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Bow bounce
After changing strings and adjusting bridge width.
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MACJR
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June 30, 2018 - 2:34 pm
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The other day, I finished work on fitting new pegs to one of my violins, sanding down a too thick bridge so that now a brass mute will fit on it, and strung new Fiddlerman strings on it.

The violin sounds much nicer now than it did before I started work on it, but I discovered that my bow tends to bounce on the A string, especially at about #C.

I then discovered that I sometimes do have a slight bow bounce at about #C on one of my other violins, but not nearly as bad, and not as often.

This makes me think that part of the bow bounce is me, and part of it is some other factor, on the newly re-setup violin.

Could the bridge be a factor, and/or new strings?

The bridge does not have a standard bridge arc. It rises up a bit more than normal, which actually makes bowing the D and A strings easier, but I am wondering if this extra height also makes them more prone to bow bounce.

When I adjusted the bridges thickness, I did not alter its arc. I do not recall if there was a bow bounce issue with this violin before I started work on it. I had set it aside for about a year before finishing up work on it. A year ago, bow bounce might have been more normal for me. Now, my skills are getting better, but I do still have work to do on smoother bowing.

I did read through some previous posts about bow bounce, with some helpful hints, but did not see all of my questions answered in those post, but I admit that I did not look through the entire list of posts.

MACJR

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Jim Dunleavy
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July 1, 2018 - 4:16 am
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I don't really know the answer, but I've suffered from various degrees of bow bounce all the time I've been playing, so here are my random musings. 🙂

Mine is worst on the D string, which I've diagnosed as being due to my arm position - I tend to have my upper arm too low and compensate with my lower arm (which is wrong and I'm working on it).

I also have more tendency to bounce in higher positions which may or may not be linked to me being more tense when I'm playing up there. Alternatively it might be due to the shorter string length encouraging bounce (though I can't think of a physical mechanism for that).

Down bows are the worst, especially if you start near the balance point. I almost never get a bounce on an up bow.

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MACJR
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July 6, 2018 - 11:57 am
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Jim Dunleavy said
I don't really know the answer, but I've suffered from various degrees of bow bounce all the time I've been playing, so here are my random musings. 🙂

Mine is worst on the D string, which I've diagnosed as being due to my arm position - I tend to have my upper arm too low and compensate with my lower arm (which is wrong and I'm working on it).

I also have more tendency to bounce in higher positions which may or may not be linked to me being more tense when I'm playing up there. Alternatively it might be due to the shorter string length encouraging bounce (though I can't think of a physical mechanism for that).

Down bows are the worst, especially if you start near the balance point. I almost never get a bounce on an up bow.  

I am learning to adjust to the bow's tendency to bounce in those places I have found it prone to bounce at.

I am smoothing it out, but it will take more practice to eliminate that bow bounce on this violin.

At some point, I will try another bridge, cut to a proper bridge arc, and see if that helps.

MACJR

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damfino
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July 6, 2018 - 3:53 pm
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Some bows do have a bounce of their own. I forever thought the bounce/shimmy my bow did was my error. I had my teacher evaluate the bow and my bowing, and she said it was the bow, not me at all. That was late last year I had her check that out for me.

About a week ago I finally got a new bow from Fiddlershop, and it does not fight me the way my old bow did. I am still getting to know the new bow, so I go back and forth between the two bows during my practice to figure it out and see the differences. Yesterday I started with the new bow, then switched to the old one, and at some point forgot which bow I was using, and was wondering why it was bouncing around so darn much, and then I remembered I had switched over to the old bow. I've been slowly adjusting my bowing (without realizing it) to not compensate for the extra shimmy the old bow has, so it was really going crazy, haha. Put it down and used the new bow for the rest of my practice, haha. 

So, don't always blame yourself for the bounce. If you feel comfortable, share a short video example of the bounce you experience. It could be some hand tension, or could just be a characteristic of your bow.

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MACJR
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July 6, 2018 - 4:02 pm
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damfino said
Some bows do have a bounce of their own. I forever thought the bounce/shimmy my bow did was my error. I had my teacher evaluate the bow and my bowing, and she said it was the bow, not me at all. That was late last year I had her check that out for me.

