James Tubbs started making bows for WE Hill round about 1860, and during the 10 years or so that he worked for Hill he went from being an indifferent maker to an outstanding one. He was never able to sustain a high quality output, and many Tubbs bows suffer from poor wood or hurried work, but his best work stands against that of any French maker, paticularly in terms of sound and playing qualities.
This bow must have been made very late in his time at Hills, since it shows many features of his middle period style. It’s a beautiful specimen made with highly flamed round section pernambuco, and it retains its original wedge-less ferrule. The condition is excellent with no cracks, damages or repairs.
Although some Tubbs bows are nothing to write home about, the great ones are slightly life-changing. There’s a smoothness and warmth to a fine Tubbs stick which is “once felt never forgotten”. This bow is unusually good, producing a big fruity sound completely free from grit. The stick is up to any task, with all elements perfectly in balance. It’s a world away from the typical 20th century Hill stick, which tends to be hard and a bit relentless. This bow sits in the strings with a sense of calm, yet it’s very easy to set in motion and can handle any kind of pyrotechnics.
For me the ultimate test of a bow is whether you forget about it, and this one passes the test with flying colours. A beautiful piece of engineering, biddable yet styish, and worthy of a really fine player.
Dimensions: Length 74cm, weight 61 grams
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