Looking for a great modern bow

December 23, 2007 at 11:59 PM · Has anyone played a bow by the French bow maker, Georges Tepho?

How would you compare his bows with the best American and French builders of today?

Replies (59)

December 24, 2007 at 01:43 AM · Sorry this posting came out so bad. I would edit it if I could. Bottm line: a few of his bows are available in the states right now, but I would like to get some input before I have one shipped to try it.

Commissioning a bow is a bit tricky becaause bows are so subjective, and commissioning is time counsumening.

My question: is he regarded as one of the top French bow makers? And has anyone played his bows?

December 24, 2007 at 05:15 AM · Hey Jan,

Did you try Mike's Gilles Nehr?

I don't know the maker you're talking about unfortunately.

December 24, 2007 at 05:45 PM · My highest recommendation for Tepho's work. I own one. It is a very refined bow, having wonderful facility and capable of eliciting many lovely timbres from my violin.

December 25, 2007 at 08:25 PM · Georges Tepho is a great French bowmaker. I have sold many of his bows to some fine players in Europe.

Good luck!

December 27, 2007 at 11:52 PM · Pieter I have played a Nher and I loved it.

December 28, 2007 at 08:23 PM · I play the Shostakovitch No.8 quartet with a Tepho viola bow. Great work, ofcourse I still like my Charles Bazin more(it was being rehaired)

December 28, 2007 at 11:04 PM · if you go to archives, you will see similar previous discussions on the subject:

1. "Shopping for contemporary bow-Can anyone give me a suggestion of contemporary bows I can purchase for $3000-4000?” (6/17/2005) http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=7103

2. "I'm looking around for a new violin bow, and am thinking of commissioning one from a modern maker." (8/14/2005) http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=7444

3. “Contemporary bow makers-Who are some of the best contemporary bow makers and how much do their bows cost?” (6/4/2006) http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=9221

4. “Looking for a great modern bow-Does anyone have any experience with great modern bows? Has anyone played some of the makers that I want to look into?” (2/27/2007) http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=10792

According to many fine players, LeCanu, E.Clement, S. Bigot, R. Morrow, I. Salchow are among the very top makers today.

December 29, 2007 at 01:50 AM · Carol, what is your opinion of Georges T, which she asked about?

December 29, 2007 at 03:48 PM · Hi Blake

You state 'of course I like my C.Bazin bow more'....I hope you are not comparing makers as Tepho is the far superior maker on all levels......

But of course your Bazin may play better for you...........

cheers

Sean

December 29, 2007 at 04:45 PM · Sean, what modern maker do you consider better than Tepho, or do you consider him the very best? Why is he not better known?

I am of course asking from a Maker stand point, because bows are very subjective.

I am not arguing, I am purely tyring to take advantage of your knowledge.

December 29, 2007 at 04:52 PM · I think Sean may have omitted a comma after the word "makers". Inserting one there would seem to clarify his meaning.

December 30, 2007 at 08:50 PM · Oliver...I'm Australian! English is my second language!

Andreas.....I have seen bows by all the major makers worldwide ( and sell for a few) and with out a moment of doubt Noel Burke stands head and shoulders above everyone else. Try and find a bow of his.....you will be impressed! As for why Tepho is not better known I can only say that his bows are fine but perhaps his marketing skills are limited.

December 30, 2007 at 09:41 PM · So you would put Bruke's bows above Tomochot, Le Canu, Espy, Tepho, Roland, Clemmence, Grandchamp, Fuchs, Sammuels, Hasley, Salchow, Wheling?

Why so? Again I am not arguing, I just want to know why you think this. Btw, many in Greece like Burke's bows a lot!

December 30, 2007 at 10:18 PM · yes. I would put him above these makers. His workmanship is near faultless as his choice of wood.

BUT in saying this the other bowmakers listed are also very fine makers and todays standards of bowmaking are probably the highest they have ever been in the history of bowmaking.

December 30, 2007 at 10:34 PM · according to the top players, that is not so.

Burke is a fine maker, but not above the others mentioned.

December 30, 2007 at 10:50 PM · Why do you say that Carol?

December 30, 2007 at 11:17 PM · Does "Carol" (especially in the first post) remind anyone of Mr. Filimonov, also from Seattle?

