At this stage the camber has been finalized and the stick, which has been octagonal up to this point is rounded. The taper of the stick and its curve or camber is critical to how the bow will play and sound. Because of the power needed to drive the large diameter cello strings the bow must be far more resistant than a violin bow. On the other hand there is an incredible range of expressivity to the cello’s sound and without flexibility the cellist cannot access this potential. Yet there is no consensus between bow makers as to what will work best and this is for good reason because there is no consensus between fine players either. I have measured bows belonging to a number of today’s great players and they vary in every way; weights ranging from 76 to 90 grams and widely ranging camber concepts and stick graduations.
The bow maker can approach commissions it two ways. One is to simply do what they think is best and the players who like these bows will buy them. The second to tailor the bow specifically to the player but in this case one inevitably has ideas on how to reach this goal. Although I’m in the later group, the solution is not to simply copy the bows a player has. If they want another bow its because they believe they can unlock more potential from their instrument or their technique with a different stick. It is possible that something quite different would be ideal for them if they can make the technical adjustment. They have no doubt tried certain bows belonging to colleaugues that they loved. If it was a well-known maker like Dominique Peccatte or Eugene Sartory, that gives us quite a bit of information up to a point because each of these maker’s work also varies considerably. In the end the maker has to make an intuitive call on the camber, stick selection and graduations or taper that he hopes will give his or her client all the power and potential for expression they need. There is a kaleidoscopic interchange of different elements that effect the hoped for outcome, a bow that joins both power and technical response with the flexibility to bring out the full spectrum of a cello’s sound.