Italian Version


Nicolas Simon was one of the brightest craftsmen in French bow making, just like Charles Peccatte. The excess of light can make us blind and where Charles Peccatte benefited from the luminescence, it wasn't the case for Nicolas Simon – that is, “maybe” Simon FR.

Violin bow by Simon FR

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I have a love for my family that I do not quite know how to describe, but I honestly often wonder how my love for violin bows would have been developed and what level of knowledge I would have reached if I had been the son of someone like Mº Raffin. If you are the son of someone like him you might have talent, but would you have a love so complete?

Violin Bow by Jean-Jacques Millant – tortoise, gold and whale




The bow on the photograph below takes part of the array of bows without name. It is a bow of very high quality and a fluke of Mº Ilya Grubert – but was it only fortune?

Anonymous Bow France/Germany 1830/35

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The history of bow making obviously isn't made only by Tourte, by Peccatte , and a few other superstars; the city of Mirecourt was full of less noted bow makes. You can easily understand why they were less noted by looking at their work, unless we are talking about  Our Man. Mr. Ury/Eulry, was a craftsman with great skills which is probably why he was left as a mystery – certain stars tends to pulverize their surroundings.

Violoncello bow school Ury/Eulry 1840c

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-“Ilya, are you sure the bow has been assigned Pierre Simon , by the person that sold it to you?”-, -”Yes, why?”-, -”Something doesn't convince me”-. This has been one of my most pleased and fortunate intuitions - especially to Mº Grubert.

Violin bow by Dominique Peccatte – Joseph Henry, 1840-45

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We have tried to resolve the “Kittel” mystery for some time now, and in the meantime it just happened that an american reader has commissioned a post written by me on the branding used on the bows, which seems a perfect link between different worlds, genetically close.

Fire Branding by Dominique Peccatte

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Every bow is an unfinished work, which only reaches its fulfilment in the hands of its performer”.  This statement has never been so true as in the case of the legendary Lapierre of Mº Franco Petracchi.

Contra bass bow Marcel Charles Lapierre 1956

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No matter which character or background the bow makers have they all have one thing in common; who becomes a bow maker will go into the grave with the planer in hand. All except one; Lafleur, the restless.

Violin bow by Joseph René Lafleur 1840 c.

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It often happens to have to deal with bows which are very difficult to identify. Usually even in desperate cases it is possible to establish the origin of the bow; except for this gentleman below – my black sheep – and apparently not only mine.

Violin Bow 1830/35 cc. presumed origin Mirecourt/Strasbourg

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There are many reasons to why Bernard Ouchard, was one of the most estimated and respected bow makers of France; it was he who began to reintroduce the great school of the Tourte and Persoit, and I personally have another one; the beautiful gift he has given my instrument.

Contrabass bow Bernard Ouchard 1962

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Even though it is an expression used in the jargon of cycling, it is a figure you can find in any field. Usually the followers are persons with a good talent, who haven’t though the capability to compete with their leader. You can make them work hard, getting the best out of them. As in the case of Guinot, the “follower”.

Violin bow by Charles Joseph Théodore Guinot 1840 cc.

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I know, I know; it seems like the title of a Donald Duck. If you think about the characters and the dynamics, you might say that more than industrial spying, it seems like a venturous dispute between the machiavellian Scrooge Mcduck and his all time rival Rockerduck. The story finish up as always; Pajeot had to eat his bowler.

Selfrehairing bow by Pierre Simon for Jean Baptiste Vuillaume 1850 cc.

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Even before having ever seen this marvellous bow head for real, I had always tried to convince my colleague to challenge himself with this craftsman, but I had never succeeded in doing so. Then M° Ilya Grubert asked, and....

Ladies and Gentlemen, the interpretation of Persoit by M°Navea Vera.

Violin bow head by Navea Vera inspiration Persoit

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Some time ago CR. Forma – the education services in the province of Cremona organized a very interesting conference, which I must thank for, on the development of the English school of bow making. The conference was held by one of the leading names at the moment; M° Tim Baker. He supplied very important information on the different periods and information on construction technics, and it led me to a comparative reflection on the Anglo-Saxon way – especially the W.E. Hill way – and the French schools way on teaching.

Viola bow by W. E. Hill in silver and nude ebony

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When someone goes through history they mostly leave their own personal interpretation of events and personalities. This might be the reason to why a great craftsman like George Frédéric Schwartz has almost been forgotten.

Violin bow by George Frédéric Schwartz

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Even though the first curve model of the modern bow arrived from Germany - the famous “Cramer” - the evolution within bow making would have been quite complicated without personalities like Tourte and Persoit; Gaulard demonstrates this.

Violin bow by Francois Jude Gaulard, stick in pernambuco and frog in ivory with sun, 1820/25

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I have been thinking of what would be the quickest and most fulfilling way to give an answer to my Californian reader, without being misunderstood, and as I find the questions of general interest I have decided to dedicate Mr. Marin an entire post.

Viola bow D.T. Navea Vera in gold, tortoise and mother of pearl “heart” - “The Giuranna”

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As I have mentioned some weeks ago, M° Jean Francois Raffin held a conference in Cremona, dedicated to the French bows. Besides being a very interesting event in itself, especially for those who do my kind of work, he made it very clear to me what the problems are for Italian bow making.

Bow with a “lance” shaped head made in snake wood and ivory

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Sometimes the coincidences can be strange, and to times even unpleasant. The very day I came to know that my Master Luigi Milani had passed away I received a phone call, from a friend who I hadn't heard from for a while, he too had a master who had recently passed away.

We had a long talk, remembering unique and happy pieces of life in contact with uncommon humanity, therefor I decided to dedicate a simple thought to my teacher, and proposed my friend to write something about his.


Thank you Jakob, it is a beautiful gift.


