What bows did the greats use?

March 4, 2005 at 06:38 AM · I know that Heifitz used a Kittel, and that Oistrakh used an Albert Nurnburger, but what do a lot of the others use?

Replies (32)

March 4, 2005 at 05:24 PM · Hi,

I know some things in this one... Milstein played with a Tourte (I know someone who tried it, that is how). Szeryng played with a Pecatte. Kreisler apparently used Hill bows. I know that Gil Shaham uses a Pajeot. I think that I remember reading that Stern used a Pajeot as well. Off the top of my head, that is all that I know or can remember...


March 4, 2005 at 08:17 PM · I thought I heard that Stern used a Maline.

March 4, 2005 at 08:24 PM · Hi,

Enosh, you could be right. I was going from memory...


March 4, 2005 at 08:39 PM · maybe in some great scheme to get different sound, they used more than one bow !! :p

March 4, 2005 at 10:21 PM · Pshh. That's unheard of!

March 5, 2005 at 07:55 AM · Kavakos sometimes uses more than one bow in a single concert.


March 5, 2005 at 02:27 PM · Hi,

Most violinists have more than one bow, but many prefer one above the others. For example, Perlman has/had several violins, but actually said that he consistently used one French bow. Elman on the other hand used whatever was lying around as he believed that the bow was not essential to his tone production. Cho-Liang Lin has four bows, but uses a Pajeot for classical and baroque rep, and a Peccatte and Maline for 19th century onwards rep and big concertos (at least according to an interview in Strings Magazine).

Among other famous players, I know that one of the two bows that the violist Primrose used was a heavy gold mounted Voirin violin bow. Don't remember what the viola bow is...

Thanks Carl: Didn't know that about Kavakos... Interesting! Funny that Perlman did that not with bows but with violins, often changing from movement to movement in his recording of the Bach S&P's.


March 5, 2005 at 08:45 PM · I read about one Korean violinist use an Adams violin bow.

March 5, 2005 at 08:52 PM · I tried a Lamy that used to belong to Heifetz. It was almost supernatural. I loved it even before I found out it used to belong to him. I wanted to buy it so badly and might have even considered it had it been within the normal price range for a Lamy.


March 6, 2005 at 03:52 AM · Hi,

To add to the info... at the Tarisio auction of Isaac Stern's instrument collection, there were 5 of his bows listed as: Tourte, Voirin, Pajeot, Maline, and Sartory.


March 6, 2005 at 04:44 AM · How do you find out who made your bow if the maker doesn't leave some kind of stamp? I'm really interested in who made my bow. There's even been a controversy whether or not my bow is English or French... so as of now, I don't even know where my bow comes from.

Sorry this sort of deviated from the original thread.

March 6, 2005 at 06:36 AM · The Korean violinist is Kyung-Wha Chung.

Anyone know what kind of bows Anne-Sophie Mutter uses?

March 6, 2005 at 08:37 AM · Julie, any bow maker/luthier with half working vision will immediately be able to tell you if it's from an English maker worth noting or French for that matter.

Hill, Arthur Baltitude, Dodd, Tubbs etc.. have differences from the Tourte and Voirin schools.

March 6, 2005 at 01:45 PM · Hi,

Julie: Take it to a good shop, and most importantly an honest and reputable one. And if you are a student go with a musician in the know. A good bow specialist should be able to tell.

Your question is nonetheless interesting. To truly certify an unstamped great bow can be done by few people, and there are few experts that are qualified to make that judgement. For example, all Tourte bows are unstamped and have to be authentified.


March 6, 2005 at 02:15 PM · About Mr Kogan

In the liner notes of the new testament reissues that came out in 2002 I found it interesting that it says "unlike Oistrakh and Heifetz, Kogan liked French bows ...he never used German bows" and it also said his favorite bow was made by Dominique Peccatte

March 6, 2005 at 06:33 PM · Wouldn't it be possible then for some dirty luthiers to call a decent, unstamped bow a Tourte and make it really expensive?

March 6, 2005 at 06:40 PM · Hi,

Enosh, it's the opposite. Sometimes people will say it's not something when it is, so that they can buy it for cheap and then turn around and sell it at the real price. Be warned... (although the other way around happens also).


