Bass Bows

Jun 2, 2020
Bass Bows
  • Some popular makers, and their models.
    Arcus - Made in Germany. [[2]]
    Models ranked by mounting (nickel, silver and gold with snakewood) and stick quality in
    French or German

    Codabow - Made in Minnesota, USA. [[3]]
    • Revelation - Ebony, Sterling Silver
    • Infinity - Xebony ™ Engineered Ebony, Nickel Silver
    • Metropolitan (codesigned by David Gage) [[4]]
    French and German models available for all types.

    Carbow - Made in France. [[5]]
    • Carbow models - black, or brown stick, ebony or snakewood frogs in various weights and frog heights.
    • Roberson's model - snakewood frog
    • Other custom models- Gary Karr, UpDown (hybrid), Renaud Garcia Fons, etc.
    There are also many less expensive shop branded carbon fibre options available from retailers (Lemur Music, String Emporium etc.)

    Shop Branded and other Workshop Bows(top)

    Shop Branded

    These bows are sold under the retailer's brand, but are produced off-site (usually imported from workshops). A Wide range of quality of materials and workmanship may exist. A few examples are -

    • String Emporium - Brazilwood and Pernambuco models. Bows include fiberglass case and rosin.
    • Claude Marchand - House stamp sold by Thomas Martin. Pernambuco bows with silver fittings. French and German models available.
    • Upton Bass- Brazilwood, Brazilwood Select and Pernambuco bows available in French and German models.
    • Lemur Music - Brazilwood, Bignoia wood, Pernambuco, and Snakewood bows available in French and German models. 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 sized models are available for Brazilwood bows.
    Workshops branded

    These bows are sold under the workshop's brand. Bows from one workshop may range in quality-the quality of the stick is sometimes indicated by the number of stars on the brand (common for German workshops). The name on the stamp is usually the founder or current head of the workshop. A few examples are -


    • Arcos Brazil [8]
    • Marco Raposo, BRAZIL [9]

    • Dorfler/ Doerfler?
    • Roderich Paesold [10]
    • Hartmut Knoll/Knoll family [11]
    • Jens Paulus/Paulus family [12]
    • H. Richard Pfretzschner/ Pfretzschner family [email protected] [13]
    • Horst Schicker
    • Herbert Wanka [14]
    • K. Gerhard - Roland G. Penzel/Penzel family [15]
    • Seifert

    • Ary

    Contemporary bass bow makers(top)

    Prices and price ranges are approximate and in US Dollars. Prices apply to the makers' standard offerings - ie. Silver or Nickel Silver (not for special materials - Gold, ivory or tortoise shell etc.) Some of this list is organized roughly into price ranges to simplify research.

    Any prices have been gathered from various websites, word of mouth or other means and may no longer be accurate. Contact the makers or dealers directly for current prices.



    Price range unknown

    Recently Deceased(top)

    Celebrated bow makers who passed away in the last 25 years or so. Their bows in the last half century are much sought after.

    • Percival Wilfred Bryant, UK (1902-1994)
    • Arthur R. Bultitude, UK (1908-1990)
    • Joseph Kun, Ottawa, CANADA (1930-1996)
    • Giovanni Lucchi, ITALY (1942-2012)

    Competitions and Awards(top)

    Violin Society of America (VSA) competition [[16]]

    Bows are judged on workmanship. [[17]]

    The following is a list of Gold medals awarded for bass bows by year (no gold medals awarded in years not listed) - * indicates Hors Concours status

    1978 Joseph Kun, Paul Martin Siefried
    1980 Paul Martin Siefried*
    1982 Joseph Kun*
    1986 Jean Grunberger
    1994 Rodney D. Mohr
    1996 David Forbes, Rodney D. Mohr
    2000 Pierre-Yves Fuchs
    2004 Pierre-Yves Fuchs*, Rodney D. Mohr*
    2010 Christophe Collinet
    2012 Emmanuel Carlier, Susan Lipkins
    2014 Emmanuel Begin & Eric Fournier, Susan Lipkins
    2018 Victor Bernard

    Concours Etienne Vatelot[[18]]

