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Sold two. Bought a Tom Owen (w/initial impressions)

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Chasarms, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    So I passed along my Brazilwood stick this morning. I was hoping to get a little more for it, but, it does now have a good home. And, a fellow student has been after me to sell back to him my B.O.U.O (bow of unknown origin) for a while. It was a definitely handmade of pernambuco, but with no stamp. That bow plays extremely well, is VERY quick and easy to start, but it was always a little bit light and bright for my bass and taste. A little quiet as well. It matches his bass better anyway, so it is again proudly his bow.

    Since I got everything with that "Oskar E. Meinel" stick (which I have been unable to discover any info on) straightened out (literally and figuratively) It has been the only bow I was interested in playing anyway. But I seem to be developing a serious fetish for bows, so I wanted to try something else.

    Last week, I requested a trial opportunity of a bow from Tom Owen. I have been playing it exclusively for about a week now. All of the other impressions that I read here about his work seem to be validated with my trial.

    First of all, out of the box, this bow is beautiful. It is finished in a very deep, bloody red color that I just love. The craftsmanship is outstanding. The bow is perfectly made.

    It's a round stick of standard length but has a unique feature in that the head is 22mm wide. This is significantly wider than any of the other three bows I had at home. Oddly though, the hair plug in the tip is no wider. The walls of the tip are just thicker. I guess it does make for stouter tip.

    It is haired with what he called salt and pepper, but it isn't like any S&P I have ever seen. It is mainly dark brown hair mixed with black, and it plays like black.

    As soon as you pick it up, you are a little overwhelmed. This bow is by far the heaviest French stick I have ever laid hands on. I thought my Meinel was heavy. And my teacher's bow is even heavier. This thing is a STICK. It goes 148 grams. That's outrageous for a French bow. I know a lot of people who prefer German hold like the heavy ones, but 148G for a French is just huge. That being said, I love it.

    The bow sounds absolutely giant. I can't get over how loud my bass is with this bow. The first five minutes I played it, my wife came it and ask why I was playing so loud.

    In addition to being louder, this bow is also quicker and easier to start than the Meinel. I'd stay it is as quick as the old B.O.U.O. With this comes a somewhat aggressive tone. Certainly not shrill or harsh, but nothing near the dark, smooth sweetness of the Meinel. This may be due to the hair. The Meinel is a redhead these days, but for all practical purposes, that hair plays like white.

    I'd call this bow the ultimate orchestra bow for my level of playing. It just cranks. If I was doing a solo, I'd probably grab the Meinel, but otherwise, this bow will get the work. I'm definitely keeping it. I plan on sending him the loot this afternoon.

    Lastly, there have been a few comments here at TBDB about the cost of the Owen bows and how they are undervalued. I absolutely agree, but in my conversations with him, I discovered something that contributes greatly to the affordability of these bows.

    He doesn't make is own frogs. He orders factory-milled frogs from Germany. They are very well made, fully lined and feature wonderful abalone eyes and slides. But, because of this, the fit of the frog and the screw is not quite to the caliber of a one-of-a-kind, master-crafted piece.

    He says he is capable, but it would double the cost of his work. I personally think it is a fair trade. I can't imagine owning a bow of this quality without some concession. With a hand-crafted and custom-fitted frog, this bow would easily get $1,500.

    Anyway, I'll probably have more to say about the bow as time goes on. But, I wanted to post something just to tip my hat to Mr. Owen and note the quality of his work and mention the quality of his person. He's a very nice man to speak with.

    If you are thinking of getting something else, you should try a Tom Owen bow. I'm unsure you can beat the value.
  2. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas

    People are now discovering what we in Oklahoma have known about Tom for a long time.

    There is a reason that a lot of players in the symphony have his bows.

    I agree with the thing about the frogs; he has done it that way from the beginning, and I don't care. It gives you a bow that should be about 2x the price for a lot less, with the same playability.

    My German is not particularly heavy, but it puts out the sound.

    Glad to hear you like the hair. That was my one complaint about his bass bows. Sounds like he changed it. He used to put this hair called "silver" on it. Supposed to be very high quality, but it seemed to work better for violin bows than for bass bows. I just couldn't get it to grip.

  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Actually, the verdict is out on the hair. It plays fine, especially considering it is new, but it's pretty edgy. It's obviously contributing to the huge sound, but if it was my only bow, I'd be thinking of changing it to something a little smoother and sweeter.

    But, for playing with other players, it's perfect.

    I'd love to switch the Owen bow to white and put Black on the Meinel, just to see to what extent the tonal properties are attributed the hair vs. the bow.

    That'll be while though. I've been fighting new hair on bows for two months straight. I'm ready for some predictability.