You can recognize a Bernard Ouchard bow from a mile away – highly distinctive styling, beautiful workmanship, and always a touch of bling. Aside from being a very pretty object, this bow is an outstanding player which ticks all the boxes, and does great credit to its maker and to the illustrious Ouchard name.
Bernard Ouchard learnt from his father who learnt from his father. As such, he has been described as the last real French bowmaker. In reality he has also been responsible for training an entire generation of contemporary makers, so I don’t think the claim really stands up! However, it is true to say that his own personal style is a very successful refinement of what is best in the work of Emile Francois and Emile Auguste. From his grandfather he took the adventurous approach to head design, and from his father the meticulous craftsmanship, the insistence on superb materials, and the skill at controlling the technical aspects of a bow.
Here we have a classic Bernard Ouchard made during his time at Vidoudez in Geneva. Characteristic features are the integration of Hill traits, the silver face, the half-inset frog, and the whalebone lap. Specific to Bernard Ouchard are the very futuristic head shape, the pin through the front of the nose, and the somewhat solid adjuster with its wide second cut and very narrow collar. This bow has a round stick of very dense lightly flamed orange-brown pernambuco, mounts are silver and tortoiseshell. The condition is generally excellent, though there are a couple of nibbles to the edges of the frog on the player’s side.
What a bow! I suppose everyone has their own way of judging bows, but for me the test is pretty straightforward. Do I feel comfortable? Does it do everything? Am I making music or thinking about the bow? This bow is no sooner picked up than it’s forgotten. It has no limitations, the balance is excellent, the sound is very big but without grit, and it makes everything feel easy. An excellent companion, compliant, competent, and very nice to look at too …
length 74.3cm, weight 63.0 grams
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