    Awards in the Bass Bow Catagory

    • Grand Prize: Jean Marc PANHALEUX (France)
    • 2d Prize: Jean GRUNBERGER (France)
    • 3rd Prize: Jean Jacques AUGAGNEUR (France)
    • Grand Prize of the City of Paris : Jean GRUNBERGER (France)
    • Second Prize : Sylvain BIGOT (France)
    • Third Prize : Rodney D. MOHR (United States)
    • Grand Prize of the city of Paris: Pierre-Yves Fuchs
    • Certificat of merit: Bernd-Michael DÖLLING Germany
    • Certificat of merit: Katia LOUIS France
    • Certificat of merit for contemporary design: Boris FRITSCH France
    • Certificat of merit for contemporary design: Christophe COLLINET France
    • Second Prize, Boris Fritsch

    International Society of Bassists (ISB) [[19]]

    Awards in the Bow Catagory (only two convention years)


    Six French bows, three German bows entered

    Certificate of Workmanship:
    • Eric Lane, French Bow
    • Eric Lane, German Bow
    Silver Medal for Workmanship
    • Thomas Dignan, French Bow
    • Susan Lipkins, French Bow
    Gold Medal for Workmanship
    • Thomas Dignan, German Bow


    Two bows entered

    Certificate of Workmanship
    • Steven Reiley
    • Gilles DuHaut
    Convention Favorite Honorable Mention
    • Gilles DuHaut
    Convention Favorite
    • Steven Reiley

    History of Bass Bows and Historical makers(top)

    Early Bass bow history, like the bows of other string instruments, is a mixed bag of historical styles. Seeing as there were a variety of sizes of instruments- D, G violones, large cellos and church basses, bass instruments big and small and in between, there were different bows made to suit each playing style and instrument size.
    In Italy, at the time of Correlli, the famous violinist and composer, players used a bow with a pronounced outward curve. This Italian bow was used by all members of the violin family. In some regions, even cellists (who were formerly Gamba players) continued to play with these kinds of bows underhanded. This kind of bow was the ancestor of the style of bow Dragonetti used and developed throughout his career.
    Before the advent of the adjustable frogs with screw, players frequently played with some contact with the hair so they could regulate the tension. In overhanded bowing, the players grasped the bow from the hair with the thumb, while underhanded bowing was done with a finger pulling down on the hair.
    By the middle of the 18th century, the baroque bow had developed to include an adjustable frog that slid on the stick to regulate the tension of the hair. Bows with a long, low Pike head are noticably less powerful at the tip - uneven down and up bows. This suited the music of the time.
    As playing styles and taste changed, players required bows more capable of sustaining longer phrases. Various models were developed, fueled by demands of the composers and performers. One design, brought from Germany to London by violinist Wilhelm Cramer, had a head and frog of equal height and a stick straight, or with a slight inward curve. These bows play bouncing strokes well as well as Sustain better than the older baroque bows. Viennese players such as J.M. Sperger would have used a bow in a similar style made of European wood.

    The influencial 'Cramer' model was taken up and gradually modified by John Dodd in England and Nicolas Leonard Tourte and his brother Francois Xavier until they arrived at many innovations that define the modern bow as we continue to see today. The famous violinist Viotti worked with bowmakers to develop a bow with a more concave camber bent into it by heat. Around this time, Pernambuco was discovered to have excellent tonal properties as well as the memory to hold this bending. Also the lighter weight and tonal color was a better match with metal mounted frogs than amourette or ironwood. The sound of the Viotti bow was richer and enabled longer, more dramatic phrases than the baroque or Cramer models had. The form of the head had become more or less what we see today. Frogs began to be made with a metal ferrel to fix the ribbon of hair, and by the early 19th century, bows reached a form pretty much as they appear today. The evolution of the bow was complete....
    Except it wasn't. Not at all for us bassists! Unlike the violin, viola and cello, whose dimensions had been fixed more or less since Stradivarius, bassists had, and continue to use, instruments that range in size radically. Regional playing styles, overhand and underhanded bowing, as well as instrument and ensemble sizes varied as wildly as the bows players chose to use.
    Dragonetti, who made his career in England, brought with him and older type of Italian bow - very short with a very strong articulated style of play. Over his career he modified the bow to be longer and with a less extreme curve and there was an addition of two silver rings. The 'Dragonetti' bow was very widely used in England until the turn of the 20th century and was exported to France and Germany and had some effect on the development of the bows there.
    Bottesini had a great influence on the perception of the overhand style of playing.
    Simandl experimented with different French and German style bows, perportedly using a bow by Jacob Eury fitted with a long, German style button. It was thought that he experimented with overhanded bowing as well on the same stick. Between his experimentation and German craftsmen training in France (Pfretzschner), the modern German bow was fixed in the current form we know today, blending elements of both German and French design.
    The changing role of the bass in orchestras of increasing size and the rapid change in musical aesthetic into the age of Romanticism led to different views of what an ideal bow was - or even ideal bows, as generally for orchestra, players opted for much shorter heavier sticks than we use today, while at the same time perfering longer bows for Solo performance. In Germany, as continues today, the preferance was generally for longer bows.

