Choosing a Violin Bow
Our top advice for anyone looking for their first beginner violin is to buy online, a process that usually comes with a violin bow as part of the package.
However, if you are looking for a more advanced violin, you will likely need to buy a bow separately. To do this, we recommend visiting several violin shops so that you can try out various bows along with the violins.
We can give you some guidelines for finding a great bow, but keep in mind that it can take some time to judge the quality of a bow (you will need to try various playing techniques to see how well the bow can do each of them). If you are unfamiliar with techniques like Spiccato, Sautille, and Ricochet, then you definitely need to enlist the help of a violinist friend. Here’s what to look for:
- Price – A more expensive bow isn’t necessarily better, so try out quite a few. Good bows usually start around $100.
- Warping – look down the length of the bow and make sure it does not curve to the left or right.
- Weight – bows come in a variety of weights. Have an experienced violinist help you pick one out that is neither too light nor too heavy for you. A bow that is too heavy can cause hand strain over time, while a bow that is too light makes it difficult to get a big sound.
- Flexibility (Arch) – On the back of the bow there is a round knob (called the “Screw”) that can be used to tighten or loosen the hair on the bow (clockwise tightens, counterclockwise loosens). Have someone help you tighten the bow to the correct tension, and then test to make sure it maintains a good arch and has a good spring when pressed against the violin strings.
- Balance – The bow should be slightly lighter at the tip, but should not be too heavy at one end or the other.
Note: no matter whether you are left or right handed, you always hold the violin with your left hand and the bow with your right.
Another Note: Make sure you get a violin bow that matches your violin size.