Dedication to the cellist Janos Starker (Budapest, july 5, 1924 - Bloomington/Indiana april 28, 2013)

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Some weeks ago I had the fortune to keep a beautiful Eugène Sartory violoncello bow for some days, which I will analyse in just a moment. First off all I want to thank CR. Forma – The special education services in the Province of Cremona, who gave a very interesting conference last week, dedicated to the French School of Bow making held by M° Jean Francois Raffin.

Violoncello bow by Eugène Sartory 1930

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Speaking from a registry point of view, Nicolas Duchene I was not pre Tourtes; in fact he was born the exact same year as Nicolas Léonard: 1746. From a work point of view, though, I suspect he arrived at the “Cramer” model before the Parisians.

Violin Bow Cramer model by Nicolas Duchene I

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I don't know why, but the closer you get to the historical period where the transition from the baroque bow to the modern bow took place, the more dense the fog becomes, almost swallowing craftsmen such as Meauchand. Why is this? On the one hand, it is difficult to find historic documentation; on the other, I have the impression that whoever wrote down history didn't like what he found.

Cramer model, Jean-Jacques Meauchand

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Three years of hard work to find what he defines as “the perfect bow to my hand”, and we finally did it. The fact that the news came on the 25th of April, the anniversary of the liberation of Italy from the nazi/fascist oppression makes this success even more full of meaning.

Violoncello bow by D.T. Navea Vera 2013 - “The Meneses”

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To approach this period of bow making, is like submerging oneself in a very dense fog. Reliable information is very scarce, and what you find, often seems written in favour of the cause.

Violin Bow, Cramer Model 1770 cc.

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What you see below is the final result of the work, made at the end of the 17th, and the beginning of the 18th century by illuminated craftsmen, in particular Francois Xavier Tourte, on developing and defining the parameters of style and mechanism in the modern bow. Why did they do it? What need was there to find a new architectural structure, so different from the baroque bows.

Viola Bow by Francois Xavier Tourte 1815

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To speak about sound is somewhat like discussing colours. When we show someone a red object, it is clear that the other person will see the same thing as us, whereas perception of tonality and shade will differ from one person to another. That is because every brain does its own interpolation; it would be difficult if not impossible to make an interpretation of what exactly one sees and hears. Another matter is when we have the same perception, but we give it different names.

Violoncello Bow by D.T. Navea Vera – 2013





When you come to know the bow maker profession, there is a question that keeps emerging: why is  the work of one craftsman sometimes valued more, than the work of another craftsman of a similar level - or even valued more than a work of a greater level?
You may find the answer in the object below. Having this bow in my hands made me think of the old saying written on the entrance door of the faculty of Aeronautic Engineering at the University of Cambridge:

“The bumble bee is too heavy to fly, but no-one told the bee”.

Cello Bow By Dominique Peccatte 1850 c (click to enlarge)





I usually do not reveal the owners of the bows that I showcase in the blog, but this is a magnificent and very rare cello bow, model "col de cygne", by Dominique Peccatte, and the fact that the owner, came to visit us last week, makes me believe that his name would be easily derived anyway.

Cello bow by Dominique Peccatte, "col de cygne" c. 1845 (click to enlarge)





- is one of the reasons I do this job. I have chosen to open a workshop, with all the problems that this entails. I could have chosen to sell French bows of average standard, and certainly with a more relaxed lifestyle. I would then have missed experiences like the one we had this weekend. A meeting between an exceptional musician, a great craftsman and the surreal encounter of instruments.
For several years now, I have worked with very important musicians, but the way I have had to organize my work and the fact that Cremona, unfortunately isn't a place where great international names come by very often, leaves us with few moments like this.

Master Antonio Meneses and my colleague, Master Navea Vera





Nicolas Leonard Tourte, wasn't very lucky in his life. Once settled with a long list of noble and wealthy clients, the French Revolution started. He also had the misfortune to be brother to the legendary, Francois Xavier Tourte. Despite this, he made an enormous contribution to modern bow making, which allows him to be considered among the most important bow makers in time.

Violin bow made of ivory, boxwood, and pernambuco, Nicolas Leonard Tourte





As I have often told you, at the French Bow School, the headmaster has the delicate duty to select his successor. And yet again we must congratulate M° Bernard Millant; in this case for choosing one of the most magnificent talents of contemporary bow making; Master Jean Francois Raffin.

Jean Francois Raffin





I know this piece, and you know it too, because you have met it several times in this blog. I just haven't stopped for long enough on one of the bows that shows not only the greatness of the author but also represent a truly Accademia Superiore of bow making. One of my most important masters; Mr. Pajeot.

Cello bow by Etienne Pajeot 1820





Before beginning with the story of this man,  who is a true monument of  French bow and violin making, the only one left along with Etienne Vatelot, I want to tell about my Millant since he is the only one of the Great  I told you about,  I can still meet.

Violin bow by  Bernard Millant





Whenever I beg M°  Navea Vera to make a bass bow, his  reaction is always the same, he makes a face, mutters something in Castilian and holds a grudge  for at least one  week. The reason? They are exhausting to do, they break  arms. Think about how many back pains the good Lapierre might have suffered , he did  so many of  them to be known almost only by bassists.

Violin bow by Marcel Charles Lapierre





Although it is true that the Lottes weren't one of the most important family unit in the history of  French bowmaking, they have been an integral and functional part of it  and they  give me  food for thought.

Cello bow by Roger Francois Lotte





It is the fate occuring to  talented craftsmen, who, often more than other one much more famous than them,  just enjoy making  bows . More interested to  construction than trade, they work all his  life for someone else, maybe a famous relative, thus increasing the fame of the latter and putting themselves aside in  a secondary role.

Do you remember who  Andrè's famous relatives were ?

