Using a cello bow on violin?

December 8, 2006 at 06:11 AM · Since my violin bow is a little too light for my taste, I tried using my cello bow instead, and of course found it to produce a louder sound. So, should I stick with using the cello bow, and will it disable me in any ways, or does it not really matter?

Replies (38)

December 8, 2006 at 06:14 AM · Greetings,

thereis a strong possible that the extra weight will cause you an injury, especially via the litlte finger.

Viola players have bene known to use cello bows (PERHAPS BY MISTAKE...).



December 8, 2006 at 06:14 AM · I don't see how it could be positive in any way. You weren't using enough bow before, which is evident by the light sound and the fact that the cello bow doesn't seem much too short.

December 8, 2006 at 06:54 AM · try a viola bow... some violinists have done this with a lot of success.

December 8, 2006 at 01:46 PM · No, I think in light of the overwhelming support for playing the violin sans shoulder and chin rests (and I'm sure the discarding of the tailpiece is only a matter of time), I think you definitely SHOULD play the violin with a cello bow. But why stop there? Have you tried garlic salami? No, too greasy I suppose. How about a stick of slightly-chewed sugar cane? Betcha no one thought of that one before. And who knows? maybe that was Strad's secret. And Paganini's, too.

Sometimes I love Other times...

December 8, 2006 at 02:00 PM · I tried the sugar cane. It gave me a very sweet tone.

(someone had to say it)

December 8, 2006 at 04:01 PM · (IMO) You're using a heavier bow to compensate for inadequacies in your technique. Find a heavier ( or simply better) violin bow and learn to control it.

Sorry if that sounds too blunt, but let's not dance around the problem here.

December 8, 2006 at 04:57 PM · Ah, can't really afford to buy a new bow at the moment.

I don't think my violin bow producing a light sound is really a fault in technique, since even using lots of speed and pressure it doesn't really produce a loud enough tone, in my opinion.

So yes, I am sure there are alternative methods, such as a viola bow or a new violin bow, but here I have a method that's already presented myself, so I was looking more for information on if certain bow techniques wouldn't work as well as they would on a violin bow, etc.

December 8, 2006 at 05:46 PM · You have made a change to accomodate one factor in your bowing. Unfortunately the change will negatively impact your overall playing in almost every way I can imagine.

Please try and find a violin bow and work with someone who can help you produce the proper tone with the proper bow.

December 8, 2006 at 05:58 PM · Oh Buri... I'm a violist and that cracked me up.

Anyways... maybe a good compromise is to use a viola bow, because I think a cello bow would hurt your playing after a while. Or, try getting your violin bow restrung with black hair. I dunno, whatever floats your boat is fine..

December 8, 2006 at 09:05 PM · Shallock, do you mind elaborating on what aspects of my playing it will damage?

December 8, 2006 at 09:17 PM · I think it is wonderful that it makes a loud sound, but I think you should stick to the violin bow.

December 8, 2006 at 09:19 PM · Well the bow might cross strings when you are playing.

December 8, 2006 at 09:35 PM · Greetings,

I"m a simple guy. I buy accoutrements according to the descrption on the label , so if its preceded by the word violin I buy it. If its preceded by the word viola I know I,m a in the pet shop and don't buy it.

Incidentally thats dangerous if you have a piece of garlic salami in a pocket near the area of the gonads,



December 9, 2006 at 08:50 AM · I also think it could strain your little finger. As you know cellists don't balance the bow as we do, but wrap all fingers over the bow. Hence its extra weight isn't a problem for cellists.

December 9, 2006 at 02:08 PM · Rachael,

Just a shot in the dark, but try using less tension on your existing violin bow. If it's not a wet noodle and thus allows you to do it, it will give a slightly fuller sound.

Another option, try taping a very light weight to your existing violin bow, thus making it just a hair heavier (I mean something LIGHT, like a toothpick or two.) When doing this, you can also change the balance point. It will look funny, but you may love it. My current favorite bow was 57 grams. I added a single toothpick and the sound changed noticeably. Probably a weird idea to some, but it works.

