Stringed musical instruments such as violin, cello, and the viola cannot be successfully played without a bow, and are so they are often referred to as bowed stringed instruments. The bow is in fact considered as an important part of the tone production, adding its own distinct character and quality. The use of various bows on the same instrument will produce consistently different tone. This is why most musicians believe that the quality of bow is important and thus these bows are mass-produced and chosen with the utmost care.
Ronald Forrester: The Leading Archetier
An archetier is often referred to as bow maker who repairs, builds, and reinstates the bows of stringed musical instruments. Ronald is an American bow maker who is known for making handcraft bows according to the French tradition. He uses the traditional tools and methods to create bows that are precisely custom-made to each player’s requirements. As Ronald Forrester has been working with some of the finest string players in the world he has been able to come up with the best bows. At present, Ronald is working as an elected member of The American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, and he has also been associated with the International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative.
The journey of Ronald from an accountant to a bow maker
Ronald Forrester has been working as an accountant and in order to get rid of stress he used to play cello. While practicing the instrument he somehow broke the bow and then he thought of getting it repaired. This is when he visited Yung Chin, the leading bow maker. Ronald finds the work to be quite interesting and he then started visiting Yung Chin’s shop often to know how to make and repair the bow. Later on, under the guidance of Yung Chin, Forrester completed a formal apprenticeship course of three and a half year. After completing the training, Ronald started to work as an archetier.
How Ronald Forrester makes the bows?
Forrester at present makes custom bows for violas, cellos, and violins and for making each bow he takes around 60 to 70 hours. In order to made these bows Ronald uses the custom made tools as the knives, planes and other tools that he requires are not available commercially. After this, he starts by giving a shape to the piece of wood with a band saw and then uses a plane to give it the shape of octagon. Pemambuco wood is used to make the bow and this wood grows only in the Amazon delta region of Brazil. Then an oil lamp is used to heat the wood so that it can bend until it attains the desired shape. The frog at the end of the bow is then chiseled to precise dimensions and lastly, the horsehair is attached. Finally, the bow is made to exact terms and is measured down to the millimeter with an electronic ruler.
This is how the bow for violas, cellos, and violins are manufactured.