Fiddleheads.ca Technique Advice and FAQs
You may also find Rhiannon's FAQ for solutions for a Stiff Bow Shoulder or Upper Bow Arm Movement very helpful
Q: Thanks for all the information on the bows, Rhiannon. More often than not, I have a problem of pushing down on the bow too hard. This seems to be a problem with me in many things, like holding the club too tight in golf. I am concentrating very hard to stop this bad habit.
You say the Original is stiffer than the Coda Diamond GX. Would a stiffer, or softer bow be more to my advantage in this situation?
Ask yourself, when you "push" on the bow, are you doing this from your hand or your whole arm? If you are using the weight of your arm this is fine, but your hand can get really sore and stiff if you do it from the hand. It also limits your flexibility to absorb the bow movement.
Keeping your technique in mind, I think a stiffer bow is better for your bow application. More room to "go" without the stick bottoming out against the string. A bow with weak camber will just grind on your string unless you overtighten, and that promotes too much bounce in the bow and is just not a good idea in general. So depending on what you are used to you may play both and wonder why I mentioned the differences.
I'm picky about my bow and know what I like. Similar to what you are describing, I really "give 'er" when I play. With me I am using the leverage of my upper arm and elbow and apply a lot of pressure. I really play a violin fully and am not dainty in my bowing; instead pulling the max tone from the strings so the tone is full and deep and bold.
So I need a bow that allows me to sink into the string, to get that nice growl when I need it and to project with big volume. But I also require a bow which can handle delicate spicatto (bouncing) and stacato (short strokes) and, of course, soft dynamics. I find the Original achieves both so nicely. The Coda is more "draggy." Goofy word, I know, but it gives into the string more.
I used to love my high-end Coda Classic as an occasional change from the norm in pernambucco (it's always fun to switch bows and violins for different moods, but given the option to choose only one carbon fibre bow to play for the rest of my life, it is the Original for me.
Realise, when I say "stiff" in reference to the Original, this word is not the best choice. It sounds negative, like the bow is unyielding. The Original, to me, has more spring - it feels more alive to my hand. A few words which come to mind are firm, taut, lively and springy. The Coda Diamond or Classic felt too soft to me, being far too yielding and pliable. These are my own words and I hope it helps.
Outside my opinion, neither is better than the other (you cannot quantify the difference on a chart or graph); it's a matter of personal preference and style. Now, realise many players would not even see much of a difference from lack of experience so I don't mean to make too big a deal of this and hope it doesn't add any confusion to your search. Most my customers buy based on the info I and other sites provide, but some to take them on trial to make really sure.
There are other companies which make great carbon bows (easier to narrow down than wood bows, of which there are variations from one to the next in the same line) but I have narrowed it down to these two. My shop is a boutique, meaning I focus on a few very good products and put my energy into completely understanding them inside and out (such as the Bon Musica shoulder rests, which I believe are the best ever!) rather than carrying lots of brands, many of which are not as good.
So I narrowed down the options and can make the decision easier on the customer. Another bow which I have played and is nice is a line by Yamaha, but I prefer the ones I carry and focus on those. I don't even carry the Coda bows anymore since, I think the Original is better value for the price and, to be frank, a far easier product to have warrantied and shipped to my customers.
All the best for your music and we hope our shop will earn your business.
Response from the Customer:
Yes, I believe you hit the nail on the head. I believe I have a particularly heavy finger, and when I'm not paying attention, I tend to push down on the windings rather than let gravity do its job. My hand does get sore after a while of practice.
I've experienced the grinding and the bounce you described from overtightening. I find that when I setup to play, for about the first 15 minutes, I'm tightening and loosening the bow to find a decent middle ground. Mind you, my setup is about as cheap as it comes, so I'm not surprised I see these problems. I've tried my teacher's violin and bow, and I don't seem to see the same issues.
It will be nice to get a quality instrument to play on, and see the difference in my capabilities. I always associate learning things like this to when I learned to play golf. For probably about 15 years I played golf, took lessons, and hit balls on the range. I always had a very cheap set of clubs. Finally, I gave up because I was completely terrible in every form of the word.....
Finally, a couple of years ago, after not playing for about 4 years, I got custom clubs fitted, and after taking a handful of lessons, I found a very impressive improvement in my game. I now thoroughly enjoy the game, because I don't get frustrated.
So, with that in mind, and after doing some research on the web, I feel that I can confidently say that I should try the [Original] bow first when I get the violin.