It’s great to see the violin world finally waking up to the qualities of good German bows. There is absolutely no difference in quality of work or playability between fine French and German bows, and this Pfretzschner proves the point perfectly. Very elegant, made with superb materials, and a joy to use.
Knopf, Nürnberger, Pfretzschner – these are names which should quicken the pulse of a violinist or collector just as much as Sartory, Voirin or Vigneron. Yet the reputation of fine German bows has been held back by the swathe of undeniably bad bows that were exported from Markneukirchen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It seems to me that this prejudice is slowly being dissipated – one of the chief reasons being the publication of “Deutsche Bogenmacher”, a superb work which has helped to contextualise the work of these great German makers.
HR Pfretzschners come in many forms, and the brand has been much abused, but the bows from the late 19th and early 20th century can be superb, and this one is very charming. It’s an unusual and rare model, somewhere between the Wilhelmj model of the late 1800s and the rather quirky “Ideall” model of the 1930s. It has a very elegant frog with the back face set slightly acutely to the stick, a beautiful swan head, and a slender octagonal stick of strongly flamed pernambuco. Mounts are silver and ebony. The underslide is held in place with silver screws. The condition is very good – there are no cracks or damages, and all parts are original with the exception of the face.
This bow is an outstanding player – it hugs the string, and is supremely comfortable in the hand. The tone is clean yet warm, and the bow feels light in the hand – easy to get it in motion off the string, easy to pull a broad and effortless legato. The magic is without doubt in the wood, which really feels alive. I’m a big Pfretzschner fan, but this one is a stand-out.
length 74.4cm, weight 60.4 grams
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