Violin bow  André Georges Richaume in silver and ebony





When I started doing this job I could have never really believe that my passion for wood could almost turn in a sickness. Having  some good material in stock is, for those ones  doing  this work,  like owning a precious treasure, the luthiers  and bowmakers often  risk even  failure to buy wood. Not long ago I heard a fellow luthiers saying, "Hey, look what a beautiful back part, it is not a particularly good time to buy, but as soon as it  saw me he called me Daddy,  I could not avoid to take it  home."





Welcome again, everybody.

Paolo's notes about the Cristiani cello prompted me to reply with some thoughts I'd like to share with you all on this post.





Speaking about Cremona, you certainly cannot say that it is one of the most welcoming cities in  Italy. In winter,  cold and  fog  enter your bones and in summer  the hot and humid weather  of the Po valley,  takes your breath away. But in few other places in the world you can have  encounters  that,  without being exaggerated,  I could define as extra-terrestrial.

Cello bow by  D.T. Navea Vera





One of the greatest craftsmen of his time, who has dedicated his whole life to research and training. To him, who donated his collection of all tools, drawings, and shapes by Antonio Stradivari to the town of Cremona, we owe the birth of the Violin Making School and the Stradivarian Museum.

His Bologna as well as Cremona commemorate him in his 150th anniversary since his birth with a series of events, including the exposure of his quartets in Cremona, promoted by his "spiritual students", as M° Roberto Regazzi writes and sponsored by the CNA of Bologna.

To Roberto, a worthy heir, the task to introduce the Master Luthier Giuseppe Fiorini.

Giuseppe Fiorini at 31 years





To write about someone you never met is not particularly difficult, when you have no personal involvement you just describe his job. With M° Lucchi, however, it is not so simple. So much life lived together, too many feelings moving and not yet fully coded, but I owe him, and then:

To you Giovanni : With Friendship Paolo.





Did you ever think about someone who exists no more: "What a pity, it would have been nice to have known him ." Well, I would have liked to know M° Renzo Bechini; a genial character and my fellow countryman, of whom I have the honor to show you some works.But before speaking about Him, a pleasant news.

Maestro Salvatore Accardo





Almost as handsome as Sartory, almost as elegant as Sartory, almost mechanically excellent as Sartory. Louis Henry Gillet, the "almost" man ; that is to say the poor man's Sartory !

Cello bow in tortoiseshell and gold Louis Henry Gillet

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Just a look at the head of this magnificent cello bow is enough to figure out what was the reason for the closeness between the Francois Lupot II and the Tourte brothers, one owning such a beautiful wood and in unlimited quantities, is someone I would have hired even if he had not been able to work. For the Tourtes the luck was double; Lupot also had talent.

Cello bow Francois Lupot II 1820 ca.

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Even if there were six of them, they had the "Human Torch" as well, like the Fantastic Four, but to say the truth they looked more alike to the"Seven Dwarfs" !


Violin bow Morizot Frères

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This motto is surely the most representative of Morizots' character, the last great dinasties in Mirecourt, who improved the production line of the artisanal firm, succeeding in supply instrument players of any level.


Violin bow Louis Joseph Morizot "Père"

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 -" Good Morning , I have found this heel on a broken Sartory stick, but while the stick seems to be original I have more than one doubt about the frog."-. -"You have watched it properly, my dear lad, this frog is by Jules Fetique"-. -"Are you sure ?"-. One of the silliest questions I haver ever asked ; I was speaking with Bernard Millant!

Violin bow in tortoise shell and gold Jules Fetique

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Victor had everything: excellent hand, initiative, stylistic taste. Victor missed nothing but a strong heart !

Violin bow Victor Fetique

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Francois Nicolas Voirin is not the craftsman I love the most, as you know I reproach him for having oriented the bow making towards mass production. But it is undeniable that his technical and style level was like that of few others.

Cello bow Francois Nicolas Voirin 1872 - 1875

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A picture often says more than a thousand words! We only have to compare this opening photo with the one of the previous blog to understand how Emile-Auguste Ouchard and his son Bernard were different; one so cheeky and aggressive , the other humble and discrete.

Bernard Ouchard 1925-1979

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"Ca, c'est la baguette... ca, c'est la, c'est la mèche... et ca, c'est la porte!" In this way Emile Auguste Ouchard addressed to one of his detractors, joining "Gest à l'appui" to it , as Raffin writes. He may be the one who spread bowmaking in the world but inside he was French to the core !

Emile Auguste Ouchard

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The first part of the century in which we are going to enter with our story was, as we all know, devastated by those two follies called First and Second World War. In addition to create millions of victims, they swept away a big part of what was the induced production of old Europe. The bow making was no exception, many workshops closed, and those who succeeded in, sought refuge overseas. After 1945, there was almost nothing left of the glorious French school,we have to thank the true seekers of the Grail, the Ouchards, for its rebirth.


Violin bow by Emile Francois Ouchard

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Fast, sharp and unrelenting, he is considered one of the most ruthless and dangerous predators of his era. Absolute ruler of his territory, almost no one could rival Eugène Sartory! What did you expect ? Have you thought I was talking about the famous Cretaceous dinosaur ?


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According to a Tuscanian proverb "All poets miss a verse," , but at a first glance it seems that the "poet" Sartory, has all verses, although deepening the story of his life we realize that he is missing something, even if he is completely not-guilty about it.

Violin bow tortoise and gold Eugène Sartory

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Obviously I apologize to the Master for my tiny plagiarism, but it fits perfectly to many craftsmen who worked in the penultimate historical period of French bowmaking. These, too, as Vitangelo Moscarda, had "one " fire brand, that turned in "no one " through the "hundred thousand" hands of those who had worked on it.

