When I work with a piece of wood, it's not always obvious if it's going to make a bow. It reveals itself as you work with it. First you pick a stick that you think is going to be good. It has the right density, has a nice ring to it, a strength, a resilience and you think 'This is it'. And then as you work into it, camber it and graduate it, nuances start coming out in it and it begins to have a life of its own.
Each bow is made to fit each client, the instrument, the player's style and his or her own personal aesthetic. There are two questions to consider when commissioning a Kanestrom bow:
- What sound does a player want to draw out of a specific instrument?
- What playability is desirable in the new bow? A bow can be soft, limber, lively, slow, bouncy, stable, sensitive, but not all these things are possible in one bow.
The Right Stick
Working in concert with the musician, I try to first match a piece of wood that I believe might have the right tonal quality and playability they are seeking in their desired bow, and then tease the playability out to meet these criteria.
What playability is desirable in the new bow? A bow can be soft, limber, lively, slow, bouncy, stable, sensitive, but not all these things are possible in one bow. Often times the color of sound a bow draws from an instrument also will inform the playability too. For example, a bright laser crisp sound often accompanies a lively bow, or a rich dark sound with a limber slower stick.
There are many points of control that the maker has to address along the path of bringing a bow to maturity. How it is graduated, cambered and balanced alone can give, if not infinite, certainly great latitude in the direction of a bows’ development.