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How can you make a new violin and bow sound better?

Instruments: How can you make a new violin and bow sound better? (Especially the bow)

From Angelica Cantu
Posted December 16, 2012 at 10:36 PM

I'm extremely happy because I just got a new violin! It's really beautiful, but it sounds kind of...fuzzy. So last night I decided to practice my new violin with my old bow 3/4 bow to see if maybe that would change the sound and it did! It sounded a tad bit softer but the sound was so rich and clear!
However I really don't want to get into the habit of playing a full size violin with a 3/4 bow. Is there any way to make a new full size bow straight out of the package sound better? (Yes I already put rosin on it, but that made it even fuzzier.)

From Brian Kelly
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 03:15 AM
The new bow will take a while to settle in while the rosin takes to the hairs.
The other point to consider is that perhaps the new bow is not of the same quality as your old bow. Even two cheap $50 bows can vary in quality. But I would give it a few weeks before passing judgement on the new bow.
As for the violin : play it is much as you can. They usually improve with playing. The extent of the transformation can be quite amazing sometimes.
From Angelica Cantu
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Thanks Brian! I will try to play my new instrument as much as possible.
From marjory lange
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Angelica, it's a bit like making new friends--you need to learn how your bow and your violin want to sound. Just keep practicing, playing, and listening. They'll change, you'll all grow. Much happiness.
From Cheyne Winterthieme
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 02:54 PM
When I got my current bow, I had the same problem of it sounding 'fuzzy'. I was really disappointed as it was a carbon fiber bow and I had had high hopes for it. It took forever to take any rosin and make some sensible sound. I called my teacher and he too was a bit puzzled. He had a few suggestions, of which didn't work and I ended taking it to the local (if you can call a 2-hr. drive local!) Becker's violin shop and had them take a look at it. They went and cleaned my bow. It fixed the problem and I was thrilled! They explained that sometimes a new bow has a special coating put on the hair that can make it difficult to pick up the rosin and one usually ends up putting on too much. Cleaning the bow took off the coating and the excess rosin and gave me that clear, clean sound that I had been so looking forward to. And, it didn't cost me a cent. :)
From Angelica Cantu
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Thank you Marjory! You really have a good point there :)
From Angelica Cantu
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 07:59 PM
I think your right Cheyne, because when I applied rosin to my new bow, there was barely any rosin on my strings. Maybe I do need to get it cleaned. Thanks for the suggestion!
From Scott Cole
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 09:02 PM
In my experience, fuzziness can be caused by excess rosin. Personally, I wouldn't bother cleaning the bow as any excess rosin will work itself off anyway. What I do is clean the strings with alcohol (those little prepackaged pads) and that usually does the trick. do not clean bow hairs with alcohol or you will end up with a gummy mess.

However, some bows are simply fuzzy. I sold a fine french bow for just that reason. It sounded fuzzy and indistinct on a wide range of fiddles old and new. If bows in do "settle in," I've never seen it. Mostly they seem to draw the sound they draw, regardless of fiddle.

From John Cadd
Posted on December 18, 2012 at 01:26 PM
You just need to believe that some bows improve the sound and some violin and bow combinations work together. I doubt if you can really influence what a bow does. Apart from good rosin the bow is what it is . As long as the violin is set up properly that also is what it is . Searching for a bow to match your violin is a good idea rather than trying to alter either one . The way bows and violins combine to make the best sound is still a mystery. Some match up well and some don`t. One player can make a pair work together and another player with the same violin and bow will not be happy. So the bow violin and player must be right for each other .That`s it basically . Not a lot we can do about it .Obviously eliminate the glaring problems first by checking in at your local luthier . Some players and luthiers don`t match either .But that`s yet another story .
From Seraphim Protos
Posted on December 18, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Perhaps you simply are not accostomed to the additional length of the new full size bow? Switching back to the 3/4 is your "comfort zone" maybe?

The longer bow has different balance, the stroke is longer, etc, etc....

Perhaps just some additional time and familiarity will sort it out. Have you tried other full sized bows as a comparison?

From Angelica Cantu
Posted on December 18, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Thank you John, I'll try staying with my bow for a at least month and if it doesn't change, I'll probably be looking for a new one.
From Angelica Cantu
Posted on December 18, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Seraphim that's probably true because I have had my 3/4 for more than 2 years, however I don't feel like I struggle with it. I have played my violin with my friend's bow and it felt really different but that's mainly because hers is wooden instead of carbon which is the one I have.
From John Cadd
Posted on December 19, 2012 at 12:11 PM
The bow will play worse if the camber is not correct. You can check that by looking at the gap between wood and hair as you slacken the tension. Just when there is no tension the curve of the wood should just touch the hair near the middle. Any gap means the bow needs some tlc from a bow expert.I nearly said luthier then. Not always the same thing .If you had 1/4 inch gap when slack the bow will not perform well . Bows are very mysterious things that only French people really understand . Well,you know what I mean .
From Sue Bechler
Posted on December 19, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I am guessing you bought an "outfit" somewhere? There are good ones out there, and good deals but if you didn't have an opportunity to play on several violins, and then match a bow to the one you liked best, that is something to do next time. Certainly you can swap out the bow more easily than starting over, unless your outfit came from a retail store that would exchange violin and/or bow if didn't play on several already.
From Angelica Cantu
Posted on December 19, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Yes I bought my intstrument in Antonio Strad. Hopefully if my bow hasn't adjusted I'll go back and have it checked, but it looks like I'm learning the secrets on changing my technique when it comes to bow stroke so that the fuzziness won't stay there. It's maybe just something I need to get used to.