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luthierwannabe

Balance point of bow

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Where do most people measure the point of balance (POB) of a bow?

Some books show measuring from front of frog to POB and some show measuring from end of screw button to POB. Obviously there is quite a difference in these measurements.

Where do you measure and is it relevant? Do most players just go by feel rather than dimensions?

Curious....Tony

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Where do most people measure the point of balance (POB) of a bow?

Some books show measuring from front of frog to POB and some show measuring from end of screw button to POB. Obviously there is quite a difference in these measurements.

Where do you measure and is it relevant? Do most players just go by feel rather than dimensions?

Curious....Tony

I'm pretty sure my luthier measures from the end of screw button, and it seems to me that is the method which would give consistent results.

revelance = no

Players are not interested in these things. What's more important is that a player gets a bow which allows him to express himself in the music, and of course draws the kind of sound he wants.

As an example, bows can cost anywhere from $500.00 to $150,000 (more for a precious few...), with most falling somewhere in between. Most professional players are especially fond of old French bows, but one colleague of mine is perfectly happy with his carbon fibre. (I won't tell you he's a violist..!)

(apologies if this is TMI...)

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Teachers seem to like to talk about balance point, but no serious player would judge a bow this way - weight is equally a red herring. I have never found a player who could correctly guess the weight of a bow!

If one must determine the balance point of a bow, it should be done from the front of the frog, since every frog sits in a different position on the stick, and every stick has a different amount of wood behind the frog, different length of pin etc. A measurement from the end of the pin is meaningless since the hand is always gripping the bow around the frog.

I would re-iterate LeMaster's observation : relevance = no!

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Hi Tony... Don't know about relevance, yet over the years I have read, heard much about the need to change balance point by changing wrap materials, wrap length, lead weights etc etc. Changing wrap length for instance does not change the balance point much... but apparently that is important to some.

a rehair can also change the balance point... the amount of hair and the final position of the frog relative to the motise, will affect the balance point. I know of one who meticulously measures the amount af hair and frog position before rehairing... to ensure the player gets the same feel after the rehair.

Relevance??... Idunno

Cheers, Mat

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I'm pretty sure my luthier measures from the end of screw button, and it seems to me that is the method which would give consistent results.

revelance = no

Players are not interested in these things. What's more important is that a player gets a bow which allows him to express himself in the music, and of course draws the kind of sound he wants.

As an example, bows can cost anywhere from $500.00 to $150,000 (more for a precious few...), with most falling somewhere in between. Most professional players are especially fond of old French bows, but one colleague of mine is perfectly happy with his carbon fibre. (I won't tell you he's a violist..!)

(apologies if this is TMI...)

I sorta guessed that POB was more important to bow makers and repairers than players. If a player needs adjustment for more or less weight at a particular point on the bow, then the repairer needs a point of reference in order to carry out the adjustment.

I bought a carbon fiber cello bow a few months ago and I really like it. Dare I say that I might not go back to my wooden bow. Those violists and cellists are a different breed.

Excuse my ignorance...what does TMI stand for?

Thanks....Tony

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Teachers seem to like to talk about balance point, but no serious player would judge a bow this way - weight is equally a red herring. I have never found a player who could correctly guess the weight of a bow!

If one must determine the balance point of a bow, it should be done from the front of the frog, since every frog sits in a different position on the stick, and every stick has a different amount of wood behind the frog, different length of pin etc. A measurement from the end of the pin is meaningless since the hand is always gripping the bow around the frog.

I would re-iterate LeMaster's observation : relevance = no!

Thanks Martin,

Would a skilled player not have a preference for a lighter bow against a heavier bow or vice versa? Or would they judge by the overall feel and action of the bow regardsless of documented weight and balance. Would the weight and balance aid the player in the initial selection of a bow?

That makes a lot of sense to measure fron the front of the frog for the reasons that you give.

Tony

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Thanks Martin,

Would a skilled player not have a preference for a lighter bow against a heavier bow or vice versa? Or would they judge by the overall feel and action of the bow regardsless of documented weight and balance. Would the weight and balance aid the player in the initial selection of a bow?

That makes a lot of sense to measure fron the front of the frog for the reasons that you give.