December 30, 2007 at 11:20 PM · it is him...

December 30, 2007 at 11:21 PM · Sssshh! Don't blow his cover...

December 30, 2007 at 11:44 PM · no he is a good friend. And I have tried his collection so I can confirm what has been said already.

December 30, 2007 at 11:49 PM · Hi Carol

What do 'Top' players say? ;-)

Are you talking about Burke or my opinion about the state of bowmaking?

December 31, 2007 at 01:00 AM · Sean,

With all the amazing quality available nowadays, bows which often come very close or even match great old French ones, it's kind of strange to say that one guy is literally "head and shoulders" above everyone else. It tells me one of three things:

1) It was hyperbole and you just prefer his bows.

2) You haven't the slightest clue about bowmaking and what is available on the market.

3) You are Mr. Burke's largest representative.

Which is it then?

December 31, 2007 at 02:26 AM · Sean,

as I said previously:

According to many fine players, LeCanu, E.Clement, S. Bigot, R. Morrow, I. Salchow are among the very top makers today.

The fine players include folks on the East Coast as well.

December 31, 2007 at 06:10 AM · Now this is getting fun! LOL

Funny Carol always mentions the only names Gennady mentioned! LOL

I am interested to see what Sean says to Pieter's post because I think both contribute mightly to this forum.

I do think Burke is unreal, but is he that much better than all of the many great makers we have today? I have not played enough of his bows and bows of the others to know. And I am not a bow maker.

I really do think we are in the midst of a renaissane in bow making and vioin making, and we should really appreciate it. When I was growing up teachers and palyers told us we needed to eventually find a way to get some money together to buy an older fiddle and bow. But today the Gap is gone, in fact, for the most part the modern makers are out doing the stuff that was so highly acclaimed in my youth. It is a great thing to see!

December 31, 2007 at 06:24 AM · A question for Gennady, oh i mean Carol, and other players with a good collection. Do you have trouble going from one bow to another? At what point are the bows a collection rather than bows that you use often? 4, 5, 6, 7, 8?

I currently have 4 bows that I love. 2 are modern bows from 2 of the biggest names today, one is an old unnamed French bow that plays and sounds as good as anything I have tried, and the other is a P. Lamy. I work a lot and I still have trouble giving these bows enough time! I would like to add a few more great bows to this collection but I am not sure it is in my best interest as a player...going back and forth is a bit taxing, especially if I stay with one bow for 4 or 5 days straight. The change of pace is fun, but when does it become too much? Anyonoe relate to what I am saying?

December 31, 2007 at 12:56 PM · While we're on the subject Carol, what do you think of carbon bows?

December 31, 2007 at 01:02 PM · Hi Pieter

In response to your choice of ways to describe me surely you could have added a few more choices! (4. Dealer in Fine instruments and bows...including modern makers)

All the makers listed here on this page I have seen (and more than one example).

Maybe my quote of 'head and shoulders' was slightly OTT but I state that Burke is still the finest living maker (just take a look at his competition record.....ok lets not go into competitions ....but it does mean something). Yes I do sell his bows (!) but I have sold others on this list as well...and currently sell in my shop for about 5 other bowmakers.

While playing qualities of a bow are subjective ( I remember selling a cello bow by E.Clement to a famous British cellist after a student cellist had just told me it played like a dog!) workmanship is not. And for me out of the thousands of modern bows I have seen , Burke stands out.

Do we argue that Strad was not the finest maker ever? OK....bring in Del Gesu and we have an argument!

Anyway thats my thoughts on bowmaking and at least we can all agree(can we?!) that todays makers are making some fine bows.

cheers

Sean

December 31, 2007 at 01:43 PM · boys...if you wish to ask Gennady a question, his contact info is available on google or www.filimonovfineviolins.tk

I happen to agree with his assessments and so do many of my friends. It is true that today we are seeing some excellent making. Beautiful bows are not always great playing bows as you fellows know. I also like very much the work of our Port Townsend makers, such as Espey and Morrow.

The work of the two French makers he has spoke so highly of, I can confirm. Some of my friends have bought bows by LeCanu and Bigot and they are amazing.

December 31, 2007 at 06:46 PM · #3 was basically; dealer of instruments who sells Burkes.