December 9, 2006 at 12:55 PM · I have heard that Mussolini was given to holding his *ahem!* during times of anxiety. The garlic salami in the pocket as alluded to by Buri might also act as a deterrent to evil forces, garlic having been used during the middle ages for such purposes.

December 9, 2006 at 01:22 PM · Rachael Hobb,

I don't know how old you are, you must be young, my guess is you are probably 8 or 9 years old...

If you are older, them, with all due respect, I hate to tell you... You should think about things before posting them!

Can you imagine playing the cello with a violin bow? There must be a reason for the sizes of the bows... don't you think??

Can you imagine playing in an orchestra! All the violinists are playing with violin bows and you are playing with a big cello bow!


Best regards,


December 9, 2006 at 04:26 PM · I don't find the weight to be a problem at all, realy, and find the cello bow to be rather light, actually, so I am not too worried about injury.

I'll try a toothpick or two on my violin bow, out of curiosity.

Ah, Peter, alas, I am quite sorry to dissapoint but I am not that young. Inndeed wish I was only 9; I wouldn't mind a longer life span.

However, I don't think my question was lacking intelligence. Merely because something has the word 'cello' on it I don't think it should be excluded from trying with other things. Innovation is one of the main forms of advancement.

"It has the word cello on it, thus don't use it" is not a valid nor well-developed argument. Pointing out REASONS things like, "because of the extra weight a clean martele stroke will be difficult" or something to the effect of that, would be constructive criticism.

December 9, 2006 at 05:47 PM · I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if you need the extra weight of a cello bow to get a full sound that there is something sub-optimal about your technique. For playing forte, it shouldn't be hard to generate extra force with a violin bow. However, when playing piano, I think you'll find yourself fighting against the weight of a cello bow.

In terms of handling, you'll probably find it hard to do certain things involving very rapid string crossings and light off-the-string strokes with a cello bow. And obviously, in lyrical passages you'll find yourself running out of bow much too quickly.

Now garlic salami, on the other hand...

December 9, 2006 at 08:08 PM · Rach,

I taught myself guitar, and took many diversions--and it shows.

And on other instruments where I followed the

rules--that shows too.

Innovation can be cool--just know what you are getting in to...

I'm personally still trying to get over that

awesome Celtic woman fiddler dancing while she plays!. al

December 10, 2006 at 12:25 AM · Peter wrote, " For playing forte, it shouldn't be hard to generate extra force with a violin bow. However, when playing piano, I think you'll find yourself fighting against the weight of a cello bow."

I tried playing piano with a cello bow once, but it kept slipping off the keys.

December 10, 2006 at 02:43 AM · Hi again,

I said "negatively impact" not "damage". There is a difference. Experimenting will not damage your playing. Continuing to use an improper tool will impede and limit your progress.

I think that you will fail to develop the proper techniques to utilize all the potential of the violin bow. The cello bow is much heavier and the bounce and response is much different than a violin bow. The cello bow is held differently than the violin bow and is designed to work somewhat differently. The violin bow is designed to maximally excite the string while minimally dampening the resultant vibration.

Producing a warm and beautiful tone on the violin is as much a matter of subtlety as force and volume. With a bow that is incorrectly matched to the violin in terms of weight and responsiveness will lead your technique, I think, in very strange ways.

I agree that the bigger problem violinists face is fighting against the weight of the bow when playing lightly and delicately rather than insufficient weight to produce a big tone. I, personally, think that a big tone is probably more a result of perfect bow speed rather than lots of weight.

Any interesting consideration for me is the psychological aspect of producing a big sound with little or minimal effort; like being amplified. It is a strange sensation for me to be amped and make a huge sound with very little effort just by turning a knob. It can be very distancing from the music and the instrument. And of course the issue of nuance and subtlety again appears.

I applaud you inventiveness and your willingness to experiment. I also respect your courage in posting a unique opinion here and asking for feed back. I hope I was not too negative in my reply.

December 10, 2006 at 03:37 AM · I'm sure if you prefer a heavier bow, you can find a violin bow that suits you. I think that I myself prefer lighter bows, or at least from what I've tried (my bow is around 58g and when I was trying out violins at a shop, I prefered the lighter bow) I think what I like about them is they are easier to control (that may just be the balance though), which may be one disadvantage of using a cello bow. I've also noticed you can still get a big, full, sound from a light bow, or at least from my bow.

