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Mendy Smith

First Impressions

January 28, 2011 at 5:17 AM

 The bows from Josh Henry arrived today, patiently waiting on the front porch for me to get home from work.  Though excited, I remembered to not tear into the box, but to open it cleanly so I can reuse it for their return later (maybe minus one).  I was going to take a picture of them when they arrived but my camera battery died, so the pictures will have to wait until this weekend.

I quickly realized that color coding them with thread for easy note taking would not work.  The thread wouldn't stay put.  However, they were marked by a little sticker on the frog with their weights, so I'll just refer to that instead: #1 - 4 where #1 is the lightest #4 is the heaviest.

Each bow got a progressive series of the C Major 3 octave scale to get the general feel and balance of the bow and  then put through an initial set of paces with Vieuxtemp's Elegie - the piece I'm working on at the moment (full range of dynamics, sF, low open C to nosebleed section, jumpting from A to C and back). the Vieutemp's Cappricio (up-bow staccato, and 3-part chord progressions), Bach's Brandenburg #6 final movement (16th note runs covering all strings), the Andante movement (dolce), and Bach's Cello Suite #3 Prelude (string crossings, chords).  

#1, the lightest of the 4 weighing in at 68 grams, felt very comfortable in the hand and produced a warm smooth sound, like milk chocolate.  It was very easy to control and has a very quick response.  A slurred cadenza section came across clear, sF's were easy to execute, rapid string crossings didn't take much effort, and upbow staccato was effortless - all areas that I've struggled with on my current bow.  #1 quickly became a favorite.

#2 felt a little cramped in the area of my thumb.  The sound was smooth, and the stick well balanced.  However the thumb space bothered me enough that it was put aside for the moment.  #3 felt comfortable in the hand and warm tones and a little more focused tone than the first two.  It was a little more difficult to execute the sF's and upbow staccato.

#4, the heaviest weighing in at 70 grams plus change had a balance point different than what I'm accustomed to, being higher up on the stick with a heavier frog.  This distribution of weight made legato very easy.  It performed best on Brandy #6 Final movement with the 16th note runs.  With my current bow, those notes always sounded "scrunchy" but with this bow they come across clear.  #4 produced the fullest sound, more along the lines of a dark chocolate than a milk chocolate.  Upbow staccato and sF's took more effort and weren't as dramatic as the lightest bow.

After 3 hours of playing, #1 and #4 are the early favorites in a solo, practicing at home environment.  The first "Chamber Music Test" occurs this weekend.

Stay tuned.....

Posted on January 28, 2011 at 11:47 PM

Keep us informed!

I met Josh Henry during the International Viola Congress, a very nice guy and maker, he rehaired all my bows, very nice job!

From Mendy Smith
Posted on January 29, 2011 at 4:51 AM

Yes indeed.  I'm enjoying the selection of bows he made for me to try.

Bows are such a personal instrument, what works well for one person doesn't for another.  I'm thrilled to have two top contenders so early in the game.  It will be a difficult decision to choose just one.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on January 29, 2011 at 3:54 PM

 Oh, that all sounds like so much fun. Enjoy your taste-testing weekend! (And when you're done for the day, come join the cyber dinner party at my place/blog!)

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