Viola and bow question

Viola and bow question

I’m hoping there is somebody out there who can advise me in this:- My main weapon is the fiddle, but I’m looking to buy a viola, just for the fun of it. I don’t want to waste money by buying one of those packages that sells a viola along with a cheap bow. I’d rather put all I can afford into the viola itself and buy a decent bow when I can afford one. So her’e my question:-
Is there any reason that I can’t or shouldn’t use my fiddle bow on the thing until I can afford a good viola bow?

Posted by .

Re: Viola and bow question

no

Posted by .

Re: Viola and bow question

I’ve just had a quick google, as I’m sure you have also Gobby, to check this out. Looks to me like you’ll get away with using a heavyish violin bow on viola, but also that you’d be better with the "tool for the job." Closest I’ve ever got to a Viola was my 5 string electric fiddle, which was fiddle sized, so a standard fiddle bow was all it needed. I don’t know what price viola bows start at, but as far as I can see, everyone here in Ireland uses the cheapest ould stick they can get their hands on for fiddle. I have 2 wooden fiddle bows, each of which cost £25 and then I have my good carbon fibre bow which cost 45 Euro. To Hell wi’ poverty, throw another couple of peas in the soup! I met a lady violinist at a music club one night who had a good fiddle - she paid £500 for it. She said she had been told she needed to get a good bow to go with it, so she bought one at £250. She let me have a go with her bow on my fiddle, and I have to say I sounded just as bad as I usually do. Being serious, I’m well aware that classical musicians need quality instruments - I’d love to be in a position where I’d need a bow costing a few thousand pounds, but it’s never going to happen for me! I reckon if you’re serious about viola, and if you’re into serious classical music, you’re going to have do serious spending. If not, "cheapest ould stick" might do OK!
Alex.

Re: Viola and bow question

Yes, play your viola with your fiddle bow. As Alexander has hinted, the four strings of the viola are just the bottom four of a five string violin, which you would play with a violin bow. I Think the reason classical violists use a heavier bow has more to do with what they are expected to play (lots of long drawn out notes) rather than the instrument itself, and the ranges of acceptable weights actually overlap - a violin bow at the heavy end of the spectrum weighs more than a viola bow at the light end. If you have a fairly decent violin bow you’ll be much better off using that than a cheap viola bow.

Re: Viola and bow question

Thanks for that guys. That’s what I was hoping for. Maybe I won;t need to buy a viola bow whatsoever. i can be anit heavier handed if need be. But no, Alexander, I didn’t google it, I’d rather rely on the members of this site for my info.

Posted by .

Re: Viola and bow question

I play both fiddle and viola. The answer to your question depends on both the viola and the bow. If you have a heavy enough bow, you’re fine. I like a light bow for fiddle but I need the viola bow for the big guy. I’d rather play the fiddle with the viola bow that the other way around.

Re: Viola and bow question

I meant "viola bow for the big guy"

Re: Viola and bow question

In my experience violas are more sluggish. You’re making longer heavier strings vibrate a bigger heavier bridge to vibrate a bigger heavier top and sound post and so-on. So I like a slightly heavier bow and a more scrubby action with my bowing. All that being said I’ve used my fiddle bows on the viola and just had to work a bit harder at it. And the bow weights aren’t that different. Its just that little extra bit of help.

Re: Viola and bow question

thanks. I”ll feel my way. My main concern I guess, was avoiding having to unlearn and recover from the damage of a bad habit. For my fiddle I presently use a carbon fibre Coda Diamond SX, which I really like, but it’s fairly ligh I was planning to eventually get the same one in the viola version, but it just gives me that extra bit of cash for the viola if i can put off the bow purchase for a while. As long as there’s no dead set reason tonot use a violin bow i’ll give it a go. I appreciate the advice.

Posted by .

Re: Viola and bow question

outwesht is right… generally violas take a tiny bit longer to sound; quality of instrument considered here too. At any rate the bow does have to ‘grab and go’ well. Even that can be improved by a really good rehair job, assuming you like the bow you have anyway. I’m not on viola often but I am able to happily use one very good wood bow for both.

I would get the viola first… then find a bow to match - if you need it. I much prefer the bow that is heavier over the lighter for both instruments too, like FiddleK said.

Coda Diamond SX? looking for a CF upgrade. Been thinking about that one. (For fiddle.) Dislike bringing good wood ones into sessions. :/

Re: Viola and bow question

Thanks Diane. I had you in mind when I asked the question. I personally love the Coda diamond. Not only am i well used to it, but it’s fairly indestructible, and I’m a bugger at forgetting to loosen it off.

Posted by .

Re: Viola and bow question

Sure… lolol bad boy not loosening the hair!!

Crap… now someone or other will get on here and argue that point to death so … I never said that!!!!

Re: Viola and bow question

Surely, "indestructible" would be a preferred weapon of de-session. ;)

And pardon me, I’m on a roll today. I’ll calm down sometime after the 9th. hahaha

Re: Viola and bow question

yeah right … 9th coffee….

Damn good thing I wasn’t drinking any with your remark Jim.

And hey, I’ve always loved that photo! (Where’s the nail…?)

Re: Viola and bow question

"Where’s the nail…?)"

Lengthwise between the hair and the stick 🙂

Re: Viola and bow question

I play fiddle and bought a cheap viola outfit to see how i got on. i then resold it and bought a decent viola. You can use your fiddle bow, but will get a better sound from a viola bow as the width of hairs is thicker -you need to "dig in" more on the thicker strings. So use your fiddle bow but treat yourself to a viola bow when you can afford it. I love the deeper sound of my viola even tho i don’t play it often.