The Right Bow at the Right Time

May 10, 2017

Hi, I’m Mitch Reed. Welcome to my vlog and today I’m going to talk about bows. And I thought what would be interesting to talk about bows is how bows are all different; some are heavy, some are light. I own four bows and they’re really all different. It’s kind of like they all have their own personality and they make me play differently, just like fiddles, which are the same way. But I thought what I would focus on is the difference between a light bow and a heavy bow or somewhat heavy bow.

So what I’ll do is I’ll start off first with the light bow. I own this light bow. Actually, some of these bows I kind of got accidentally, just with fiddles, trading fiddles, and finding bows in cases and things like that. And so what’s fun about it is just experimenting with different bows, getting different tones, and also making… it also makes you play differently.

So this light bow that I have, I’m a Cajun fiddler, a Cajun-Creole fiddler, I probably wouldn’t use it for a gig, so much so, especially playing with an accordion because an accordion is a very loud instrument. You really need to dig in on the fiddle with an accordion. So you try to get as much volume as you can out of your fiddle, which a heavier bow is going to help. But if I would play a fiddle gig or even if somebody asked me to play something really soft and smooth and nice, delicate, I find using the light bow is really good and nice.

So it could be anything from Ashokan’s Farewell to The Lovers Waltz to, you know, any kind of soft gentle song. But it also does work for some really pretty Cajun Waltzes.

So I was thinking this would be a nice one, maybe as an example would be ‘Tits Yeux Noir which is kind of has a nice soft… the melody is so pretty in ‘Tits Yeux Noir that you can really… it’s really nice to bring it out. So here’s the light bow that I have…[2:22]

Yeah! So what I find with this bow, I also have to watch the tension of the hair because sometimes I forget that I’m using this bow and I want to get a little bit more action so I’ll tighten it up and then I start to kind of go overboard and start to lose that dip. So you got to watch out for that. The thing is when you get bows, is to figure out what the personality of the bow is, what it’s going to do for you. Everybody’s different too, so it really is a personal thing.

So this is the light bow that I like. I hate to say but if somebody calls me to play at a funeral or a wedding, this is probably the bow that I’d take because those are situations where I’d probably play something very soft and gentle. All right.

And then, I have my heavy bow. So this is one that I would definitely used if I was doing a gig, especially like a three-piece gig and especially acoustic. Because every now and then I’ll get a call to play for a backyard party or something and it’ll be me, Jimmy Breaux, and Randy Vidrine or something and we’d play acoustic. So the accordion is naturally very loud or louder than the fiddle. So using a heavier bow, I’m able to get… the weight of the bow can kind of pull the sound out a little bit more. So doing those, especially seconding, doing those shuffles…[4:33]…that kind of thing.

Also even when I play the high strings as well…[4:47]…so that as well. So that’s the heavier bow.

So that’s the thing I wanted to talk about today is just looking at maybe if you own more than one bow, look at what you got, and look at maybe trying both, see the different sounds you get from them and think about it because you can use that to your advantage. The other thing is if you only own one bow it’s good to know what it is. Is it heavy? Is it light? Because you may be playing a certain way and you’re wondering “why am I playing that way?”. And so, by knowing that you own a heavy bow or a light bow, that will help a lot.

I usually recommend, with beginners, people who are starting totally from scratch, to get a heavier bow because letting just the weight of the bow do the work is going to help you to get a good tone. Whereas a lighter bow is going to want to bounce around a little bit, it’s going to be more jumpy, and lighter bows take a little bit more experience, a little bit more bow control, to handle.

So that was just my thoughts today. I had a couple of people ask about that and I thought I would discuss that. So hopefully I answered some of those questions and thanks so much for joining me. If you want to learn some new tunes, I’m breaking down a bunch of tunes this week on my website. Go to and check that out as well. Okay. Thanks so much for joining me today. Stay inspired, keep on fiddling and I’ll see you out there soon. Thanks.

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