Sunday, May 13, 2007

Buying Guide for Bows

Choosing your Bow is important to your performance. Next to a new set of strings (or increased practice time) the biggest improvement a player can make to their performance is upgrading the bow.

A good bow should not be too heavy and should be able to sustain decent tension on the hairs without over tightening the screw.

Rosin – Rosin is a substance you rub on the bow to help produce the right amount of friction between the bow’s horse hair and the violin’s strings to create the vibration of the strings. Without rosin, there will be little, if any, sound.

Materials - Bows are made of a wide range of shaft materials: Brazilwood, Pernambuco (preferred for wooden bows), fiberglass and graphite-fiber (or a combination of graphite, fiberglass, or carbon-fiber). Virtually all bows sold today include natural horsehair.

Here is a list of materials used to make bows:

Fiberglass - Available for all instrument sizes, fiberglass bows are best for younger students and other performers (such as bluegrass) where durability and costs are a priority. These bows frequently utilize plastic frogs and grips to keep costs low. Fiberglass bows are even available that can be easily rehaired by the consumer to cut down on maintenance cost.

Brazilwood - Many step-up and intermediate bows are made from Brazilwood and often Ebony is used for the frog (the part you hold in your right hand) rather than plastic, as well as genuine leather, wire and simulated whalebone for the grips. Brazilwood tends to be lighter and more responsive than fiberglass and makes a very good beginner to intermediate wood bow. One should be aware that due to the fragile nature of the wooden shaft, Brazilwood bows can break fairly easily if mishandled.

Pernambuco - This wood has the sound qualities and physical qualities that make it ideal for making high quality bows, combining rigidity, flexibility, density, beauty and ability to hold a fixed curve. They are suitable for advanced students and professionals.

Graphite-fiber (or carbon-fiber) - Generally, these bows offer performance comparable to good wooden bows at a fraction of the cost. Borrowing from the world of high-tech tennis racquets and golf clubs, the carbon fiber bow combines craftsmanship and modern science. They are made from a combination of reinforcement fiber and a matrix, or resin. This mixture has mechanical properties that far exceed the capabilities of the separate ingredients. The result is a highly durable, stable but very flexible carbon-based material that is perfect for bow making.

Buy Bows for String Instruments