What are the Characteristics of an Excellent Bow?

String instrument bows, just like the devices themselves, are available in a variety of various qualities and value factors. As a newbie, you’re greatest off renting an instrument and bow from a good store as you identify whether or not the string musician’s journey is for you. 

When you graduate to intermediate and superior string enjoying standing, it’s time to consider upgrading your gear.

Bows Want Upgrades too

Our earlier publish, When Is It Time to Improve Your Violin? addressed the violin itself. Right this moment we wish to discuss what to search for while you’ve determined to improve your bow. 

Throughout a 2006 interview with NPR’s Renee Montagne, founder and violist of the American Chamber Gamers, Miles Hoffman, detailed the significance of bow high quality and which traits separated glorious bows from lower-quality counterparts. Hoffman defined, “I feel an ideal analogy is that the bow is for the string participant what breath is for the singer. And, one of many causes that good bows are so prized is that they’re so versatile.”

Let’s study a very powerful traits to search for when procuring to your subsequent bow. Whether or not you play the violin, viola, cello, or bass, glorious bows have 4 issues in frequent: power, flexibility, stability, and lovely sound.

Energy: Wooden vs Carbon/Artificial

A lot emphasis is placed on the instrument’s physique and strings, however have you ever deeply thought of how a lot work the bow does to supply the sounds you need? And, it does all of that whereas strung taut with the stress of tightened bow hair.

To place up with all the varied bowing types you’ll use over the course of your enjoying lifetime, to not point out the knocks, bumps, and clunks a bow experiences because it strikes out and in of your case and within the world-at-large, bow constructions have to be sturdy and resilient. Because of this, among the most celebrated bows on the planet (which may promote for as much as $100,000) are made out of the laborious unique wooden of pernambuco timber. 


Whereas brazilwood additionally makes high-quality wooden bows, string gamers available in the market for a superior nice wooden bow take into account nothing lower than the revered pernambuco choices. 

Native to Brazilian rainforests, pernambuco timber have been harvested and bought to luthiers and bow producers in Europe and North America for tons of of years. Nevertheless, the shortage of the useful resource, now protected by a worldwide community of artisans (learn Saving the Music Tree), progressive bow makers began experimenting with carbon fiber composites.

Carbon fiber

Right this moment, it is broadly accepted that carbon fiber bows, made out of fiber composites fused, rival the sounds produced by their wood counterparts. Carbon composite bows have all the power and suppleness attributed to wooden bows however are extra reasonably priced and sustainable. Plus, in contrast to wooden bows, they’re much less inclined to temperature and humidity fluctuations and are far much less fragile or liable to breaking.

Learn Ought to I Purchase A Wooden Bow or A Carbon Fiber Composite Bow…, to study extra about your choices.

Flexibility: Stiff and Bendable

Bows have to satisfy a dichotomous request, which is to be each stiff and versatile. This is likely one of the causes wooden bows are made out of hardwood species. Each brazilwood and pernambuco are extremely laborious, however the timber are additionally capable of bend within the wind, the identical kind of stiff bendability required of a bow.

In case your bow is just too stiff, it is going to solely entry the highest of the strings, yielding a hole or scratchy tone. A versatile bow, then again, permits the strings to make deeper contact with the strings and the result’s a extra wealthy and full tone. As an skilled string participant, you’ll really feel this distinction instantly, which can assist information your choice.

Stability: The place’s the Heart?

Bows are like people, they’ve their very own middle of gravity (or middle of stability), and this impacts how they transfer. An excessive amount of weight on the tip and, in a brief period of time, the bow will really feel heavy and cumbersome to maneuver throughout the strings. This will additionally result in wrist issues. If the burden is centered too near the frog, the bow feels too mild. That will really feel nice at first however finally creates management issues. 

Wonderful bows are balanced to realize the trifecta. They’ve sufficient weight on the tip to exert management with out fatigue, ample weight on the frog-end to optimize the variety of hairs that make contact with the strings, and so they facilitate a clean bowing expertise.

Wonderful Sound: The Finish Purpose

In the end, glorious bows ought to elicit glorious sounds. As with violins, it’s possible you’ll be stunned to study you favor the sound and really feel of a cheaper bow, or it’s possible you’ll study your favourite sound is produced by a bow that’s above your initially slated finances. 

There’s a bow (or two or three) for each superior string musician, and also you’ll study which bows you favor to make use of based mostly on the types of music you play or the bowing strategies required to play a particular composition. In both case, it requires attempting out a variety of various bows and figuring out which one feels and sounds greatest to you.

Are you able to improve? Now that extra in regards to the traits of a superb bow, we advocate experimenting with Revelle’s line of world-class bows. They’re obtainable in pernambuco, brazilwood, carbon fiber, and composite choices and designed for each stage of enjoying expertise and finances. 

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