The right choice of microphone will save you from waisting a lot of time trying "fix" your sound and good sound makes you perform better.
Microphones come in 3 different types: capacitor, back-electret and dynamic - these three types has different properties but can all be brought to good use on bowed instruments.
The first two types requires some powering to work (phantom power). Tube capacitor microphones come with separate power supply and do not need phantom. Dynamic microphones does not require phantom powering either - be aware that phantom power can in some cases damage dynamic microphones, for instance ribbon microphones.
Another thing to consider is the (polar) pickup pattern of the microphone: Cardioid (rejects sounds coming from behind them), Omnidirectional (picks up sound equally from all directions), figure of eight (pickups up in front and behind but rejects sounds coming from the sides).
When playing on stage it is important to choose the right pattern in order to keep feedback (whining and howling) and bleed down.
Microphones come in different shapes and sizes. Often the shape and size is determined by the size of the diaphragm .
Large-diaphragm microphones are mostly side-adressed (you play into the side of it). Small-diaphragm are mostly end-adressed (you play into the end).
Placement is important when trying to pickup the sound of violins or other bowed strings for that matter.
Bowed instruments radiate sound in all directions and the same instrument can sound very different depending on where you place the microphone or microphones (stereo setup).
In a upcoming post I will go into microphone placement options for bowed instruments.