Recommendations for a bow to play a Violin Uke

kjb
@kjb
last year
11 posts

Leaned about a new instrument today.  Thanks for posting.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
5 years ago
644 posts

Good job Patty. I'm sure your neighbor will enjoy the bow.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Joe Hamilton
Joe Hamilton
@joe-hamilton
5 years ago
9 posts

cool! I have a psaltery but have yet to learn to play it. you've inspired me!

 

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Here is a video of my playing the violin uke with one hand while holding the camera in the other:

 

 

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

It went fairly well. As I was progressing on each string and yes, each string had to be tuned, I had to go back and re-tune the previous strings as they loosened up! I tuned them a bit sharp in case they decide to loosen up a bit. Since it hadn't been tuned in over 50 years it seems to sound pretty good for a violin uke smile

 

Here is a picture:


updated by @patty-from-virginia: 09/30/15 06:22:42PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
5 years ago
644 posts

Best wishes. I hope it goes well.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Today is the big day. I try out the bow on the violin uke. I'll be cleaning the strings on the instrument first then wipe them down. I hope the strings are in good shape. Maybe I can get a video. 

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Oh yes! Rosin. Got to have that. In fact I received instructions inside my pack of synthetic horse hair on how to prime the hair with rosin before doing it the regular way of sliding the bow strings across the rosin bar. Yep, it's necessary for sure. I can see where waxed dental floss could be a problem...maybe not for teeth but for sure as a bowing implement. happys

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 years ago
1,725 posts

One would have to used UNWAXED floss, and any filament or hair would need to be rosined up I think.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

k0k0peli, looks like one only needs dental floss or fishing line or ribbon to bow a piano,

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
5 years ago
21 posts

Patty, I wasn't suggesting that a hairy Popsicle stick would be superior to an actual bow. I'm sure the Stephen Scott Ensemble used such because when you have ten people hunched inside one grand piano, each sawing away at their assigned strings, there isn't room for anything larger! IIRC the Tarahumara (indigenous peoples of Mexico's Copper Canyon region) fiddlers use cornhusk 'bows'. I am intrigued by the concept of a flat stick with horsehair (or the thin leaves of silicon-rich horsetail ferns) glued down, or other raspy natural materials, for use in bowing strings. Just curious.

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

 k0k0peli, I looked into using a stick to flex and tie horse hair on it but I wanted to do something special for my neighbors. That's why I decided to make a psaltery bow. When I did research on bows for the violin uke and psaltery I did come across instructions for making a simple bow. (http://dennishavlena.com/psaltery.htm )  I'm not sure how well a Popsicle stick would work as it is very short and I don't think it would be that easy to put string on it without having to cut slots etc. Just my uneducated opinion. Other than the scroll saw (I already had one) I didn't spend that much money making the bow. I already had tung oil, sand paper, fine steel wool and paste wax from a previous project. I didn't spend much on the synthetic hair, rosin, glue and poplar wood. In fact, I purchased an extra piece of poplar wood just in case I messed up. It wasn't expensive at all.


updated by @patty-from-virginia: 09/26/15 12:06:10PM
k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
5 years ago
21 posts

A few decades ago the music professor / composer Stephen Scott developed a bowed piano technique "which involves a grand piano [played by] musicians who utilize lengths of horsehair, nylon filament, and other utensils to bow the strings of the piano, creating an orchestra-like sound." I recall that many of the original 'bows' were Popsicle sticks with horsehair glued down. Has anyone here tried such minimal bows? They should be rather inexpensive, yes?

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Thanks Ken! And thanks for your advice!

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
5 years ago
644 posts

Really good job there, Patty. Looks professional. I'm sure your neighbor will enjoy using it.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Thanks Kevin!!!

Kevin Messenger
Kevin Messenger
@kevin-messenger
5 years ago
88 posts

Very nice job Patty, Looks like it will be a fine bow.

 

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Just wanted to let you all know I finally finished making a bow (psaltery bow) for my neighbor's violin uke. Here is a picture:

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

I saw some of those. Only thing is there are lots of negative responses on that seller and another one. Recent too. I don't feel too comfortable about that. 

Kevin Messenger
Kevin Messenger
@kevin-messenger
5 years ago
88 posts

Patty look on ebay there is a 1/4 size bow for 6.99  free shipping from NJ.

 

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Sean, I haven't given up on looking for a used bow but 3/4 would be a bit too big. I saw a 3/4 at the music store. It was fairly long. I was thinking 1/4 size.

 

Sean Ruprecht-Belt
Sean Ruprecht-Belt
@sean-belt
5 years ago
36 posts

Patty, 

Another alternative would be to get an inexpensive 3/4 size violin bow like those that are used for kids learning Suzuki method. Those work well for a ukelin and shouldn't cost over $20 or $30.

More information on ukelins here: http://www.studiobobo.com/ukelin/playing.html#anchor1401612 

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Strumelia, Thank you!!! That's a great idea. I'll be looking for green branches. They are plentiful around here especially with all the rain we've had. I will check out ebay for horse hair. Thanks again!!!

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 years ago
1,725 posts

A psaltery bow yes, would be ideal!   It's more more nimble and light than even a short violin bow.  The bow hair should be laid out in a small round 'rope' shape rather than a violin bow flat wide 'tape' shape...which I found gets caught on the zither pins too often when jumping quickly between the pins, as in bowed psatery playing.

In a pinch, for a rustic 'disposable' bow-   you can even take an arched bent green branch between 1/4"-3/8" thick, cut deep notches at both ends, and set a hank of bow hair in it.  Tie a knot at one end of the hair hank and lay it into one notch.  Comb the hair straight without handling it in the middle (no finger grease!)...pull it to a good tension and lay it in the other notch by tying another knot at that end.  Once you have it nicely set and tensioned to your liking, you can put a dot of glue on each knot to keep it in place well.  Rosin it up very well to start with, then lightly thereafter.

You can buy black stallion horsehair hanks already measured and knotted at one end on Ebay, not that expensive.  You can use a whole hank for a rustic bow, or half a hank if you want a thinner hair 'rope'.   Some folks make a slight twist in the hair 'rope' when setting the hair in.  I found that works well when making twisted horsehair strings, and personally I like non-twisted hair for bows.

I've found that such rustic 'bent stick/hank of hair' bows work surprisingly well and are kind of fun for psalteries, rebecs, jouhikkos, etc.  If you use an underhand grip to bow (as with a jouhikko/tagelharpa) you can leave the hair more slack because you tension the hair while playing, with your bow grip hand.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Robert, I didn't know you make psalteries. I may be contacting you soon. smile

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

Thanks Ken! I'm going to head to the music store to see if they have short violin bows. They may have tuning wrenches too but I may opt to order a psaltery bow and tuning wrench online from a psaltery builder. 

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
249 posts

A psaltery bow would be just right. Here is a pic of one of my black walnut bows... Robert

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,703 posts

Yes, a standard autoharp tuning wrench should work with those pins, although some earlier pins had smaller heads.  And yes, a psaltry bow should work, although a longer bow might give more sustain to notes.

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
230 posts

I have a neighbor who has a Violin Uke. Yes, that is what it's called. The original bow is damaged. I would like to get him a bow so he can play the instrument. Would a Psaltery bow be acceptable? Any suggestions you have would be appreciated. Also, it has zither pins. I'm guessing it may be out of tune. Would a modern zither tuning key work on it?

Here is a video of someone playing a Violin Uke:


updated by @patty-from-virginia: 10/27/19 12:02:25PM