Violin bow Eugéne Cuniot aka "Cuniot-Hury"

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The bowmaking history, especially the French one , is characterized by the presence of families who handed down the job from father to son , they changed shape from creaftmen into small companies, which solidified remaining on the market for more than a century as the Bazins. Well, even if the Thomassins were three of them and they all came from the same family strain, their work development is very special.

Violin bow in ebony and gold Claude Auguste Thomassin

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Superficially the Vignerons may appear as one of the many craftsmen families who worked in the French bowmaking world in the nineteenth century, where fathers trained the sons who would have carried on the profession. And, in a sense, it is like this for them as well, but in a unique way.


Cello bow André Vigneron "Fils" 1905/10

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The change of style and mechanic introduced in the mid-50s of the nineteenth century by Francois Nicolas Voirin was indeed a real revolution in which only a few managed to not be involved , Joseph Arthur Vigneron Pére was one of these!

Violin bow Joseph Arthur Vigneron Pére

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Very often in my previous blogs, I dwelled in dealing with the style of each individual author thoroughly: bevels, throats, wedges, sight defects, etc.., etc.., etc. .. In other ones I explained what are the differences between an ancient and a modern curve, completely forgetting to talk you about the connecting link between stylistic and mechanic: the geometry.


Violin head - Dominique Peccatte


Violin head - Eugéne Sartory

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Even for this family of craftsmen, such as Peccatte's one but with less damage, one tends to confuse or hide with tricks aimed at distorting reality, who really are the authors of the bows, gathering them all under the big umbrella of the surname LAMY. But while Peccattes were more or less all relatives, among LAMYS there is also an intruder!

Hippolyte Camille Lamy - Violin Bow

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Studying bowmaking history, as after all all human manifestations, we realize that there are key characters who act as a link between various historical periods, without whom the evolution would have been much slower or would even have stopped. Joseph Alfred Lamy "Père" is a classic example.

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What you see below, besides being a beautiful violin bow, it represents for me a small reason of satisfaction, and now I will tell you the story from the beginning.

Violin bow by Jean Joseph Martin 1880/85

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This week we play a new game: the mysterious object.
What are they and especially what are the two strange objects shown in the photo here below?
The solution is inside the article !

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The same musician who allowed me to take a photo to the magnificent Tourte I spoke about last week has, poor guy, even this another wonderf

Dominique Peccatte 1840-45; his golden age!

Viola bow - Dominique Peccatte 1840 - 45

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 Only six. The father of our discipline, Francois Xavier Tourte, has not made many bows, but only six are those ones that reached us today. Here I show just one, probably the most beautiful among them.

Viola bow Francois Xavier Tourte 1820 - 25

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I added another valuable piece to my photo collection. The musician who gave me the opportunity to take a pic of the beautiful Dominique Peccatte we spoke about last week, also keep, poor man , a magnificent Nicolas Rémy Maire, so ... here it is!

Violin bow by Nicolas Rémy Maire 1855 - 60

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A piece of history! What I was lucky enough to examine and photograph last week, is a real piece of French bowmaking history. Not only Dominique Peccatte, but the most gruesome, true, and pure one !

Violin bow by Dominique Peccatte 1830-35

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After having closed the doors of the famous Bazin family , with the death of Charles Alfred occurred in 1987, we take once again a step back to deal with what can rightly be considered the first true multi-national of instruments; the YAMAHA of the nineteenth century!

Violin bow by J.T.L.

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Charles Nicolas, which might be called the Great , is now an old Grandpa, who spends his days in a corner in his workshop handling horsehair and carrying out small restorations. It is precisely from that corner of the lab he owned and that was handed over to his son that we start telling the last chapter about the history of one of the long-lived bowmakers family ; over 140 years of activity !

Cello bow by Charles Louis Bazin, branded "Vanelli"

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 "How can we speak of the man who is the source of so many of bows of such good quality, without once again evoking Mirecourt and its primordial importance for violinmaking and for French bowmaking?" J.F Raffin - "L'Archet"

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After having left behind the ancient period, consisting of individual craftsmen and workshops of excellence, this week we begin to talk about a new phase, just as important for the French bowmaking, that one of the families. We start from the most long-lived one : the Bazins.

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Often, as it happens for some other fields, when I study the most important texts about bowmaking history , I find some strange reticence, as if they were not telling me everything. The closer you get to the historical period of Lupot II, the ticker is the fog !

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As promised, this week I will show you the other ancient bow, I had the luck to study so to take a picture of it with no rush. This is one of the most beautiful Pajeot I have ever seen.

Violin bow by Etienne Pajeot - 1812

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Not so many words are needed to describe the latest two works by M° Daniel Tobias Navea Vera, as you will see, pictures speak for themselves. It is however dutiful to express a thank to whom gave the incipit to the making of these two wonders; Merci monsieur Millant !

Cello bow by  D.T. Navea Vera 

Violin bow by  D.T. Navea Vera

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During my long wandering , I met two bows of rare beauty. A magnificent Pajeot and the bow I'm going to show you, one of the most beautiful among my favorites: Jean Pierre Marie Persoit.

Violin bow J.P.M. Persoit 1820 ca.

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Last night I was having a chat with master Ilya Grubert, who asked me why some big bowmakers of the Tourtian age, are unknown to most musicians. The answer is simple, the relationship that existed between Francois Xavier Tourte and his Contemporaries was very similar to that one between Beethoven and Schubert: - I am the God composer personified and you are just a poor composer of dancing halls songs ! -

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After more than fifty years of business and having really created the great school of French bows, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume dies on March 19, 1875, bringing with him the grandeur of an era that no one will touch anymore !

Violin bow by Dominique "Justin" Poirson 1890 ca.

