Yes, this is yet another bouncing bow thread. As others have posted on this board, my bow bounces on the downstroke, usually around when the middle of the bow reaches the strings (though it can start even at the frog if I'm not careful enough). I have read through the suggestions and they are basically: make sure there is no tension in your arm, and do the exercises from Casorti. Now that is great and all, but what if the problem is the bow?
I had a cheap (~100$) carbon fibre bow, and decided to upgrade in order to reduce this issue. I chose yet another carbon fibre bow (why? because of my budget, and because where I live the only option to me is to order through the internet, and carbon bows should have a more consistent quality to them).
So I got a carbon fibre from a maker that is highly regarded by this discussion board (cost about ~400$, so it clearly should be an upgrade from my previous no-name bow). No improvement, in fact it is even more prone to bouncing than my original bow. Maybe I just was unlucky and got a one-off, poorly made bow?
There probably isn't much advice one could give me. It's obvious that the best option would be to go to a luthier and try out a number of bows to settle the issue, but there aren't any in my city. Would me continuing to practice on this bow (till I figure out what I can do) be harmful to developing my technique?
I have a bouncing bow as well. I hate it and have been saving up for a new bow. I find more frequent rosining and reducing the hair tension reduces bounce, but it still is there. If you find the bow still bounces try another bow. I don't think technique will help it. I've tried dozens of other bows and no bounce with the same technique so in the end I don't think it is anything I can change.
If you have a teacher, you can ask the teacher to try your bow and see if the bow is your issue.
I was going to suggest try loosening the bow tension as well. Is this new carbon fibre bow still returnable? If so I would suggest doing that and looking into Dörfler bows. There is a good selection of them under $500 made from both Brazil wood and pernambuco. I own one around the $500 and have played with lesser and more expensive ones. They are terrific value for the money and while I did choose one that worked the best for me I couldn’t say anything bad about how any of them performed.
I imagine the problem with bouncing is that you are not gradually "pronating" as you play a down bow. Try this: Start at the frog. When you have used 1/4 of the bow remove the little finger from the bow. When you get to the middle remove the ring finger. When you have reached the 3/4 point remove the middle finger. On the up bow put the middle finger on the bow. At the middle put the ring finger back and at the 1/4 point put the little finger back on. Do this several times, then recreate the feeling of changing balance in the bow stroke without removing the fingers. Let me know if this works.
I too went through the "bouncing bow" syndrome, primarily on my down bow (specifically on the A and E string) a few years ago and did my best to work through it with the help of my instructor but soon convinced myself it must be the bow. I went through several bows of escalating value and even drove 7hrs to a violin shop to try several bows. I actually found one that not only seemed to effortlessly draw a beautiful note, but didn't seem to bounce. The problem was it was a $4000 bow and beyond my budget at the time.
See if the Russian bow hold makes a difference. I find that that hold gives me a much stronger and more immediate control of the bow. I suggest this is because the control is direct from the fore-arm and not through the intermediary of the fingers, which now don't do anything at all. Which reminds me, the Russian hold enables pizzicato without altering the bow hold; which makes it very useful in a fast passage where a pizzicato comes out of the blue in the middle of a string of bowed notes.
The best way to get some advice would be to post a short video of your bow stroke. Just play some long, back and forth open strings.
As someone who has had to suffer this and has improved on this front, I would suggest that the problem might be more likely a question of technique and practice.Having a good teacher of course makes a huge difference. Persevere and practice and you will get better.
These are my secrets in getting a good bow that fits your technique:
Don't forget the hairing of the bow. If the bow has too much or too little hair it's behavior will be affected negatively. A "soft" bow needs less hair than a stiff how. The hair quality including a number of factors including range of hair thickness and various quality factors will affect the bow's performance and sound.
I've observed that in a lot of students where the bow bounces uncontrollably, they are sometimes exerting too much force using the thumb on the bow.
Wow, thank you all for the great info. And I have to agree with what most of you say: Yes a better bow would be easier to control, but it's mainly a matter of technique on my part.
Ray, I learnt the Russian hold from that video a few months ago and have been happily using it ever since. My contact point with the bow is virtually at the join of the index finger with the hand, but of course the contact point will vary from player to player. A noticeable effect of the hold, for me, is a bigger, more solid tone and easier rapid bowed passages. What is important for this hold, as with others, is posture. I don't use a SR so I hold my violin so that the scroll is more or less in line with the centre of my face. It follows from this that another important aspect of posture is a straight upright back, which is discussed on this thread:
My theory is that the bow simply magnifies the imperfections in the elbow joint (which is not a smoothly machined plane after all...).
Duration 44 minutes? Yikes. But I agree with J Ray in principle.
Nathan Cole has a great video about this
Nathan Cole's great, but he doesn't seem to know how to make a (in-)decent bow shake any more, and in this he might be like a billionaire advising a pan handler or an olympic sprinter teaching how to use a walker -- his advice is valuable, but I'm not sure that he has the best perspective on our problems.
It's almost certainly not the bow. My gut reaction is that this is a bow control problem. It may also be that you're playing too vertically and you should work on developing more of a horizontal bow technique.