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Jun 22, 2022 - 1:48:10 PM
142 posts since 9/17/2017

Not sure if this has been discussed in other threads but I have a book about John Hartford and he made note cards to himself about playing fiddle and one note was reminding him to practice playing on different parts of the bow, especially near the frog. I started playing around with that and i noticed that if I play close to the frog, I get more bounce and more of a rhythmic? sound. Is this a thing? I try to play a recording Hartford made of Secesh and I'm wondering if playing closer to the frog is how he gets the sound that he has on that tune. The notes sound short and punchy.

Along the same lines I've read that fiddlers tilt the bow rather than flat for effect. What is this about?

Jun 22, 2022 - 2:14:41 PM

10186 posts since 3/19/2009

Thanks for starting this interesting topic..!!As I was told, tilting the bow so the hair is closer to the musician offsets the urge for the bow to slide up the neck if the fiddle isn't level...Tilting the bow also keeps the bow from 'bouncing' for some people... I'm sure it is debatable.. As for closer to the frog, for me at least, most of my fiddling is mid bow unless I want to do rhythmic saw strokes ... then, I'll play just a few inches above the frog. I'll be interested to see other responses..

Jun 22, 2022 - 2:48:51 PM

2048 posts since 12/11/2008

My take -- Different parts of the bow lend me different tone. The end of the bow gives me a lighter, gentler, less bassy tone. Using the frog end gives me more, how shall I say, grunt. The middle of the bow gives me a nice, strong, assertive tone, which is the reason why I use it so much. All the spots force you to use slightly different pressures and touch to eke out a tone you might like. As for tilting the bow toward you when you play, at least on my part it gives me a little more control. Practice and experiment with them all. Find the situations that suit you best.

Jun 22, 2022 - 4:00:48 PM

2197 posts since 8/27/2008

The balance of the bow changes with movement across the strings. Some bluegrassers play very close to the frog when playing chops. It gives a gritty sound. When I do that I have to point the bow higher in the air to maintain a balance. Otherwise keeping the box more or less horizontal will cause more tension in the wrist. From habit I play using the middle of the bow, more toward the frog than the tip. I do saw stroke gennerally in the area about 1/3 up from the frog. For powerful doublestops that are one beat or more long I will start near the frog and draw the bow down toward the tip, depending on what comes next. As long as the next note can start with an upbow there's no problem, but if the phrase requires a downbow I'll keep my stroke shorter.

Leaning the bow away toward the peghead is very common. I believe it has to do with keeping the position of your right hand relaxed and unstressed. I've rarely seen people play with the bow tipped the other direction, which I don't understand. Maybe someone can enlighten me about that.

Jun 22, 2022 - 4:12:06 PM

Swing

USA

2136 posts since 6/26/2007

Brian, maybe I can help with the tipping of the bow toward the bridge .... I agree that it is normal to tip the bow toward the peg box when playing... Daryl Anger and others have shown that when chopping you tip the bow toward the bridge as it helps concentrate the energy during the chop... it only takes a slight roll of the thumb to change from toward the peg box to tipping toward the bridge. Try it while chopping, then roll the thumb back to play...

Play Happy

Swing

Jun 28, 2022 - 7:26:31 AM

142 posts since 9/17/2017

I was more curious if anyone consciously played close to the frog to get an intentional controlled bounce to the tune or tilted the bow to get a different sound. Outside of using it for saw strokes or chopping, it sounds like, no. Not sure what is meant by a "saw stroke" actually.

Jun 28, 2022 - 12:10:55 PM

2197 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by indianajones

I was more curious if anyone consciously played close to the frog to get an intentional controlled bounce to the tune or tilted the bow to get a different sound. Outside of using it for saw strokes or chopping, it sounds like, no. Not sure what is meant by a "saw stroke" actually.


I think that, yes, players do play near the frog for certain bounce and sound. Not sure what you mean your "not sure what is meant by a "saw stroke" actually". Back and forth, one note per stroke. Most basic stroke. Tilted bow isn't so much for sound as comfort in my opinion.

Jun 28, 2022 - 1:12:40 PM

142 posts since 9/17/2017

TuneWeaver said he played near the frog for 'rhythmic saw strokes' and that's maybe what he meant.

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