Violin Bow

August 15, 2005 at 05:12 AM · Hi everyone,

I'm looking around for a new violin bow, and am thinking of commissioning one from a modern maker. Could you please tell me something about the following four makers: Ole Kanestrom, Christopher English, Francois Malo, Matthew Wehling?

Thanks in advance.


John B.

Replies (43)

August 15, 2005 at 07:32 AM · check out a recent discussion:

"Shopping for contemporary bow"

By the way, most of the makers you are seeking, do have their own websites.

Just google them.

August 15, 2005 at 06:42 PM · Ole Kanestrom is an incredible maker. His work is flawless.

August 17, 2005 at 05:38 PM · As far as bows go, I like to be polygomous with my bows, perhaps that is why I have more than 30 old and new ones. There are many excellent bows (old and new). If you were to commission a bow, it is always a good thing to get to know the maker and for the maker to get to know you and your playing. Here is an interesting article that was published by STRINGS magazine (1998 Resource Guide)when I commissioned the first Amber frog bow ever made by the late Master Bowmaker Keith Peck.

& or

August 17, 2005 at 06:52 PM · As always I can vouch for Malo. Excellent bow maker, if you want something of the same sort as a late Sartory, then I'd consider him. The feel resembles it a lot, a very strong, athletic stick.

I'm not saying you're getting a Sartory, I do not know enough to say that. However I have tried many bows and Malo's bows remind me the most of Sartory.

August 17, 2005 at 10:59 PM · Pieter,

I have tried Malo.

Have you tried bows by Stephane Thomachot, Jean-Francois Raffin, Sylvain Bigot, Edwin Clement, Gilles Nehr & or Beoit Rolland?

These are some of the greatest contemporary makers today who happen to be French, and I can vouch for these makers since I know them personally and I have the finest examples of their work in my collection.

As I have stated before, "...if we include the element of investment of your money into a musical tool, you have to consider the pedegree carefully.

Don't get mo wrong, I know a lot of these guys, and they are excellent.

But historically, it is still the French makers whose work withstands the test of time.

For example, (80-100 years ago)eventhough there were excellent makers and contemporaries of Sartory, Fetique and Ouchard in Germany & England, the bows of the German & English counterparts do not command the prices today as do the bows of Sartory, Fetique & Ouchard.

That is reality & fact.

Whatever happened to the bows of great American Makers such as Frank Kovanda, Frank Passa, Anthony Wrona,Armin Schlieps. These were the best American Makers 40 years ago. Are their bows commanding the prices of their French counterparts of the same time like J.J. Millant for example.

Unfortunately not."

August 18, 2005 at 02:12 AM · Yes I've tried Raffins (am waiting till he comes to North America so I can get a certificate). Malo's background is quite good, not like Raffin's. More people are familiar with Raffin's name, but Malo's bows are also being bought by a lot of good players. He has that French school lineage from Mirecourt, and I do think that his bows will stand the test of time.

Truthfully, I think investing in bows in this price range may easily prove to be fruitless. At the end of the day, you're always better off buying an older French bow. E.A Ouchard is apparently appreciating now at a faster rate than Sartory.

August 18, 2005 at 03:37 AM · Pieter,

I happen to be a member of the Appraisers association of America, so I am speaking from experience.

You are forgetting that old bows were new at the time they were made. For some of my older colleagues who were around in Sartory's days, and had bows made by him for them, that was not a bad investment EH?

Same goes for J.J. Millant, J.F. Raffin, S. Thomachot, E. Clement and now the new breed of Great French Masters is emerging with the likes of Yannick LeCanu, Sylvain Bigot and Gilles Nehr.