March 6, 2005 at 07:59 PM · Yeah I meant once the bow is already in the luthier's possession.

March 6, 2005 at 08:31 PM · Jeez I hate dishonest people. >:o They make me enraged!!!

March 6, 2005 at 09:01 PM · As far as I know Mutter uses bows of an American bowmaker in Washington DC named Donald Cohen. She has comissioned 3 or 4 bows from him in the past.

March 8, 2005 at 04:44 AM · I feel that a bow is an essential part in creating a good sound. I currently own four bows. The makers are: Lamy, Tourte, Sartory, and Hill. They all create beautiful tones. But i mainly use the Tourte and Lamy.

March 8, 2005 at 07:55 AM · How do you decide which bows to use for what pieces?

I've always found every Sartory superior to Lamy. No idea why, but when it comes to muscular, athletic bows... Sartory is the best. At least in my opionion.

So, do you use the Lamy for romantic repertoire and the Tourte for lighter fare?

April 8, 2005 at 06:07 PM · taken from String's magazine:

Sarah Chang: "She alternates among four bows, depending on the music she's playing. For Mozart and Bach, she prefers her Pajeot; she turns to a Sartory for "the big-whammy concertos, the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius." For everything else, she alternates between two Dominique Peccattes. She also owns a John Norwood Lee bow."

April 9, 2005 at 02:57 AM · She has like 200,000 worth of bows? Christ... I'd be happy with a fantastic Pecatte and a Pajeot for the lighter rep.

April 9, 2005 at 11:44 AM · Hi,

Pieter: Yep! and don't forget the Del G├ęsu!

I know that Zukerman apparently uses very heavy modern bows (like 65-67 grams). Don't know the maker though.

Oh... and Heifetz had four bows: A Kittel, a Tourte, a Peccatte and a Lamy.


April 13, 2005 at 02:55 PM · On the line of bows being mis-identified (higher or lower), almost all antique bows sold either through a reputable dealer or through an auction house should come with a certificate of authenticity. As mentioned above, very few people are qualified to issue these. And since many older French bows were from family lines (think of how many different Bazin's there are for example) and other bows were stamped from the school or shop (Hill among many others including many French and Belgian makers) it just make sense to make sure that the bow is authenticated.

April 13, 2005 at 10:42 PM · Myself, I have a nearly mint condition Pajeot. It is wounderful and I was trying many Peccatte but I've never found a bow which is better than my Pajeot. Anyway, Kreisler used Francais Tourte but he was putting so much tension that when he was died, was on sale, and was nobody who wanted to buy because it was useless...

April 14, 2005 at 01:22 AM · I'm very happy with what I have. I don't think I'll get another bow until I feel limited by my current one or I come across something fantastic.

April 14, 2005 at 02:29 AM · I really don't know much about the famous violinists of the past and their bows, but I can tell you that I play on an Ouchard Pere (Father Ouchard). I have played quite a few Sartorys and a J.B. Vuillaume and I like mine the best- there are bows for much less money than you'd think!

April 14, 2005 at 04:22 AM · Definately. Ouchards are different, they can get pretty stiff. Mine is stiff but manageable, I love it.

However, an Ouchard, if in good condition, is not likely to be cheap. You're looking at around $10,000 US for a silver mounted bow in good condition.

September 26, 2011 at 02:40 PM ·

hey! thanks for all the comments here...nathan milstein said that by touch and feel you will know that its a Tourte bow. I would say Yes its true, i have tried a test at home blindfolded playing the great bows of the English & French school, it is really a wonderful experience that i chose Tourte. I have high respect for Dood, Peccatte, & Voirin, but to my knowledge above all master only one prevail to be the highest master and he got disciples.Tourte is the master of all bowmakers!  

September 26, 2011 at 03:32 PM ·

Menuhin's most-used bow was a Voirin, an unusually robust one at 62 gms. I think I recall Zuckerman using a Lee Guthrie. 

As to Hill, Arthur Baltitude, Dodd, Tubbs etc.. don't forget William Watson.

Many UK concertmasters have used A. R. Bultitude bows. I have 2, both heavy, at 65 gms. These go well on my "Guarneri" style instruments, but I never made it to concertmaster-grade !!


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