    Weights and lengths Historicaly:
    "-Luigi Rossi (Bottesini's teacher) and G. Anglos wrote in favor of a bow stick of about 68 cm.
    - C. Montanari towards 1850 advocated a bow about 65 cm and weighing not more than 156 grams, as both heavier and lighter bows we reportedly detrimental to the production of good tone.
    - Giovanni Bottesini in 1869 favored a bow length of 55 cm for orchestra music, it's weight being in proportion to the thickness of the strings, and 70 cm for solos.
    - Isaia Billè in 1928 recommended a stick of 60 to 65 cm for orchestral music and of 70 to 80 cm for Solo playing.
    - T.A. Findeisen in 1938 advised a bow weight between 125 and 135 grams. " (Paul Brun, A New History of the Double Bass)

    Around the turn of the 20th century, the models, weights and lengths were more or less normalized by the emergance of the new workshops in both France and Germany that produced large numbers of trade bows for sale in shops. Still, more than any other string instruments, basses are still played with a Wide variety a weights and lengths.

    Historical Bow Makers


    Francois Xavier Tourte (1747-1835) - Although not known for making bass bows, he produced at least one bass bow. This bow, probably made in 1824, was auctioned on June 1st, 2000 for $69,953. The designs of the frog and head closely resemble Tourte's cello bows. The bow is 165 grams. It is in a museum collection owned by the French government.

    Jacob (Nicolas) Eury

    Nicolas Maline(1822-1877) [[21]]
    The example in Chris Brown's Discovering Bows for the Double Bass is a very short, heavy bow with a rather high frog (59 cm, 166g, frog 37-38mm high)

    Francois Voirin (1833-1885)
    A very influential bowmaker who worked for JB Vuillaume. His approach to camber and graduation, increasing the camber in the upper third of the bow, had a strong influence on the bow makers who followed - particularly Lamy, Sartory and Morizot workshop. On the heavy side.

    Charles Peccatte (1850-1920)

    Alfred Joseph Lamy (1850-1919)

    Vigneron Family

    Joseph Arthur (1851-1905)

    Andre (1881-1924)

    Eugene Sartory (1871-1946)

    Louis Gillet (1891-1970)

    Bazin Family

    Charles Nicolas II -C.N. (1847-1915)

    Charles Louis - Louis (1881-1953)

    Charles Alfred - Charles (1907-1987)

    Claude Thomassin (1870-1942)

    Fetique Family

    Victor (1872-1933)
    Made many sought after bass bows. Usually on the shorter and lighter side.

    Jules (1875-1951)

    Louis Morizot (1874-1957)
    Morizot workshop -
    Employed and trained many makers.
    The workshop was efficient and prolific and the abundance of bows produced led to a standardization of length for modern French bows.

    Ouchard Family

    Emile Francois -Francois (1872-1951 or 1934)

    Emile August - E.A. ( 1900 -1969 )

    Bernard (1925 - 1981)

    Andre George Richaume (1905-1966)

    Marcel Lapierre (1907-1979)


    Dodd Family (circa 1700-1800)

    Samuel Allen (1848-1905)
    Models include late Dragonetti and modern overhand models.

    Tubbs family
    James Tubbs
    Made both Dragonetti and overhand models.

    Percival Wilfred Bryant (1902-1994)

    Arthur Bultitude (1908-1990)


    Pfretzschner Family
    Herman Richard - was one of the last bowmakers to work for Vuillaume. Returned to Markneukichen in 1880 to establish his own shop. In this time the modern German bow model was established combining elements of German bows and French including elements of style, camber and length.

    Albert Nurnberger

    Dölling Family (since 1898)

    Ludwig Otto- Otto (1878-1966)

    Kurt (1902-1952)

    Heinz Otto - Heinz (1913-2001)

    Bernd (b. 1942)

    Michael (b. 1968)

    Otto Hoyer


    Westbury Park Strings Dictionary of Famous Bow Makers [[22]]
    Paul Brun - A New History of the Double Bass
    Christopher Brown - Discovering Bows for the Double Bass
    An interesting blog exploring the history of bowmaking -
    Website of a bow dealer and collector including brief bio of many important makers-
    A blog about bowmaking by Charles Espey-

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