A good cello bow should be able to help you in producing a richer and smoother sound. Thus, if your bow sounds different than it used to be, maybe it’s about time that you get yourself a new one. However, you should first familiarize yourself with the characteristics of a cello bow to thoroughly assess if it’s time to purchase a brand-new version of it.
Characteristics of a Cello Bow
- Weight – Cello bows may weigh around 65 grams to 80 grams. Heavier ones are able to produce bigger sounds compared to light ones. Ironically, heavier bows require little effort to maneuver while light bows require more effort to be able to sustain its forte.
- Balance – A cello bow can cause wrist problems if its balance point is closer to the tip, thus a bow that has its balance point closer to the frog is the best option as it can feel lighter and help you produce more volume and tone.
- Strength – A stiff bow, though considered responsive, produces only thin and narrow sound. On the other hand, softer bows can provide cellists with rich tones, however putting its responsiveness quite at peril.
- Materials – A fine cello bow may either be made of the following materials: Pernambuco, Carbon Fiber or Brazilwood. Its frog should be made from ebony and may also include accessories such as ivory or tortoise shell.
Its grip should be made of either wire, silk, or whalebone. Its thumb cushion can be made out of leather or snakeskin. The tip of the cello bow or any additional elements should be made from ivory, bone, or metal (i.e. nickel, silver or gold). When it comes to mounting, professional cellists prefer octagonal-shaped, but round-shaped are also available in the market.
Choosing a New Cello Bow
Here are some tips you may consider in buying your new cello bow:
- If you’re a beginner, it’s ideal not to spend so much fortune just so you can buy the available highest quality bow you can find. While this doesn’t mean that playing cellos is a waste of time, there’s likely a chance that you’ll switch from one instrument to another, so it’s better to just purchase quality and cost-effective cello bow.
- Ideally, beginners should buy a bow that’s strong and durable enough and has a nice curve. Beginners may be assisted by either instructors or professional cellists in buying a bow that would go with their budget.
- If a store staff offers an upsell, it’s best to find other stores that can give reasonable pricing. Always remember your playing level in choosing a cello bow regardless of how smooth is the sales talk.
- As the saying goes, ‘Do not judge a book by its cover’, you shouldn’t judge the ability of a bow based on its aesthetics.
- Make a checklist of the criteria you’re looking for in a bow: may it be its sound, comfort, durability and alike.
- Do not hesitate to test the bows you think is right for you. It’s best to test it out for quite some time before making a decision of purchasing it.
If you’re definite that your existing cello bow needs to be replaced, selecting a new one is still up to your preference. It doesn’t matter whether it’s what most cellists use, but always consider which bow fits your playing style and techniques. The bow you should choose should feel like it’s just an extension of your arm and that you are able to play it naturally and effortlessly.