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Author Topic: Bow tightness  (Read 8018 times)

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Offline June

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Bow tightness
« on: Jan 29, 2007, 01:18:14 AM »
This is probably a very elementary question but here goes:  Maybe this should be a poll.  How tight do you like to play your bow?  I've been staying in the half inch range (distance from hair to wood) because it seems to give me less bounce and more feel control.  But I've been seeing all kinds of playing lately in videos etc with what appears to be extremely tight bows that appear to be up to 2"!!!  Perhaps it's my imagination, but it's definately tighter than I play.  Input?

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #1 on: Jan 29, 2007, 01:21:15 AM »
Generally we try to match player/bow/violin so the bow has about a 7 mm gap between stick and hair.  25 mm is clearly too much. 13 mm is likely way too much as well.

Offline June

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #2 on: Jan 29, 2007, 01:32:57 AM »
Thanks Steve.  I've heard rule of thumb is space should be approximately the same width as the wood ~ 7mm and 1/2 " are similar enough I spose.  Don't know how these peeps are playing well with that extreme tightness.  Dif strokes for dif folks I guess.

Offline awildman2384

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #3 on: Jan 29, 2007, 01:42:07 AM »
June, 7mm = about 5/16 of an inch.  just a little over a 1/4.  that's about where i have my bow.  seem to get the best tone and the least bounce from it.

Offline madmat

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #4 on: Jan 29, 2007, 02:18:07 AM »
Heifetz and Kreisler played with the hair VERY tight... in a lot of the pictures I've seen, the bow camber is basically straightened by the tightening of the hair. They both appeared to keep their right elbows quite high and apply a lot of pressure with the bow.
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Offline June

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #5 on: Jan 29, 2007, 02:26:20 AM »
Yep Mat, imagine it would take much more pressure for control.  Check out the degree of tightness here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fHOwTp0gXs

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #6 on: Jan 29, 2007, 03:45:14 AM »
Different bows, different players, different demands.  Filling a hall as a soloist is a bit different from parlor playing.
7 mm seems to be the standard.  Should work on most violins for most players.  25 mm is a bit much, as suggested above, and makes for a past straight bow.  That's clearly wrong for a modern bow.

Offline feodosia

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #7 on: Jan 29, 2007, 12:53:20 PM »
Ive been getting more and more used to my Incredibow .... very tight
( can't loosen it - non-adjustedable )  and over an inch of clearance between the bow and hairs ...awkward at first but I am taking to it , alittle at a time ... it's what I bow with on a daily basis

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #8 on: Jan 29, 2007, 01:55:23 PM »
I like mine as suggested...6-7mm ish? However, I find that on some (most) bows I have to alter the camber over a stove to get this, as most are initially too softly sprung and need to be 10-12mm for me to keep in control of the bounce. I guess this is how alot of factory bows come, but it doesn't take long to customise them a little.....

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #9 on: Jan 29, 2007, 02:00:19 PM »
Don't think you can re-profile a carbon bow though ;(

Offline Graham Clark

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #10 on: Jan 29, 2007, 02:10:07 PM »
It really does depend on how much weight you use when bowing. I probably have around a half an inch gap in the middle most of the time, but will slacken off for certain approaches: never as low as 7 mm though. And never nearly straight either.

A sound I hear too often in others' playing is the sound of bow wood scraping strings. Sounds a bit like a cat hissing angrily.
This is usually caused by a combination of slack hair and over tilted bow.

gc

Offline Tize

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #11 on: Jan 29, 2007, 04:55:56 PM »
A sound I hear too often in others' playing is the sound of bow wood scraping strings. Sounds a bit like a cat hissing angrily.

Which is something people sometimes look for. Michelle O'Brien and Liz Doherty, to name a couple, both utilise the wood of the bow very effectively in some of their ornaments. :)

For me it depends on who I'm playing with (therefore how I'm playing), and also what the weather's like I think! My bow seems to be very VERY temperamental about weather conditions. I guess I'd be averaging around about 1cm, maybe a little less, most of the time.

Offline nhfiddler

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #12 on: Jan 29, 2007, 05:10:44 PM »
I try to keep it at approx the thickness of a pencil so I guess that's slightly wider than 1/4 inch.  I use a carbon fiber so humidity doesn't affect the bow but still affects the hair so sometimes an adjustment is called for.

