Reply To: Incredibow
Peter, I don’t think it’s a straightforward decision. The Incredibow will not handle exactly like a traditional bow. If you can find a way to try one out in Okinawa that would be best. I think it also depends on how long someone’s been playing, the type of music played, and personal preference.
I was given an Incredibow for my birthday last month. For me, it has its pros and cons. For all-around playing, it’s a little bit of a let down. For me, its forte will be playing outdoors and playing faster fiddle tunes, especially double stops.
It is impervious to the weather. I play outside a lot and I was sick of bows tensioning and detensioning themselves on the fly, so it’s good for that. The synthetic hair/carbon stick combination has a good bit of give to it and it seems to hug the two strings in a double stop in a nice, natural, balanced way. Very nice. It has a quick action to it when playing very short fiddle strokes. It chops nicely playing near the frog.
The sound produced by the bow is fairly similar to my other bows, but my favorite bows produce a slightly more complex tone. The Incredibow also produces less of a dynamic range.
The frog and grip are coated with a thick, cushy rubber that feels nice when playing for an excessive amount of time. However, a true beginner would probably never learn proper bowing technique or control using the Incredibow alone. The frog is not a traditional shape and a proper hold couldn’t be taught. The end is shorter than other bows and a larger hand might lack room for the pinky. Notice in video mentioned above, the fiddler has a proper English teacup grip with pinky extended straight in the air. The bow is very light and I sure won’t be using mine for scales and exercises. I don’t think the hand and wrist would develop strength. The feel and handling is just so different from a traditional bow that I haven’t enjoyed using it. I am not a new player.
When tilting the Incredibow, the synthetic hairs squish together forming a cord. That makes it easy to grab a double stop, but I feel some bowing techniques would be impossible with this arrangement. Someone who has already developed some decent bowing skills could adapt to the Incredibow for certain styles of playing and could thrive with it.
Right now, I am crazy about my Fiddlerman Hybrid Violin Bow from Fiddlershop online, just under $120 US. It is a carbon stick wrapped with a thin veneer of pernambuco, and of course has traditional horse hair and a traditional shape. It is comfortable to hold, feels naturally effortless to play, produces a lovely tone with depth, and adapts well for playing melodic pieces as well as brighter fiddle tunes.
After all that, the Incredibow was recommended to me by a virtuoso fiddler and violinist I follow. He loves his. He often plays several fiddle gigs a day and appreciates the light weight. Plus, many of his gigs are outdoors. He does play an acoustic-electric fiddle and I think that is a factor. I’m playing a traditional instrument. Fortunately, I saw another one of his incredible performances the week I got my Incredibow, and that was enough to make me keep the bow and resolve to adapt to it for fiddling outdoors.
If you do buy the Incredibow, I think it’s best to stick with whatever rosin you already have that works for you. We bought the rosin recommended by the manufacturer and it drew horrific sounds! Finally gave up and used my normal preferred cake of rosin and it sounded like a violin again.