It's nice that you acknowledge that there are other talented people in the world but I still don't think it's possible to say one guy is above the rest. If you're going to go by competitions, then there are several other makers you'd have to consider as well, and probably ahead of Burke. LeCanu for example.

December 31, 2007 at 10:54 PM · Happy and Healthy New Year to all!

January 1, 2008 at 01:48 PM · Hi Pieter,

I have seen bows by most, though not all, of the bowmakers you have mentioned. Burke, in my opinion, does have an edge. I can also state that the finest bow, in terms of pure workmanship, I have ever has the pleasure to set eyes on was a gold mounted bow by Kevin Burke- and I include bows by old French masters in my assessment. I don't sell his bows by the way.

January 1, 2008 at 05:51 PM · Hi Pieter

Sorry but you are wrong when you compare LeCanu and Burke with regard to competitions.

Noel Burke.....

VSA 1994 Gold medal ..Violin , Viola, Cello

VSA 1996 Gold Medal...Violin, viola , Cello

1998 , Strad Cello Festival, Manchester, Gold medal

1999 Concours Etienne Vatelot, Violin bow Gold medal (Grand prize, city of Paris)

LeCanu is a very fine bowmaker indeed but I still rate Burke higher.

Now shall we talk about rankings for Modern violin makers...! ;-)

cheers

Sean

January 1, 2008 at 07:17 PM · sean, LeCanu is quite young. I have my money on him.

Meilleure ouvrier de France is an incredible distinction.

January 1, 2008 at 08:38 PM · Hi Pieter

Noel is not too old either!

Also the Meilleure Ouvier de France is only available to French residents!

Anyway thats my final thought on this subject.

Great to hear people getting excited about modern bowmakers.....

cheers

Sean

January 2, 2008 at 01:20 AM · Yes and with France's undisputed history of bowmaking (next to the UK's modest one), it's quite the award when people like Rolland, V. Fetique, and Richaume, have the same distinction.

There's too many amazing bowmakers in the UK, France, Germany, and the USA to say that one stands above all (consistently). My final word too.

January 1, 2008 at 11:47 PM · Now that had some passion! I enjoyed that! Too much PC stuff on here! Nice way to start 2008!

As for medals, Fuchs and Samuels have a ton of them too. Again, nice work guys!

January 2, 2008 at 02:09 AM · The more I think about it I would add this: I have been playing since I was 4, it has been my life, and because of that I can tell you whether a bow plays well and sounds good, but even this is somewhat subjective. Any pro. player can tell you much about how a bow plays and sounds, but I would not even know where to begin to look for how one of these elite bow makers is better than the others. Why? Because I am not a great bow maker.

How is it then, Shawn, that you can tell what most of us cannot? Again, I am not arguing or trying to cause you trouble, my question is sincere.

January 2, 2008 at 02:26 AM · Sean Bishop -- Yes, I know it is just my viola that the bow sounded better on becuase my teacher played on the bow and it sounded phenominal!!!! and I know that he is a much more skilled maker than C.Bazin.

~~Blake

January 2, 2008 at 05:08 PM · Hi Guys

All I can say is yes I was a violist/violinist (Major UK orchestras) for 15 years so I can play the bows......i.e. like most people on this website.

Playing qualities of a bow are subjective.

I have been selling bows for the past 20 years (I started young!) and in the last 5 years I now have a shop selling Fine instruments and bows in London .

I have done some bowmaking studies with a well know French bowmaker, but beside this bows are a major part of my life and I feel I have the ability to judge a bows technical/workmanship merits.

Anyway like I said before we are lucky now to have so many fine makers.

cheers

Happy 2008!

Sean

January 2, 2008 at 06:41 PM · a gold mounted bow by Kevin Burke

You mean played by Kevin, don't you? His gold mounted bow was made by his Brother, Noel. It is beautiful, isn't it?

January 3, 2008 at 02:47 AM · Sean,

I respect your position, though I don't agree with it.

I love some of the bows you have there. The G/T Rolland and the G/T Fetique are always things I'm looking at (some months ago I sold the most incredible G/T octagonal J.J. Millant - just too stiff). The octagonal Persois must be great. They tend to be too supple for solo type playing, but with the added stiffness of an octagonal stick, it musn't be too unlike an octagonal Tourte (which is for me, the ultimate).

