Is it harder to bow on certain strings?

It’s easier to bow on the D and A strings for most beginners. Why are the G and E strings harder?

The E is challenging because it’s temperamental. It tends to sound screechy. It requires a lighter touch. Also, if you’re sitting down, it can be awkward. The right arm might be hitting the right leg.

G string is challenging because it’s further away. The G string is thicker and so it requires more energy from both the left-hand (pressing) and the right arm (bow pressure).

Three ways to improve the sound on G and E strings

Rotate the fiddle

You can make life easier on these outlier strings by bringing the fiddle closer. Rotate in (to the right) to bring the G string closer. Rotate out (to the left) to bring the E string closer. Practice this motion without playing.

Fiddle with the amount of bow pressure

In general, use less force on the E string, more on G string.

Practice: Soft, medium and loud.  Play super-quiet eighth notes with a tiny amount of bow. Gradually increase the bow stroke length and pressure until you reach a thundering peak. Then slowly let it get quiet again. You can do this practice with short scale and phrase loops.

helps you find the right amount of pressure

Practice: Throw-away bow. This helps you find correct pressure.

bigger throw-away bow on G, little throw-away bow on E

Practice: Play it casual. Especially on E string. Play with less bows for a softer, lighter sound. Intermediate level tip: tilt the bow hair toward you for a softer sound on E string

Leverage your strength

Practice bowing something on strings where you sound better (D or A strings). Then practice it on strings where you sound worse.

Alternate between doing the same thing on two strings. For example A1-3 <> E1-3

In this way, you leverage your strength (playing on the A string) to improve your weakness (playing on the E string). In general, see if you can play the same thing on all four strings.

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4 responses to “Is it harder to bow on certain strings?

  1. Wow, I have been practicing frozen in space, never moving. I didn’t realize it was ok to move a little bit to work with the strings. This has been very helpful (and my back thanks you!).