The Bow in Practice
Rodion Azarkhin wrote of his experiments with a bow weighted with lead to
I felt that the bow should be updated to handle modern requirements. Merely pressing harder was not the answer. Obviously, the basic weight of the bow needed to be increased... With the ‘loaded’ bow I can produce a mezzoforte with the same amount of pressure as a piano with an ‘unloaded’ bow. And the ‘loaded’ bow offers many other advantages in performing. But let us understand that I do not intend that the ‘loaded’ bow be a substitute for attaining complete power and control with the normal bow!.
Donovan Stokes, Professor of Double Bass at Shenandoah Conservatory in the USA, plays with an extra length bow by Henk te Hietbrink weighing 257 g.
I find that using a ‘heavy’ bow is better in every way. It allows both the string and the wood of the instrument to speak more quickly, it allows for ease in achieving a great range of dynamics, and it allows for the wood of the bass to more fully vibrate. Additionally, strokes such as spiccato and up-bow staccato are able to be executed with greater ease and beauty. My physical problems and pain, which were significant, have disappeared, as now the bow does the work. Of course the benefits of a longer bow are obvious. I know that it is called a ‘heavy’ bow, but I believe it to be the correct size. Instead, I believe the bow that bassists currently use today is equivalent to using a violin bow on a cello. Their bows are `light´ in my opinion.
Mr. Stokes, like Hans Roelofsen, uses the bow in the overhand grip. Azarkhin used mainly the underhand grip – so both bow holds are possible, and the aspects described above apply with both techniques.