My point is, that there are ofcourse many excellent bowmakers today, but for the 3k-4k that one spends, it would be nice to know that down the road (say 10-20 years later), you have yourself a sound investment (like a good stock, considering you will keep the bow in the best condition possible). Another point is that the market is saturated with many makers from all over the place, which will no doubt distinguish the French Makers even more so. Perfect example is J.J. Millant. His bows have climbed steadily especially since his passing, and as for his counterparts from England, Germany and the USA....They have not climbed at all. In fact someone who was very hot 20 years ago like John Norwood Lee, his bows are actually much less now and people have a hard time to unload them.

That is the reality of this trade.

August 18, 2005 at 04:29 AM ·

The best playing bow you can find will benefit you financially many times more than any single bow will ever appreciate in value. Sorry for blowing up the world.

August 18, 2005 at 05:28 AM · Hi everyone and thanks for the comments. Not wanting to turn this into a USA-French bow-battle, i was wondering whether you might have any ideas on the makers I mentioned in my first post? Did you play bows by them? Did you like the bows?


August 18, 2005 at 05:50 AM · Yup, have played Malo bows, and if my name meant anything I'd endorse them. Francois always works on my bow. His work is excellent and the quality of his work is undeniable.

Jim I agree about the best playing bow is your best bet. However Gennady brought the whole investment paradigm into it, and I said that at this price point that's not really relevant. However, at certain levels the best playing bow might mean paying 40k.

August 18, 2005 at 03:42 PM · Pieter,

For many people spending 3K-4K, is a substantial amount.That is exactly the reason why I mentioned the investment aspect of it. Now to be more specific in addressing the topic here:

Kanestrom bows (the round stick bows), have always been whippy in the middle (for me)and lack strength for my playing. His octagonal ones are stronger but lack the finesse. Christopher English for the most part likes to make period (baroque)and transitional bows.

I have seen Matt Wehling's bows and they are nicely made. Very similar heads to that of his teacher George Tepho. His bow did not do much for me though. He has studied with Benoit Rolland and George Tepho. And he says in his own words:

"I am very thankful to Benoît for giving me my basis of technique and my love for the work and history of French bowmaking. I am very grateful to Georges for helping me refine my technique, focus my goals, and translate the seriousness with which I learned to craft bows into being a true artisan."

Still, choosing a bow is a very subjective process, sort of like choosing a wife.

August 18, 2005 at 04:30 PM · Current divorce trends would indicate that having an American wife for 20 years is a triumph unto itself.

August 18, 2005 at 05:09 PM · Nice one guys!

That is exactly the reason I married a French girl (who would rather invest in French Bows).

August 27, 2005 at 02:17 PM · I'm moving this to the front to see if there are any other people who have tried bows of the makers I mentioned in my earlier post. Comments welcome!!

September 17, 2005 at 08:29 AM · Is anyone familiar with Pierre-Yves Fuchs' work?


September 17, 2005 at 03:38 PM · Yes. His work is excellent, and he is an award winning maker.

September 18, 2005 at 12:38 AM · Eric,

Since you are in NYC, check out Isaac Salchow.

I have seen his bows, and they are excellent.

Especially the copies. He has great wood.

I hope to have one from him for my collection.

September 18, 2005 at 01:03 AM · Gennady,

Thanks for the suggestion. I have been familiar with the Salchows and their work for some time. They are truly artists indeed--their bows are very beautiful.


September 22, 2005 at 09:11 PM · Ole and many of the other Washington makers (Charles Espy, Robert Morrow, etc.) are producing very good bows. I am also partial to David Forbes.


September 23, 2005 at 08:01 AM · Hi everyone

Do you have any opinions on Stephane Thomachot's bows?

Thank you

September 23, 2005 at 03:28 PM · One of the great contemporary makers of today.

His bows will be valued like that of Sartory's. They are already collectables.

I know him personally, and he has made bows for me. Fantastic!

September 23, 2005 at 06:16 PM · Thomachot is probably the foremost contemporary maker, although I would say that his work is somewhat more delicate than Sartory... his bows aren't simply playing tools like Sartory.

