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Hi,

I'm not a violinist, just a big fan of the instrument. I've had a discussion with a friend the other day about the use of different bows for violin. I found a picture what looks like a violin but the bow looks like it could be from a viola (apparently a round frog as opposed to being square). Is this correct or is this in fact a viola?
And that brings me to the next question, is it common to use a viola bow w/ violin or is that simply bad practice? What kind of effect does it give?

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Hi Fortissimo,

That isn't a viola bow--it's a modern reproduction "baroque-style" violin bow.  Before the latter-18th century, bows were like this, bent convex when under pressure, and the frog locked into the stick (here, it's a screw you can tighten like a modern bow).  It's definitely a weird combination, with a thoroughly modernized mirrored/left handed (?) violin, so there is indeed some mystery here...

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The chin rest is on the wrong side of the violin, too.  I've never seen a chin rest that fits on that side of the instrument.  Maybe this is a "left handed" violin.  I wondered if the image had been "mirrored" but the arrangement of the pegs is normal.  Some people like to play baroque music on a modern violin using a Baroque style bow, especially in the case of Bach.  I guess it makes the Bach triple stops easier to play and same for some string crossing patterns.

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34 minutes ago, gowan said:

The chin rest is on the wrong side of the violin, too.  I've never seen a chin rest that fits on that side of the instrument.  Maybe this is a "left handed" violin.  I wondered if the image had been "mirrored" but the arrangement of the pegs is normal.  

Its difficult to tell, but the string widths seem to indicate that this image is a mirrored image. I also originally thought it was a left handed instrument and it just may well be.  Good catch.  I am embarrassed by the fact that I play violin and didn't notice the chinrest immediately.   

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6 hours ago, Fortissimo said:

...
And that brings me to the next question, is it common to use a viola bow w/ violin or is that simply bad practice? What kind of effect does it give?

You can certainly use a viola bow on a violin if you want to. I have/do. I also have a very heavy violin bow I sometimes use.

Viola bows are a bit heavier and most violinists don't want a heavier bow. A few others may prefer a heavier bow. It's quite individual.

Viola bows may be a tad shorter, but not enough for that to be a major factor.

Regarding the square vs. rounded frog; most violin bows have square frogs. Most viola bows have rounded frogs. But not all. You will find violins bows with rounded frogs and viola bows with square frogs. Weight is the better indicator of what they are intended to be.

Edited by Rue
I meant frogs, not frigs!!!
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In my experience it can depend on a number of different factors. For a relatively unresponsive violin a viola bow might actually be easier to use. However a really good violin bow will engage better with the expected overtones of a violin whereas a viola bow might tend to play them down (i.e., de-emphasize them). But if the violin has more "bass" sound or for violinists who have lost high-frequency hearing, the viola bow might be more pleasing. Then too, the difference in response, one bow to another, might favor a specific viola bow over a specific violin bow.

The typical viola bow weighs 10 grams more than the typical violin bow, which is about 17% more.

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I have a German bow that I got with a violin that clocked in at 66 grams. I asked my archetier if it were actually a viola bow. His response was basically "if it's playing a violin then it's a violin bow, if it's playing a viola, then it's a viola bow." :lol:

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A friend of mine plays his viola with a violin bow and gets a marvelous sound. I've tried it and it doesn't work for me. I tend to like my viola bows a tad on the heavy side at 71 grams, whereas my violin bows are all around 58-60 grams, average to slightly heavy. I can't imagine using one of my viola bows on my violin, but apparently some people do. 

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