January 3, 2008 at 05:00 PM · Thanks Eric, I meant Noel! Happy new year!

January 6, 2008 at 08:01 PM · Hi everybody:

To the surprise of many, I´m not a violinist but a cellist! Looking around the net for info about contemporary bow makers, I ended up frequently visiting violinist.com (since there isn´t a discussion like this going on among cellists) and reading almost all the (sometimes heated :)) discussions about modern makers. I have to trhank you all, because I have learned a lot and I really think all your learned and expert opinions and knowledge can apply to cello bows as well. I am also very interested in modern bows and slowly starting to acquire bows from reputed makers. I know this question may be strange in a violin blog, but I would really apreciate any comments or tips you may have heard from fellow cellist who have tried bows from the long lists you guys have posted (specially LeCanu, Fuchs, Millant and Kanestrom, tough I´d gladlydly accept any suggestions). Just one more thing to add, if it can be of any value to you: I got an INCREDIBLE gold mounted bow by Noel Burke from Sean Bishop (Hi Sean!) wich I use as a first bow, and evryone who tries it (some colleagues have excellent old french bows) are amazed by the quality and playability, let alone the craftmanship. I really love this bow! Well, thank you all for lettin in an intruder, and a happy 2008 for all!

January 6, 2008 at 08:41 PM · Have you consider P.Y. Fuchs my teacher has one. They are great, GREAT bows!!!!

~~Blake

January 7, 2008 at 02:31 PM · I am so surprise because we make bows since 17 years and many musicians talk about the bows of our former workers...

Our bows, stamped "RAFFIN à PARIS", all hand made in our workshop and in the purest artisanal tradition, meet sharp success near the musicians in the search of instruments of quality.

In order to preserve our wood resources of old Pernambouc, our production is limited voluntarily to 30 bows per year (violin, viola, violoncello mixted).

January 7, 2008 at 07:21 PM · I have seen and played Gennady's G/T J.F. Raffin bow. It is marvelous! While I am on the same subject (Raffin), another bow which I loved a lot was a Sylvain Bigot (which I am waiting for).

I forgot to mention, in regards to the initial question above, I have tried Tepho and Fuchs along with the others mentioned, and for me, I found LeCanu, Morrow, Thomachot, I. Salchow,G. Nehr, S.Bigot, Espey and J.F. Raffin much more interesting.

February 4, 2008 at 06:29 AM · Hi Folks,

Interesting thread.

I'd like to say I was very impressed with Sean Bishop's collection...indeed my very words were "I feel safe, and that I cannot go wrong with any of these bows". Mr. Bishop has good taste in bows !

I also agree N. Burke's bows have a great build and a remarkable tone, rather like a classic French bow and I complimented Mr. Burke on this fact... to which he (Mr. Burke) answered that he did have a secret... that he apprenticed with Tomachot!

If anyone is interested in having a look at my bow page they are welcome :

http://www.wps.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/bows_makers.htm

I am doing personal research into what makes a good bow, and the page will reveal some finer insight given time !

Best Luck,

Roland Herrera,

Bristol, UK

February 6, 2008 at 09:14 AM · Roland,

very nice site.

It has changed a lot.

October 22, 2012 at 10:23 PM · any updates since 2008?

October 23, 2012 at 01:45 AM · With many shops with examples of the best makers, it wouldn't be a bad idea to try everything you have a chance to. It will be an enlightening experience to try bows from different makers to match your instrument and playing characteristics. Of course each example will be vary, but I have found many of the top contemporary makers will have a general style and playability/sound preferences in which they make bows and deviate from that. Many big shops around the world carry many top contemporary makers: Bishops in London, Reuning and Johnson strings in Boston area, Ifshin and Roland Feller in San Francisco, Benning violins in Los Angeles, Chicago shops, NYC shops, etc, to name a few.

For me, I was able to come across a top bow maker's example at a shop which compelled me to contact the maker and start a commissioning process. I've since then been a happy owner of a great bow that means a lot to me. Sometimes you will hit the nail on the head and find something at a shop. Sometimes not, but benefit will certainly give you an idea of what's out there. It really is a matter of timing and luck along with your own curiosity to find something that fits you. Over time, our own preferences and technique may evolve and change as well; it certainly has for me!

