Along with modern luthiers, today’s bowmakers are working at as high a level as we have seen, even next to the accomplishments of acknowledged past masters.

More than any other instrumentalist, a string player needs to work closely with the maker, adjuster, and repairer of his or her instruments. Should the craftsperson be unable to hear their nuances of sound and feel their subtlest responses, they will be unable to optimize the qualities inherent in the instrument or bow. Hence, a maker with professional musical experience has an advantage.

Years of conservatory training in performance and composition, combined with extensive experience with countless numbers of the world’s greatest bows, have brought me to a unique point of understanding which, I believe, distinguishes me in my field. I am indebted to my teachers of bowmaking, principally William Salchow, Stéphane Tomachot, Mitsuaki Sasano, and my colleague and mentor Yung Chin, as well as the many great players who have shared their insights with me.

The art of making a really fine playing bow begins with the maker’s judiciousness in wood selection, the distribution of weight and balance in the bow, and the ability to perfect the execution of the stick’s taper and curve—or cambre. Beyond these matters, a clear concept of tone and playability must inform the final adjustment of the bow.

A great bow should also be beautiful to the eye and a pleasure to the touch. Perhaps some players reject these aesthetic requirements, playing on unappealing bows that they insist play brilliantly; but it is my belief that the aesthetics of music should be similar to the qualities of the instruments used by artists who produce it, the aesthetic ideals of music and its tools matched.

My training and conviction naturally leads me to approach an ideal of bowmaking which combines beauty as a sculptural expression combined with tone and nuanced response: the work of the great masters of the Early French School of Bowmaking.

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New violinbows, bowmaker in Cambridge MA
Violinbowmaker David Hawthorne in Boston MA