Wednesday, September 26, 2007

All About Bows Part 1: Beijing Styled Bows vs Shanghai Style Bows

A lot of people have asked me how to choose a Erhu bow and I've been procrastinating for a while to write about this.

Well, because I sell Erhu bows and I'm afraid my customers might equate an imperfect bow that they receive, with a lousy bow. The workmanship and quality control of China Erhu bow makers still have a long way to go to match western bow makers, hence the great disparity in the price.

But as long as your new bow feels better than your old bow, its a good bow!

There is basically 2 distinct Erhu bow types:

1) The Beijing bow is a few centimeters longer than the Shanghai bow. (Used to be, now some Shanghai bows are as long as Beijing bows)

2) The Beijing bow has a soft ferrule compared to a hard plasticly ferrule of a Shanghai bow. The ferrule is the point where the bow hairs join to the frog of the bow, or where your left hand middle and fourth finger rests on. Some players who have a very tense right hand feels uncomfortable using the Shanghai bow. By right it should not hurt if you hold the bow correctly, with pressure points on the bow rod rather than grabbing the whole bow.

3) The Beijing bow's ferrule is detachable from the frog of the bow, so you don't need to remove the whole frog from the rod when you need to remove the bow from the Erhu or put the bow back on the Erhu. The Shanghai bow's ferrule is attached to frog of the bow. To remove the bow from the Erhu, you need to unscrew the endpin to detach the frog from the bow rod. But many a times, for a Beijing bow I find that I still need to detach the frog from the bow rod because there is just not enough slack to detach the ferrule from the frog.

4) I find that the Shanghai bow in general feels lighter and more flexible than the Beijing bow.

5) The Beijing bow usually has more bow hair than the Shanghai bow thus it produces a fuller tone. However, more bow hair means you might brush the outer string when you are playing the inner string and vice versa if the distance between the 2 strings is not big enough. You might want to choose another bridge that spaces out the strings more, but then you would need to get use to the increased distance when moving from one string to the other.

Not exhaustive, but all I can think of at the moment.

More on the rod and hair later.

Click here for a list of bows that we stock.

Our bows are shipped in custom-made postubes to ensure that they are not subjected to stress during shipping.

1 comment:

  1. Very enlightening, thank you very much. I always wondered why they had two different names. I have a Beijing style bow (now I know, thanks to this post) and it never occurred to me that I could just detach the hair from the frog. Looking at it now, it seems rather obvious. :)