Tony

There's no clear preference for weight, but it seems manoverability would require a bow on the light side. A good bow, whether wood or CF, needs to feel like an extension of your hand, but we're sorta' treading on the edge of "black magic" here. As in violin-making, there are several "issues" in bow making of which people are mostly unaware. Suffice it to say that individual players will be attracted to one violin over another, and one (or more) bows over others. It doesn't mean one is "good" and the other "bad". My luthier says we're in a golden age of bow-making, and the top guys who are well enough known to have a waiting list wouldn't seem to have any financial "issues" (if you get my drift!)

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...Players are not interested in these things...

Whenever players are considering my bows, they never ask about the weight or balance point. But dealers always want to know the weight. If players don't care, why do dealers?

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Whenever players are considering my bows, they never ask about the weight or balance point. But dealers always want to know the weight. If players don't care, why do dealers?

Dealers need to have all the answers for whatever comes up. A guy calls, maybe he wants a heavier bow to play Strauss and Mahler. Maybe he wants something lighter than his usual for Mozart. Maybe he's queer for gold and tortoise, or wants a modern piece to fill a hole in his collection. Who knows?

And there's simply no purpose to knowing any "balance point" as it would yield no useful information, and a player will find it easily enough on his own anyway. You can't play a staccato or sautille unless you know where your balance point is!

In any event, the dealer wants all the information he thinks he needs to effect a sale, whether it's truly relevant to any playing characteristics or not.

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Dealers need to have all the answers for whatever comes up. A guy calls, maybe he wants a heavier bow to play Strauss and Mahler. Maybe he wants something lighter than his usual for Mozart. Maybe he's queer for gold and tortoise, or wants a modern piece to fill a hole in his collection. Who knows?

And there's simply no purpose to knowing any "balance point" as it would yield no useful information, and a player will find it easily enough on his own anyway. You can't play a staccato or sautille unless you know where your balance point is!

In any event, the dealer wants all the information he thinks he needs to effect a sale, whether it's truly relevant to any playing characteristics or not.

I can't believe what I'm reading in this thread!

I have two bows, a Norwood Lee and a Jules Fetique, they both weigh exactly 63g but everyone says the Lee is heavier. That's simply because the balance point is closer to the tip. So to say there is no useful information in knowing where the balance point is ignorant.

Players are extremely sensitive to many parameters in a bow and makers need to be very aware of what players are sensing.

Your derogatory comment abut being 'queer for gold and tortoise' also betrays a contempt for players which seems to fit with your belief that balance point is irrelevant.

Glenn

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I've had several costomers come in and have me add lead tape under the tumb leather to shift the ballance point toward the button. They were convinced that made the overall feel of the bow lighter,when it was acually heaver. With playing around with different grip materials I can move the ballance point about 3/4 of an inch. A good player can feel a stick that is not ballanced properly they just might not know what they are feeling and think that the bow is either too heavy or too light.

As far as the weight of the bow that is more in the mind of the player. They tend to assume more grames = stronger more aggressive, fewer grames= softer smoother sound.

As with anything you might as well assept that what peaple think is what they think.

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I have two bows, a Norwood Lee and a Jules Fetique, they both weigh exactly 63g but everyone says the Lee is heavier. That's simply because the balance point is closer to the tip. So to say there is no useful information in knowing where the balance point is ignorant.

No one is saying that the position of the balance point is not important.

They are saying that knowing where it is is not important.

Your example demonstrates this perfectly.

Andrew

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Hi Tony... Don't know about relevance, yet over the years I have read, heard much about the need to change balance point by changing wrap materials, wrap length, lead weights etc etc. Changing wrap length for instance does not change the balance point much... but apparently that is important to some.

a rehair can also change the balance point... the amount of hair and the final position of the frog relative to the motise, will affect the balance point. I know of one who meticulously measures the amount af hair and frog position before rehairing... to ensure the player gets the same feel after the rehair.

