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Aug 21, 2011

Hold On! A Look at Bow Holds in Traditional Fiddling
Aug 20, 2011

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May 16, 2011

Grand Champion Fiddler Kimber Ludiker
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Hold On! A Look at Bow Holds in Traditional Fiddling
Charles Faurot
Traditional fiddlers have myriad ways of holding their bows. Texas – and Texas-styled – fiddlers place their thumb on the bottom of the frog. Fiddlers in the greater Galax area (a rough circle with a radius of around sixty miles with Galax, Virginia, at the center) place their thumb on the stick, usually above the wrapping. The photographs in this article will illustrate these different styles. Both styles produce great music.

Luke Thomasson (photograph courtesy of Allan Ray Thomasson)

The Texas technique of the thumb on the bottom of the frog goes way back. The photograph of Luke Thomasson, Benny’s father, shows him holding the bow that way. It had to be taken no later than 1924 as that’s when Luke passed away.

Benny Thomasson (courtesy of Rich Nevins)

Fulton Myers,Hillsville, Virginia, 1966 (photograph by C. Faurot)

Tommy Jarrell, c. 1917; cropped from larger photo of Tommy with Lily Scott (courtesy of Kerry Blech)

Kirk Sutphin's hand
(photograph by C. Faurot)

Kirk Sutphin, who probably worked with Tommy [Jarrell] more than anyone else, told me that Tommy kept telling him to work his bow hand down. To this day he holds his bow exactly where and how Tommy did.


(For the full article and many more photos, please purchase the Fall 2011 issue.)

[Charlie Faurot founded Old Blue Records in 2004. Old Blue’s catalog has grown to nine CDs, which include material from his earlier efforts, both released and unreleased, and new recordings of the New North Carolina Ramblers and Riley Baugus. Old Blue’s most recent release is OB-708, Out in the Field Behind the Stage at Galax Fiddlers Conventions–1967 & 2010.  Charlie lives in Midlothian, VA, and can be reached at the Old Blue website,]