Saturday, June 26, 2004


Sticker Shock!

I went to the violin store to get my "good" $200 brazilwood bow rehaired, and I thought it might be a good idea to buy a second good bow. I've been playing with fiberglass since the hair came unglued at the tip of my brazilwood bow, and the difference is significant. Considering the improvement in sound going from light to extra-sticky rosin, I thought having a spare good bow would be a good idea.

So I was handed a variety of their heavier bows, and I tried them. I saw one whose stick was pitch black, "a carbon fiber bow" I was told. I tried it. I have never sounded better in my life. I could get control of tone like I have never heard myself get before, from a great trumpeting sound to a faint whisper of pure tone. I played through airs, strathspeys, reels, jigs, even a hornpipe. My heart leapt. "How much?" I asked "$600". My heart landed in my stomach.

I tried another one of the same brand as my "good" bow, and though I liked it, I didn't take quite to it. "How much?" "$470". "But this one was like $200 a year ago." "That one is brazil-wood, this one is pernambuco." So I was forced to decide if I wanted to blow the extra hundred bucks to get the bow I really loved. It didn't take me long to decide.

Now I'm playing with an awesome bow that cost me dearly. I'll remember the price I paid when I play slow airs, that should make them especially sorrowful.

While I was there, I tried a pair of baroque violins. They were reasonably priced, but getting used to their intonation and warmth is going to take work, not to mention getting accustomed to the gut strings. But what really struck me was how light they were! They felt like feathers in my hand, like I might break them at any moment. However, that's a purchase for a different day.

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