May 22, 2010

Saturday Strings: Play With Sticks

Didn't your Mother ever tell you not to play with sticks? The primary part of a stringed instrument bow is called a stick.

The composition of the stick is what makes the bow valuable and determines its quality. Student bow sticks are made of fiberglass because they can withstand a lot of brutality before breaking, which makes them ideal for classroom situations and younger, less cautious, students. Bows made of fiberglass are also one of the least expensive type next to Brazilwood.

Western, European, bows are traditionally made from pernambuco wood from Brazil. Since the 18th Century, this was determined to be the best material from which luthiers used to make high quality bows. It was chosen because of it's unique combination of strength, flexibility and responsiveness. The finest bow makers have traditionally been French from the late 19th Century.

Other synthetic materials besides fiberglass have been chosen in the recent decades because of current laws protecting the now rare pernambuco trees. Carbon fiber bows have been manufactured to attain almost the same high quality as that of the pernambuco and therefore have become just as popular, even among professional orchestra personnel. They also have a reputation for durability.

1 comment:

Homebodies said...

Very interesting.