Baroque bows from Shar
I'm truly excited about this; now Shar is offering affordable Baroque bows
This comes after Rachel Barton Pine has strongly recommended that students have a Baroque bow for learning Bach and other Baroque works. It does have a very different feel. Rachel talked about the importance of the Baroque bow as a tool for the violinist in this article about her recording of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas.
Her comments back then actually made me run out and get one on Amazon, but I would have been happier and more comfortable about getting it from Shar!
Considering these cost about $30 direct from China, that's quite a markup for Shar and gives you an idea how they stay in business, high mark up on cheap Chinese products.
The Shar bow is fake snakewood, painted on grain, with what appears to be a strong inward camber, a bow that presumably bows inward under tension, not outward like true baroque, in other words Fake baroque, not recommended at all
Here's a much better deal from China that actually is cambered properly to bow slightly outward under tension, but also probably fake snakewood.
Thanks, Lyndon, I've been thinking about getting one and that looks like it might work.
There are cheaper ones if you search baroque bow outward camber, but that one actually shows a picture of the outward camber, some of the other cheaper ones don't look like real outward camber
There are some being sold at fiddleheads.ca
Cheap Chinese bows marked up even higher than Shar.
VSO = violin shaped object
If you buy Chinese bow for $50, or you buy the same bow from a retailer like Shar or Fiddleheads for $300, in one case you definitely don't get what you pay for!!
So, where does one get an affordable (say, less than $500) baroque bow that is well-made and not fake wood?
Having fake snakewood grain does not mean the wood is no good, it depends on its strength and density, if you're looking at a cheap bow you're probably better of going with brazilwood, as the best really cheap modern bows I have seen are called brazilwood, but even then anything coming from China is probably some fairly equivalent Chinese wood not what they are actually calling it.
Pardon my ignorance, but what precise difference does the direction of camber make? Or, to put it another way, if you are not an A-415 nerd, what do you miss by having an inward camber BBSO? Is your experience with the bow very different from the one you would have with an outward camber?
Response, tone, and sound! So, if your purpose is to learn the technique, you need the same (non) camber that Corelli, etc used when they wrote the pieces. Also, unwound gut is VERY different in ghose three characteristics as well. Just listen to the attacks and swells that Mainze, Podger, and Barton-Pine get. VERY different.
I am super excited about these Shar baroque bows too!
Yes, who are good makers or dealers for baroque bows?
My instinct on this is to trust Shar and Rachel Barton Pine who are putting their name and reputation behind the bows. They might be "cheap Chinese bows" but for those of us on a very limited budget --and in my case, also of very limited experience and knowledge-- we appreciate that Shar and Rachel Barton Pine are hopefully helping us sort through the makers and their products so we can presumably get the best quality for the money.
Any bow will bow out if you put enough tension on it, If you're having to put more than usual tension to get your bow to bow out its not a true baroque bow but a fake baroque bow much like Shar's.
Lyndon, some of us kids foolish enough to attempt learning without a teacher don't have experience or training enough to know what the "usual tension" should be, but I do have a sense of what tension works for me right now, and which of my cheap bows are easier or harder for me to sound better with, and the no-doubt-"fake" baroque bow I have is still a delight to play with in comparison to my other cheap bows. I'm not disagreeing with you but rather just saying this is good enough for my purposes and level and budget, all of which I hope to improve over time to the point where a "real" baroque bow is right for me.
And Lyndon, a question for you or anybody else who might know: when did frogs start to be threaded for adjustable tension? My other "baroque bow" has a few different solid frogs of slightly different shapes, so I choose which frog to pop into the slot on the bow to give different string tensions. My guess is something like that was probably pretty standard for some time before frogs got threaded and therefore "adjustable"?
maybe about 1700 I'm guessing for the introduction of the threaded screw type of bow??
When a bow came with different plug frog sizes, it wasn't only a matter of the player's individual taste which frog and therefore which tension was chosen. It was just needed, because when humidity changes the bow hair length also does, and the only possible way of doing so, except pressing on the hair with the thumb (which was also done for smaller adjustments) was to change the frog. Alternatively one can also add a piece of leather or whatever, but I guess this is neither the most beautiful nor most stable solution.
Another outstanding article:
Lyndon, where is your evidence that this is fake snakewood? Have you bought one of these bows and examined them in person? I'd tend to trust Shar and Rachel Barton Pine.
Real snakewood doesn't look like that
heres what a genuine snakewood bow looks like;
Lyndon, the most important thing is not the material (which might be snakewood, it comes in many colours), but how it plays.
BTW someone asked, on the Shar site, if the bow has an outward camber when tightened, and they said that it does. This is entirely possible; mine looks somewhat inward when loosened, but then it has the outward camber when tightened. The picture is of a loosened bow; they might do well to re-take the picture of the tip, with the bow tightened.
Short baroque bows tend to look a lot more convex than longer ones.
The short ones tend to be an earlier date, earlier ones bowed out more.
An orchestral colleague and friend, a very experienced violinist/violist, has purchased a snakewood Baroque viola bow from Amazon.co.uk for £100, and is very pleased with it.
I bought one of those Shar baroque bows and was extremely dissapointed. A real baroque bow costs real $$$$ just like a real modern bow. If you spend less than $800, don’t expect anyhing that you would want to study with at the advanced level or play on at a baroque gig. I wish it was otherwise, but so far this has been my experience with baroque bow shopping.
Did it bow straight or slightly outward under normal tension?
I really appreciate Rachel Barton Pine bringing more people to try out Baroque bows and bringing enthusiasm to early music, but it sounds like from Liz's report that's what I fear.
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