance must affect the way the string vibrates, and thus the tone. I don't know why that wasn't obvious to me before, but it goes toward explaining how even similar bows could have diferent sonic qualities, depending on wood character and construction, over and above design for playing comfort.

    Andy
     
  8. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Anyone who thinks quality in a bow is all subjective, and that the bow is just a stick to hold the horsehair in place has never played a good bow, or can't bow well enough to appreciate the difference.

    Yes, preferences in choosing between good bows are to some degree subjective. But quality in a bow is no more purely subjective than is quality in a bass, or in a performance. Good is good, and the rest is a waste of time.
     
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Saying, "a bow is a stick to hold hair" is like saying, "a bass is a box to hold strings."

    Or beer in some circles :)
     
  10. I'd have to agree that there can be a distinct difference, even between two "Student" bows.

    I play the same bass with my two bows, a $300 round Brazilwood and a $600 octangonal Pernambucco (both french style) and hear a distinct difference. In my case the Brazilwood is softer but deeper or warmer, and the Pernambucco is louder and more penetrating, but not as warm.

    I don't presume to know the why of this difference, but it is there.

    I will say that when I had the Pernambucco rehaired (still all white, suposedly top-quality hair, rehaired by a well known luthier), the hank of hair was much thicker than when I brought it in, and not just the tone, but the whole bow response changed.

    I went crazzy for a couple of weeks, trying to relearn how to get a pleasing and reliably consistent tone out of that bow.

    Anyone else have such an experiance?
     
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    New hair takes a minute to settle down. Different hair and re-hairers make a difference as well.
     
  12. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    And Bullwinkle asked, "Wanna see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?"
     
  13. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Ah...

    Fan mail from some flounders...
     
  14. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
  15. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Oops, wrong hat.
     
  16. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    So true. I had my main bow rehaired by an excellent bow maker and i hate it. it is going back for a second try.
     
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'm really partial to Mike Shank's rehairs. You can put it in a tube (he'll send you one) and have it back and forth in a few days.