September 24, 2005 at 08:26 PM · just to add to Thomachot:

He is one of the most important influences on Bow Making today. Most of todays foremost makers from around the world have studied with S. Thomachot including Charles Espey, Edwin Clement, Mitsuaki Sasano, Thomas M. Gerbeth, Pierre-Yves Fuchs, (the makers I listed are Gold Medal winners of past competitions). He has also been a big influence on the younger generation of the finest French Bow makers such as Yannick LeCanu and Sylvain Bigot (also major winners of past competitions). His knowledge and expertise has had an impact on our American Makers as well (since he maintains his close friendship with Charles Espey).

October 3, 2005 at 03:04 AM · Here is a very interesting exhibit coming up in Jan.-Feb. in LA at Haans Weisshaar shop:

Take A Bow, Los Angeles features modern cello bows by the world¹s finest contemporary bow makers.


Many of the makers in the exhibit, are makers we have mentioned like Matthew Whelling, Sylvain Bigot, Yannick Lecanu, Gilles Nehr, Benoit Rolland, Isaac Salchow and others.


Here is the full list:

JOHN ANIANO made his earliest bows under the guidance of William Salchow and he has worked for bow maker Yung Chin since early 2002. John¹s modern bows are made using a personal model inspired by Pajeot and Adam. Prizes: two certificates of merit (va & vc) VSA 2004.

STEVEN BECKLEY began making bows under tutelage of William Salchow. He worked for and studied bow making under Boyd Poulsen. He began making bows full time in 1986 and earned a Journey Man¹s Degree from AFVBM.

*SYLVAIN BIGOT studied bow making at Mirecourt 1987-1992 and then worked with Jean-François Raffin in Paris where he was workshop manager for nine years. Prizes: Paris 1999.

FRANCK DAGUIN studied and worked with Jean-Frederic Schmitt for ten years and then with luthier Daniel Scaffi before settling in Lyon, France. Prizes: mention spéciale Paris 1991; Grand Prix des Métiers d¹Art Lyon 1992; mention spéciale Paris 2004.

HUGO GABRIEL studied bow making with his brother, Josef Gabriel in Erlangen, Germany. He was awarded a certificate of merit (va) VSA 1994 and certificates of merit (va & vc) VSA 1996. His cello bows follow the Tourte model.

JOSEF GABRIEL has run his own workshop in Erlangen, Germany, since 1987. Prizes: silver medal Manchester 1992, a gold medal and tone award Mittenwald 1993, gold medal (vc) VSA 1996 and silver and bronze medals (vn & vc) Mittenwald 1997.

THOMAS GERBETH studied with Wolfgang Dürrschmidt and R. Herbert Leicht and worked with Richard Grünke 1991-1997 before establishing his own workshop in Vienna. Prizes: gold Manchester 1992, bronze Manchester 1994, 2 gold, 1 silver Mittenwald 1997.

KLAUS GRÜNKE studied with his father, Richard for three years and with Hans Weisshar in Los Angeles for two years. He won two gold medals (va & vc) VSA 1980 and a silver medal Kassel 1983 and has judged many international competitions.

RICHARD GRÜNKE studied with Edwin Herrmann and at the Pfretzschner workshop. He joined the Paesold workshop in 1957 and in 1975 set up his own business in Bubenreuth. He has been invited to judge numerous international competitions. In 1996 he formed a company with his sons, Klaus and Thomas.

THOMAS GRÜNKE studied bow making with his father, and continues to work alongside his father and brother, Klaus in Langensendelbach, Germany. He is also an experienced restorer of valuable antique bows and his new work is profoundly influenced by the work of Peccatte, Voirin and Sartory.

MARCIN KRUPA trained with Gregor Walbrodt 2001-2002. Prizes: Certificate of Merit (vn) BVMA London; Certificate of Merit (va) Paris 2004; Bronze medals (vn & va) Mittenwald 2005.

