William Tubbs, son of Thomas and father of James – that’s quite a dynasty. Yet William’s work remains poorly known, partly because his work is often branded with the name of his employer (as with this bow branded Dodd), partly because his workshop contained so many talented makers, largely from his own family.
This bow looks very like a James Tubbs in all details other than the head, and it seems likely that James finished the stick and made the fittings. The stick is round section, of the deep brown pernambuco favoured by James Tubbs in his later career – the mounts are silver and ebony of unusually fine quality. At this time the bow is in excellent condition – in fact it’s a unique and collectable example.
The first thing to say is that this is a short bow at 73.1 cm in total length – ideal for a smaller player, and with a unique combination of weight and ease of playing. It would also make an ideal companion for a smaller viola.
The tone I can only describe as profound – full and centred, with the creamy assurance that we associate with the best Tubbs bows. The stick belongs firmly in the 19th century, supple yet strong, gripping the string and eking out every last ounce of sound. It’s not what modern makers are aiming for, but we find that once people get properly familiar with a good Tubbs stick there is no turning back! It’s also very lively and responsive without excessive bounce or whip.
In other words, a truly excellent viola bow.
Dimensions: length 73.1cm, weight 70.5 grams
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