Chapter 10

A Cello Bow by Dodd

This bow is a masterpiece. It gives an impression of strenght and elegance at the same time. It also units perfection and warmth in one whole. To bring all those things together, makes a very special bow.

What is the most impressif at the fist view is the quality of the wood. The ebony is jetblack without any pores at all. Only some little shiny lines can be seen. The pernambuco is quite dark, a dark brown you could call it, with black stripes going along the stick. Also this without any visible pores. When you put it under the light it glows up in a red ruby, that is pretty overwhelming. Such dense and compact pernambuco is not to find nowadays. In fact, some people think it is not pernambuco what Dodd and Tubbs used for some of their bows. They think it is a related species of pernambuco with the somewhat helpless name "english pernambuco". I personally don't believe this, but I can imagine that this wood is grown on a very dry place, where the wood grows slowly. It could take 200 jears to make a cross-section of 20 centimeters. That was probably in pernambuco, a part of Brasil, where you can't find a single pernambuco tree anymore. In that case this stick would be the real pernamuco and what we use now is a somehow related species.

In any case is this stick incredibly dense. Often is dense wood less elastic, heavy but a little weak. That is absolutely not the case with this bow. It's elasticity is relatively high, measured with Lucchi's elasticity-meter it shows a 5500. Which is quite high for an old bow. So the first statement is: very strong and dense wood. The whole concept of this bow based on that fact.

This is an octagonal stick as you can see in the picture. What's curious about it, is that the sides are very uneven. A cross-section through the middle of the bow would look like that.

Side Mm
Vertical height 9.2
Horizontal width 9.2
Diagonal left 8.8
Diagonal right 8.8

That is astonishing, because usually it is the other way around. The four sides in the vertical and horizontal direction are usually broader than the diagonal ones.

Now let's find some reasons, why Dodd did it that way. I can imagine it has to do with the fact, that one doesn't pose a bow completely vertical on the string. The bow is a little tilted to one side. So the pressure the musician gives while playing forte is more in the diagonal, than in the vertical direction of our octagonal stick.
That means, that Dodd weakend the stick in the playing direction. Today every body wants to make a bow as strong as possible. To weaken a bow seems to be an odd idea. But looking at the nature of this pernamuco, it begins to make sens.The wood is too strong, what gives a too short response, and Dodd just went there and weakend the bow until he liked the sound.

Another point of view is the aesthetic side of a bow. This way the optical effect is that the bow seems to be thinner and more slender, than what it is. That gives an impression of dampend power, strenght without showing off. This bow is absolutely noble.

The precise measurements are:

Bowhead 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 mm distance from head
7.2 7.7 8.4 9.2 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.6 mm cross-section

The measurements in vertical and horizontal directions are absolutely the same. Dodd must have measured very carefully, it is exact on a tenth of a millimeter.

Dodd left the stick behind the head pretty thick. Also the head itself is on the healthy side. Well, the bowhead is quite high, 28.5 m, and the higher the head, the bigger the lever on the stick. Dodd didn't take any risk for breakage, but the bow became very heavy, 87 gms.
The frog is built very light, because there is hardly any silver on, just a thin ring to spread the hair. So the whole weight is in the stick, and a lot of it at the tip. That makes the balancepoint move to the tip and the bow becomes what I call "tipheavy".

This bow has a stupendous sound with a warm heart. The spiccato is also goed, this is because of the high head and a pretty full curve. But the bow stays heavy in the hand, fast change of strings are hard to do. This is the only little disadvantage I can find. Further is it a great bow, also aesthetically a pure delight.

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