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Digital Subscriptions > The Strad > June 2019 > INSIDE INFORMATION

INSIDE INFORMATION

Very often neglected, the chamfers of a bow head can give intimate clues as to a maker’s working style and personal characteristics. Anton Luand Dai-Ting Chungcompare and contrast bows from the Baroque era to the present day

The purpose of a chamfer in bow making is to protect sharp edges from chipping off. Then, as now, these chamfers would be executed in the final stages of carving. These small details of a bow head have been largely neglected - unlike, say, the graduation or the camber, they have no bearing on the bow’s playability, and string players are perhaps unaware of their function. Nevertheless, the chamfers have a crucial role in identifying the bow maker and expressing their style, as well as showing the dexterity of their hands.

There are three basic tools used to finish the chamfers: knife, file, and sandpaper. Each method leaves its own marks on the bow. By way of introduction, here are the characteristics one can look out for when assessing a bow chamfer:

• Chamfers finished with a knifewill not show file marks, giving a clean and brisk impression, as in this 2019 cello bow by the British bow maker Dominic Wilson

PENZEL PHOTO DAI-TING CHUNG, ENGLISH BAROQUE BOW PHOTOS COURTESY ROYAL MUSEUMS OF ART AND HISTORY, BRUSSELS.ALL OTHER PHOTOS ANTON LU

• In chamfers finished with a file, we could notice filemarks in various directions on different bows. From the oblique direction of the marks on this self-rehairing Dominique Peccatte bow from c.1835-36, we can also presume that he is right-handed.

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About The Strad

We conclude our investigation of Stradivari’s moulds and examine some radical teaching methods. Vadim Gluzman, Philip Dukes and Matthew Barley are interviewed and there’s our annual Accessories supplement, featuring carbon fibre bows, wolf eliminators, mutes and lots more.