Post image for Music Extras: WHAT IS A CELLO BOW MADE OF?

by Lamont Williams on August 19, 2020

in Extras


Unless you’re playing the pizzicato, a cello without a bow is like a bow and an arrow without the arrow. You can use any type or size of an arrow as long as the bow can hold it. It is the same with the cello bow. A bow is required to play the cello correctly. It has different sizes and different parts which you should consider when choosing the right one for you and your cello. Cello bow is a separate piece but it cannot be considered an accessory. Since a bow can affect the sound and playability of your cello, it is important to know its parts and characteristics.

Bows of string instruments are almost the same – for violins, violas, and cello. However, cello bows are usually 72 to 73 centimeters long, which is shorter and much heavier compared to other bows. It mainly consists of the stick, the frog, hair, and screw.

The Stick

The stick can be made up of different materials, with Pernambuco, fiberglass, and carbon fiber being the most popular types. Pernambuco is considered to be the finest material for cello bows. It is made from a high-grade wood from Brazil. It started to be known in the 18th century and is almost the most expensive. However, since the growth of pernambuco wood becomes rare, carbon fiber cello bows have started to become recognized. It is also made to be more flexible and consistent compared to wood. For a budget-friendly cello bow stick, you may opt for a fiberglass material, however, this type is known to be inferior compared to Pernambuco and carbon fiber cello bow sticks.

The Frog

The frog is the part that connects the bow hair and stick and is located at the lower part, where the cellist holds the bow. It is commonly made from ebony, and sometimes includes decorative elements like ivory. It is also used to loosen and tighten the cello bow.

The Bow Hair

A cello bow hair is attached to the frog and tip of a cello bow stick. Approximately, it consists of 172 to 200 hairs. It can be made from nylon, synthetic, or horsehair. Musicians nowadays prefer synthetic bow hairs than horsehair due to its sensitivity to humidity and temperature changes.

A cello bow hair requires rosin especially when the bow is new. Rosin makes the hairs sticky which is important for the cello bow to draw friction to the strings and produce a sound. 

The Screw

The screw is inserted into the frog of the cello bow. It can be removed when the bow hair needs replacing. It also enables you to tighten and loosen the cello bow. Loosening the screw of the cello bow is essential to maintain its proper shape when not in use. Leaving it tightened longer than necessary could cause the cello bow to warp and get broken. 

Other parts of the cello bow are the winding, thumb leather, ferrule, and tip. All of these need basic care to maintain their quality and improve your performance as a cellist.

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