Sometimes I think we should open up a shop just to sell Tubbs bows – we seem to be selling more and more, and it’s great to see this unique maker taking his rightful place. Here we have a very good and typical middle period example in great condition.

What are the most significant features of a Tubbs bow? Probably the first things one looks for are the “catfish ferrule” (the very rounded front edge of the ferrule as seen from below), the silver face (very important to the value of the bow), the long adjuster (always one-piece apart from very early examples) and the characteristic dark stained pernambuco.

Of course there are deviations, but add all that up and you have a classic Tubbs – just like this one.

The pearl eye indicates a date pre-1900, the colour of the stick and the frog details indicate 1890 or later. The stick is of round-section dark brown pernambuco, mouts are silver and ebony.

The condition of the bow is very good – it’s clearly had some use but there’s no damage other than a tiny lift to the ebony of the thumb projection on the audience side. The underslide is a bit uneven on this side too.

Tubbs bows just don’t play like anyone else’s bows. They aren’t all the same by any means, but in broad terms there are three categories – creamy sticks which stick to the string and draw an exceptional tone, unusable whippy things made for the “maids of Mayfair”, and the classic Tubbs such as this, slightly nervy, very sensitive to direction.

This bow is superb off the string (with enough tension of course), and the sound is big and brilliant with a lot of complexity in the high harmonics – the balance is slightly towards the head, and the legato is really classy and quite effortless.

We have enough Tubbs bows for you to find one that suits you perfectly, and this one is just one more great example.

Click here to read Martin’s article about James Tubbs

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