How to choose the best violin bow: tips for you
When looking for a violin bow, make sure you take your skill level and playing style into consideration. Don’t forget that to achieve your full potential you need an excellent instrument in one hand but also an EXCELLENT BOW in the other!
Here are some tips from Lucchi, a legendary family of bow makers from Cremona. With many years of experience, they have helped many musicians find their ideal bow, let’s see what they have to say to help you!
As many may think, it is not necessary to try a bow in a concert, you can easily make some evaluations even comfortably from your home. Mainly, our advice is to feel how the adherence is to the tip, using the bow in different situations:
- At the tip (last 4 cm)
- Hollow string (without vibrato as this helps the string to start)
- Fourth string (the most difficult to vibrate)
- Close to the bridge (only the bows with excellent material can obtain good results in this position)
It is often believed that a bow with a heavy head makes a good grip on the string. This is absolutely wrong: in fact, there are very light bows, which have a wonderful grip, and others that are heavy and do not. If you test the grip throughout the bow, you notice that the contact on the frog is quite easy to obtain, because the position is very close to the hand.
When we move away from the frog we feel the characteristics of that bow better:
At the center:
When you move towards the center of the bow, three different components will come to play: the quality of the wood, the taper of the stick, and the type of curve.
At the tip:
When moved towards the tip, the components listed above are even more important since the entire stick, the entire curve and all the thicknesses are put under strain. So if there are imperfections in these components, more defects are highlighted here than playing in other parts of the bow.
Therefore, by trying the five points listed above at the same time, it is not necessary to listen to the sound quality emitted, but mainly the grip on the string. Only a bow with good wood quality, a perfect curve, the right stick thickness and good hair quality can have a good grip.
While an expert in the field can recognize these parameters simply by viewing the bow, the musician is often attracted to some characteristics of the bow that do not determine its goodness, such as the color of the wood, the hair, the setting, etc …
It is essential to stretch the horsehair as much as the bow requires: when playing, the stick must not touch the horsehair but it must not create an exaggerated space, which will tend to distort the quality of the bow and sound.
With these brief indications, the musician can really know if the bow will be able to respond to the high technical and sound qualities necessary for his/her performance. In fact, excellent adherence to the tip means that the sound produced will reach far away bouncing off the walls and then returning to the performer (feedback sound).