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Before beginning to talk about one of the first "craftsmen families", I express my thanks to the "Scuola di Musica di Fiesole" which hosted the conference dedicated to the bows and to Dr. Adriana Verchiani who kindly invited me . Furthermore, since one thing leads to another one, I held another one at the "Conservatory Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina" in Cagliari. So I thank also the director of the institute, Prof. Maria Gabriella Artizzu for the hospitality and his friend Francesco Pilia for the kindness, resourcefulness, and curiosity!

Violin bow by Charles Claude Husson

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At first I had thought to title the blog as : J.J. Martin, the poor visionary. Quite fitting title for a part of his life. Both statements are true, it was very poor and even visionary, even if they are not sufficient to describe the work of this last Great one .

 Violin Violin bow Jean Joseph Martin ca. 1870

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Surely some of you know Miles Davis' words: "Jazz died in 1960." Well, believe it or not, even with short resuscitations, watching the bowmaking history, one gets the idea that the bow is dead, obviously not in 1960, but exactly a century earlier!

Violin bow J.P.M. Persoit

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If what my my father used to say is true, that the sons of the cats chase mice, it is also true that sometimes the sons do not run as fast as the fathers and the mice run away!

Charles Francois Peccatte

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The first thing that strikes the attention when you look at  Francois Nicolas  Voirin's work, is with no doubt the huge development in both style and mechanic he could accomplish. Later on , a second look at his bows, reveals the enormous sensitivity that this man had for the "balance of the shape."

Violin bow F.N.Voirin 1870 ca.

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Some time ago, talking with a friend about the bad luck that seems to haunt people, he said to me "- Dear Paul, bad luck is just the excuse of the losers" -Well, I do not totally agree with him, but it is certain that having an exceptional talent, is very often not enough to make life easier and Nicolas Rémy Maire is a clear demonstration of this theory.

Fire Brand "Maire

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 "Which bow do you play with  ? "-  "A Peccatte". "-Yes, but which one ? -" "-Peccatte Peccatte-". "- Dominique? -" "No, not this name, the son -". "- "Well, Dominique Peccatte had no sons, but two females only ! -". "-The brother, it is his brother Charles" "-Excuse me, but Charles was the grandson, his brother was François." "- Well, however, it is always a Peccatte, isn't it ? -". No, and now I'll explain it to you in the same way I did with the owner of that bow! 


Silver and ebony violin bow Francois Peccatte 1845/50

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...and finally here they were !

It has been quite a long gestation, but it was really worth it. Here displayed are M° Navea Vera's three latest creations.

Violin bow in ebony, silver and tortoise by D.T. Navea Vera

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"La valeur n'attend pas le nombre des années! " These are the words used by M° J.F. Raffin to describe Joseph Henry who arrived in Paris in 1837 at the age of fourteen, one year in advance than his thirtyish colleague Pierre Simon.

Violin bow by J. Henry in silver and tortoise ca.  1860

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Excellent craftsmanship , even if not like Him. Great sense of proportions and geometry, but less intense. Pierre Simon is undoubtedly the only one, after Peccatte of course, who was closer to the great master, although he never reached his level. We can consider him the other side of Dominique Peccatte: the nice one !

Silver and ebony violin bow by Pierre Simon, 1855 ca

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Children, brothers, nephews, grandparents, the Malines are really a multitude and almost everyone, had to do with a plane!

Cello bow by Nicolas Maline

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Following nor the Gregorian, neither the Republican calendar , this latter much loved by French revolutionaries, but the Vuillaume's one , this week's post should be dedicated to Nicolas Maline. In a chronological order, he arrived first by J.B.V. 's workshop , but unfortunately I was unable to collect any photo of his bows so I hope to succeed in it next week. So, now: Le Grand Adam !

Violin bow with ebony button without coulisse and slide

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Talking about Fonclause, the great masters rank him one or two levels below his well known colleagues we already mentioned, such as : F.X. Tourte, J.P.M. Persoit, E.Pajeot, and, of course, D. Peccatte.  But even if it is undeniable that he never reached those heights, it is true that his works own a unique vibrancy and lightness.

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As you already know, in order to establish the authenticity of a bow , the experts base on objective criteria such as the stylistic choices and the sight defects of the craftsman. But the confirmation of this authenticity comes mainly from the character that these forms express and that one of Dominique Peccatte was so strong and dominant, so that although he adopted more than a style, his bows are unmistakable.

Dominique Peccatte's  violin bow in gold and tortoise

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Brilliant, histrionic, aggressive and angry: Dominique Peccatte, the most controversial and envied craftsman in the history of modern bowmaking.

Violin bow Dominique Peccatte

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Describe the character of a person like a Vuillaume, is not an easy task, as already said. Since he is not a craftsman, it is not easy to observe his physical work and get an idea, so I will try to describe him by telling his actions.

 Violin Bow J.P.M. Persoit 1820 ca.

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The instrument depicted in the photo is 3.85 meters high, you change the notes by pressing a button panel located on the upper right side of the instrument, while to pull the bow you have to climb on the stool placed at its base. Whoelse but Vuillaume's could have ever thought of a such a Pachyderm-sized instrument ?


Vuillame's Octobass

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I tried to find an adjective able to describe in a word, the peculiarities of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume's character: wise, scrupulous, machiavellian . But it all seems not to complete the picture of this man. So to find out more, you'are compelled to read the whole article!

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As already mentioned last week, Etienne Pajeot was a Genius equal to few others, such as Persoit and Dominique Peccatte. Although if slightly different, he is a genius with the scooter !


Etienne Pajeot cello bow 1820/25

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Etienne Pajeot is recognized as one of those who did some of most beautiful work of is time, and, far from the great Masters of the capital as he was, it remains a mystery as to where he drew his inspiration. He was perhaps a genius. (J.F. Raffin)

Etienne Pajeot - Cello bow ca. 1815

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Whatever you do in your life, your being will be seen in your work. It is for this reason that Jean Pierre Marie Persoit is one of my two favorite bowmakers.

