Friday, September 2, 2011


Now a stick is being planed down prior to putting in the camber or curve. This stage is called the ebauchage or roughing out. During the cambering the stick will be one or two millimeters over the final dimensions allowing the stick’s taper or graduations to be subsequently matched or tuned to the stick’s curve. A substantial amount of time selecting the right pernambuco stick has already been invested in this bow. The violinist this bow is destined for wants to emphasize the rich warm sound his Vuillaume violin is capable of. He also plays with a Dominique Peccatte which brings out a beautiful chocolaty sound but in this case he would like something with a bit more power. The basic level of strength players currently want in a bow is fairly high given the scope of today’s repertoire but it is a mistake to over-react to this fact to the detriment of sound quality. Flexibility will promote warmth in the sound here so it will be more advantageous to make a bow that is almost too flexible than one that is more resistant than necessary.

For this bow I have gravitated in the choice to a lighter brown stick with a honey-brown striping, not too dense but very strong. The fresh shavings are light colored and darken in a few days in the air and light. The grain also has a certain pattern of perturbations that I feel will help accent the lower frequencies without cutting out the violin’s upper frequency incisiveness. The height and mass of the head and frog are important elements as well. Here I’m making a decision regarding the stick and how it is shaped based on experience and intuition. I’m confident I can make a bow that plays to my client’s taste, it’s the bow's sound potential that is my biggest challenge as a bow maker. Creating a sound signature in a bow is not something we can do with technical accuracy and the wood has a voice of it’s own.

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