What is the difference between a violin bow and a viola bow?

What is the difference between a violin bow and a viola bow featured

The Basics

Both violin and viola bows belong to the same family of instruments – the string family. They both have four strings, are played with a bow, and have similar shapes. However, there are distinct differences between the two bows in terms of construction and playing style.


The primary difference between violin and viola bows is their size and weight. While a violin bow typically ranges between 29-30 inches in length and weighs around 60-70 grams, a viola bow is larger and heavier, measuring between 29-32 inches in length and weighing between 70-90 grams. This additional weight is due to the larger size of the viola and the need for more pressure to produce a clear and resonant sound.

Playing Style

The playing style for violin and viola is slightly different, which requires different bowing techniques. A violin player needs to use a lighter and more agile bow to play faster passages, while a viola player needs to use a slightly heavier bow to produce a fuller, deeper tone. The difference in bow size and weight allows for this distinction in playing style.


The materials used to make violin and viola bows are typically the same. Both bows need a combination of strength and flexibility to produce the best sound. The bows are typically made from Pernambuco wood, which is indigenous to Brazil and prized for its density and straight grain. However, due to the high demand for Pernambuco wood and its status as an endangered species, alternative materials such as synthetic carbon fiber are being used to make bows.

Care and Maintenance

Both violin and viola bows require proper care and maintenance. Bows need to be rehaired periodically to maintain their tone and elasticity. Maintaining a proper grip on the bow is also important to prevent the bow from slipping while playing. Proper storage is also crucial to avoid damage to the bow or strings. It is recommended to store the bow in a case when not in use to prevent it from being exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity.

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