What should you look for in a violin bow? Especially if it’s your first one?
You may have to spend a little time with a particular bow in order to judge how suited it is to both your particular violin and your personal taste. You will need to try out different techniques with the bow, which will help you get a feel for its balance, weight, and flexibility.
If you buy a beginner violin package online, it usually comes with a bow, which may or may not end up working well for you. Regardless, that should be the first bow that you try, and the one against which you compare all the others, until you find one you like better.
Where to buy a violin bow
If you are specifically shopping for a violin bow on its own (as opposed to a whole package), you should probably buy it from a violin shop (as opposed to online). There are some general guidelines you must know about before visiting violin shops in order to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
The first factor to keep in mind is price. Keep in mind that more expensive bows are not necessarily better than less expensive ones, and a lot depends on your particular instrument and preference. However, good bows usually start around $100.
Make sure that when you look down the length of the bow it does not curve to the right or left. Violin bows should be straight.
It is usually a good idea to get a professional opinion on a particular bow with regard to weight. A heavy violin bow can cause strain in your hand over time and make certain techniques more difficult, while a light bow can make it tougher to get a big sound from the instrument. However, there is still a large middle range between those two extremes, and violin bows are not one-weight-fits-all.
Tighten the violin bow to its proper playing tension, then test that it keeps a good arch while tightened, and that it displays a nice spring when pressed against the strings.
Most bows are a bit lighter at the tip, but the weight should be fairly evenly distributed. Otherwise it will be more difficult to use some techniques.