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Dick Stanley
Hi Beth,

Another question from the rank beginner (almost six weeks now). This time it's about the bow. I've looked for the answer in the videos but not found it. The question is "Should I put the hairs flat on the strings or the edge of the hairs on the strings? Say, the leading edge toward the scroll.

It seems to me watching the videos that's what you do, bow with the leading edge of the hairs. You don't seem to be playing with them flat on the strings. Hard to tell, of course at the angle the videos show. You also seem to be rolling the wood of the bow towards the scroll, which would follow if you were playing on the forward edge of the hairs.

I've tried both ways and the forward edge seems to produce the best sound, but I'm wondering if I'm doing it wrong and fooling myself?

Dick Stanley
3 Responses
Posted: January 23, 2012
Last Comment: January 24, 2012

Dick Stanley
Posted: January 24, 2012
Thanks. The Bow Tilt video covers it exactly.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 23, 2012
THere are a few videos, but I agree they're hard to find. Here are a few links:

Also, go to the tag words on the Library page, and click "bow tilt". You'll find a series on Expressive Phrasing, with are designed for more advanced players, but you can still get a lot of information about tone, including how we use the tilt of the bow to control out tone color.

Posted: January 23, 2012
Hi Dick - I'll attempt to get things rolling on this....

Many teachers will say for the best tone, to play with the hair flat on the string most of the time.  The execptions appear to be:

1) As you approach the frog (up bow) it is common to tilt the wood of the bow towards the scroll and play more on the edge of the hair.  The reason for this is that the bow 'weighs' a lot near the frog and with all that pressing into the string it can give a harsh, sometimes scratchy quaility to the sound.  Tilting the wood towards the scroll just takes some of the weight off and keeps the tone even.

2) In quiet delicate passages (for the same reason as above) I think it's OK to tilt the bow a bit.

Note that the tilt is always the wood towards the scroll, never towards the bridge.

Hope this helps...