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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?
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.
Fiddling for Older Folks - A Blog & Forum for Fiddle Talk, Fiddle Music, and Learning to Play the Fiddle as an Adult
@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
First, loved the video and it is great seeing a video comparison by a newbie or a non-professional. I believe most of us here fit one of those categories. The professionals could make a rosined pencil going across the strings sound good! It really helps to read, see and hear the comparison made by a peer. Great job.
I could notice the difference. The Holstein was immediately noticable as a warmer, fuller, smoother sound. Excellent. It seems to me that this tells me that if you want to tone down a bright violin, but like the strings you have, maybe try the wood Holstein bow, or comparible wood bow, but I am no expert. Or have a bow of each for a warm sound and brighter sound, after you are more experienced with the violin.
You looked comfortable with the Holstein. I was going to make a joke as to why, but newbies to site might take it away from the quality sound from that bow.
Your violin has a really nice sound, which made it easier to hear the differences. Your playing was great, which really made the comparison easy to hear.
About upgrading soon. Personally, I would not. Why? If you progress quicker than you expect, you might want to skip and step to the one further up, if there is one. Plus, this one is really good. Stick with it and learn on it. Something tells me that if you are comfortable with it, I think you should not confuse your muscles by changing the bow too soon, or often. It seems to suit you. Not sure if I am right, but it makes sense to me because they feel different.
I think a different feeling and sounding bow all the time will make you have to get comfortable with a bow all the time, or if swapping back and forth, have to re-adjust to the bow you are using. It would also make your memory for intonation have to keep adjusting from the differnent tones you get from them. I think that would slow down improving intonation?
This takes concentration away from learning the violin. I would give it a year, or at least 6 months, to give yourself a longer time period to get the violin basics in you muscle memory. Just a thought. Remember, though, I quite offen think outside of the box, in my opinion is a a good thing, but is not always on track.
They call me, “Mellow Cello”
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.