Posted by Rich Laird on April 03, 2001 at 12:53:20:
In Reply to: Arco 101 posted by Matt Sumner on April 03, 2001 at 11:25:01:
You've probably read some of the postings recommending that you really ought to get a good teacher if you want learn how to bow, even passably well. I won't rehash the debate except to re-iterate that I've played both the URB and the Bass Guitar and will tell you without hesitation that the upright is much less intuitive, especially when it comes to using the bow.
Having said that, let me take a stab at a few of your questions...
As far as how much to tighten the bow - it depends on lots of factors, but I would say that the basic guidelines would be that it should be tight enough that it is not going to rub against the strings when you press down fairly hard - but NEVER anywhere near tight enough the the stick starts to straighten out. Always remember to loosen your bow when your not using it.
Don't worry about a few hairs breaking off - but don't pull them out. It's much better to cut them with a nail clipper - or better yet - one of those cool miniature scissors on a Swiss Army knife or something like that. Pulling them out will only make the other ones loose. Getting your bow rehaired - maybe once a year if you're playing regularly - is a regular cost of doing business.
How to hold the bow? People spend literally years learning and developing a really effective bow grip. There's pictures in some of the method books - like Simandl. Basically, think of holding a softball, underhand. Then place the back end of the frog into the palm of your hand and let the upper part of your first and second fingers support the stick. Rest your thumb on top of the stick. Your control is going to come from the thumb and first two fingers - keep them curved slightly outward for strength and control. It doesn't matter too much what your third and fourth fingers do...but they will end up lightly supporting the frog right near the bow hair.
As you draw the bow accross the string, you want to to feel the resistance of the string and meet that resistance by holding the stick rather firmly between the thumb and first two fingers. Vary that hold according to the resistance you feel. To some extent, you use your thumb to press down on the string. But be careful about that...too much pressure is a really crummy way to try to get a big sound.
The Sweet Spot? I'm sure you've noticed that on the electric you get a different sound by pluciking the strings closer to the bridge as opposed to up over the fingerboard. With bowing, it's a similar phenomenon....but a whole lot more so. (Man, this can be a real lecture...don't get me started!)
But 3 or 4 inches above the bridge sounds about right to get going - maybe a little high. The point is that it will vary - like with the electric. Try to learn by the sound and the feel - don't look. It will vary with LOTS of things like your individual instrument...which string you're on...how high you're fingering on the string...how loud you want your sound...how intense you want your sound...and a whole lot of bow distribution variables your teacher might get into in 2 or 3 years (No, I'm not kidding!!)
Pop's Rosin? I hate the stuff myself. But the music store guy might be right about it being good for a beginner. Don't use too much, especially when it gets soft in warmer weather. (Depending on the climate you're in, you might want something harder in the summer.) It should not be a thick layer of gooey gum that looks like you used that bow to clean your carburator. Just run a few strokes - smoothly and evenly - over the bow hair before you play. If you feel like you need more...try wiping excess rosin off the strings first, then see how it feels. Which reminds me: A clean cotton rag should be a regular part of your equipment. Use it to wipe off the strings regularly and also to wipe off the whole bass when you're done playing. Keeps dust and moisture off the instrument.
There's a video on basic bass technique by Jeff Bradetich - haven't seen it myself...but I've heard it's helpful.
WHEW - NOW, are you goinna get a teacher?? :)
: Hello there, people. Been reading the postings on this site for a while, and I'm sure some of you can help me. I'm a longtime electric player who finally got the dough for an upright and made the switch last summer. Until now, I've been playing fingerstyle exclusively. Yesterday I bought my first bow. It's a basic fiberglass German style bow. What I need to know is the very basic stuff. How much do I tighten the thing? I've noticed a couple of hairs have already broken. Is this normal? I don't think I have the thing too tight, but I don't really know. How am I supposed to hold the bow? Also, where should I be physically bowing on the strings? I've noticed what seems to be a sweet spot about 3 or 4 inches above the bridge. Does that sound about right? I think I got the rosin thing figured out from previous postings. The guy at the music store recommended Pop's brand. It's pretty soft stuff, which he said would be good for a beginner. Anyhow, that's about it for now. I'm having fun, and I'm sure I'll figure it out, but any advice would be appreciated. Thanks. Matt
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