Gulp

March 06, 2011

Last Tuesday evening when I sat down to practice I discovered that my bow had given up the ghost. I wasn't able to tighten the hair enough to play. Visibly there wasn't anything amiss with the bow, but when tightened as far as the frog would travel the hair was only about half as tight as it needed to be.

Via email I contacted my teacher and asked for advise and help. Fortunately I'm taking a music theory class with him on campus and was able to meet him Wednesday morning before class for a bow consultation. It appears that the hair a the frog end of the bow have gradually over time pulled out of the wedge that holds them in place. David had another bow that was going to the local man who works on such things so we added mine to the work order. In the meantime he loaned me a bow and a nice case for carrying.

And what a bow it is too.

Wednesday evening after applying some rosin I tuned my cello. After the very first draw across the A-string, Sibylle declared from her studio space downstairs (at the other end of the house from where I practice), "That's a nice bow!" She said, and I agree that it produces a wonderfully velvety sound immediately. The blatting sound I frequently get from my A-string has all but been eliminated.

My bow is a carbon fiber one that is perhaps 5 years old and was purchased new with the cello. I don't know what it cost new or what it would cost to replace it. Let's call it $100.

Friday before class, after two days of practicing with David's bow, I complemented him on how nice it was and how beautifully it played. He replied that, "It is a nice bow. I paid my teacher $1000 for it many years ago. It has probably appreciated to four or five thousand dollars today."

Eep.

For two days I had been playing with a bow that was worth twice what I had paid for my cello, its bow and bag. Needless to say I was pleased with myself for deciding that first night to put it back in its case for storage between practice sessions. The case now resides up on the mantle, far from any cats, stray humans, or other disasters.

It is a beautiful work of art and a sheer joy to play with. It will be hard to return to my bow when it is reharied and is ready for me to use again. There may be a trip to Kansas City in the future to play all the bows KC Strings has in, say, the $500 dollar range. I can't afford a $1000 bow, but I can upgrade mine - especially if I can get even half of the velvety smooth sound this borrowed one has.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.