How, When and Why to Tilt Your Violin Bow | Violin & Viola TV #215

by | Jan 12, 2016 | Bowing Technique | 3 comments

In this episode of Violin & Viola TV I answer a question from one of our viewers Taran. He writes:

Hi Zlata! I’ve been watching your videos on youtube and have found them very helpful.

I’ve searched around on several sites and video tutorials and never saw this addressed. Does the angle at which you hold the bow matter? I noticed when I see other people play that they typically have the hair of the bow pointing towards the bridge, whereas when I play, I have it angled with the hair pointed more towards the neck. I’ve tried rotating the bow to play on the other side of the hairs and noticed no change in my tone. I have included pictures to show my position and bow hold.

Kindest Regards,

Taran J Hook

In the video I show you what Taran means and answer his question.

 Your teacher might tell you that you should bow with all the hair and have your bow straight above the hair. This is great for the beginning. To bow with all the hair, a good sound and with a whole bow is your basic way of bowing. It teaches you fundamental bowing technique. It also teaches you to control the bow and not have it swob around over the string.

How to tilt your bow?

If you learned some basic bowing technique, you can start varying with the amount of hair you use when bowing. To use less hair, you can tilt the bow a bit away from the bridge in the direction of the scroll of your violin. You might lift your wrist a bit doing this.

For the bow itself it doesn’t matter in which direction you tilt your bow. The bow hair doesn’t sound differently on each side.

However… for your bowing technique and things like spiccato it does matter. When you tilt your bow the wrong way (so in the direction of the bridge and away from the scroll) you lock your hand, strain your wrist and block your movement. You can bow better when you tilt the bow in the right direction.


Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Why and when to tilt your bow?

You probably see players tilt their bow. They do this to:

  • play softer
  • play smoother at the frog

In the video I demonstrate how to get a regular sound and smooth bow change at the frog by tilting the bow just at the frog.

Don’t tilt your bow all the time. It might be easier to get a smooth sound in the beginning, but you should also be able to bow smoothly with all the hair. Tilting your bow should be an effect that you execute consciously. It depends on the music you play and the sound you want to make.

I hope I have clarified some things around tilting your bow with this video. Thanks for watching!

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin & Viola TV episode to answering your question!


  1. Jim Bailey

    I really REALLY could use you help. My 11 year old son has been playing for 2 1/2 years now and has always kept his bow perfectly perpendicular to the strings. Now i notice his bow is almost constantly tilted toward the scroll…many times so much that the wood is almost touching the strings. Now I find myself having to constantly watch his practice in order to correct him multiple times during a piece he is practicing. His ring finger on his right hand often lifts off the bow when playing too, I do not know if one is influencing the other or not. I have tried the elastic trick and it helped for a day or two then he goes right back into the bow issue. Plllllleeeeeaaasssseee help if you can. I sure do appreciate it.

    • Zlata

      Does your son have a 4/4 violin or still a children’s size? If he recently is grown a lot, all the proportions on the violin change and he might need some time to get used to that or he’s up to playing a 4/4 violin. For the expressive playing, please ask your teacher to be more specific and give examples and demonstrations.

  2. Jim Bailey

    I would also like to ask one more question if I may. He has a couple of competitions coming up in the spring and his private teacher wants him to have more “finesse”, moving in such a way as to be ….well, I cannot explain it very well except that she wants him to be more expressive in his playing of slower pieces. Two of the songs he is playing is Schindlers List and Arioso, which are very slow and his teacher has written PLAY EXPRESSIVELY on top of each piece in capitol letters. I know I may be asking a lot but any input would be super helpful.



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