How to distinguish the Unmarked Bow

April 15, 2006 at 05:23 AM · How do you find out what kind of bow you have (things like who made it and what "nationality" it is) if the bow is unmarked? What are some giving traits of French bows or English bows, or any bows for that matter?

I've gotten conflicting responses as to whether or not my bow is French or English, and I'm kind of interested in knowing...

Replies (2)

April 15, 2006 at 07:33 PM · The reason you're not getting definite answers is that it's very hard to sort this out. The usual way, for instruments and bows, both, is to recognize the similarity to a maker you know, and then sort out the things that are right, and those that are wrong, and weigh the bulk of the details to decide it you're near that maker or not, then try to decide if those details that are wrong are at least consistent with that maker's working school or area, in the main, and that none of them are absolutly contradictory to that.

Though there are some very general things that may point to specific countries sometimes, that's not going to tell you what you need to know because so many characteristics cross borders.

It's not just a matter of adding up points from a list and coming up with an answer, and you have to already know a lot about bows to work the system that way. Obviously, if you knew every maker there ever was, you could come quite close, but since you know none, you've got no chance at all. Most shops fall somewhere in the middle, but the real experts are closer to the knows-it-all end of the scale.

The way to decide this, then, is to find the best shop you can, and I don't mean some local guy--I mean a big-city shop that sells things like Strads--and see what they say. If they don't know, it may be unknowable.

April 15, 2006 at 09:16 PM · Hey Michael!

Some of us local guys choose to live in small cities and still see plenty of good things. :-)

Michael is right, however. If you want to narrow down the origin of the bow, show it to someone who has seen plenty and has the ability to recognize the features. Trying to figure itout yourself, even with verbal direction, is probably pointless.


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