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Bow Rotation
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New member
January 27, 2013 - 1:34 pm
Member Since: January 27, 2013
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Watching videos, I notice people tend to rotate the bow so the wood part is furthest from their face, and the hair is closest.  I naturally tend to do the opposite.


I've been looking around but I'm having a hard time finding any official word of whether this is something you need to aim for (if so, reason?), or if it's more a personal comfort thing.  ...Or maybe the angles are just deceiving in the videos and they're actually holding it flat.


I'm still new to the instrument, so the more little things I can correct now, the better.


Thanks in advance!

January 27, 2013 - 1:55 pm
Member Since: March 14, 2012
Forum Posts: 1644
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Hi there and welcome to the forum!

One reason for tilting the bow can be for dynamics. When you play with the edge of the bow, the sound is quieter than when you play with it fully flat on the strings.

There may be other reasons for tilting and I'm sure others will weigh in on what they are.

Hope that helps a little. -- Diane

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.


January 27, 2013 - 2:14 pm
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Funny you should ask that >ImSoCold < As I was practicing just a bit ago I had the same question come to my head. Hoping there will be some good stuff on this one.

Michigan, USA

January 27, 2013 - 2:14 pm
Member Since: January 21, 2012
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Tilting the bow stick away from you willl help you control direction better. What I mean is then the hair's are closer to you, you have a tendency to keep the bow in a straighter line between the bridge and and the fingerboard. Holding the bow with the stick closer as in your case will have a tendency to let the whole bow slide toward the fingerboard.

Like KS, Diane said there are probably other reason's, those are my thought's.  I hope it help's some.

BTW... welcome to the Fiddlerman forum, enjoy.


January 27, 2013 - 4:21 pm
Member Since: May 4, 2012
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Well, you also get a bit more harmonic content when you play with the hair flat than when you tilt to use the edge. 

So the flat will give you sort of a thicker sound and the edge will be more transparent sounding.  Going onto the edge also can help with fading out a note or when you want to ease into a note. 

So that's yet another thing to consider when one is playing, as if with violin there wasn't enough things to have to learn to be aware of when playing.  LOL

I agree with Fiddlestix that tilting it so the stick is more towards me than the hair makes it a bit harder to control, though.  But if you find it works better for you, ImSoCold2323, that's cool


"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

Fort Lauderdale
January 28, 2013 - 9:28 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11604

Another reason to tilt the bow is to get that super shock absorber when playing super soft. :-)

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

Russia, Tatarstan rep. Kazan city

January 29, 2013 - 5:24 pm
Member Since: October 7, 2011
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Welcome to the forum, ImSoCold2323!

Fiddlestix said
... Holding the bow with the stick closer as in your case will have a tendency to let the whole bow slide toward the fingerboard.


Agreed. My teacher says i have to avoid tilting it that way.

Advanced member
January 29, 2013 - 7:13 pm
Member Since: August 7, 2012
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One thing I've heard is that with the stick tilted away from you, you are directing the sound towards the noise makers (bridge, soundpost, bass bar). Whether this is true or not...dunno

A hoopy frood always knows where his towel is!

New member
February 1, 2013 - 5:35 pm
Member Since: January 27, 2013
Forum Posts: 2
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Well, thanks for the warm welcome!

Convinced that there actually is a reason to tilt the bow away, I've started learning to play like that and I have noticed it's a bit easier to control.  I wonder why that is.  Is it an optical things, when your eyes glance down they focus on the hairs faster than the wood now (you're not pushing the bow away from you trying to get the wood to where the hair should be)?  Or is it more mechanical in that it ends up being better balanced when your fingers/wrist are in that position?  I guess it doesn't matter why, just my curious nature...

There are so many important things you need to understand about playing before you can really do anything on the violin.  And I accept that because there's a wealth of knowledge available on the internet.  I guess now I'm worried about smaller things like this.  Since it's not crucial, it's rare that an instructional video would point this out.  I wonder how many other little things I may be doing wrong...


But thanks again for all of your help!

February 1, 2013 - 5:46 pm
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If you tilt the bow then the same applied force results in higher pressure

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Honorary tenured advisor

April 17, 2013 - 1:45 pm
Member Since: September 7, 2012
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I think that tilting the stick away when bowing near the frog follows from usual human anatomy and kinesiology.  There is an efficient way of moving the hand and arm for a smooth bow stroke.  Doesn't the wrist naturally rise higher than the knuckles near the end of the upbow?  I think this rotation of the stick comes mainly from raising the wrist that way.

If you are a golfer, think of the way the face of a golf club rotates during the standard golf swing. Upon maximum backswing, the club faces the same way the golfer does.  At the maximum follow through, the club is facing the opposite direction.  The shaft of the club is rotated during the swing mainly because it is necessary to fit in with the rest of an efficient swing, not because the rotation itself is particularly useful.

So I say that this rotation of the stick is mostly accidental to the more important features of the usual bow stroke.


Merritt Island, Fla
Pro advisor

April 17, 2013 - 8:09 pm
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I play almost all the time with the stick tilted away from me, I think it sounds nicer.

Vanessa Mae will rotate the stick to and fro while she plays, I really think they do it for dynamics reasons.

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

King for a Day, Peasant for many

April 18, 2013 - 1:01 am
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I too tilt away and "Play on the edge" of the hair for the most part. As the pressure increases in the downward movement it will cause more hair to contact the string, grip more and the lighter pressure will lift the bow and the flat hair surface and thus create a lighter touch, softer note and lower volume.

The squealing bow is often times stopped by rotating or tilting the bow to cause this geometry to occur.

I can play "flat haired" easily but adding 'color' to the music is more easily achieved this way(tiliting).

"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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