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Bow Balance and Weight

Posted by bj on Thursday, December 11, 2008

Michael will be happy to know that I finally listened to his advice about something. My carbon fiber bow now sports a couple of twist ties around the tip.

I'm still having just a bit of discomfort in my injured right thumb, probably from bruising inside when I wrenched the sucker out of its socket, and I realized, after Jane pointed out how light I'm bowing (which has been my inclination anyway, even before the injury) that it's related to some of the discomfort I'm still feeling in my thumb's base joint after fiddling for a while. Less pressure =  less discomfort. And I really do need to let it heal. But there is such a thing as too light on the bow. It's almost impossible to achieve, but I was really close, if not there. I was getting very "floaty", and when I recorded my playing I could hear that, especially on the E string, I sounded somewhat wimpy, where I didn't used to before this happened.

So, how do you achieve more pressure while lessening the strain on the right hand? The answer is to change the balance on the bow. Just a little bit of weight at the tip now does the job for me, and seems to do so without putting any strain on my thumb socket.

I just wish those twist ties weren't so obvious, and I wrapped them down as flat as I could get them. But they're glaring white, the only color I had. Looks like a bow bandage! And I have to wonder if I'll get asked about them at the jam this Sunday. And I'm curious if there's another home remedy for achieving the same thing.

2 comments on “Bow Balance and Weight”

janepaints Says:
Thursday, December 11, 2008 @10:44:43 PM

Ain't got no remedies to offer, but 'balance' has become a near-sacred mantra-word (in my fuzzy noggin) regarding just about all aspects of fiddling. Perhaps regarding bowing more than any other aspect. Thinking back to my earlier fiddling days, the bow and bowing was SO difficult (not that it isn't yet). There's so many points of balance in bowing, all interconnected, all ever-changing, all happening at once--completely dynamic situations, flux everywhere. Driving hard vs. bowing soft, slow vs. fast, double-stops vs. single-string playing, flat hair vs. angled hair, 'normal grip' vs. choked-up'. slack hair vs. a more-tightened stick.
What works for one tune don't work for another. What works for ONE PASSAGE within a tune don't work for the rest of the tune. Ya ever have a feeling while bowing, like you have to walk a tightrope, while carrying a tray of drinks, plus juggling with your other hand, over a 2,000-ft-deep ravine...and it's the first time you ever walked a tightrope, or juggled, or carried a tray of drinks in one hand? It's like that. But hang in there. It just gets better/easier the more you do it. It also reminds me of learning to ride a bike (tho harder). Remember being a kid, before you 'got the knack' of bike riding? You could ask a million questions of those who already rode, but their answers couldn't help you much. Then one day, suddenly, you were riding on those two skinny wheels--you'd found how to 'juggle' a buncha balance points and things snapped into place. One aspect of balance in bowing is that many distinctions therein are very subtle--like the tiny differences-of-thickness in wood & varnish which can make the difference between a shrieky VSO and a good-sounding fiddle. So we have to learn to make minute adjustments using muscles and nerves accustomed to much-coarser distinctions. Besides bowing, many other aspects of fiddling seemed SO difficult--or impossible--in 'learner' days. The first three years of truly-serious fiddle-learning (about 1992-95) chinrests felt very weird, so I didn't use them.
Then, somehow, they seemed okey-dokey. I'd see people hold the fiddle on their knee, on their forearm or tucked into their armpit. Tried to do likewise--NO COULD DO. Now those techniques don't seem so difficult--sometimes while busking I hold the fiddle down on my thigh, flat. I used to worry & tinker-with so many aspects of the fiddle. Rosins, bows, strings, etc. Such things don't come to mind nearly as much these days. The various aspects of fiddling just get clearer & easier (read: 'more mindless-intuitive') the more we fiddle....In the band I'm currently playing in, two members have been fiddling since the 1940's-1950's. It's fascinating to watch them play. Both seem to play completely mindlessly-intuitively. Both deftly sing while fiddling. Both use fiddle & bow all kinda ways, willy-nilly. They're like longtime bike riders. Look Ma--no hands! All those weird balance points within fiddling now like old comfortable shoes to them....."TIME TIME TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE, YES IT IS": fiddle wisdom paraphrased from The Rolling Stones.

fiddlepogo Says:
Saturday, December 13, 2008 @7:33:42 PM


Yes, it's really weird- get the balance spot on perfect, and even though you've added more weight, the bow feels LIGHTER!

Well, usually the twist ties that come around electronics items like
wall wart cords, etc. are BLACK, which is the perfect color.
Or you could get a roll of thin solid copper wire with black insulation,
and cut off just enough to do the trick.

Now about that rosin.... ;^D

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