*YANNICK LE CANU studied with Bernard Millant, Gilles Duhaut and Eric Grandchamp and now works in Lille. Prizes: youngest maker award (va) and mention spéciale (vn) Paris 1999; certificates of merit (vn & va) VSA 2002; certificate of merit BVMA London 2004; gold medal (vn) VSA 2004; silver medals (vn & va) and mention spéciale Paris 2004.

TINO LUCKE studied bow making in Markneukirchen and then worked for Hieronymus Köstler in Stuttgart. He now runs a workshop in Berlin. Prizes: bronze (vc) and silver (vn) Paris 1999; gold (vn) BVMA 2004.

MICHAEL MAURUSHAT trained as a goldsmith in Alberta, Canada and studied bow making with Roy Quade and at the Oberlin bow making workshop 2001. Prizes: certificate for outstanding playing characteristics, BVMA London 2004.

ANDREW MCGILL trained and worked with the ex-W.E Hill & Sons bow maker, John Clutterbuck. He is now based in Banbury, Oxford and is particularly inspired by the work of Tourte and Pajeot.

*GILLES NEHR studied bow making with his cousin, Jean-Pascal Nehr in Marseille and then worked with Stephane Muller in Toulouse and Rene Morel in New York. He ran workshops in New York (1999-2002) Lisbon (2002-2004) and is now established in Rome. Prizes: Certificate of Merit Craftsmanship BVMA London.

JEAN-PASCAL NEHR, 'Meilleur Ouvrier de France', studied with Bernard Ouchard at Mirecourt and now works in Marseille, France. Prizes: Certificate of merit for workmanship Manchester 2001.

PIERRE NEHR studied bow making with his brother, Jean-Pascal Nehr 1995-1998 and then studied restoration 1998-2000. He worked with Gilles Chancereul in Paris 2000-2002 and now works in Marseille. ROBERT PIERCE was apprenticed to William Hofmann and also trained with John Clutterbuck and William Salchow. He worked with Pierre Guillaume for 10 years and established an independent workshop in Brussels in 1998. He is an elected member of Groupe des Luthiers et Archetiers d¹Art de France. Prizes: best playing bow Manchester on two consecutive occasions.

ROY QUADE trained with William Salchow in New York. His bows have won an unprecedented four gold medals (vn VSA 1996; va & vc VSA 1998; va VSA 2004) a silver medal BVMA London and fifteen merit awards at competitions in the USA and the UK.

BENOÎT ROLLAND studied at Mirecourt with Bernard Ouchard. He has received numerous international prizes for his pernambuco bows and also patented a carbon fibre bow which won the Musicora prize in 1994.

WOLFGANG ROMBERG studied bow making with Derek Wilson and Thomas Gerbeth and he has run his own shop in Munich, Germany, since 1999.

*ISAAC SALCHOW studied with his grandfather, William Salchow and now works with Salchow & Sons. His bows are close copies of originals by Tourte, Persoit and Pajeot.

STEPHEN SALCHOW was taught by his father, William Salchow and his nephew Isaac. He is currently making close copies of bows by Peccatte and Pajeot.

WILLIAM SALCHOW first studied bow making and repair under Simone Sacconi in New York and then at Mirecourt with Georges Barjonnet. He opened his own New York studio in 1960 where he has been making bows and inspiring bow makers ever since.

DAVID SAMUELS studied bowmaking with Stéphane Thomachot, and worked for Etienne Vatelot, Amnon Weinstein, Rene Morel and Jacques Français. Prizes: gold (vc) VSA 1992, gold (vn, va & vc) VSA 1994, gold Manchester 1994, and gold (vn, va & vc) VSA 1996. David has since has served on the juries of the VSA and City of Paris competitions.

JEAN-LUC TAUZIÈDE studied bow making with Jean-François Raffin and Stéphane Thomachot before setting up his own workshop in Anglet, France.