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"The bowmaking of Jean Pierre Marie Persoit alongside that of Francois Xavier Tourte represents the pinnacle of an unsurpassed epoch in this domain. Each bow of these two great makers is a quite individual creation."

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A few years ago, Pierre Guillaume told me that the best time in the professional life of a bowmaker is that one going from thirty to forty-five years. After this age, in his opinion, the eyes and hands of the craftsmen, begin a slow but inexorable decline, affecting their bows as well. From my personal experience I can say that I know at least one of them who is now even more than fifty but has a very high level of construction, even better than when he was thirty. But to think that the bow you see below was built by a person older than seventy years , induce to believe seriously in extraterrestrials!

Head violin bow by F.X. Tourte

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If, from one side, the story of modern bowmaking was written by few enlightened one, on the other side it was made by many fledgelings willing ones, as you can see.   

Bazin's Workshop

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Why are the bows French, the violins Italian and philosophy Greek ? Because there were Tourte, Stradivari and Socrates . This logic can't be faulted !

Francois Xavier Tourte

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If there was an "Order" of the bass players, I think I would deserve in full the expulsion of it and even exile. During this year I talked mainly about bows for violin, viola, and cello and I've not even dedicated an article to the instrument that I studied for almost twenty years, the double bass. What a shame!

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This week I will try to meet Claudio's request, he is a cello teacher who, after having read and enjoyed the posts on this blog, asked me to write one about rosin, a topic that indeed I overlooked. Dear Claudio, I hope to meet you soon and good reading, this article is dedicated to you!

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 These are two cars. Both have four wheels, a steering wheel, a brake pedal, an accelerator and an engine. But the difference is obvious: one is a 6000 (in fact, seen the results this year, an abundant 5700), the other is a 5100!


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was not possible to use the 6167, because it had a "cancer", but this beautiful 6067, however, was extremely healthy, and as you can see it was turned into a magnificent Bow. But if this stick in a way is a miracle, it is a curse on the other way !

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Pernambuco is a wonderful wood ! Tense and nervous, compact and carnal, full of colors ranging from amber yellow to black throughout a rainbow of endless shades. Its longitudinal fiber is incredibly straight and it interweaves with the long and even medullary rays,, making it look like a real fabric full of light, woven on a loom. A beautiful Pernambuco, is as a beautiful woman, but like women, the nicer you are, the more unpredictable you become ! "Ca va sans dire" as, in fact, a Frenchman would say.

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Even this week I am not going to slow down at all with the provocations therefore I borrowed a sentence by Pierre Boulez, that in 1951, after the recent passing of Arnold Schonberg gave this title to his article for the English magazine "The Score".  Now let me explain you why I have chosen it.


Pierre Boulez                                       Arnold Schonberg




This title is undoubtedly a work of art, even if unfortunately it is not mine, but by Nick Hornby that has entitled its last book in this way. I have found it on a stall in a motorway cafeteria, and here the beloved Nick has obtained his first victory; to be purchased stimulating with four words my natural-born desire to discover the reasons of such a provocative affirmation

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Reading the last article released by Eng. Simone Bianchi some doubts came to my mind:
I had always thought that you can define music, theater, dance, painting, sculpture, poetry, literature, architecture, photography as “art” ( Did I forget something? tell it to me as I do not want to offend anyone omitting anything..however, the concept is clear).

But what makes these disciplines become art while other man's creations don't ?

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What is Art? Science? Nice problem. There's a whole part of Philosophy, Aesthetics, which takes care of Art, and another, Epistemology, which takes care of Science.

Moreover there's our perception which can recognize what engenders a sensation and what doesn't.

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- Hijack -    

Pssst! Careful... don't tell Paolo. This week he's away and I've taken over his blog. Too many accesses and temptation has been too strong. I'm hijacking his space and I'll use it as my private stage. That's a bore to be always serious and never tell anything personal about life. Until he's back, his blog's mine. He'll never know. He deserves it, so' he'll learn not to leave his password on a post-it under the lab's desk. I'll leave all in order and my actions will go undetected...

Note: it contains vaguely futurist concepts and one (1) bad word.

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 I often hear the musicians say: " I do not care if my bow is original or not, I feel fine with it and that is enough." I have nothing to object provided that the bow has been paid the right price , otherwise you may face bad surprises!

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Everybody working in the bow making field knows that often, or better almost always, the mounting that is carried out when the violin is finished, is absolutely a temporary one. In the early months of use, an instrument is subject to a constant transformation and, I would say that the change of the audible sound changes even minute by minute, in the very early hours. That is why the set up should be done frequently, at least in the early years. Although a little bit more complicated, it is possible to carry out a set up on the bows as well.

But,  first of all,  it is dutiful to thank some friends of ours !

D.T.Navea Vera violin in ebony, gold, tortoiseshell, and "heart shaped mother of pearl

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"But what's the weight of this bow?". I assembled a list of the most useless questions I am constantly asked by the musicians who try our bows, and it won the Golden Globe !

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During this period some Viola bows came out from the workshop D.T. Navea Vera & Sarri , including the one shown in the photos. Consequently, as business man of the company, I have got in touch with many violists therefore I could realize that none of them ever heard about Prof. Kurt Goedel ! 

Viola bow in gold, ebony and tortoise "DT Navea Vera

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The bow you can see here below, is the latest born at Navea Vera & Sarri's , and it was for us a real pride. From one side because Maestro Navea Vera has done a wonderful job, but especially because sticks at this level are about 1 out of 10,000!
This piece of wood owns all the qualities that a unique material should have, it really has everything! Sound velocity, density, color and, above all, a perfect cut !

