Violin bow length
Instruments: Different length for violin bows....?
From stefanie landmann
Posted August 18, 2005 at 04:53 AM
I don't have much experience with bows so I was wondering, when I got my new bow today it was longer than my old one. It must be about 74cm long and I was suprised that there is such a great difference in length. What is the normal size for a violin bow and why don't they have the same length?
I found a diff also. I am tall, so actually I prefer a longer bow. I am told the shorter 4/4 bows are designed for women. Then comes balance, as some bows are longer for better balance. Nice to have variations.
Designed for women?!?!?
Sorry the 5'9" feminist in me reeled at that.
Perhaps we should say they are designed for those with shorter stature. :)
(I am aware there are some 7/8 size violins still floating around from the same 'built for women' idea, but.....just ick.)
From Bill Platt
Posted on August 19, 2005 at 02:54 PM
When you play billiards (pool) on a full sized table, sometimes the shot is impossible for the small of stature to reach without some aid. So there is a que under the table, with a wooden "bridge" attached to it, on which you can set your que to take the shot.
These devices are called "ladies' aides" in honor of the fairer sex, who more often find them necessary. Good things come in small packages.
As a lady of small stature, I often must eschew things designed for women/those of small stature -- because they're too big! I wear a size 3 1/2 kids' size shoe and "petite" clothing is designed for taller women...
Basically, terminology means very little when labeling for size. Just go by measurement, it's easier!
From Bill Platt
Posted on August 19, 2005 at 04:19 PM
On a more serious note, I do not think it makes any sense at all that a bow would be smaller in order to suit a woman--unless it is an attempt to match with a smaller violin.
On a fundamental level, the violin does not require any sort of massive power and strength, and even a diminutive woman of small stature has more than adequate power to get the most out of a violin. (Of course all players need to be "in shape" but there is no fundamental structural problem with a smaller person.) Bigger men are not automatically better violinists than little women.
I have also seen variations in the lengths--why not? There are variations on weight, so why not a bit in length? Depending on the circumstances, a shorter bow might be better or a longer one. For me, a hack, I like a heavier bow. It seems to be easier to get reliable sound out of. But some very good players also use very light bows--perhaps thay can do fast work better with them, I don't know.....
I think you are a bit off subject here.
The length of bows varied a lot until Tourte came up with his brave new design of the bow which to this day is hailed as perfect as the Stradivarius. If you ever have tried D. Peccatte bows, or Maline bows, many of them are 72cm-73cm and feel a bit shorter than the modern bows.
I had a nice J.J. Martin which was 74cm and it was a great playing bow. I don't think masculine or feminine had anything to do with this.
Please remember, that when a contemporary maker or a maker from the past made bows, a lot of the time the maker had been commissioned to make a bow to suit the player in mind.