Violin Bow: In Search of the Perfect


For those who don't play any string instrument the violin bow is just a stick with some hair attached to it. But it is not!

It took bow makers and musicians centuries of experimenting with material, shape, length and weight until in the short classical period between 1785 and 1790 François Xavier Tourte, a French bow maker, in collaboration with the violin virtuoso G. B. Viotti, designed the model that is still in use.

François Xavier Tourte (1747 – 25 April 1835) is considered to be the most important figure in the development of the modern bow. He has often been called the Stradivari of the bow. His bow is the perfect tool to make countless different strokes, some of which had not even been used by violinists of that time. We can say that Tourte contributed to the development of violin technique and music written for the violin no less than musicians and composers did.

All Tourte's bows are made of pernambuco wood, the most usual, and so far the best, material for modern bows.

The trade of brazilwood or pernambuco is likely to be banned in the immediate future due to a dramatic decrease in the number of trees, creating a major problem in the bow-making industry which highly values this wood. This encouraged the makers to look for a substitute, and it turned out to be impossible to find any plant producing wood of the same quality. The solution was found, but not in flora. 

Carbon fiber reinforced polymer became the substitute for the endangered plant in bow making.


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