Choosing Your Perfect Instrument & Bow

As a musician, one of the most important decisions you will make is to choose your instrument, and as an orchestral stringed instrument player, this very important decision also includes choosing the right bow.

It is a process which we believe requires very careful consideration to make sure you have your perfect instrument and bow so that you continue to enjoy your playing experiences throughout life.

In our showroom we have a wide range of quality instruments and bows. You are always welcome to contact us regarding your needs and our current stock. We cater for all orchestral string players from students to soloists as well as for those who are looking for older instruments in their original Baroque form, and the smaller sizes for our younger players.

Tonal Quality
We encourage you to consider a number of aspects when searching for your perfect instrument so that it is suitable for the musical environments you will be playing in. It is valuable to compare the quality of sound of each instrument by listening to its sound projection, its overall tone and tonal balance across all four strings, both on open and stopped strings up to the highest positions, as well as how it “speaks” - which includes the responsiveness and openness of the instrument’s sound production.

All of these aspects of sound and tonal quality are affected by and can be adjusted through the set-up. As a result, it is very important that each instrument has the best set-up to achieve its optimum sound. Again, there are a number of factors which contribute to the set-up including the strings, bridge, soundpost, tailpiece, string length, fingerboard, pegs and endpin.

Exactly how these influence the sound and playability of the instrument is discussed on our Sound Adjustments page.
We believe it is important to also provide this advice when you play any of the instruments in our showroom.

Additional Considerations
When comparing one instrument to another, there are other external issues that will influence how you perceive the sound and these should also be taken into consideration.

Firstly, the same bow should be used for each trial, as different bows will vary the sound. To make sure that any difference in sound is only between the instruments, you should play each with the same bow. This method should also be applied to the environment in which the instruments are played. The acoustics of different rooms will again alter how an instrument will sound and we suggest that you compare any instruments in the same room.

Having another listener with you to hear you play will also help you to understand how each instrument will sound from an objective point of view. The sound produced will be different for the player than for those who are even a few feet away. We recommend someone whose opinion you trust is with you to hear each of the instruments from an audience’s viewpoint.

Finally, every player will have their own playing style. Once again the sound from the same instrument will differ between players. To gain a better idea of how instruments sound, it is useful to hear another play them, however it is important to remember that ultimately the instrument that you choose should be perfect for you.

As with comparing instruments, the same method applies to comparing bows. We recommend playing different bows on the same instrument in order to determine the sound differences that relate to each bow.

In addition to its tonal qualities, considerations for the bow will also include its weight, balance, strength and flexibility. Depending upon the music that you are playing, you will have different requirements from your bow. We advise that you choose a bow which will be able to cater for all your musical possibilities from long, slow sustained bowing to a quick spiccato and sautillé.

Most importantly we encourage you to compare as many bows as possible to find the right one that suits you.

Investment Value
Each instrument and bow should also be considered on its value as an investment. Many instruments and bows bear labels and maker’s marks that are often difficult to identify as genuine unless you have the necessary experience and knowledge.

With this in mind, it is essential that you can trust the certification papers that accompany the instrument and bow, or the valuation given by those who are selling them. We provide written valuations for all our instruments and bows and guarantee authenticity as our team have many years of experience in identifying makers’ trademarks to confirm the correct origin.


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A selection of cellos we have available in our showroom.
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Cellos vary in colour, tone and response.

© Chapel Violins 2005