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Hows the balance of your bow?
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Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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Picklefish
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September 3, 2012 - 9:12 pm
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So one of the things that I learned at last Sats jam is that the balance of your bow can make a huge difference in your playing. So I have a basic $100 bow. The bows at the jam were much more expensive even one claiming to be worth $5000 with a miniature inscription in the eye of the frog, the lords prayer. Pretty cool. Anyways, the thing that surprised me was this guy who swapped out the tightening nut on my bow with one that weighed more? Mine currently weighs 6gs, do they come in different weights. This made the thing feel light as a feather when used. craziest sensation ever. so is this fact or fiction? Who's in the know? Can you turn a basic bow into one that plays like an expensive one simply by changing the balance?

And then where can I get me a heavier nut? (no puns please)

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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fishnrodds
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September 3, 2012 - 11:03 pm
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I  am a bit backwoods.. if i wanted to change my balance i would likely make myself a piece to go between the nut and the bow before i spent the money and time looking but thats just me. I never thoufght of this till now but I could benefit from the experimenting because ai find my grip wandering up the bow as the heat of battle gets rolling..

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cdennyb
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The delicate art of bow making uses the silver wire wrapping near the frog to add weight to the end as a fine tuning measure. My carbon fiber bow weighs in at 57.6 grams and my 100 yr old Pernabuco does as well. I have weighed two seperate chinese (2 for $20) bows and they weighed exactly 10 grams MORE. The difference is certainly very noticeable when playing.

I would assume if you have stumbled onto a method of swapping out the screw assembly on the frog for another of different weight, then you have also found yet another fine tuning option.thumbs-up

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Fiddlestix
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September 4, 2012 - 11:33 am
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In actuallity, the silver winding's were applied to the stick around the turn of the century when steel E string's came into use, it was wound around the stick to help dampen the shrill / bright sound of the steel E string, while the other 3 string's remained gut. Bow's prior to that were generally made with no wrapping's around the stick unless they needed it for balance. Generally this was taken into concideration while the stick was being shaped. When the stick was finished, and the balance point was not correct,(according to total bow weight) the bow maker would apply another type of winding around the stick, not silver, maybe leather or even layers of snake skin. The amount of silver wrapping around the stick is dependant on the thickness of the tip end of the bow. If the tip end of the bow is rather thick then more winding's of silver are required to maintain a balance point of approximately 19cm from the balance point TO the frog. This measurement also depend's on the total weight of the bow. The thicker the bow at the tip end, the greater the distance between balance point and frog. This again depend's on the total weight of the bow. The total length of a violin bow is 74cm, give or take 2 or 3mm. The balance point distance can be found by balancing the bow on your finger then measure from the center of your finger TO the frog.

When stringed instrument's first came to being they used gut string's, consequently the instrument was built and tuned around gut string's. I'm not sure, but I would think that some of the Strad. player's still use real gut string's, although they are very expensive, the true and original sound of the Stradivarius is expelled.  

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Fiddlestix
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September 4, 2012 - 11:49 am
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Picture-032-1.jpgImage EnlargerPicture-031-1.jpgImage EnlargerMy four bow's..... Left is my $25.00 fiberglass bow,,,, next my $225.00 wood bow, next is my cheap Chinese bow that came with the cheap violin,  far right is my 130 year old Pernambuco bow, note no wrapping's at frog end and the thin stick at the tip end. Note how the wrapping's vary with different thickness's at the tip's, for balance.

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Picklefish
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September 4, 2012 - 1:13 pm
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ok, but the thread is about weather or not to adjust the balance point to compensate for a heavier tip to make it feel appear lighter, and weather or not that makes a difference in bowing action and  ability. But cool information bout your stuff, I would like one with snake skin winding. With all the boas and anacondas on the loose in the everglades, I wonder if thats a business oppourtunity? Catchin em would be the hard part!

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Fiddlerman
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September 4, 2012 - 4:21 pm
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Maybe not so easy to adjust the balance of your bow without changing the weight negatively. I believe that it is better to find a well balanced bow. That is one of the most important things to me when testing a bow.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Fiddlestix
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September 4, 2012 - 4:45 pm
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Absolutely correct, Pierre.... Here is a chart showing bow weight's and balance points  for varius stringed instrument's. These weight's and balance point's are what is concidered ideal, but can vary slightly.

If you change the tip weight, you will change the balance point. If you lighten the the tip weight it will produce a lot of bounce. By adding weight to the frog using a heavier frog screw you are automatically lightening the tip weight thus changing the balance point. There is no practical way to lighten the bow without sanding the stick.

balance is more important than weight per se.

Instrument Weight Balance Point
Violin 56 - 65 gr 17 cm - 22 cm
Viola 66 - 76 gr 16 cm - 20.5 cm
Cello 76 - 85 gr 15 cm - 19 cm
Bass 115 - 150 gr 10 cm - 13.5 cm
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Picklefish
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Fiddlerman said
Maybe not so easy to adjust the balance of your bow without changing the weight negatively. I believe that it is better to find a well balanced bow. That is one of the most important things to me when testing a bow.

 

So then what makes the ideal bow, what am I looking for?