Head of cello bow D.T. Navea Vera, with visible medullar rays on both sides

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Already while writing the latest article, I had the impression of giving a bit too much technical knowledge for granted , therefore I decided to write a new article trying to give some more indents so, even not technicians ones, could be able to understand everything in a proper way. At this point I called the graphic designer, with whom I work and asked him to make some drawings that could help me to expose the topic, and as I tried to explain him what he had to draw, I got the confirmation that this article is absolutely indispensable!


Carubelli violin, Maestro Stefano Conia "The Young"

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Currently accepted since several years now, by carbon is actively entered to become a part of the musicians' lives. But the feeling has so far not been so idyllic, at least for the moment being. From my side, as a musician, but above all as technical, I decided to express my opinion.!

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This week, if you allow me , I want to make an exception to the rule. I will not talk about curves, sound, mechanic, but I will deal with a particular bow, or better, three to be more precise. 


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Often, when I face particularly technical topics here on the blog, the greatest difficulty I encounter is to explain the concepts in a clear way to my readers. For this purpose I often use similes, simplifications and examples, and believe it is quite a hard job for me.

For instance, while speaking about the curve last week without finding a proper analogy, and I preferred to release a short article with some hints about the evolution of bow making

Now I finally found the right parallelism: Ivan Lendl and John Patrick McEnroe !


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Here is, finally, the second and conclusive part of Eng. Simone Bianchi's article devoted to environmental acoustics. I hope these scientific issues have shed a little light on some base sound concepts, and this all can be useful to you in understanding some aspects of your work.

Many thanks to Simone for his kindness and to you all for your attention. Next weeks will see us speaking about bowmaking and particularly about the secrets of Mr. Peccatte and Mr. Sartory.







 I wonder if you realized it, but already from the introduction some phenomena begin to outline and they have to be taken into  a high consideration. For example, it is demonstrated by scientific measurements that the low frequencies arrive  much more easily than the high one. So, contrary to common thinking, in a large hall  the high frequencies will be at the worse.

And now a question: When you listen to a violinist in a hall that has a very defined sound on the whole extension of the registers, and where both low frequencies but even those high ones do not lack, what do you think he hears under his ear, a soft and pasty sound and or a dry and enamelled  one ?

For those who answered correctly the prize is ... having made a very important step forward in understanding the sound!

So long

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 As announced, this week we begin a series of three articles issued by Eng. Bianchi dedicated to the scientific study of the sound waves behavior produced in a closed environment. This first part is a discursive introduction to the next two ones that will be a little bit more technical. I understand that these issues might be difficult to understand for those unfamiliar with this field but I think that to understand what really happens in a concert hall, it's useful for any musician, so do not lose heart!

I profit the opportunity to announce that our workshop "Navea Vera & Sarri" recently added to its customers M° Boris Belkin. The Maestro has expressed his thanks for having let him know M° Navea Vera's bows, he bought one at once and ordered three more.


M° Boris Belkin

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After some weeks devoted to the topic of general acoustic, I decided to deal once again with a fundamental aspect of the bow: "The curve" .

In several posts dedicated to this subject, we tried to determine when the curve of a bow is properly carried out. Now we will try to deepen some secrets of the mechanic of the bow, and to do this we will ask for help to two monuments of the modern bowmaking: Peccatte and Sartory.

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This week, instead of the promised articles by Eng. Bianchi, I would like to indulge on the nice viola bows that blossomed during May thanks to Maestro Navea Vera and, since they are really too beautiful, I could not help showing them to you.

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As we saw last week, if  a hair change is done incorrectly, it can create significant sound emission problems.  But there are  some cases, unfortunately very common, in which  a badly  done reahairing can  be lead to irreparable damages.
You may object: "What has the opening photo to do with hair ?"... open the post and  you'll find out!

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A couple of weeks ago, a  customer of ours,  who lives in Vienna, called me  to tell  that she was   by a great French master  working  in her city that , after having replaced the horsehair,   said that  her bow was crooked and that this problem could not be solved  because the material used was not seasoned enough. A cold shiver went through my back. The wood we use is of course not fresh but seasoned and of a high quality, but you may also understand that when a craftsman, especially French, let you know such a thing it  means that the bow moved in an  abominable way. When  the bow came back to us, we felt reassured. The bow  actually moved, but the fault was not ours, but because of his  abominable rehairing.

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Before start talking about bows, it  is imperative to be more precise about one  thing. The sound of each instrument, i.e. That one which distinguish it,  does not come neither from the instrument, nor from the bow, but rather from his Soul.  If an instrumentalist  has a beautiful sound, it will remain the same  even using instruments and bows of poor quality, obviously  if he uses excellent ones , the result will not certainly be worse!

M° Oleksandr Semchuk

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What is  “Sound” ? In order to answer partially to this simple question, I have employed many years of my life, and although I was able to give some answers, the greater certainty that I have acquired, it is that it is so vague  not to allow nobody of being able to know the Sound  thoroughly.

Jakob Ludwig, second  cello  at  Teatro alla Scala

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We finally succeeded in  going out a bow-maker workshop with two bows ! After the post of last week, you surely wandered around as Ulysses from one workshop to the other looking for “ a stony Ithaca” but once you step on it, you will realize that you just did halfth of your task. You have to pass the final test....that one of the bow, obviously.   


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Here we are again, after the two  pieces posted by Simone to whom I repeat my thanks, I consider it as proper, at this point, to resume a little bit all the topics I dealt with until now. We have dealt with many topics about  the “Bow machine” we have checked the engine (sound velocity), the tyres ( curve), the structure (torsions and distorsions), we have tried to watch it and  to test it with a glance; we just have to come aboard and start a lap. !

