When buying the bow, we must bear in mind that it is as important as the violin. For this reason, it is interesting to know the appropriate criteria to be able to identify and select the arch that best meets our expectations.
There are several points that we must take into account:
1. Establish a budget.
We can find prices that range from 20 pounds to 25,000 pounds, so determining a budget is essential to be able to make an objective comparison and above all that corresponds to our level and our possibilities.
It is very different to buy a collectible violin bow or a bow that has the sole purpose of getting a good sound out of your instrument.
We can group the bows according to their price in different categories:
- Study bows: £ 20 – £ 250.
- Semi-professional bows: £ 300 – £ 1000.
- Professional bows: £ 1500 – £ 20,000.
- Collectible bows: + from £ 50,000. (For example: François Tourte).
2. Determine a bow of difference.
Always compare only two by two and definitively discard the one that does not suit you. Indeed, to be able to evaluate an arc it is important to have a starting point, as this will allow you to more easily identify which one best suits your needs and expectations.
For example, you can use your usual arc as a reference and compare positive and negative differences with the proposed arcs. You can also try the first two arcs and discard the worst of the two, add another arc, and refresh your selection.
3. Perform a visual inspection of the arch.
We must meticulously review each bow. Ask what are the materials with which it has been manufactured. Pay special attention to the stick, which should be straight. The bow hair must be regular and well supported, the screw mechanism must function properly and the balance point must be adequate.
4. Know exactly the weight of the bow.
A violin bow must provide two key elements:
Control and speed.
Therefore, its weight becomes an essential criterion. The bow must weigh between 60 and 65 grams so that these key elements keep the correct relationship. A lighter bow will make it difficult to control, while a heavy bow will limit speed.
5. Always play the same violin.
The timbre and acoustic capacities of each violin are different, so in order to make an effective comparison, it is important not to change instruments in order to hear which bow improves its sound.
If possible, it is preferable to select the bow by playing your violin.
6. Always interpret the same passages.
Like the previous point, it is important that you interpret the same bow strokes in order to make an objective assessment. In this way, you will be able to feel the differences in specific movements.
7. Listen carefully to the sound made by the violin.
A good bow is the result of crisp, clean, and clear sound.
If the bow you are testing does not meet these characteristics, my advice is to discard it and continue testing.
8. Looseness and comfort in your right hand.
Pay attention in the bow hand. Try to feel and rationalize the differences. Identify which bow allows you to play more comfortably and in turn improve your performance.
This would be my contribution of the most important points for the purchase of the violin bow. I hope it has been helpful.
Strings. How to buy the right violin bow. (2020) https://stringsmagazine.com/how-to-buy-the-right-violin-bow/
Siminoff Roger, H. (2002). The luthier´s handbook. Hal Leonard