Four Key Aspects to Examine When Choosing a Violin Bow


Selecting the right violin bow is a crucial task for any violinist. A bow must be straight, flexible, and capable of bending properly. It should also have the right "weight." For a violinist, the bow needs to feel like a natural extension of their arm. Most importantly, when placed on the violin strings, it must produce a pleasing sound. Any bow that fails to meet these requirements is unsatisfactory for a skilled violinist. The bow must truly become an extension of the violinist's arm.

The Quality of the Bow

Just as with violins, the quality of violin bows varies widely. High-end bows can cost thousands of dollars, while lower-quality ones might only be a few dozen dollars. The first aspect to consider is the amount of horsehair. For practice bows, insufficient horsehair is a deal-breaker. Additionally, visually inspect the bow by looking down its length from the frog (the part you hold) to the tip. It should be straight, with the bow stick and horsehair aligned. If you notice any twisting or misalignment, that bow should be avoided. Finally, test the screw that tightens the horsehair. If it tightens smoothly, the bow is likely a good choice.

Characteristics of the Bow

The bow greatly influences the violin's sound. If tightened too much, it can produce a stiff and thin tone with delayed response. Conversely, a bow that is too loose can yield a weak sound and make the violin sluggish, hindering the violinist's performance. Adjusting the bow to the appropriate tension allows it to respond to the slightest weight and movement. A well-adjusted bow should not have any interference with its natural elasticity, making it a suitable choice for most players.

The Bow's Curve

The curve of the bow serves at least two purposes: when playing on one side of the bow, with the stick facing the fingerboard and the hair against the bridge, it helps produce a steady, relaxed tone throughout the entire stroke. This is especially true when your fingers rest firmly on the end of the stick, with your thumb comfortably extending at the frog. Thus, holding the bow with a relaxed, flexible arm allows the natural "spring" of the bow to generate a light, beautiful, and rhythmic tone.

Natural Vibrations at the Bow's Curve

When the bow hair is placed on the violin strings, the natural vibrations at the curve of the bow are key to the bow's automatic bouncing. Similarly, if you place the bow on the strings and play with the full bow, it will naturally produce a tremolo effect at the same point, creating an unwanted shake. Understanding this characteristic of the bow can help you develop a technique known as "natural spiccato," where the bow seems to bounce naturally.

Place the curved part of the bow on the strings, with all the hair flat on any violin string. Hold the frog between the thumb and forefinger joints, then quickly and forcefully move the bow. You will notice that the bow seems to bounce up and down naturally. However, when holding the bow by its side, it won't bounce on its own.

Choosing the Right Bow

A good violin bow is a significant aid to any player, enabling them to fully express their skills and unleash the violin's potential. If you are looking to purchase a bow, consider Fiddlover Violin Shop. Our bows are crafted from carefully selected wood and horsehair, ensuring that only the finest materials are used. Each bow is handmade by skilled bow makers, providing excellent elasticity and resilience, making them ideal for both performance and practice.

Violin bow:
Vola bow:
Cello bow:
Bass bow:

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