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Holding the Bow Higher Up Than Normal to Shorten Effective Length
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newbie-Ron
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December 7, 2017 - 11:16 pm
Member Since: July 24, 2017
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I saw a performer hold the bow higher up than normal to shorten the effective length, and I tried this myself today.

Instead of putting my thumb in that little notch, I tried playing with my thumb as forward as the forward edge of the metal winding.

It certainly had a different feel, and I was able to play more quietly.

Does anyone else do this, and can you share some insights about this technique?

I’m just wondering, do any adults use a smaller 3/4 bow with a 4/4 violin?  I imagine that might have a similar effect.

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zpilot
Kansas City, Mo.
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December 8, 2017 - 12:17 am
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I have short arms and when I started learning I thought about using a shorter than full-size bow since on the E string I cannot use the entire bow.  I decided not because I think the size of the bow contributes to the sound and I didn't want to lose that benefit.  Also, I don't HAVE to use the entire length of the bow just because it is there.

I have seen several Texas swing and bluegrass players choke up on the bow and they claim it helps with their technique in those styles.  They are all better players than me and it seems to work for them so who am I to judge.

I mentioned this to my teacher and she responded that, in the orchestra she plays in, when they perform some Baroque pieces she chokes up on her bow rather than use a Baroque bow.

I believe my teacher has it right.  A "standard" bow hold should normally be used.  But if you can play something better by altering that hold then go ahead and do it.  I wouldn't use it as a crutch for bad technique though.  I would make every effort to do it without changing from a conventional hold.  

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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December 8, 2017 - 12:44 am
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AFAIK, the purpose isn't to shorten the effective length of the bow, at least not in Baroque music. The purpose is to facilitate the "lift" at the end of long notes (really a stylistic thing) by putting the hand closer to the balance point. The full length of the bow may still be used, with the right hand going past the string.

Putting the hand closer to the balance point might also make string-crossing easier, which could be why some fiddlers do it.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
December 8, 2017 - 2:25 am
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Yup I do that on occasion - and only because I (a) have seen it done by well accomplished fiddlers and (b) I find it can help reduce bounce in certain circumstances.     And yes, as @AndrewH says - you can still get the full bow into play.

Possibly... well more like certainly - it also affects how you apply both pinkie-pressure and index finger pressure on longgggg down to the frog bowing.

Check out   for an interesting bow-hold and action - and at 1:03 in to the piece.   I've seen more extreme holds as well but this one came to mind- 

Oh nooo... earworm... big mistake on my part - gonna have that tune stuck in my head all day now....   facepalm

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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damfino
oHIo, USA
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December 8, 2017 - 10:34 am
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I've been trying this more often lately. My teacher at one point a long time ago told me to try getting a shorter bow because of the length of my arms, but I never did do that, I stuck with full sized ones. 

I've been trying out holding the bow higher to see what it actually feels like to play to the tip of the bow, and fiddle with more of the top half, and to experiment with trying to reduce bow vibration (the actual stick vibrating and getting annoying during fast bits). I don't mind the hold, but I have lost my grip and almost dropped my bow that way a couple times, haha. But I like the idea of it, for when I get faster at fiddling, to have that hold as an alternative 🙂 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 8, 2017 - 1:50 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12802

Interesting.
I've never tried it but after a point, anything that makes playing easier for you must be positive.

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

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