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Jeff Krieger

Why do bows jump when played?

14 posts in this topic

Can anyone explain to me why certain bows jump in an undesirable way when played? It probably has something to do with the camber. Are there any fixes for this?

Thanks much, Jeff

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I've got two fixes to offer:

-hair tension too high

-irregularieties in camber and/or straightness

 

Brad's comment is valid as well...

 

Florian

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Standing in front of 3000 people will do it too!  I love that viola joke about how you get a violist to play tremolo... draw a whole note and write "solo" underneath it.  (Sorry, I know you were talking about the difference between bows).

 

E

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Bad camber, bends in the bow, and yes, too much tension. Also you might want to try a heavier bow. If you need to tighten the bow to where there is more space between the hair and the stick than the thickness of the stick in order to play without the stick grinding into the string, the bow probably has weak wood that will probably not respond the way you want to anyway if the camber is already correct.

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The bow is by nature a spring.  Assuming you're not talking about grossly mishappen bows, then we're talking about the balance between the springness of the bow versus dampening from the player's hold. 

 

You can try things that make the bow itself less springy, like less tension in the hair or a heavier wrapping.  But these things have other consequences.  A fair degree of springiness is desirable.  The bow shouldn't be unnaturally adjusted for this or any other reason.  So mostly attention should focus on how bow in hand wants to be played, and if the player would be happier with a different bow. 

 

The damping the player needs to provide on one bow might be considerable less than another bow requires.  In some degree, players need to adapt to the bow in hand.

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Yes, I guess in direct reply to why "some" bows do this, some are better suited to a particular player than others. And some bows are just not that good in the first place. If you are fighting with a bow, try a different one. Or twenty.

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Can anyone explain to me why certain bows jump in an undesirable way when played? It probably has something to do with the camber. Are there any fixes for this?

Thanks much, Jeff

Curious-  Who made the bow that you're using now?  Do you know the weight of it?  Is is straight when tightened?

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Thanks for all of these responses. There are no markings on this bow. The bow seems to have enough camber. I have a feeling that there are flat spots that cause the bow to jump. When it goes in or out of the flat spot the bow jumps. The bow is 80 grams.

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Speaking from a violin bow standpoint, most of the "bouncy" bows I've experienced are due to the bow being made from an inferior wood that lacks sufficient tensioning for the hair. While playing, when more pressure is applied to the string being played, the bow instead bends because of deflection of the ribbon of hair where it is contacting the string.

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This is a serious pet peeve of mine, I'll explain.

 

I have yet to find a student outfit (which includes a bow) that has not had this problem except for the Glasser fiberglass bows (oddly enough). My opinion on what causes this? Bad balance points and the damn weak camber which normally are badly shaped allied with over weighted frogs and hefty tips. This sort of overactive bounce drives me up a wall as I can literally see students stagnate thanks to this. 

 

My advice? Unless it's a historic bow or extremely expensive (I have yet to see this problem on middle to high end bows to date and I've gone through embarrassing amounts), replace it pronto. 

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I have no specific answer as to the why of it, but I know that a "bobble" in a certain spot can often be corrected by working the camber directly over where the bobble occurs.  I also had someone re-camber a very good playing bow and it became so uncontrollable that it almost flew out of my hand at every moment of a concert.  Darnedest experience I ever had.  I took it back the next day and had the shop (IN NEW YORK, of all places) try to get it back to normal.  It's pretty good but will never be the same I'm afraid.

 

BTW, the reason I let someone mess with it is this:  I had used the bow most of my life and I thought it was not playing as well as it had.  The "expert" thought he could bring it back.  And I risked it.  A big mistake in this particular case.

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