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I posted this video in the video section, but decided that I wanted to do a bit of a first impressions review of the Holstein No Star Pernambuco Bow I just got in.
The video compares my current $60 fiberglass bow that came with my outfit.
And please be gentle, I may not know much being a new violinist, but I thought it would be good to show a first impression from a new player's perspective as I'm sure a lot of other new players will be looking to upgrade their bows. So please correct anything I say that might be wrong.
I don't know if it picks up well on the mic, but the Holstein bow sounds a little warmer to me, less harsh as if you brought down the high end eq. A slightly more pleasant sound than my fiberglass bow, but I'm still not happy with the sound of the violin, itself. But that's not the bow's fault! Finding a new violin is a whole other discussion.
Playability, both bows feel very similar, but I'm not really playing anything complicated, so maybe the Holstein helps with that. The weight feels the same to me for both bows, I tried a carbon fiber bow today at a shop that felt very light comparatively. There's a little bit of squeaking and I'm getting harmonic overtones when I finger the A string, but that might just be bad technique as i have gotten it on both bows to some degree, but it seemed more noticeable with the Holstein. But like I said, that could be something else happening. Or maybe the bow needs a few more days of rosining, being brand new and all.
The Holstein bow doesn't loosen very much, or at least the hairs don't appear loose, but maybe that's a good thing. I loosen it enough to see a big bend and to where the frog comes all the way up to the lizard skin, but the hairs still seem taught which I was not expecting. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. Just something different that I noticed.
Speaking of lizard skin, I really like the grip. The bow is comfortable to hold, and where on my fiberglass bow, my pinky felt unnatural, on the Holstein bow, my pinky fits exactly where I want it to and the hold in general feels great. (Keep in mind I use a Russian bow hold) One thing I noticed was that on the (nickel-silver I think) winding, there was some kind of small, orange stain, I don't know if it was rust or dirt or whatever, and I know Fiddlerman would let me exchange it if I asked for it, but it's only cosmetic and not hurting anything and doesn't really bother me.
I am a big fan of how the bow was shipped to me, even though it took awhile (11 days) to get here. The bow came in a fancy cloth bag which was inside a really fancy red pleather box inside a plastic bag, wrapped in cushioning paper, inside a rugged cardboard cylindrical tube with a couple big fragile stickers on it. Very secure. I think FedEx could have thrown it from the truck and it would have been fine.
Overall, I'm happy with the sound and feel of the Holstein, and I feel I got my $200 worth of improvement, but I wonder if it could be better if I upgraded to the 3 star bow. What else would I be gaining from upgrading knowing that I've been playing for less than two months and may not have the higher level technical skills a more expensive bow would be needed for?
Honorary tenured advisor
First, let me say @FortyNothing I like your videos and admire how relaxed you seem presenting yourself and your playing as a newbie.
As far as the new bow/rosin combination, even I could tell a difference. The sound was warmer and richer with the new bow to my ear.
Thanks for the detailed written review, also.
Best of luck with your new bow, and keep those videos coming.
@FortyNothing I agree with @MoonShadows that was a great review and the FM bow clearly gives a warmer sound.
FiddlerShop does a fantastic job packing their products for shipping.
About loosening the hair, if the humidity happens to be very low, the horse hair will contract enough that you won't be able to completely make it loose. I just experienced this a couple of weeks ago with a new bow I bought.
When I turned the screw to get the hair as loose as I normally do, the screw started to unscrew from the stick. That's when I realized the humidity was very low that day. (I should have know that already since every door knob I touched shocked me!). Now the humidity is back to around 50% and my bow loosens as normal.
It's still surprising how well you're doing after such a short time playing. Keep up the good work and the videos coming.
Bob in Lone Oak, Texas
Thanks everyone for the kind words. I have been progressing faster than I thought I would. I guess 25 years of playing music helps quite a bit when learning a new instrument. I still have a long way to go, but as long as practice is still fun I should continue to get better. It's also nice to have buyer's affirmation.
I've had the bow for a full day now and I'd like to update how a feel about it.
The squeaks I mentioned earlier are gone now. I just needed to apply more rosin. New bows apparently need a thicker base of rosin to get them started.
I am also noticing a more significant sound difference than my previous bow now that I played through 3/4 of the Suzuki Book 1 with it (more rosin helped as well). A definite more pleasant and warmer sound. Now that I have more rosin, I can also put less pressure on the bow and that seems to help my bow precision.
The sound is also louder and more pronounced now compared to my fiberglass bow.
Good work @Fiddlerman I think I will now go to the shop site and post an official shortened review on there.