October 27, 2012 at 08:11 AM · Though I have not tried a Tepho, I. Just bought a bow from a young bowmaker who is currently working with him in Quimper, France, Eric Fournier. Excellent playability, quite delicate but still powerful, and it draws a wonderful sound out of my viola.

October 29, 2012 at 09:23 PM · Those are some fantastic makers there :-)

I didn't realize he was working with LeCanu at the moment, because I know he's currently based in Quimper, France, where Tepho works, so I assumed he was at that workshop. Either way, he's certainly studied and worked with some fantastic makers (Stephane Muller, Le Canu, Tepho, Duhaut, Clement) and the bows he was exhibiting at Klanggestalten in Berlin last weekend were quite beautiful (incuding his silver medal bow from paris) in addition to playing beautifully and featuring excellent pernambuco.

Eric is also quite a nice guy, which never hurts!

October 31, 2012 at 06:15 PM · I have come across bows from J.P. Nehr and Pierre Nehr neither of which won my favour. Any relation to Giles Nehr?

October 31, 2012 at 06:24 PM · Rodney Mohr - VSA Gold Medal winner. Best bows i've ever tried! He rehairs my bows and Tuesday I got to play a few he had at the show. AMAZING!

Not french...but definitely worth looking at.

October 31, 2012 at 06:33 PM · Andres, I think J.P. and Pierre Nehr are Gilles Nehr's cousins. I believe that Gilles Nehr first studied bowmaking with his cousin, Jean Pascal Nehr. Gilles Nehr's bows are absolutely fantastic, and their owners can seldom bear to part with them.

Jerry, you can actually get Rodney Mohr's bows from shops other than his, for a markedly lower price than what he charges. I see his bows in shops very frequently.

I'd also look at Howard Green, Nick Caraccio, and Paul Sadka. Players such as Cho-Liang Lin, Ilya Gringolts, and Itzhak Perlman play on bows by Green, but I think they prefer his heavier bows (63 to 65 g). I commissioned a bow from him once but it was too heavy for me (66.5 g) and a friend of mine tried it, and he liked it so much that he bought it within a few days.

Nick's also great; I go to him for all my rehairs; his bows are amazing. I think he's going through a phase of making Persoit copies right now.

Paul Sadka is another relatively young, but extremely good bowmaker; he apprenticed with Noel Burke and now he is working in Paris, I think. His bows are sold through the private sales department of Tarisio Auctions in NYC. One of my teachers who plays on a Pajeot tried out a Pajeot copy by Sadka, and he said it played very similarly to his Pajeot.

October 31, 2012 at 11:46 PM · You're right, the three Nehr bowmakers are cousins. I own one of Jean-Pascal's bows, and they are VERY particular. If you like it, you love it, but it really needs to be a good fit. He's got quite a waiting list, so I'm sure he's doing well regardless. He uses some spectacularly flamed wood as well as a very strong, almost flamboyantly angular head design, and absolutely stunning craftsmanship. My bow is extremely easy to play, and quite comfortable. It's amazingly supple for an octogonal bow, with an unbelieveably delicate touch. It's not light, at 71.5 grams, but it feels like it's weightless in the hand, while still tracking wonderfully and remaining glued to the string all the way to the tip. Not a big concerto sound, but it's warm and clean, exactly what I want for playing long operas.

I recently tried a bow by Gilles, and it was quite exciting, but much more of a powerful stick with a big, projecting sound. He seems to be the best known here on this (and other) forums, but his waiting list is shorter (I believe) than Jean-Pascal's. I can't comment on Pierre's bows, but if they're anything like his cousins, then it would be hard to go wrong with any of the three.

November 1, 2012 at 06:10 AM · Anyone here played a Henry? (not modern obviously). I have seen people saying everything from 'better than D. Pecatte" to "clunky". I tried a few modern makers bows' and although they look like Pecattes they do not seem to hold a candle to the Henry I have tried. Is it the dearth of authentic real pernambuco?

December 20, 2014 at 12:16 AM · Has anyone tried the bows by Jean-Luc Tauziede?

December 20, 2014 at 02:19 AM · I am a very happy owner of a violin bow made by Eric Gagne, Montreal:

http://www.archet-ericgagne-bow.com/

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