06 July 2014

"A bow is an extension of the hand. The violin is the soul of the player. But the bow is the connection to the instrument. There are things about the wood that we just don't know … I intuit what will be a good bow and I make the bow to the best of my abilities. But beyond that, there is this mystical quality about wood that I don't think anyone understands. It's a relationship between the violin, the player and the bow and each relationship is entirely unique. You can take one bow and give it to another player on another instrument and it doesn't work. So, there is some magic that happens, some quality in the wood that interacts with the player and the instrument to create this balance of playability and sound. I don't think any maker can quantify what that is. It's just something that we feel and the musician feels and the instrument also reacts to that."

Ole Kanestrom



24 October 2011

I think we're taking bowmaking to new places. The craft still resonates in that period of French history that created the modern bow. But to say that I make something off a model of a French maker, that's not entirely true because it is my own. As a contemporary maker, I also want to express my style, my interpretation.

Ole Kanestrom


Norwegian-born Ole Kanestrom resides in Port Townsend, Washington, a town affectionately dubbed as the “Mirecourt of American Bowmaking” where he has practiced his craft since 1996. Musicians at the top of their game seek Kanestrom bows for their elegant style, sound, and playability.


Kanestrom studied bowmaking under Charles Espey and continued his education in restoration and conservation of historically significant bows with former shop-mate Paul Siefried. He passed his AFVM Journeyman exam in 2004 and is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bowmakers.


24 October 2011

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.

Ole Kanestrom


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:

  1. What sound does a player want to draw out of a specific instrument?
  2. 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.


24 October 2011

I live and work in Port Townsend. It is considered the Mirecourt of bow making in the Western Hemisphere. There are several Internationally distinguished bow makers that live there hence its nickname.

Ole Kanestrom


The Kanestrom bowmaking studio is situated on the Salish Sea near the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The shop is a stone’s throw from what locals call North Beach where Orca whales, bald eagles, and wild salmon make their home.


The studio is also just a few minute's walk from Fort Worden State Park, home to Centrum, a Port Townsend arts organization that hosts many musical and cultural events during the year, such as The Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, The Blues Festival, Jazz Port Townsend, Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, and more.


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