Which bow would you go for?
So which would you go for?
I have in my possession two bows. One is carbon fiber and offers superior spicatto and faster response and balance; the other pernambuco which feels 'heavier' in my hand but pulls a wonderful full sound. The differences are noticeable to my ear and bow control and undeniably so. Not having the money or justification yet to find a 3rd bow with both characteristics I am stuck with these two as my options. So far I use the c.f. bow for when I play music that requires speed and balance and the pernambuco when I play slow pieces or pieces I can really dig down into such as Xmas music and pull a wonderful sound. I tend to use the carbon fiber (c.f.) in orchestra and pernambuco in quartets or when I'm practicing.
But in a concert which demands both control and full sound I can't very well switch bows. It's one or the other.
I really want to just play one bow so I have tried playing with one and trying to compensate. For example, loving the sound of the pernambuco I tried overtightening it as it seems to help with the faster response but has its limitations. I tried diff. adjustments with my bow hold but...
On the other hand, I tried playing closer to the bridge and more pressure on the c.f. to get more tone and sound but that has its limitations as well. I even tried changing strings to get a louder sound and I do get louder but the hollowness of the c.f. bow does not disappear. It lacks that wooden focused sound of a pernambuco.
Maybe I should just stick with one and learn to master it and compensate its failures?
I am curious to see how you would respond - What do you think? Do I switch back and forth or pick one over the other and if so which? Is is that another option - maybe tricks to make one more like the other and vice versa?
Trivial problem in light of things but it really bothers me. Have you been in a similar situation?
I would consult with a bow expert to learn if both bows are optimally haired. There is a relationship between the proper amount of hair for any bow and the stick stiffness properties.
Also consider trading in both bows in order to get a more satisfying bow.
What does your teacher say? Is it really your bow or your bowing technique needs upgrading? When you play in orchestra, do you have solo moment? If not, I don't see why you need a more powerful bow than what you've got. Did your conductor think you don't produce a full sound or it's your own impression?
I would second Lydia's suggestion.
I have seen several videos of Gil Shaham with his bow so tight the camber has disappeared and there looks to be a inch and a half gap between hair and stick. I tend to prefer a tighter bow tension.
I've seen some of those Gil Shaham videos, too. Perhaps his bow was designed with that much smaller camber? It must work, otherwise he wouldn't be using it.
I advise always to keep a spare bow in the case, ready in the event of accidents. In the OP's situation I'd be inclined to keep the CF as the spare, and get a better pernambuco bow - or snakewood? - now there's a thought. My favorite bow for all performances is my replica snakewood transitional bow, which is a late 18th design in the changeover from Baroque to Tourte. It is a design that would have been familiar to Haydn, Mozart et al.
If your bow bows in under tension its a fake transitional bow that never existed in the time of Haydn and Mozart. And if its Chinese its not going to be real snakewood, probably, either.
Ian, your dilemma is exactly why I have both as well. Ditto on Lydia’s suggestion. You may well be able to find a better Pernambucco in your area that can give you more of the playing characteristics that you want.
It's also possible that every luthier who watches Shaham play with that much tension on a fine bow cringes when they see it. I don't tend to think of myself as playing with that much tension on the bow (just about a pencil's worth of gap), but it's still enough that it can earn me sharp reprimands from luthiers -- too much for fine French bows, apparently.
snakewood. I always loved the smoothness, dark and strong sound that they draw from violin, always slightly heavier though.
Over-tightening a bow will ruin it in the long run, especially under lots of heavy playing. The stick will warp!
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