Offline sreizes

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #13 on: Jan 29, 2007, 06:22:46 PM »
I tend to be a 1/4 inch to a little tighter, at least when I am paying attention, sometimes things change from hair shrinkage and stretch...

Offline Steve_W

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #14 on: Jan 29, 2007, 07:41:32 PM »
I subscribe to the "tighten it enough so it doesn't bottom out, but not so much that there's too much bounce" idea.  This means that I have to adjust depending on the style of music I'm playing; more aggressive playing takes a tighter bow, and any discussion of distance from stick to hair isn't useful since it can vary depending on the bow.

Offline Bazfaz

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #15 on: Apr 19, 2007, 07:57:35 PM »
I very much agree with Steve W's  last post. Some tunes just need more agressive bowing. and you have to tighten the bow more than normal. - "Orange Blossom Special" and the "Hanged Man's Reel" are good examples (not that i can make that good a job of either) - i find I have to tighten up the bow just for these tunes

Offline frodopogo

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2007, 07:33:57 PM »
I agree with Steve's
"tight enough to not bottom out"
method, but then,
like Bazfaz, I find myself doing small tweaks
from that point to balance responsiveness
and forgiving-ness.

I feel that short bow fiddlers have inherently different
needs in this respect.  Short fast bowstrokes put a lot
of stress on the wrist, and I find the bow hair has to be
loose enough to act as a shock absorber to some degree...
but too loose, and you have a "mushy ride", like an old Buick or Cadillac.
That's no good either, since the short notes require a quick response.
So I try to find the happy medium.

If you have it too tight, it also raises the bow's center of gravity,
and I would think that could cause problems with bow control.

Mcihael

Offline Hutch

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #17 on: Aug 01, 2007, 05:38:07 PM »
I don't get it. ??? I get less bounce when I tighten my bow more?? The looser the hair, the bouncier it is. Just the opposite of what I read here. Maybe it's because I have a cheap bow which I'm going to replace soon I hope.

Offline sreizes

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #18 on: Aug 01, 2007, 06:02:56 PM »
Hutch, it really depends on your bow somewhat, but it is correct that generally the straighter your stick is when tight, the bouncier or more jitter your bow will show.

Offline awildman2384

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #19 on: Aug 01, 2007, 06:41:37 PM »
A lot of it has to do with your bowing style, too....

Offline farmerjones

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #20 on: Aug 01, 2007, 07:52:23 PM »
it's unfair but cheaper flexy bows are in the hands of newer students. The stiffer more expensive bows go to the ones that can, by one way or another, get them. But a good grip and good technic can overcome alot. Just tight enough that you don't play on the wood is right. I find as the rosin gets played off the more pressure i apply. Till i catch myself "mashing." How often? Beats me? One fairly new bow has really yet to get a good priming. Another has a very stable period of play in between rosin applications, but he's not as stiff as my favorite. My fav seems like the sun is setting on his hair. I have to rosin it often. But then again it does get the daylights played out of it.

Offline frodopogo

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #21 on: Aug 02, 2007, 07:14:38 PM »
We may be talking about different kinds of bounce.

Bows remind me a lot of the suspension system in cars.

A loose bow gives you kind of a mushy feel, kind of like
some Buicks that are setup with an old-fashioned soft cushy ride
to appeal to older folks.

A tight bow is more like a sporty suspension for good handling in curves.
The equivalent of curves in bowing is fast string changes.

Up to a point, tighter gives you more control.
I suspect (I'm guessing here) that tighter hair is going to
reveal more of the character of the stick, how it's responding.

There is a bounciness that shows up at some point in a tight bow
that's a problem... it's akin to going over a speed bump in a sports car
and your head hitting the ceiling!  A car with a soft suspension will
"wallow" a bit, but you won't hit your head! A loose bow might
be described as having a bounciness like that- it doesn't fight back at
you.

