Fiddle bows

Making the most of your fiddle bow

This week we got into a long discussion about fiddle bows. We ended up dismantling my bow to have a look at how the mechanism for tightening the bow hair works. When you’re tightening your bow before playing, tighten it so there is just enough space to slip a pencil in between the hairs and the stick, at the centre of the bow. It’s important to loosen the bow again before putting it back in your case – leaving the bow hairs tight can eventually lead to the bow warping.

Fiddle bow
Photo ©Ros Gasson 2013

If you’re buying a new bow, it’s important to try out a number of bows, and get a feel for what you like. Find a bow that does what you want it to do (reliably!) and creates a sound that you like, when you play with it on your own fiddle. Different people will find they prefer the feel of different bows. You’ll know if you have found a good bow for you, as it will feel like an extension of yourself. It will help you achieve what you want, rather than hinder. A good bow should have a straight stick, and feel well balanced. You can check to see if the stick is straight by turning the bow over so the hair is at the bottom, and the stick at the top. if you look along the length of the bow from the frog to the tip, you can see if the if the wood is straight or not, in relationship to the bow hair. Check the grain of the wood before buying a bow – it should go straight along the shaft of the stick.

And here’s a wee warning of what can happen if you don’t look after your bow!

In the class we learnt Shetland Times and Tatties, a lovely tune written by Robbie Leask, who plays with the band Corran Raa. We’ll do some more work on this tune next week.