Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bow thumb pad enhancers

I have very tapered thumb tips. My fingers are also slender and tapered, but not nearly as pointy as my thumb tips. Why is that important? While many would find that an attractive feature, it causes me constant annoyance. No matter how close the thumb pad on my bow is to the edge of the frog, my thumb tries to dive through the gap. No loose, curved thumb position for me. And the undesirable end result: excess bow hand tension.

I have tried to put surgical tubing over the thumb pad and frog on a couple of occasions, but never been successful. Maybe the stuff we stock at my (former) hospital was just the wrong size ~g~. But I could never actually get it onto the bow. And I was always deterred from ordering samples by the complexity of materials and size permutations. Plus, the tubing I've seen other players put on their bows seemed too thick to me, anyway.

In a recent post on the Internet Cello Society Instruments and Equipment Forum, one user suggested trying BIC pencil grips. That sounded interesting, so I went looking at my local Target. Alas, sold out. But not wanting to leave empty handed, I bought the cheap Chinese version, $1.50 for 8 pencil grips and 16 worthless plastic eraser-shaped objects. (After smearing a blob of lead-on-paper, the latter were promptly discarded.) I wasn't too sure about the color, or the textured surface, but what the heck. The price was right.

The pencil grip/thumb pads were easy to put on, as demonstrated in the photo below. Completely remove the bow screw. Slide the pencil grip over the end of the bow stick and about half of it onto the thumb pad. Slide the end of the frog under the pencil grip, re-engage the frog into the slot and replace the screw. Voila.

I am using less tension holding the bow. In fact, each day it feels a little better, both more secure and more fluid. The textured surface I was hesitant about enhances the secure feeling. And because the plastic is clear, the bright colors don't stand out too badly, but rather fade into the color of the bow.

I'm happy. Another successful experiment.


Guanaco said...


Check your inbox on the ICS forum...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for passing this tip along. I just learned how to hold the bow and was having the same problem with the thumb driving into the thumb pad/frog gap. I found the same pencil grips at Target and they were just the ticket.

Anonymous said...

These look good. I shall look out for them. At the moment I use those rubber things on my thumb which are sometimes used by bank staff when they are counting wads of money. They are quite good but a bit bulky, I suppose. Because I use them I have not developed a callous on the side of my thumb nail.