Comparison of Violin Bows

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    History

    • Modern violins have evolved from the earlier baroque and classical violin designs.Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

      Baroque violins evolved in the late 1500s from stringed instruments used to accompany dancers in the Middle Ages. When violins were first invented, musicians continued to use old-fashioned short fiddle bows to play them, but eventually changed the design to meet changes in how musicians held the bow, using either the French underhand grip or the Italian overhand grip, according to Corilon. Because there was no uniform standard for their design, the much-longer baroque bows had many shapes and designs: concave, convex and straight. Baroque bows were succeeded by the classical bow in the 17th to 18th centuries. The classical bow was adapted to allow musicians to perform as soloists. The classical bow ultimately gave way to the modern bow design, devised by Francois Xavier Tourte in the 19th century, which gave soloists the ability to produce concert-quality sounds with their bowing.

    Bow Parts

    • There are 150 horsetail hairs in the typical violin bow ribbon.Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

      The handle or grip of a violin bow is called a frog, according to Sound Junction. The frog holds together at its end of the bow the 150 horsetail hairs that make up the typical bow's "ribbon," which a violinist moves across the strings to produce sound. Near the frog is a metal mechanism that, when twisted, tightens the hairs of the ribbon at the frog's end of the bow. The pointed end of the bow has a notch that holds the hairs in place at that end, and is usually capped with a metal tip.

    Pernambuco Bow

    • Pernambuco wood was first used to make violin bows by Francois Xavier Tourte in the 19th century. Native to Brazil, resilient pernambuco hardwood remains the wood of choice for bow makers up to the present day, according to the Dr. Bows website. Bows made by a well-known bow maker with high-grade pernambuco wood and gold or silver metal fittings command price tags of several thousands of dollars, according to Andrew Fein of Fine Violins.

    Synthetic Materials

    • Modern materials like carbon graphite and fiberglass are now being used to produce less-expensive but sturdy quality bows. According to Andrew Fein, bows made from carbon graphite are a good choice for musicians who are playing out of doors and need a bow that can withstand being dropped.

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