Adding weight to bow tip. Yes or no?

July 1, 2018, 7:12 PM · I have an amazing Grimm bow that I paid a pretty penny for at a luthiers shop. I adore the sound it produces. But...it’s too light for me. I’ve been having issues playing quiet, slow passages and it just bounces all over the place. I finally weighed it this evening: 52g. Any suggestions on getting it a tad heavier? The balance point is around 10.5 inches. I really don’t want to purchase another bow! I’ve tried changing up my technique to accommodate the lightness but it’s not working.

I’ve read about adding silver to the tip but any suggestions are welcome!

Replies (18)

July 1, 2018, 7:26 PM · A Grimm bow is an old German trade bow, I think. I wouldn't expect it to be a non-standard weight.

Take it to a bowmaker. My guess is that if it's only 52g, something is missing or has been replaced by something lighter. For instance, what type of lapping is there on the bow?

July 1, 2018, 7:29 PM · I’m definitely going to take it in. I gotta have some more weight!

The lapping is made of wound copper.

Edited: July 1, 2018, 8:02 PM · Why are not the adjustment(s) in right
hand pressure able to simulate "weight" or vice versa?
My skill (or lack thereof) finds it very hard to modifiy bow "weight" via gizmos.
"mute" is something else.
Edited: July 5, 2018, 12:28 AM · Mass can be added to either end of the bow by adding high-density metal weights inside either the tip or frog (lead or even higher SG). Also a higher-density wire wrap on the stick near the frog will add more weight. You want to be sure to either keep the balance point where it is or adjust the tip and frog weights to move it to where you want it do be. (Ifshin inserted 1+gram weights into the tips of 2 of my ARCUS Concerto bows to move the balance point to a more conventional location. I feel this improved the bows' performance for me without changing the sonic characteristics.)

Weight can also be adjusted downward by substituting a titanium adjusting screw for the steel one usually used and there are lighter wraps than metal wire - silk and faux whale bone are common. (ARCUS sent me a Ti screw to substitute in my early-edition Concerto bows (violin and cello). At my request Ifshin replaced the silver wrap on my R. Weichold bow with faux whalebone - this reduced the original 65 gram total mass of the bow by ~3 grams and greatly improved the off-string performance of a very fine-sounding bow. The sonic characteristics of the bow were not changed at all. I think the excessively generous amount of silver wire that had been on this bow since it came into my family over 80 years ago were the result of some over-enthusiastic bow tech in the previous 30 to 50 years.)

Let me make it clear that I never added weight to a bow to make it heavier, only to fix improper balance.

July 2, 2018, 6:23 AM · Andrew! Just the answers I was needing, thank you!!!

July 2, 2018, 6:45 AM · If the balance point is at 10.5 inches then you can add weight at the frog end, i.e heavier lapping to bring the balance closer to 9.5 inches.
Having said that, my Sartory's BP is at 10.4 inches and it plays wonderfully well. After that, you can add lead weights inside the head. At 52 gr though you will have a tough job adding 6 gr to bring it to the magic 60 gr. If you do add weights to the head, then if you ever decide to sell it, it would be unethical not to let the buyer know about it. Personally, I would never consider a bow with so much deviation from the norm. My lightest bow is a Viorin at 58.5, but this is how Voirin was making them and if I found a 60 gr Viorin I would be sceptical.
July 2, 2018, 9:07 AM · "I’ve been having issues playing quiet, slow passages and it just bounces all over the place..."

There are two different issues here--let's not mix them up:
-Absolute weight
-Balance point

The quote above indicates that the player has some other issue, either technique or a bow that vibrates in the middle which causes it to bounce during soft playing. However, adding weight to one end may not fix that issue, and is generally used to change the balance point for sautille/spicatto.

Golf shops sell very thin lead strips. You may want to experiment with varying amounts before you commit to having some kind of change done (such as changing the wrapping or tip material). While 52 g is light, people generally can get used to non-standard weight. Many of the carbon bows are very light and most people can transition. I wonder how long Jamie has had it, and what his level of playing is.

July 2, 2018, 9:15 AM · Do check the accuracy of your scale. 52g would be very unusual for a full size violin bow. Even if it is 52G, adding 8-10 grams to get it to "standard" weight would probably ruin the bow.

Alternative courses of action:

1) Examine your technique. if you're having trouble with bow control at piano/pianissimo it may have to do with an overly rigid heavy bow grip. Maybe work on right hand finger strength and flexibility and then try to hold the bow as softly as possible, like you're holding an eggshell or a flower blossom.

2) Buy another bow -- either trade in the Grimm or keep it because you may love it later. A lot of people love playing with a light stick. My primary bow is an Arcus (carbon fiber) that's a crazy-light 49 grams. Once you get used to the weight, a light bow actually offers a lot of advantages.

July 2, 2018, 9:26 AM · The thing about an Arcus, especially the higher-end Arcus bows, is that they are really designed to have that light weight feel good and well-controlled in your hand. An Arcus S8 or S9, for instance, doesn't feel like it's flying off the string due to the weight. The bow settles into the string well, and off-the-string strokes are readily controlled. You have a little bit of an adaptation period, but it's really not significantly different from the adaptation period of other bows.

The kind of control issues described are probably not attributable to weight alone. I'm curious if you noticed these issues during your trial of the bow, and decided to ignore them because you liked the sound. (Lesson learned on that: Don't do that when you bow-shop in the future!)

Edited: July 2, 2018, 4:53 PM · Hi Scott! I’ve been playing 35 years so I’ve been around for quite some time and play professionally in various groups.

I’ve had this bow for over a year and have worked pretty hard to troubleshoot the bounce that I get when playing with the upper half of the bow. Bow grip, etc. It is by far the lightest bow I’ve ever used. I wondered about my scale but I weighed by back up bows and they were 61 and 62g so I’m confident that my scale is calibrated correctly.

I love the idea of the lead strips from a golf shop!

July 2, 2018, 6:24 PM · Any metal added to the bow will impact the quality of sound produced. Bouncing bow has more to do with overall bow design, balance, curvature and thickness that the actual mass. If you can afford another bow, do not waste your time in developing compensatory bad habits.
July 2, 2018, 7:24 PM · This is a problem to discuss with a top-notch bow-maker/restorer. If it's not something relatively simple, like the bow originally having come with heavier silver lapping, my guess is that the best solution is to get another bow.
July 3, 2018, 10:31 AM · Unless previous restorations changed the original weight of the bow, adding that much weight will move too far from what the original maker intended. An ethical restorer might prudently refuse to do such work. If you are in the mid-Atlantic area I recommend Josh Henry. He is located a little west of Harper's Ferry.
July 3, 2018, 10:37 AM · Just to add: I have a good German trade bow in my case, and it had a very heavy metal winding. I had it taken off, and while it was lighter, it never really sounded the same. Weight does seem to produce a more focused sound in many instruments.

That's the problem with English bows--they so often sound good due to their heavier weight (no doubt in part to the silver tips), but they seldom have the finesse of French bows.

July 3, 2018, 8:15 PM · If it's a Grimm bow, surely you'd expect it to be fairy weight?

But seriously, what about the hair and rosin. Are they the most suitable you can get? And are your strings steel, synthetic, or gut?

July 4, 2018, 9:17 AM · Does the name on the brand happen to say "Grimm, R."?

And is it shaped like a scythe? That might explain things. Let us know, we're all dying to find out...

July 4, 2018, 9:34 AM · Is there a video demonstrating variations due to bow weight?
Edited: July 4, 2018, 12:25 PM · Fairy weight! Hahahaha :)

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