About a week ago I finally got a new bow from Fiddlershop, and it does not fight me the way my old bow did. I am still getting to know the new bow, so I go back and forth between the two bows during my practice to figure it out and see the differences. Yesterday I started with the new bow, then switched to the old one, and at some point forgot which bow I was using, and was wondering why it was bouncing around so darn much, and then I remembered I had switched over to the old bow. I've been slowly adjusting my bowing (without realizing it) to not compensate for the extra shimmy the old bow has, so it was really going crazy, haha. Put it down and used the new bow for the rest of my practice, haha. 

So, don't always blame yourself for the bounce. If you feel comfortable, share a short video example of the bounce you experience. It could be some hand tension, or could just be a characteristic of your bow.  

The bow I use most times is a Fiddlerman carbon fiber bow. I do not think it is the issue.

I have been adjusting the bridge placement, and that seems to help. Some positions more than others. This, of course, also affects the sounds the violin plays, when I adjust the bridge this way, and then that, but I am getting the bow bounce under control.

I have also been paying more attention to keeping my hand and wrist relaxed, and that too makes a difference.  🙂

MACJR

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damfino
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July 6, 2018 - 4:06 pm
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Have you tried playing with the tension of the hair? With my CF bow it seems to play best with the hair tension at about the height of my smallest finger, which is probably similar to a pencil. 

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MACJR
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July 6, 2018 - 4:48 pm
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damfino said
Have you tried playing with the tension of the hair? With my CF bow it seems to play best with the hair tension at about the height of my smallest finger, which is probably similar to a pencil.   

No, I had not tried turning up the tension that high.

That does seem to smooth things out a bit more. I will see how the practice session goes here in a bit.

On the cheap bows that come with the Cecilio violins, it does not take that much tension the get the proper gap, and in fact, the gape gets too big on some of the bows, to get a good tension.

The Fidderman bow I have has to be cranked up quite a bit to get that kind of gap between the bow and the horse hair.

Although my hands are not as big as some I have seen, my fingers are probably a little bigger than yours, so it is a good thing that I do not need a gap big enough to fit my pinky through.

I always have a handy supply of pencils around though.

MACJR

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MACJR
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July 6, 2018 - 8:12 pm
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Thanks, damfino, more tension on the bow did help.

Although I had overcome a lot of the bow bounce from my early days of practice, I had not completely eliminated it. Now I am bowing smoother, even on the cheap violin that was, for some reason, making a small issue into a big issue.

I think it was not the bridge arc, but just that the bride tends to slide out of position too easily, and I do not always notice right away. When the bridge is in the correct location, all is better. It is a bonus that I now focus on my wrist relaxation and tighten the bow hair a bit more.

I still have much to learn. I am nearly ready to start intermediate lessons now, but I still need to work on and refine some of the basics.

I am even starting to play with vibrato, but mostly just in the warming up to play part of my practice sessions. It took a while for that to start sounding even half okay.

MACJR

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damfino
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July 6, 2018 - 9:44 pm
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I'm glad it helped 🙂 With my wooden bows, I play around a lot with different hair tension, loose for one tune, tighter for another, but the CF bow (for me) seems to be happiest at the tension I mentioned. I don't play as much with the tension on that bow. I set it and leave it the whole time I play, unless the humidity is messing with the hair. 

Relaxing your hand will be a good thing to work on 🙂 Working on some good springy fingers (I think of them as little shock absorbers when I play) is a good thing to work on when you are focusing on bowing in your practice 🙂

Have fun moving on in your practice 😀 

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bocaholly
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July 9, 2018 - 8:05 am
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Thanks for your musings on bow bounce. (I'm also totally impressed with you folks out there who are able to tinker with rebuilding and adjusting your own violin parts!)

As a newbie to the instrument, I too have bow bounce on my list of things to work on. I'll experiment with my bow tension for starters. I'll also check the tension is my right hand (little chock absorbers - check!) and try the idea of lifting my upper arm more conscientiously when transitioning to the lower strings. Of course, bowing straight is a good policy under all circumstances and I'm working on that.

But even on the E and A strings, I'm cooked when the sheet music indicates that I need to lift and place the bow. It's especially awful when the music is quicker (by me, quicker starts with 1/8 notes in allegro tempo.) Hence, I'm all ears for any specific tips on lifting and placing the bow. 

Thanks!

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Fiddlerman
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July 9, 2018 - 1:52 pm
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As many of you have mentioned above, loosen the hair a bit to lessen bow bounce and experiment with the occasional bow tilting. Playing with the edge of the bow hair rather than full flat hair. Obviously, this is a technique for reducing unwanted bow bounce though there is usually some other technical issue causing the bouncing.

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