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Choosing a bow

Every bow has a personality of its own. A musician must consider if it is comfortable and if it produces the desired sound. When it comes to choosing a bow, consider the following:

COMFORT. The first thing to look for with a bow is if you can produce a long note without difficulty, such that the arm doesn’t experience any unnecessary tension.

BALANCE. Every bow has a different weight, but even more important than its weight is its balance – the equilibrium of the bow. The distribution of weight allows the musician to play for lengthy periods of time without tiring himself or herself due to the excess of weight.

FLEXIBILITY. A bow should be strong but never rigid. This feature depends largely upon the quality of the wood (which ought to be pernambuco wood) and its curvature and pore spaces.

CARBON FIBRE BOWS? We advise against the use of carbon fibre bows because they tend not to have the sensitivity and subtlety of wood and wooden bows, and, over time, they tend to create tension in the arm and shoulders which can develop into serious muscular and nervous-system injury.

THE BOW AND THE INSTRUMENT. Even before buying a quality instrument, it’s recommended that one has a good bow. After all, it is the bow that ultimately makes the instrument sound. With a superior bow, one always obtains a better sound and can appreciate and unveil the often hidden potential of the instrument.

AN OLD BOW OR A NEW ONE? The best time for a bow, contrary to how it tends to be for instruments, is when it is fresh from the bow-maker’s workshop. Afterwards, it is prone to suffer some decline over a period – which can be long or short, depending upon several factors. These factors include the quality of the wood, the drying period, and, of course, the care and maintenance given to the bow. It’s very evident that there are some very aged bows that play as well as new ones and which today tend to have a high value.

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