December 10, 2006 at 03:46 AM · >I tried playing piano with a cello bow once, but it kept slipping off the keys.

Allan, you're supposed to open the lid and bow the strings. Duh!!! :^)

September 28, 2016 at 03:28 PM · Sorry for ressurecting such an old thread, but since it is the top google result for the subject I thought it might be ok.

I was recently asked this question and my answer was that my cello bow is twice as wide as my violin bows.

Surely the extra wide bow will dramatically effect a persons playing?

September 28, 2016 at 05:32 PM · Ideally you learn to play violin by accustoming your arm, hand and fingers to the weight and balance of a violin bow. A cello bow will work, but you will never get the same delicate nuances out of it you will get with a violin bow; let's not even think about upbow staccato... Keep in mind that you will have to re-learn bowing once you get a proper violin bow; how do you feel about that?

September 28, 2016 at 06:04 PM · There may be reasons for using a cello bow which is 33% heavier than a violin bow. The main one I think of is some physical abnormality of the player. Second, perhaps a problem violin. However, maybe a different rosin or different rosining concept will help get more sound from the fiddle.

The way a bow resonates does affect the sound it gets from an instrument and violin, viola,and cello bows resonate differently - actually even bows of the same genre have widely different resonance behaviors.

September 28, 2016 at 06:21 PM · I use two violin bows attached together with duct tape for maximum Rock&Rubinstein performance.

That may solve your problem.

September 28, 2016 at 07:16 PM · You might find your drinks are spiked if you use a cello bow ...

September 28, 2016 at 11:37 PM · Try baroque bow instead. You will be surprised to hear how a shorter, lighter bow, with less hair in fact draws better sound form the same violin.

This, under assumption that you do not have space age high-tension strings such as Paparazzi .

September 29, 2016 at 01:48 AM · [ ;) I am surprised no one has suggested using cello strings on the violin that you play with a cello bow...]

Another thread here concerning bows points out that low-budget bows do not contain as much hair as very good bows because the weak stick is not able to withstand the tension, and loses camber quickly. Following this logic, I might guess that you get a louder sound from the cello bow because it is a much higher quality bow, with considerably more hair than your current violin bow? Try out a better quality violin bow--you might ask a teacher or friend if you may try their good bow to see if it gives you the sound you want.

September 29, 2016 at 06:54 AM · When I need to blast my stand partner out of sonic existence when playing in a pickup orchestra, I play my viola bow on my violin. That extra 10 grams makes a big difference! :P

September 29, 2016 at 12:35 PM · There is a special place in hell for violinists who use high tension strings and heavy bows. Guys, respect the design of your instrument and revisit your technique instead of abuse.

Need louder sound? Use the amplifier!

September 29, 2016 at 08:57 PM · Using a heavy bow to get more sound is a beginners' fallacy. Go for for a quality, light, balanced violin bow, learn how to use it. Meanwhile, my best viola bow is a cheap heavy violin bow. ~jq

September 29, 2016 at 09:36 PM · Beginning Suzuki violinists often spend a class playing with holding their bow bacwards, by the tip, and having the frog at the far end. This shows them what it can sound like when proper force is applied to the strings.

Obviously, people don't play with weights on the end of their bows like that for a reason. Nor do they use cello bows. Using a cello bow may be good for a particular thing (BIG sound for example), but will be quite limiting in many other ways.

September 29, 2016 at 10:31 PM · Why not go all the way?

Use a bass bow. Let us know which grip works better for a sautille (underhand or overhand). You might have to change your technique, like holding the bow under your chin with the left hand and moving the violin with your right. Whatever works.

September 29, 2016 at 11:00 PM · I saw there was a huge octobass violin...for the first prototype they took two regular double bass bows and stuck them together side by side! That's probably enough bow hair to cover the entire distance from the bridge to the fingerboard on the violin. ;)

In all seriousness, I did have a colleague who had a very light French cello bow that most cellists found far too light for their tastes (I think it was ~74 grams) but he found worked superbly well on his viola.

September 29, 2016 at 11:02 PM · Better than an octobass bow, get this bow and use it on your violin:

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