Want to Learn to play the Musical Saw?
Playing the Musical Saw is extremely easy – there are 9 lessons in this tutorial – and you should be able to master the saw in less than one week!
How To Play The Musical Saw With A Mallet
Got your saw yet? Great! Many musical saw players don’t start off by playing the musical saw with a bow. They actually learn to play the Musical Saw with a mallet first. That’s because, as a first time player, you don’t know where the saw will hold a tune. By practicing different bend angles, you will find the places on the saw that generate the most power and sustain. Consider this a very necessary baby step.
How To Hold The Musical Saw
It’s best to play the musical saw while you’re sitting down and balancing it between your legs. Hold the handle of the saw between your knees with the teeth facing you and the tip of the saw pointing upward. You don’t need to use a lot of force to get the saw to stay in place, and if you use too much, you’ll end up straining your knees pretty fast. If you relax a little more, you’ll be able to play the saw much longer.
Once you are comfortable with the way the saw fits between your legs, it’s time to learn to how to curve the blade to make the saw function like a musical instrument. The saw makes music best when it is bent into an “S” shape. To create this shape, you need to grab the tip of the saw with your dominant hand and press down on the metal sheet with your thumb while lifting up the end with your fingers.
Many people get a tip handle for their saw so they don’t have to create the “S” curve with their thumb and fingers. This makes it much more comfortable to play the musical saw over the long term. You can repurpose a handle you find around the house, or if you don’t have one, you can purchase one from our site. Our handles attach and detach from any saw in seconds, making it much easier to play.
We should also mention that the teeth on your saw can rip open your pants. We advise new saw players to drape a linen or some old clothing over their pants so the blade doesn’t tear them up. It’s a practice that has saved us from public embarrassment on several occasions, and we suggest you do the same. In fact, in the design of my musical saws I purposely do not put teeth at the bottom edge of the blade.
How To Find The Notes On Your Musical Saw
So, you’ve got your mallet and you’ve bent the saw into an “S” curve by applying pressure with your thumb or by using a tip handle. The next step is to find the notes. How you bend the saw at your knees determines the pitch of the notes you play. As you bend the saw upward, the notes get deeper. As you bend the saw downward, the notes increase in pitch.
To make a sound, strike the saw on the highest point in the middle of the “S” curve. This is the region of the saw that will give you the best sustain. To change pitch, you need to maintain the pressure on the tip of the saw with your fingers while you bend the saw at your knees. Be aware that the saw doesn’t play clear notes at all angles. You need to find them first.
And that’s exactly why you’re playing the saw with a mallet instead of a bow! This is the experimentation phase. Once you find the notes and are consistently producing the right sounds, you should have no problem moving onward. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the spooky sounds the saw can produce while you play it with bow.
In the meantime, feel free to send us some pictures or videos of yourself playing the musical saw with a mallet. We can’t wait to see what you’re learning!
Preparing And Holding Your Bow For Musical Saw Playing
So you’re ready to play the musical saw with a bow? Wonderful. By now, you should know exactly how to navigate between different notes with your saw and mallet. If you can quickly jump from one note to the next and hit the sweet spot every time, you’re ready to learn how to play the musical saw with a bow.
When you play the saw with a bow, it creates a much more sustained and eloquent sound. It is an eery, almost forlorn, kind of singing. While some people do play the musical saw with a mallet, the instrument really shines when it is played with a bow. It’s a little more complicated and involved than tapping the sweet spot, but you’ll notice a huge improvement in the sound it makes.
How To Hold The Bow
Those of you who play string instruments are already familiar with this. There is a certain art to holding and using the bow, no matter what instrument you are playing. With the musical saw, it’s important to hold the bow with your right hand while gripping the shaft of the bow as you would grip a wine glass. You should also position your thumb on the shaft of the bow with its surface pointing outward while keeping the tipped part of the bow pointing downward.
