How to choose a bow
How to Choose a Bow That’s Right for You, Part One
People frequently ask us what criteria they should use to select a bow and how best to begin the process. To help you get started, we’ve assembled some valuable tips that should point you in the right direction. After all, it is the bow that pulls the sound from the instrument; it is the breath that makes your instrument sing.
Finding a Bow That’s Best for Your Unique Preferences
First and very important, always try a number of bows. It can take some time to find the bow that not only produces the sound you want, but also enables you to more easily perform the articulations the music demands. Keep in mind that every musician and instrument requires something different.
Focus on the Tone
The first thing to evaluate is the tone of a given bow. We suggest that you play long tones through all the registers of the instrument, listening for the tonal colors and overtones created by the bow and instrument combination.
Feel free to bring a trusted friend along with you as you test out instruments and bows. It can be very useful to have another set of ears to listen to the sounds of the different bows in the room, because the sound you hear under your ear is different from what a listener may hear out in the audience.
Playing Technical Music
A good bow should allow you to perform music that demands different articulations, such as, spiccato, sautillé and detaché. Often, music that has a combination of slurs and off-the-string articulations is a good place to find out how well the bow allows you to express the nuances of the music.
Test the evenness of the bow while playing long even strokes. This will help you determine if the bow has any weak spots and, if so, the bow will often skitter, or chatter across the string in a particular spot. This type of issue is easier to detect on violin and viola bows than on cello bows.
Your goal is to find the bow that draws the best tone from your instrument, delivering a full, rich expressive range. If you approach the selection process with thoughtfulness, consideration and a bit of instinct, you will be rewarded with a bow that will make your experience as a player more enjoyable for many years to come.
In Part 2 of this blog, we will discuss some of the more technical elements involved in choosing a bow, such as materials and mechanics.
Moses Sedler 2014
Comments are closed