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Mumble, mumble, mumble. As you can see from his expression in the picture,  Engineer Bianchi has pondered upon for a while  and decided to give us an article that could be a little less technical than the previous one, so that  even  people that are not expert in this field, can  better understand the topic issued last week.  

Thanks to Simone  for his helpful assistance and to you as well  for your patience.

So long







The  sly guy portrayed in this picture with me,  is the engineer Simone Bianchi.
Simone is one of the most  highly skilled experts in digital audio field  I ever knew and this week he wished  to issue for all of  us an interesting article about sound speed and  resonance  frequency, providing his  scientific demonstration.
The article you  are going to read, due its  technical contents, maybe is  not of  immediate understanding for everybody.  
Nevertheless I am  sure that  engineer Bianchi, will have nothing against  preparing   another article for next  week, aiming to deepen and clarify the topic "space-time decay of the sound" .  

So long






On the blog I often compared my colleague,  M° Navea Vera with some great figures of the past; Jean Pierre Marie Persoit, is my other favorite and in my opinion he is the one who mostly looks alike him. I understand that some of you might call me pretentious, and for this reason, the other night I enjoyed taking pictures for you of the last two creations by D.T.; Mars and Venus.

Venus; Ivory, gold and turtle

Mars; Ebony, gold and turtle





As advanced in the previous blog, one of the positive aspects of the high sound velocity we can find in a material, is that to this parameter corresponds a very high resonance frequency. This week , using practical examples, I will try to explain why this parameter is so important.





Before speaking about “The sound velocity” I take the opportunity to announce that  Atelier d'Archeterie has finally found its own rosin, born from the cooperation between us and Melos. You will find all details at the bottom of this article, but first of all we deal with "The sound velocity". 





In these days I received from John a copy of his last released record, “Remembrance” and,  as promised to you, even if it is not my job, I will try to write a small review. But first of all, I wish to thank him for having mentioned us in the credits of his latest job.

Brian Blade, John and Joe Lovano





In a previous article devoted to the comparison between ancient and modern bows, I advanced that the next topic would have been “the velocity of sound”. Thinking about it, I decided that before running, we better learn how to walk. Before explaining why the parameter of sound velocity quickness throughout the fibers is so important in bowmaking, I will try to describe the different woods that has been used during several time periods and which were the evaluation criteria that led to the choice of pernambuco as an irreplaceable material.





I wanted to devote this post to a topic we started last week while talking about certificates  (THE CERTIFICATES OF AUTHENTICITY);  ancient bows. We will analyse, in particular, the strongest and weakest points of this kind of instruments.

Violin bow Persoit





The choice to use an ancient bow instead of a modern one, is obviously related to the way of playing, the feeling and the idea of sound that a single musician owns. In case you choose to play with an ancient bow, it is necessary to be aware of particular details so to avoid bad and "expensive surprises".

Violin bow in turtle and gold – D. Peccatte





As already announced in the previous post THE CURVE AND THE FORCE many musicians, even the cleverest ones, while trying a bow, sometimes even before playing with it, ask questions such as “Nice bow, but how much does it weight ??”. As already told, among many useful questions they could ask, they choose the most useless, because weight has nothing to do  with force or mechanic. Furthermore no musician can feel the weight of a bow, he feels the weight on the point, i.e. the balance.





This week, Instead of speaking about the problems occurring when a bow had too much or too little curve, I would like to talk about my visit to the Mount Olympus

Mr. J.F. Raffin – current founder of French bowmaking





In the previous blog I tried to explain you how to recognize a properly done curve. This week we will start to deepen another topic, this one as well strictly related to the curve: i.e. “the force  of a bow”





As already announced, this week we start  dealing  with one out of two of the most important aspects in the bow: “the curve”. there are only two kinds of curve in bow-making: those that are properly done and those that are done in a wrong way.





As already mentioned in the previously posted blog, exception made for rough construction errors by the craftsman, all bows that show a torsion surely turn the head towards left, and in order to explain you why it may occur, I will ask for help to a plant that apparently has little to share with bows : “The sunflower”.





Whenever you watch bows to ascertain if they are crooked, you will find  out that some  of them will be clearly crooked, while other just seem like that but they are not. Most probably they are twisted .





Before speaking about the topic of this week "the torsion",  Iwould like to introduce you the latest output of a friend /cutomers of ours. The new CD by John Patitucci with Joe Lovano - Sax and Brian Blade - Drums has recently been released. I had the plesasure to attend his concert and listen to some pieces.As soon as the new record is in my hand, I  promise I will publish a thorough review. 

If anybody wishes  to know more, you can have access to some music samples by clicking on the picture inside the posted blog.  





From the very moment I was pondering about writing an “info blog” about the Bow, I was wondering, as well, how to start with the description of such a vast and complex world.

I think that in order to understand a bow and, especially how it works, it is necessary to define the basic essence of this instrument.

Tourte’s violin bow – head

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Hello everybody and welcome in my English blog!

After 1 year from the issues in the Italian version, I am glad to start the issues in the English version hoping it will have the same success and faithful followers of the Italian one. All comments will highly appreciated, I hope you will enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them. I will be glad if you would subscribe to my mailing list so to receive constant updates about any new issue.

This small space that I have inserted within our site has been born from an ascertainment on the spot: during the years I devoted to bow making, I realized that those one using bows, i.e. musicians, very often know very little about the object they hold in their right hand.

This blog is specifically devoted to the musicians. Periodically, I will publish articles regarding wood, hair, working techniques, several schools and all topics surrounding such an eluding object that too often turns out to be deceptive.

My first issue is the letter that a dear friend and a world known jazz player sent for the inauguration of our workshop; Mr. John Patitucci, and I profit of this opportunity to thank him for the beautiful appraisal words that he has addressed to our workshop.

So long