Relevance??... Idunno

Cheers, Mat

Hi Mat... I agree that changing the length of the wrap may not change the POB that much but changing the type of material, say from wire to silk, could change it quite a bit. I think the length of wrap would be solely a preference of the player, maybe depending on finger length. I can also see that the amount of hair would change the POB, as the mass would change being greater towards the tip, bringing the POB also towards the tip The final position of the frog, being quite heavy in comparison to the hair would have an impact on the POB so it is important to maintain the original position. After all this.... it comes down to the requirements of the player and the rest is irrelevant. :)

Regards...Tony

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Yes, no-one is saying that balance point isn't important to players. People have very strong feelings about this, but opinions differ hugely, and a pseudo-scientific measurement doesn't help anyone.

If everyone measured the balance point in the same way, and also gave the weight of the lapping, then we would have an agreed system that contained genuine information. But this information would still be useless when it comes to selecting a bow, since everyone likes something different, and people adapt pretty quickly to changes in what they're used to, provided there are other advantages in tone or spring.

As a player I have no preference for weight (between about 55 and 64 grams seems fine if the bow is otherwise excellent, and the weight has no direct relationship to the volume or tone or the quality of spring) - however, it's useful when making out certificates etc, and it makes auction catalogues look more informative and scientific!

When you're buying a Sartory or an Henry, people tend to buy "by the gram" - a Sartory of 64 grams will sell for a few thousand more than an otherwise superb example that weighs under 60.

It's quite common practice to put a double lapping of heavy silver wire under the thumb leather so the bow reads better on paper, and achieves a higher sale price! I have even heard of examples of lead shot in the tip and the mortise.

These days teachers seem to favour blunderbusses over 63 grams and very hard sticks, but fashions change ... as I understand it, heavy wire lappings are a relatively recent phenomenon. Not sure whether this is in pursuit of additional weight or a balance point that's closer to the frog.

I imagine some of this is controversial, apologies in advance.

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If everyone measured the balance point in the same way, and also gave the weight of the lapping, then we would have an agreed system that contained genuine information.

The weight has no direct relationship to the volume or tone or the quality of spring) - however, it's useful when making out certificates etc, and it makes auction catalogues look more informative and scientific!

When you're buying a Sartory or an Henry, people tend to buy "by the gram" - a Sartory of 64 grams will sell for a few thousand more than an otherwise superb example that weighs under 60.

It's quite common practice to put a double lapping of heavy silver wire under the thumb leather so the bow reads better on paper, and achieves a higher sale price! I have even heard of examples of lead shop in the tip and the mortise.

These days teachers seem to favour blunderbusses over 63 grams and very hard sticks, but fashions change ... as I understand it, heavy wire lappings are a relatively recent phenomenon. Not sure whether this is in pursuit of additional weight or a balance point that's closer to the frog.

You raise some very good points here Martin.

Many players seem to have jumped on the weight bandwagon assuming it will give a fuller or louder tone, yet they never seem to consider that the weight can be manipulated with lappings and some other methods. When restoring bows, I've come across hefty silver lappings, which when removed weighed up to six grammes. As you point out this seems to be a way of helping them along at auction.

If you had a good French bow at 58g with a tinsel lapping, I doubt the weight watchers would deem it good enough, although it may well play brilliantly and have a strong stick.

Replace the tinsel with some heavy sliver and suddenly you have a 64g weighty beast on your hands. Now that it passes the scale test there may well be more interest in the bow, but the playing characteristics are unlikely to have improved.

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You raise some very good points here Martin.

Many players seem to have jumped on the weight bandwagon assuming it will give a fuller or louder tone, yet they never seem to consider that the weight can be manipulated with lappings and some other methods. When restoring bows, I've come across hefty silver lappings, which when removed weighed up to six grammes. As you point out this seems to be a way of helping them along at auction.

If you had a good French bow at 58g with a tinsel lapping, I doubt the weight watchers would deem it good enough, although it may well play brilliantly and have a strong stick.

Replace the tinsel with some heavy sliver and suddenly you have a 64g weighty beast on your hands. Now that it passes the scale test there may well be more interest in the bow, but the playing characteristics are unlikely to have improved.

I'm not sure how many players "have jumped on the weight bandwagon", but I'll tell you that playing the heavy Romantic repertoire, I feel more comfortable with my heavier bow. Not that it's louder, mind you, but because I can play loudly WITH LESS EFFORT than with the Fetique. IMO, the modern beast should have a balance point closer to the button, but then I didn't pay $$$ for it, either.

