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kyproset

Octagonal Vs round bows.

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Hello everyone,

another matter that I would like your opinions on is the question of octagonal vs round bows.

I personally without any logical reason prefer round bows and I have a friend who also prefers the same. People who play octagonals, I have asked and they said they had no preference as long as the bow played well.

Are there any constructional reasons other than the particular bow's tonal merits why one should chose one over the other?

I have read in Redford's little bow book that a round bow is easier to make, thus why most bows are round. Bow makers are human, some chose the easier path.

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Consensus is that there is no difference...and from what I can tell...I concede! :rolleyes:

 

I prefer the look of octagonal... :wub:

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As most already know, all bows are made starting with facets.  If a bow comes in playing well and a good weight and balance while still faceted, it is left that way by a good maker.  Tourte obviously got very good at it since he rarely if ever in his later years finished round.

 

Generally, I believe most of us prefer round bows; there is probably a reason for that, but I'm not sure what it is.  In my case, starting my career with a hideous octagonal commercial German bow, I avoided them for years assuming all of them to be less refined and not as good as round bows.  But then I played the two greatest bows I have seen and they were both octagonal.  So now I seek out octagonal bows, or at least don't discount them in advance.  

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Bows do start out getting the corners cut off etc but this is usually quite rough. It is an art in itself to the octagonal facets looking great .So quite a bit more work. In my opinion makers like Peccatte must have intended a round bow from the start as his number of octagonal bows are very small so i doubt he was following the process of making a deliberate `respectable` octagonal shape and seeing if it was too stiff and then rounding it off. I have had a number of beautiful octagonal old bows that were very thin in cross section (particularly from older Markneukirchen makers).

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My collection has a variety, but I prefer to buy octagonal when offered as an option.

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So, we are still unsure why players have a preference.

My reason for my preference of round sticks, is that it's very difficult for an octagonal stick to be perfect all around in all facets which would throw it out of balance at these points, where a round stick is inherently balanced as it's round. I know my theory might not hold any water, but I'm here to learn.

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I would consider, kyproset, that most bow making materials (with the obvious exception of carbon fibre) are a natural material and will have relative areas of high and low density. So slight inperfections in the octagonal cross-section maybe of less importance than this?

Another point is that maybe octagonal bows make it very easy to see imperfections in construction, but a 'round' cross-section would mask it?

I also understand that Ettiene Pajeot's bows have lots of bumps down the sides of the 'round' sticks.

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Many "round" bows (by some of the classic makers) aren't really "round".. at least not all the way up the stick.  Many are slightly "triangular" at certain points (Peccatte for example).  Many Sartory bows tend to be slightly oval-ish.

 

Also, a number of makers did not make "evenly" octagonal bows as a rule.

 

I'm not always quick to blame tool handling for some of the "bumps" on older sticks, though there are certainly exceptions. I'm not completely sure the pernambuco stocks were always reliably seasoned before the makers got to them.

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I was in Port Townsend, WA yesterday, and this question was asked of one of the prominent bow makers out there. His reply related his time in Paris, and the fact that cheap wood is what they were given in the beginning, and octagonal is all it would take-to round it would make it too weak. The French make everything octagonal, then "round" it. The Germans, on the other hand, choose first: if it's going to be round, you plane away, if its going to be octagonal, it's octagonal.

 

He stated that "round" was his preference, but octagonal was fine, too. 

 

My understanding: you plane the stick octagonal. If it is strong enough and weighs enough, you can "round" it. That might make it too weak, and you are done. The wood tells you.

 

As for planing a stick octagonal cleanly, it is difficult, in my experience, to make it look nice. When you sight down a bow that has been planed to an octagon, there is no hiding. The octagonal Tourtes, a lovely Adam, and a Grand Adam, that I have the pleasure of seeing, all show the difficulty of cleanly planing the octagon. They play well, though.

 

Sound-wise, I can't really tell any difference. 

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 Jeff said ``I'm not always quick to blame tool handling for some of the "bumps" on older sticks, though there are certainly exceptions. I'm not completely sure the pernambuco stocks were always reliably seasoned before the makers got to them.``

 Certainly true in many cases and especially in Mirecourt with the many other woods they used for cheaper bows. Some of these woods make respectable sticks but they are usually warped  now due to the lack of seasoning and possibly not being heating enough whilst cambering. Many were sold dirt cheap by the dozen  and i dont think much care was taken in some cases.

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Another 'myth' that I've heard, and I agree with is that octagonal bows play less well off the string. I can't hear any sound differences which apply to all or most octagonal vs 'round'...