DAVID TEMPEST has been a professional viola player all his working life and has also been making bows for the last eighteen years. His cello bows are influenced by the work of Sartory.

GEORGES TEPHO works in Quimper, France. Prizes: gold (vc) VSA 1994, two certificates of workmanship VSA 1994 and bronze Mittenwald, 1991.

STEPHANE MULLER studied with Bernard Ouchard at Mirecourt and after travelling in Brazil to improve his knowledge of pernambuco, he established a workshop in Toulouse, France in 1984. Prizes: bronze (viola) Paris1999.

GREGOR WALBRODT trained with Jean-Marc Panhaleux and Stéphane Thomachot in France. Awards include: gold (vn) VSA 1996; two gold medals Mittenwald 1997; gold (va) VSA 1998; certificates of merit Manchester 1996 and 1998; two gold medals (vc & vn) VSA 2000 and bronze Manchester 2001.

JUTTA WALCHER was an apprentice with Garner Wilson and then worked with Matthew Coltman. Since 1995 her mentor has been bow maker Peter Oxley. Prizes: bronze Manchester 1998 and fourth prize (va) Paris 1999.

CHRISTIAN WANKA studied bow making for 3 years with his father and worked in Toronto before returning to work in the family workshop in Baiersdorf, Germany.

HERBERT WANKA studied bow making at Bubenreuth 1952-55 and worked for Gotthard Schuster for many years before setting up his own workshop in 1971. He now works in Baiersdorf, Germany.

*MATTHEW WEHLING studied bow making with William Salchow, Benoît Rolland and Georges Tepho, with whom he worked as assistant for 5 years. He now works in Minneapolis, USA. Prizes: Gold medals (vn & vc) VSA 2002 and certificate of merit (va) VSA 2002.

RICHARD WILSON was an apprentice of Garner Wilson and then established his own workshop in Cambridge where he makes, repairs and restores bows.

ROGER ZABINSKI studied with Vaido Radamus, Martin Beilke, William Salchow. He was elected a member of the AFVBM in 1985. Awards include: gold (vn) VSA; numerous certificates of merit from the VSA.

For more info, visit their website:

October 5, 2005 at 01:46 AM · Gennady! Are you familiar with the bows by Howard Green and if yes what is your opinion. i tried a couple of them and was impressed but they did not fully answer my prayers. At the moment I am selling a Hill (made by Bryant) bow in a hope to then buy a good modern french bow. I like sartory type bows that are german in the strength of the stick and french in the grip of the string. My biggest impression in life was an Henri (not sure about the spelling) that was quite strong. That particular bow made my playing better. the price tag was just plain silly and the guy didnt really plan on selling it. I will have to stay at the bottom end of the market for now but that Hill should fetch around $6-7K so that should give me enough cash to buy almost any modern bow I want. according to my tastes what would you recommend? Thanks

October 5, 2005 at 03:25 AM · It would probably have to be a Fleur De Lys to fetch that much, and $7k would be extremely generous for a Hill...

The most famous german bows are not exactly known outright for their strength... Albert Nurnburger made some pretty fine examples, and Kittel is not exactly a strong stiff stick...

If you want strength the French are still the best... it's not as if French bows are only good for "grip"... In your price range you can afford Thomachot, probably the best or at least most well recognized maker of today. If you can get anywhere near Gennady, he represents Yannick LeCannu which would also likely suit your needs for a strong stick.

October 5, 2005 at 03:35 AM · Thanks a lot for the promo Pieter.


Privyet Dima,

Ya tebe poslal otvet po email.

Pogovorim potom posle otveta.

Vsego Horoshego!

October 28, 2005 at 10:27 PM · I just returned from Paris where I visited the workshop of Edwin Clement. I commisioned a bow from him two years ago after trying an older bow by him. I must say I was very impressed. I tried three bows and they where all different but each one impressive in its own right. He makes bows specifically for the person matching the violin. I am looking forward to receiving my bow. Would really recommend him but be aware that he has a two year waiting list at present.