If you're talking about Mozart symphonies, that's a totally different story. The heavy bow takes a lot more energy in the spiccato playing so typical of that period. A lot of orchestra players like to have more than just one piece of equipment for this very reason.

In a perfect world, maybe a string player could find just one bow to do everything he wanted, but then "perfection" is both rare and tres expensif. A now-deceased colleague of mine adored his gold/tortoise Simon for this very reason (plus it was gorgeous to look at!)

Maybe CF will prove to be the answer; my two colleagues who have them like them a great deal.

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I had an Arcus Concerto cello bow that I used when I was having hand issues. The light weight made it easier to hold on to and play. It handled well but did not put out the volume I needed for the group I was playing with at the time. I ended up using it to practice with and used my regular bow when playing out. Eventually my hand got better and I went back to my regular one. It had a nice feel to it. Just did not pit the volume out I needed.

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As a bowmaker I feel that the balance of a bow is critical for ease of playing and being able to do the "tricks" that violinists do with their bows. By tricks I don't mean having their bow sit up and beg or roll over.

I balance my bows by having the frog all the way forward and measuring from the end of the stick, not the button, to the point of balance. 9 1/4" seems to be ideal but anything between 9" and 9 1/2" works. Most bowmakers,even though they use different places to measure from, usually end up with the balance point in roughly the same point on the stick

A bow that is tip heavy seems to feel heavy, while a frog heavy bow seems light even though they both weigh the same.

Having said all this, and achieving my ideal balance point, a fiddler will grab the bow three inches ahead of the frog without any thought of balance and be perfectly happy with it.

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Teachers seem to like to talk about balance point, but no serious player would judge a bow this way - weight is equally a red herring. I have never found a player who could correctly guess the weight of a bow!

If one must determine the balance point of a bow, it should be done from the front of the frog, since every frog sits in a different position on the stick, and every stick has a different amount of wood behind the frog, different length of pin etc. A measurement from the end of the pin is meaningless since the hand is always gripping the bow around the frog.

I would re-iterate LeMaster's observation : relevance = no!

So true XD I have yet to correctly guess the weight of any Bow that "feels" good to me as I always undershoot massively. When it's comfortable for me It always tends to feel lighter than it actually is hence me saying for ages that I only used light and strong bows even though I was actually using a 65 gram monster LOL

As a bowmaker I feel that the balance of a bow is critical for ease of playing and being able to do the "tricks" that violinists do with their bows. By tricks I don't mean having their bow sit up and beg or roll over.

I balance my bows by having the frog all the way forward and measuring from the end of the stick, not the button, to the point of balance. 9 1/4" seems to be ideal but anything between 9" and 9 1/2" works. Most bowmakers,even though they use different places to measure from, usually end up with the balance point in roughly the same point on the stick

A bow that is tip heavy seems to feel heavy, while a frog heavy bow seems light even though they both weigh the same.

Having said all this, and achieving my ideal balance point, a fiddler will grab the bow three inches ahead of the frog without any thought of balance and be perfectly happy with it.

 

That's why I love good bow makers, they know what to do without me saying a word or understanding anything they say when they explain the virtues of their produce <3 All that's left of magic in the viol family of instruments lies with the bow makers and I love that :)

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Sigh..another broad and rather irritating generalization. I have associated with dozens, if not hundreds of fiddlers over the years, and almost NONE of them hold the bow "three inches up the stick".

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Sigh..another broad and rather irritating generalization. I have associated with dozens, if not hundreds of fiddlers over the years, and almost NONE of them hold the bow "three inches up the stick".

I alluded to this business in the "Galamian Bow Hold" thread.  I've seen people do this who i know darned well have been exposed to classical training, and wonder what the advantage is.  It does nothing for me personally.  Is anyone actually teaching it?

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Some years ago some joker in NY had a bunch of students and was teaching them to hold the bow quite high up.  All I remember is that it is easier, or that was his premise.  And I remember a lot of testimonials from the misguided.  I hope they weren't paying too much and sitting in sweat lodges during long soul-searching weekends.

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I hope they weren't paying too much and sitting in sweat lodges during long soul-searching weekends.

Yes, saunas are much more fun. :lol:

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