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Of the seven bows I rotate in and out of my violin case, only 3 are octagonal - with my 2 favorites being round.  From a playing perspective, I don't think one can make generalizations about the performance qualities of round vs octagonal, though there is a general (if not erroneous) consensus among my colleagues that octagonal sticks tend to be stiffer.

From an enthusiasts perspective, I find that it is much easier to view the grain and wood quality of a round stick. 

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So, we are still unsure why players have a preference.

My reason for my preference of round sticks, is that it's very difficult for an octagonal stick to be perfect all around in all facets which would throw it out of balance at these points, where a round stick is inherently balanced as it's round. I know my theory might not hold any water, but I'm here to learn.

 

Less obvious, maybe.

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Here is a bow I have that is octagonal well beyond the wrapping before becoming a round stick. (don't know if the picture picks that up or not?)

guess it's just a matter of variations on convention?

 

uuu_zps3996258a.jpg

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The octagonal section extending past the lapping is quite common, ive seen some bows that the octagonal has extended over half way along the stick. This can be all over the place on Dodd bows for example.

I think this idea that octagonal bows are stiffer is quite widespread ,true there are many octagonal German workshop bows that tend to be overly stiff but usually ones by better(or more prefered makers) are no different than a round /triangular/oval counterpart. (they are all made to be as playable as possible)

I wish this was well known that sticks arent always perfectly round or octagonal was more well known. I once sold a good French bow to someone who returned it because it was more oval in cross section than a prefect round. He just wouldnt have it that this was common,no matter what i said and was convinced the bow had been altered by someone !

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Generally with french bowmakers the octagonal is distinctive until a few centimeters in front of the lapping, as opposed to german bows that are already completely round at the end of the lapping.

In theory octagonal bows can be made to feel and play exactly like round ones, in real life round bows often feel a bit more subtle and flexible.

All handmade bows (at least the ones I know of) are first octagonal and then rounded or left octagonal.

The step from octagonal to round is a bit unpredictable how much stiffness is lost, it's a bit of a gamble. So, to prevent them to be too soft some bows are not perfectly round (if you roll the stick between the fingers you still feel some remains of the corners). And statistically many round bows might be more on the flexible side of the spectrum because the maker just wanted to make the round a bit more perfect.

Octagonal bows on the other hand are a often a stiffer because the maker didn't want to mess up his carefully planed facets just to make it the tiny little bit more flexible, I think.

I think oval (either vertically or horizontally) or triangular or otherwise tilted facets are more a result of concept and working method.

Good wood looks better in round bows, also because they are easier to polish, but for playing qualities it would be shortsighted to limit yourself to one type only....

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Do a search for 'hexagonal bow' and you'll find a surprising number of entries.

 

3434_zps50e05c01.jpg

I interpret this as evidence that general public ignorance of neither luthiery nor mathematics has declined since February of 1925 .  :lol:

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I too seem to prefer "rounded" bows for some unknown reason. I would also say that the octagonal bows I have played (nothing too special) in general seem to feel "stiffer".

 

Don't know why that may be, but I know that I am not alone.

 

Which end of the egg do people crack ? Big endian or little endian ?

 

r.

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Interestingly I read of a similar discussion of the relative merits of the round or octagonal staff in martial arts.

Does physics tell us that octagonal rods are stiffer than rounded ones?

I have a round stick that is very soft and 'bendy' and a octagonal one that is quite stiff - just a coincidence?

 

1601326_orig.jpg?1376150592

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I think...outside of personal preference...that there are so many variables that you can't even make any real generalities...

 

Still laughing at the bow tie... :D

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For fun, here is nice eBay find that breaks the octagonal = stiffness rule.  It is a nice German bow, I have no idea who made as it is stamped for G. Siefert Leipzig (a violin maker, I'm told).  Lightweight at 57 grams, beautifully grained pernambuco making for a very supple stick.  Incidentally, it was inscribed as a gift to "F.H. Appelhoff from the Roseburg Orchestra".  A little research turned up a few Oregon newspapers from 1900 - 1905 featuring "Professor F.H. Appelhoff" as former concertmaster and conductor of the Roseburg Orchestra... :)

 

Forgive me if I went off-topic. :rolleyes:

post-1095-0-21928200-1408460851_thumb.jpg

post-1095-0-56524600-1408460861_thumb.jpg

post-1095-0-36643500-1408460879_thumb.jpg

post-1095-0-57068900-1408460894_thumb.jpg

Appelhoff HL.pdf

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