Emile Ouchard is one of the more undervalued of French makers, largely because he worked in Mirecourt rather than Paris. Here we have a very nice and typical example in excellent condition.

EF Ouchard was at the heart of the Mirecourt workshop system – he started out working for Cuniot-Hury, eventually running the firm with Cuniot-Hury’s widow, and then setting up a busy workshop of his own which employed as many as 15 workers. He supplied bows to the trade, as well as selling bows with his own brand. But mainly Ouchards are to be found bearing shop brands or trade names such as this one, branded Pillot Ainé Paris, and supplied to Lavest in Montlucon.

Nonetheless, the model is very distinctive, with a rather short head, very vertical at the front, and a rather broad base to the frog. The stick of this bow is of fine orange brown pernambuco of round section, highly figured and slightly veined – mounts are silver and ebony. The condition is excellent, with just a few minor dings to the stick.

We have sold more than a few Ouchards – they always get chosen in blind shoot-outs, and it seems to me quite bizarre that they aren’t priced higher. But what this means is that you can still get a great French bow for a sensible price. This bow illustrates the point perfectly – it has real personality, it does everything with flair, it’s made with very sexy wood, yet it’s less than a third of the price of a Sartory. Go figure …!

The stick is medium density, quite wide in cross-section as is the way with Ouchards. This gives a real sense of solidity and comfort, without sacrificing the nervy finesse of a proper French bow. The sound is super-clear without being exactly clean – lots of overtones and a sweet smooth core. There’s a rather unusual “soft cushion” to the sound, supremely elegant and very relaxed, and the bow really lends itself to lyrical and romantic repertoire. Yet it has a rapid attack and plenty of bite.

All in all, a great bow with a distinctive character, self-assured and noble.

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