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31 votes

Why are modern string bows concave instead of convex?

It's a fun experience to play with a convex Baroque bow, but if you've ever tried to use it for anything romantic or later, you'll quickly want to get back to the concave Tourte design that everybody ...
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29 votes
Accepted

Should I loosen the tension on the bow for a break?

As a bowmaker, I would like to temper these answers a bit. Yes, if you leave a bow under tension too long, it will lose its camber (bend) faster. So that's true: one should get in the habit of ...
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21 votes

Should I loosen the tension on the bow for a break?

I'd add to Dr. Mayhem's list: You never know when something will interrupt your plans. You might be 20 mins into a planned 1-hour break, and then the doorbell rings, you welcome a friend, ... next ...
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19 votes
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Does the horse hair in a bow all go in the same direction?

As a bowmaker, I'd like to expand upon Carl's answer. The question of the scales seems to be answered by microphotographs of bow hair, which show all the scales to be gone once the hair is played in, ...
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16 votes

Does the horse hair in a bow all go in the same direction?

Not too hard to find some strong opinions from skilled luthiers. Here's what DavidFinck wrote in a blogpost. That’s a great question. Every hank I have received is knotted at the root end. The ...
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14 votes

Should I loosen the tension on the bow for a break?

I would always loosen it off for that one hour break, for two reasons: Over time, tension will eventually damage the bow. Keeping tension on when you don't need to will just shorten the lifespan of ...
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  • 36.3k
11 votes
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What is different in double bass bows with black hair?

I'm assuming we are talking about natural horse hair and not synthetics. From what I understand, the white hair is finer and preferred by violin and viola players. The black hair is the coarsest and ...
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  • 1,417
9 votes

How do you play two consecutive up bows?

An up-bow doesn't have to start at the tip of the bow. It often does, but to get this bar, it can be taken off momentarily, then re-applied, still as an up-bow, for the last note, which will more ...
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  • 173k
9 votes
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How do you play two consecutive up bows?

You stop the bow just like you would when changing direction and continue just like if you had changed direction: this is not supposed to sound differently from a normal note (and if you made some ...
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  • 106
9 votes

Why are string bows so hairy?

Even if you angle the bow quite strongly, the entire breadth of hair does touch the string as soon as you put some pressure on the bow (the outermost hairs will get stretched and give way, i.e. the ...
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8 votes

How does one change bow hair?

First off, I would seriously consider having it done by a professional. Violin bow rehairing can cost about $50 with cello and bass bows costing a bit more. Given that it is quite a skilfull operation,...
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  • 554
8 votes
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Why does bowed string instrument size matter?

For a given instrument (violin, viola, cello, bass is more complicated), the tuning of a fractional size instrument (1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 are commonly seen, 7/8 used to be frequently called "lady'...
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  • 8,678
8 votes
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How to improve jerky bowing on the violin

If you really want to work on your bowing, do it without involving the left hand. If you are fingering notes, part of your mind will always be thinking about the left hand. By eliminating it, you can ...
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  • 6,349
7 votes

How to improve jerky bowing on the violin

Long-tones. All the time. Extremely slowly. Always. Meditate on your open strings with long tones until they are perfect and serene and the bow only does what you want only when you want it. Long ...
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  • 25.1k
6 votes

Can I play Musical Saw with a Double Bass bow?

Yes, you can use a bass bow. Not sure why Tim above said that a cello bow is longer than a violin one - it's the other way round, which is why a cello bow is better than a violin bow for saw playing. ...
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6 votes
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How do I keep my E string from "squeaking"?

The E string whistle may be caused by many things, usually a technique issue with the bow, but there are some strings that are more likely to whistle. I've found that the gold plated unwound E strings ...
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6 votes

How was the bow invented?

There are only two possible kind of vibrations with a string fixed at both ends: Plucking; the vertical impulse leads to a transversal vibration twisting, leading to a torsional vibration To get the ...
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  • 9,985
6 votes

Why are modern string bows concave instead of convex?

If you trace the development of the orchestra, you'll see that there has been a shift toward larger groups in larger spaces between the baroque period and now. A natural consequence of this is that ...
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6 votes
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Why are all my bow hairs falling out?

They probably weren't secured very well at the tip (which is where I assume they were falling from) and when you pulled a couple out it freed a bunch of others. If half the hairs are gone it's time ...
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  • 76
5 votes

How do you play two consecutive up bows?

As is often the case with questions about bow direction, it helps to think about the musical phrasing - how would you sing this? That D at the end is an anacrusis, a pickup note that forms part of the ...
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  • 795
5 votes

Why does bowed string instrument size matter?

Usually the three-quarter or other smaller than standard violins are for younger, smaller children. A full sized violin would be way too much for a three or four year old to handle. The bow is ...
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  • 173k
5 votes

Why does bowed string instrument size matter?

3/4 means three quarters size as opposed to full size. The tuning can be the same, but the scale length is different, which means string length and tension (and thickness) are different. So while you ...
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  • 36.3k
5 votes
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Does a guitar ebow work on bass?

The reports I've heard are: The grooves in the base of the e-bow do not align with bass strings, thus it is more difficult (though not impossible) to get a steady, consistent placement of the bow at ...
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  • 17.5k
5 votes
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How should I store my bow if I'm not using it for long periods of time?

Bow tension The most important thing you could do for your bow is to keep it loosened when it is not in use. This is something that every string player must do when putting their bow back in the ...
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  • 282
5 votes
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What is a finger bow?

The “Finger Bow” allows the player to instantly switch between finger style (pizzicato), and bowing (arco) with a flick of a finger. The bow is 10 3/8” long, and made of lightweight and resonate ...
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5 votes
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Is it possible to "unbend" a warped bow of a string instrument?

Yes, a bow can be re-cambered, but it requires some skill and I wouldn't recommend trying it yourself (edit: unless it is a cheap bow you want to experiment on and don't care if you wreck it). When ...
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5 votes

Is it accurate to tune with harmonics higher than the third harmonic on the double bass?

How high the harmonic is above the open string isn’t the primary issue, it’s the natures of the partials themselves. The 2nd partial harmonic an octave higher should be a true octave above the open ...
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  • 17.9k
5 votes
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What range of violin bow hair tension is generally accepted?

The first thing to note is that you should slacken off the tension when you finish practice before you put the bow away to avoid long term damage to the bow and stretching of the hair. Before ...
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  • 5,037
5 votes
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How long does a violin bow technique last?

The first thing to note is that "Sul Tasto" means something entirely different from "sul D", "sul A", "sul G", etc. "Sul Tasto" means "over the ...
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  • 5,037
4 votes
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How to rosin a bow?

This is how I do it, product of inputs from my colleagues, teachers and my own experiences: pre-note: if the bow hair does not hold the roisin, you have either very old bow hair, or have dirty bow ...
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  • 2,443

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