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How Do I Choose the Best Cello Bows?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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There are several factors to consider when choosing among cello bows, including the playing style of the musician, expected performance location, price, anticipated amount of usage, and the level of quality desired. The construction of a cello bow can have a significant effect on sound quality. With some knowledge of the primary factors that effect sound, it can be determined which bow is most appropriate for a particular musician.

Weight can be an important factor to consider when choosing cello bows. A light bow can be easier to move, but will require more pressure to get the desired tone, while a heavier bow will take more effort to move. Choosing the correct weight depends partly upon the kind of musical pieces to be played. For faster pieces with more notes, a light bow is likely best, while a heavier bow would be desirable for works that require big sound. The physical ability of the musician can also be a factor when determining weight.

When choosing cello bows, it is also advisable to find one with adequate flexibility. If the bow is too stiff, its hairs will not properly adhere to the strings, thus not getting a strong tone. A bow that is too flexible, on the other hand, can make faster bowing difficult. Generally, ideal flexibility will allow the musician to get a strong tone without forming too much of a drag on the strings.

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It is advisable to consider similar factors with the balance of the bow. Cello bows with too much weight near the hand can make it difficult to achieve sufficient weight on the string. If there is excess weight on the tip of the bow, it can be difficult to play for long periods of time due to extra strain on the wrist and arm.

Another factor to consider when purchasing a cello bow is whether to get one made of wood or carbon fiber. Wood generally provides the richest sound, though bows can vary depending on the quality of the material. Carbon fiber is less fragile and is ideal for playing in less-controlled environments such as outdoors.

Overall, it is advisable to try several different cello bows in order to find the best fit. It is usually best to avoid purchasing a bow via mail order or online as quality and feel can vary widely. Purchasing from a music store can also make it easier to determine if the bow is of solid quality.

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StarJo
Post 4

@cloudel – I never realized how crucial choosing the right bow was until I played with one that was too heavy around the tip. I see why your cousin was ready to give up!

I thought I could handle it. I figured I just needed to build up a tolerance to it, kind of like getting used to a hard workout. I played with that heavy-tipped bow for months, practicing at least an hour four days a week.

It made my wrist hurt so bad that I could scarcely type at work. Since I needed my day job more than I needed to play the cello, I quit for several months. When I did start back up, I found a lighter bow, and it made all the difference.

seag47
Post 3

I started playing the cello last year, and I have fallen in love with the sound. I have never been drawn to fast cello music, but I adore the deep, rich bass notes it can produce, and that is what I like to play.

I have a somewhat heavy bow. However, it is very flexible. Its hairs seem to caress the strings lovingly.

I tried playing with a different bow, but it didn't seem to really dig into the strings like mine does. It's almost like the bow and strings are becoming one as I play. The sound is so beautiful, and it feels like it comes from deep within.

cloudel
Post 2

@shell4life – A heavy bow can discourage beginners from continuing to learn to play the cello. My cousin started out with a heavy bow, because he was using my uncle's cello and bow, and he almost gave up after a week.

He just happened to pick up a musical instrument catalog and see a bunch of different bows for sale. When he saw a lightweight bow and read about how it would offer ease of motion and allow you to play longer, he got so excited. He ordered it and took a break from playing until it arrived.

With the new bow, he was able to do so much more. He continued his lessons, and he is now a skilled cellist.

shell4life
Post 1

I didn't even know that you could buy cello bows separately from the cello itself. I just always assumed that the bow came with the cello.

I have never played a cello, but I do own a violin. The bow that came with it was perfect for the instrument, so I never even thought about finding a different one.

From my experience with the violin, I can definitely see how a heavy bow could be hard to use for long periods or for fast songs. I would probably have to buy a light one, if I were to play the cello.

I do love that deep sound that they make, though. I never knew that bow weight had anything to do with this until I read this article.

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