In the end the only thing to do is to try as many bows by as many makers as possible and form your own opinion. The choice of a bow is very personal even more so than the violin.

October 28, 2005 at 11:14 PM · I agree with you Kristian.

Edwin Clement is a great maker.

He made a bow for me this past year that I just love. It has all the characteristics of the finest 19th century French bow.

October 29, 2005 at 01:53 PM · Gennady

I understand that you have bows by both Clement and Thomachot. How would you compare the two in terms of sound, tone production and playability? I was supposed to meet Thomachot in Paris but it didn't work out, so I haven't tried his bows.

October 29, 2005 at 11:50 PM · The Clement bow (which he made for me) is very much based on a Francois Peccatte, and it plays like one (a 19th cent. F. Peccatte). Thomachot I like as well but it has a different feel in playability, since his model is his own. Thomachot bow is similar to a Sartory but with a bit more give to the stick.

I understand that Thomachot has moved to the south of France.

BTW, have you seen the gold tortoise-shell Thomachot bow at Tarisio's?

It sold for a world record price of $9,500 and that's before the bidders 15% premium. WOW!!

October 30, 2005 at 02:28 AM · Is anyone selling Thomachot right now? What I'm asking is, is there any way to get a bow without getting on the mile long list?

October 30, 2005 at 09:17 AM · Gael Francais in New York is the American agent for Thomachot as far as I know. U can try him, he might have some bows there.

October 30, 2005 at 04:06 PM · Yeah I know, but that's just way too difficult.

December 11, 2005 at 08:12 PM · hello from france !!!

there is a great french bowmaker in this present time :


December 11, 2005 at 10:08 PM · Salut,

Yes I know he is good and he worked for Raffin and then studied with Thomachot & Gruenberg. His cello bow(s) will be presented at Weisshaar shop along with many other award winning makers.

Sylvain Bigot was actually Raffin's right hand man (premiere assistant) for 10 years before winning a medal at the Vatelot competition in 1999 and going solo. I believe Bigot was there before and during Jean-Luc's stay.

For award winning French makers just scroll up.

They will include at the top of the list: Thomachot, Clement, Grandchamp, Bigot, LeCanu (Gold 2004 VSA and 2 Silver medals at Vatelot Comp.)etc.

December 12, 2005 at 10:23 AM · jean-luc tauziede worked with jean françois raffin before S.bigot.

and this two bowmakers worked at raffin' shop together , betwen 3 years.

December 12, 2005 at 03:26 PM · Bigot's name sounds cooler and more expensive.

December 12, 2005 at 04:34 PM · Daniel,

Bigot was also married to Raffin's daughter.

And they have two kids. Raffin is Bigot's father in law (now ex). :)

December 13, 2005 at 05:56 AM · Has anyone the higher range of Paesold's bows?

How are they in comparision to other German bows?

December 13, 2005 at 11:43 PM · Alan,

Are German Bows more valued in Australia?

or are there no French or American Bows available there?

Just wondering?

BTW, out of German Contemporary Makers, J. Tino Lucke and Joseph P. Gabriel are excellent (both award winning makers).

March 15, 2012 at 09:29 PM · Do not forget one of the finest contemporary bow-maker

PAUL MARTIN SIEFRIED.Terrific playing sticks,with virtually perfect workmanship

March 15, 2012 at 10:14 PM · @John Black, I note from your profile that you are in, or from, Bristol UK. Have you tried the Bristol bowmaker JOHN STAGG? He has a very high reputation.

On another point, mentioned by other contributers, I think we can take it as read that the best bowmakers, by definition, do not release bows that are less than as perfect as they can make them. I believe John Stagg comes into this category.

Unfortunately, the nature of bowmaking is such that a defect that detracts from perfection may not surface until quite late in the making process, which goes a long way to explain why the best bows are so expensive.

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