How To Maintain Your Bow
Some of you may have never used a bow to play a musical instrument before. Those of you who are new will need to know a few things about proper bow maintenance. First of all, try to avoid touching the bow’s hair with your fingers. You may not see it, but your fingers are covered in oil, and it can rub off on the bow hair. Over time, this can damage the hair and make it very difficult to play your musical saw or any other instrument.
Every time you are finished playing your saw, you will need to loosen the hair on your bow. To do this, simply twist the non-pointed end of the bow (also known as the frog) until the hair loosens slightly. The next time you play, you will need to do the reverse and get the hair nice and taught. Avoid putting a huge strain on the bow’s shaft. You’ll know when the tension is right.
Never Forget To Apply Rosin Every Time You Play
You’re also going to need to know how to apply rosin to your bow. Rosin helps to make the hair on the bow more sticky and capable of producing long and sustained notes on your saw. Before you apply your rosin, scratch up the surface of the rosin with an Xacto or pen knife of some kind. This breaks up the rosin and helps it stick to your bow a little better.
Every time you play your musical saw, you should sweep your bow across the rosin about 20 times. This should be enough to cover your bow and get it ready for playing. Those of you who just bought a bow will need to sweep the bow over the rosin between 50 to 100 times. This initial rosin coat will prepare you for your future musical saw playing experiences.
Your saw will create much more beautiful music if you follow these simple steps. Our next tutorial will cover your first experience playing the musical saw with a bow. You’ll learn how to find the notes with a bow and play simple scales. Join us and get your musical saw playing career off the ground!
How To Take Your Musical Saw Playing To The Next Level
Many beginning saw players stop playing the saw after a few months because they reach a plateau. This is common with anything we do in our lives. You practice and practice, but at some point, more practice doesn’t make you any better at your craft. It can be a very frustrating experience for anyone who wishes to excel and progress to the next level.
These are the times when it’s best to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Why have you stopped getting better at playing the saw? What is preventing you from unleashing your creativity and crafting your most musically complex piece to date? If you’re stuck on the saw, and you don’t see a way out, give these tips a try.
Branch Out And Try Different Saws
Not every saw is the same. Some have better musical attributes than others. However, just because a saw is more expensive doesn’t neccesarily mean it will play beautiful music. Saws are priced by how well they cut straight lines not based upon their voice. My musical saws would be dismal failures in a carpenter’s hands – they are too flimsy. Go to the store and try saw after saw until you find one you like!
Our professional musical saws are designed with sound in mind. They have a better acoustic range, and the sounds you produce with them tend to last a lot longer. Many beginning saw players have difficulty connecting notes in their compositions because their notes die out before they reach the next one. A professional musical saw reduces the chance of this, helping to make your music much more fluid and dynamic.
The sound our professional musical saw produce is much more mellow than the sound you will get out of your carpenter’s saw. With a mellower sound, you will find yourself more able to get in there and tinker with the nuances of your music. You wouldn’t purchase a cheap guitar and expect it to create great sound. The same applies to the saw.
Learn Different Playing Styles
There is more than one way to play the saw. You’ve been practicing for months now, but have you taken a look through YouTube to see what other saw players are trying? Not only will you learn from their tutorials, you’ll be able to diagnose what is stopping your playing from improving.
Learn a different song. Try different vibrato techniques. All of these practices add complexity to your compositions, helping to make them yours and nobody else’s. Whatever you do, don’t keep trying to tackle the same music you’ve been playing this whole time. You will only have a breakthrough when you try something else for a change.
Reach Out And Discuss Saw Playing Techniques With Other Saw Players
There is so much to be gained from collaboration. If anyone knows what you’re going through, it’s other saw players. So go ahead. Get out there and network with them. You can join our community, or you can look for other saw players on YouTube.
While you’re there, take the time to return the favor to other saw players. This small gesture means a lot. If you don’t do it for someone else, who’s to say anyone will help you?
Practice is always important, but it only helps up to a certain point. When the chips are down, and you want to “cut” through to the next level, take some time to relax and evaluate your situation. The solution could be right under your nose.