A word about bows

At “Band Camp” this year, the first few days I played on my usual bow.

On Tuesday evening, our friend Tim Baker, the cellist and bowmaker (not necessarily in that order), arrived.

I’ve been joking with him for at least fifteen years about getting him to try making me a bass bow; finally, he’s done it. He started off by apologising for it being a bit long (he was a bit worried, as his bowmaking colleagues in Oberlin said it was too long). I pointed out that, yes, it’s longer than normal, and then showed him the two bows I normally play. The Baker Bow was about the same length as one, and a good couple of inches shorter than the other.

Tim asked me to “play it in”, so everything I played from Wednesday onwards was done on a bow worth rather more than my bass… It hurt, having to give it back on Friday night. Going back to my bow yesterday (for yet another rendition of Brandenburg 4), I suddenly found my bow was much harder work.

Yes, a good bow does make a lot of difference – not only to the tone you produce, but the effort required to play, the clarity of what you’re playing, the response time of the bass, and, frankly, it was because of this bow that I was able to get round some of the more interesting passages later in the week!

Tim – I thank you.


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