When you make a quick string change,
ideally you would only use exactly the right amount of movement
to make the change.
However, if you use a little too much movement, the bow is going to
land more heavily on that string- and the effect on the bow is
like going over a speed bump.
How the bow reacts at that point shows it's "handling characteristics".
Soft and mushy? Firm and unforgiving, but stable? Or squirrelly?
(my term to describe a kind of jittery bounciness that you have to
fight to maintain control of the bow).
This kind of situation mostly happens when you are playing quickly
and doing fast string changes, like in many hornpipes (I suppose
classical stuff by Bach or Paganini would present a similar situation).


Michael

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #22 on: Aug 03, 2007, 04:39:07 PM »
Think I've said it before...but I really like your analogies Michael....makes things easy to understand (for me)

Offline patheslip

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #23 on: Aug 03, 2007, 07:36:31 PM »
We're divided by a common language.  Michael's analogies may enlighten the new world, but on the east side of the pond the ride qualities of vehicles are very different.  I have to work out his figures of speech from what I know about fiddle bows.  Incidentally, are 'curves' the same as 'corners' or 'bends'?  :~)

Offline awildman2384

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #24 on: Aug 03, 2007, 09:32:33 PM »
are 'curves' the same as 'corners' or 'bends'?  :~)

Yes.  Principles are still the same over there as here, though(it's all physics, right?).  Stiff suspension in a car is good for handling in  smooth corners.  Not good for rough road.  That's where mushy suspension is good, like a 4x4 truck.

Offline patheslip

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #25 on: Aug 03, 2007, 09:48:00 PM »
Are you sure about physics being the same?  I've seen roadrunner & that foxy thing.  Gravity doesn't work like that over here.

Offline Hutch

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #26 on: Jul 15, 2014, 04:38:45 PM »
I don't get it. ??? I get less bounce when I tighten my bow more?? The looser the hair, the bouncier it is. Just the opposite of what I read here. Maybe it's because I have a cheap bow which I'm going to replace soon I hope.
Since I wrote this I guess I've made some improvements in technique. Seems like I can adjust it any way I feel like and I don't get any bounce anymore. I should have gone to a good teacher many moons ago. Oh well.

Offline Worldfiddler

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #27 on: Jul 16, 2014, 06:53:32 PM »
Quote
Stiff suspension in a car is good for handling in  smooth corners.  Not good for rough road.  That's where mushy suspension is good, like a 4x4 truck.

Surely it's the other way about? Mushy suspension (often coupled with crapped out dampers) is the one thing that will give poor roadholding (eg on a bumpy road, straight or curved). Stiff suspension reacts more quickly to the minute change of direction caused by going over a bump, so there is better handling.

Some people decide to buy a high-performance sports car, then complain because of the fierce brakes, stiff clutch and 'square-wheel' ride, and general lack of comfort.

I guess there are some top high-powered vehicles that overcome this with superbo technology, and give comfort too.

What say you, Master? :)

Mr Jim

Offline Joe Gerardi

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #28 on: Jul 16, 2014, 07:03:25 PM »
I know the Jaguar XF Premium does. 385HP, 380 ft/pounds of torque, and a glorious growl, but rides like a dream.

..Joe
"Some people are like a Slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs"

Offline JSFisher

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Re: Bow tightness
« Reply #29 on: Aug 04, 2014, 02:56:08 PM »
I'm also with Steve_W on this. In my own experience, the looser the hair, the better the tone quality, and the better/smoother/less edgy the quality of attack. But, I tend to play off the string a lot in my own music. So, I find myself keeping the hair pretty tight. I like it to bounce - which I mean literally - the bow hitting the strings and bouncing upward off of them, as in spiccato and sautille'. And, I don't want to crush the hair between the stick and the strings. Some players don't mind this, but I don't care for it. So, I keep mine as loose as I can - looser for legato playing, but tighten it up for more aggressive music.

Note: I'm playing on a fairly stiff Seifert and an Arcus bow. If you've got a noodly fiberglass stick or cheap Brazilwood bow, you might need to keep it very tight, just to make it playable. If that's the case, you might want to consider stepping up to something stiffer. It will make a world of difference to your playing.

Jim Fisher

(Note: I've modified your posts, as you point to a commercial site. That's not allowed by the owner's rules. If you want to post commercially, contact hm about becoming a forum advertiser. until then, please stop placing it in your posts. -Joe)
« Last Edit: Aug 04, 2014, 04:14:31 PM by Joe Gerardi »

 




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