This is a very fine Vuillaume-style bow by Jean Joseph Martin. It’s in excellent condition and the stick is light and agile yet very strong.

JJ Martin had a fascinating career, starting and ending in relative poverty. Training initially in Mirecourt, he seems to have wedged himself into the Vuillaume shop in Paris through sheer determination, and quickly became one of its most prolific makers. He then enjoyed a period of independent success (during which this bow was made) before trying out various collaborations, most notably with JTL and with Emile Mennesson.

This bow is a very elegant interpretation of the “Vuillaume” model with a channel for the frog, a rounded button, and a very curved backplate. The frog and ferrule are narrow, and the bow is designed for surgical and precise technique. Although light, the stick is stiff and surprisingly powerful, made of round section orange/red pernambuco with an unusually good figure. Mounts are silver and ebony.

The bow is in excellent condition and has had very little use – the only minor issue is a crack in the ebony ring of the adjuster.

This is the sort of bow we love to offer – very clean, an archetypical example of the maker’s work, and a well-conceived bow that works for a player. Currently fitted with rather thin gauge siver wire it feels feather-light. Bringing it up to 58 grams with a regular silver lap wouldn’t harm the balance point and might suit a heavier player, but as it stands it feels completely right.

I find this bow quite remarkable – it has clarity, intensity, and a unusual brilliance. It seems incapable of making a bad noise… However, it’s a precision tool and it won’t do the work for you.

It gives an incredible level of control over the sound, and it would be ideal for baroque or early classical repertoire, or for imposing some clarity on a sludgy violin.

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We also welcome customers by appointment to our showroom in Wells, Somerset, and we make regular trips to meet clients in London, Brussels, Cologne, Munich and Vienna.

Martin Swan