I wanted to write a blog post, as it had been a month since doing so. I see that the last post was titled something about a new bow. Lol. A new bow. Well, at the time it was a teeny bit better than the one I had been using. And it made an ever so slight difference in my ability to play certain combinations of notes. But, there is a caveat: In reality it just was not a good bow, either. For several reasons that I won’t go into. It isn’t the bow’s fault, as it has its niche in the marketplace, and even made me happy for about 5 minutes. Enough so to wax about it in a blog post. My violin teacher said that I am advancing at a rate that my bow is truly holding me back. And to prove her point, she handed me her own coveted pernambuco bow. With it I could play! I handed it back quickly before I began to hate my equipment even more.
My original plan was to buy a new bow when the violin that I am building is finished, maybe this spring, since I believe it will be a very good instrument, and I will want to pair-up the fiddle to the bow. But I just could not wait any longer. Yesterday I took a break from tedious manuscript editing, and made a couple of calls. I called a violin shop that I knew was a Coda dealer. I felt that if I spent maybe $250 on a carbon fiber, it should make a big difference and content me till the time comes to shop for the pernambuco stick. Well, the violin shop had no Codas in stock. The Christmas shopping rush, you know, I was told. So I thought hard. I knew of a violin shop down in Freeport, but had always hesitated about going there, because it is more geared toward the violinist, not the fiddler. I knew that symphony players from over the country go there for tune-ups, re-hairs, new instruments and bows, and I, a mere fiddler, – and a beginner at that - had no business walking into their building.
I rang them up and no, no carbon fiber in stock. Yes they have plenty of pernambuco bows. Plenty. My price range? Yes, maybe three or four sticks. Off I went! When I arrived I saw fiddles (sorry, I meant violins) everywhere. A beautiful store. Soft classical music emanating from a speaker somewhere. And since I had called ahead, they remembered my needs. I was taken to a small table and chair off to the side, and a nice man wearing the apron of luthiery quicky returned with bows to try out. I was informed of each bow’s price, maker, and weight, and then left alone. There I was, sitting with my $55 Nippon fiddle, surrounded by instruments and bows of unimaginable values. They had even turned the music off, for now. But then, something came over me. I realized that, hey, I am the consumer, and will be a paying customer. I have every right to play whatever type of music I wish to. And also, I was not there to perform, nor to practice. I was there and left alone to make a decision. My teacher said that some people even take several bows home with them, and try them all out over a period of a week or so. She certainly did. Well, it did not take me long to decide. I did play part of a Bach partita, and I played over and over again some of the higher double-stops from Appalachian Waltz. And some of the difficult passages from Amazing Grace, the ones that had always made the cheapo chessy bows screech. I listened, and listened hard, to the tone, and felt how effortlessly the bow went over the strings. It was amazing! I fell in love . It came down to two bows. Actually, two by the same maker. One had a teeny bit of bounce when I played Tollochgorum, but both were equal when I played my favorite Cape Breton set, foot stomping and all (probably to the dismay to the staff, but, sorry, when it comes to Cape Breton music I just can’t help myself).
I was checked on, asked how I was doing, and told them that I had made my choice. Wow, that was fast, he said. I’m only a beginner, I replied, and it doesn’t take a lot to impress me at my stage. So I checked out, and was told that I can upgrade at one hundred per cent value, minus a rehair if needed or recamber. I told him that this is good, as I am building a new violin that I would like to get a new bow for, if this one does not match up. He said he’d love to see the new instrument and after the transaction was completed we talked about instrument building for a spell.
So, I came home and played for another three hours. It was difficult to put the bow and instrument down. Now I can’t wait till practice time tonight.
Merry Christmas everyone!