Classical Bows
Classical (transitional) Violin and Viola

By this I mean bows made between 1750 and 1800, regardless of model. Most however, have a high tip, and are long sonata bows. Many survive with the screw mechanism which appeared by 1740, but only became popular later in the 18th century. Many bows which appear to be elongated baroque models with screw adjuster are now understood to be quite late examples, made after 1770, or sometimes earlier bows which have been refitted with the screw adjuster.


This baroque pattern classical bow is based on an original in the Victoria and Albert Museum, dating from about 1780. It is a long sonata bow with late 18th century modifications, screw button, faceted frog and a pronounced camber. I have made many bows on this model because of its general utility and simplicity of design. It is not, however, a baroque bow in the strictest sense. Excellent for late 18th century music from CPE Bach through Mozart. Snakewood or Swartzia, 52-54 grams for violin, 55-58 grams for viola.


After "Betts." I have seen several of these, which tend to be lighter and longer than those contemporary bows labeled "Dodd." (Also available in a cello copy.) Most originals have ivory frogs and unusual "banjo-peg" button. This copy is from Bania wood, but satine, pernambuco, and other woods work well. Ideally about 48-50 grams for violin. This is a viola example at about 56-60 grams.


Particularly beautiful and ornate bow after one of France's master makers. I have seen several bows by this maker and others who work in a similar style, (see the bania bow below.) Dating from about 1770 this snakewood example is crisp and fast in articulation while having great sustaining power. Bright, focused sound.


Excellent French classical bow, dating from 1760 or later. Again, I have seen several bows of similar design. Originals are pernambuco, snakewood and swartzia species, with differences in head and tip height to suit the wood. As with the Meauchand above, the player's thumb rests on the flat face of the bow in front of the frog. Some, including myself, find this very comfortable, others find it a difficult adjustment. All examples are made with fossil ivory frog and tip liner. Swartzia wood, violin, about 52 grams.


The original violin bow, perhaps dating from about 1790-1800, is a particularly well crafted Dodd, with an octagonal stick and button. Such a bow is excellent for early Romantic repertoire, from Beethoven and Schubert to Mendelssohn, and indeed, were it not for the open frog, would be appropriate for all modern use. An unusually strong and clear sounding model, available in rare Pernambuco or Swartzia species. The pictured example is my heavier version for viola, at about 58 grams. The violin original is 53 grams.

"Early Tourte"

Early Tourte. I have seen several similar original examples. This one is from the Beare's shop in London, England. One of my favorite bows to make. Carefully selected Pernambuco or rare Swartzia species, as in this example. Excellent for late 18th and early 19th century music. They tend to be light for violin, 48-52 grams. The bow pictured is a particularly strong light swartzia wood with mammoth ivory frog, octagonal button and silk/gold tinsel winding. (Controversy continues as to the identity of various makers using an original Tourte brand. I simply call all these Tourte family, pre-modern bows, "Early Tourte."