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Picklefish
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cdennyb said
The delicate art of bow making uses the silver wire wrapping near the frog to add weight to the end as a fine tuning measure. My carbon fiber bow weighs in at 57.6 grams and my 100 yr old Pernabuco does as well. I have weighed two seperate chinese (2 for $20) bows and they weighed exactly 10 grams MORE. The difference is certainly very noticeable when playing.

I would assume if you have stumbled onto a method of swapping out the screw assembly on the frog for another of different weight, then you have also found yet another fine tuning option.thumbs-up

 

Mine weighs in at 66 grams. I guess I just need to get a FM carbon fiber bow. does it really make a difference in bow control?

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Fiddlerman
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September 7, 2012 - 9:10 pm
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66 grams is really heavy....
The most I have seen are around 63. I believe the ideal bow is around 60-61 for me. My bows are between 59 and 61.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Barry
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My encore is 60.5 grams

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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RosinedUp
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Fiddlestix wrote: "Here is a chart showing bow weight's and balance points  for varius stringed instrument's."

From which end do you measure the balance point?

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Fiddlestix
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September 9, 2012 - 7:51 pm
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Measure from the frog where it lay's on the stick. I put a piece of masking tape on the stick to make a pencil mark where the balance point is. measure from there to the frog. If you use a tape with only mm, convert to cm by multiplying x 10 will give you cm.

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DanielB
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Ok, I have a question that is probably very naive and where there is a simple answer to it.

Why do we take the measurement for the balance point from the frog, which is a part of the bow that moves?  Isn't that going to change with how the bow is adjusted for humidity or whatever?  Since the frog can move about a cm or so, wouldn't that make the balance point on a given stick variable over a range of at least some mm?

dunno

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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coolpinkone
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so....I am not totally following the technicality of this "bow balancing stuff." As learning to play is my number one thing... (I have mad envy for you all that can learn all the schtuff and learn to play too..) anyway..

 

I had an interesting convo with a fellow fiddler today. My teacher wants my bow thumb bent..and she wants the tip of my thumb to be under the frog.... and I mean tip..... and a longer thumb nail prevents it from happening...no worries..short nails are now my lifestyle after 25 years of LONG glam nails.... but so the convo was like this... (the gist...no verbatim..sorry wine invovlved..."

"if you hold the bow that way..doesn't your bow want to sort of pop up.."

 

"well the little finger "has" to be on the top of the bow to keep it from popping up"

 

"well if you didn't have  your thumb like that then the bow wouldn't pop up."

 

Just tossing this out there.... I recently tried playing holding the bow VERY non classically..and I had an easier time with it.  

I tend to be anal..  Teachers word is gospel to me... she is the "boss"  but then when I go to play... and I just have this light and relaxed bow hold...and it is easy...a little voice in my head says..."hummmmmmmm"   Blame it on a rebel violinist that I have become acquainted with. :)

 

That is my blabbering for the night.  :)

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Fiddlestix
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September 10, 2012 - 7:34 am
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@ Daniel..... I tightened and loosened the frog to it's full range of movement and there was no noticeable change in balance point.

Humidity doesn't affect the stick that can be realized as much as the hair.

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DanielB
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@Fiddlestix:  Ok, then.  Great answer.  Thank you.

thumbs-up

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Picklefish
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the result of all my inquiries is that unless you own an expensive bow, a treasured bow or otherwise irreplaceable bow, then buy a better bow. You can drill the frog or the tip and insert lead or add sticky bits of material to adjust the balance to where you want it, but a better bow will have this sorted out for you anyways. Also, a better pernambuco bow will have the right kind of rigidity and strength required for hard core fiddling. While carbon fiber has the advantage of being light and durable its just not the same as pernambuco. That being said, carbon fiber fills the bill for probably 90 percent of violinists. ha ha, yup most of us just arent superstars. Anywho, thats my take away.

As far as humidity goes, I have noticed when playing outside Walmarts that after an hour or so I do need to retighten my bow. nothing major mind you but a bit.

@cool pink one- the word you need to know is "posistion of comfort". find a bow hold thats comfortable for you and then find a teacher that can deal with it. ha ha, Im all for the classical bow hold and am willing to accept the TUF and or choking up like the old timers do. Some hold techniques do make it easier to bow certain ways. But if your goal is to only play one style (which would be fine) then you need a hold that achieves that goal for you. Anyone can learn a hold over time and it can be comfortable also. I try to always use a classic bow hold with curved thumb in the curve of the frog pinky on tightening nut and first nuckle on winding. But I also have giant hands. Good luck.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Fiddlestix
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September 10, 2012 - 7:46 pm
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I'm not sure where all this is going. pfish, you can drill the frog and add lead, you can drill the tip and add lead or put stick-on lead weight's there also, or you can hang a lead weight from a string of about  24" long from the tip so that when you bow really fast the lead weight bang's on the bottom of the violin to give a drum affect.

You can add and subtract weight's the your bow and make the balance point anywhere your little heart desire's, but the balance point is figured in WHILE the bow is being made. I don't think balance is going to help you one bit, if I were you I would learn to live with it and learn to use it the way it is. Perhap's the bow is too heavy, in that case you can use a belt sander and remove some material from the stick. Ah ha,, now it's just right.

You are a violin teacher, you should know these thing's.         hats_off

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