Baroque Bows

The baroque bow, commonly referred to as the Corelli (1653-1713) and also the Tartini (1692-1770), is so named after the two violinists who probably influenced the style. It can be as basic as a plain round stick with a non-adjustable clip-in frog, in which case the hair tension is applied with the thumb or a finger. Other methods of hair tensioning are a dentated or crémaillère mechanism or the threaded metal shaft and brass eyelet device used on all modern style bows.

The sticks of baroque or dance bows are almost always made without a camber (term used for the concave arch in the stick, as in the modern bow) usually resulting in a convex or over bent stick under tension. Free hair length will be around 580mm, this will vary more than the standardized length of modern bows (the modern bow has a free hair length of 645-650mm).

Weights for violin bows will be approximately 51-53grms while the weight for ‘cello bows will be around 70-80grms with a free hair length of 580-620mm. Styling for these bows can be quite elaborate, sticks are sometimes made with up to 8 or 16 flutes.

Fluting is the term used for shallow grooves cut along the length of the stick. Normal practice was to make the stick octagonal in section, with some bows being made round in section.

Development of this bow peaked around 1730-50 and considering that wood from the new world was available at this time, some of these bows would have been made from either snake wood, ironwood, china wood or pernambuco (brazilwood). Frogs are made of either wood, Mammoth or bone.

Transitional Bows

In the 1780s, the Italian violinist and composer Viotti (1755-1824) lived in Paris and was a friend of the Tourte family, this connection resulted in the further development of the transitional bow and its evolution to the modern bow. At this stage there is the development of the ferrule (small and narrow) and the upright hatchet style head.

Francois Xavier Tourte was born in Paris in 1750 and died in Paris in 1835 and is considered to be the major influence of the development of the early modern bow.

John Dodd in collaboration with Wilhelm Cramer was on a similar track in London.

This type of bow is now more like the modern bow, being heavier, up to 58 grms, with a well defined camber (although still not the complete modern camber) and made from the same hardwoods, but still retaining some of the characteristics of the transitional bow.

Modern Bows

To counteract a longer and heavier stick, the modern bow needed a heavier frog and this required the addition of more metal, usually in the form of silver or gold.