Welcome to Cat & Bow, the place to find affordable, hand-crafted Baroque violin bows.
Heidi Erbrich, a professional early musician, offers a selection of different hand made bows from her workshop in Spain.
I started making Baroque violin bows as a natural development from my profession as a Baroque violinist. I came into contact with bow making in the summer of 2012, when I decided to follow a Baroque bow making course with the French bow maker André Alegre in Valencia.
I became so passionate about making bows that I immediately set up a workshop at my home and set to work learning this specialist profession, with guidance and tutoring from the fine bow maker Basil de Visser in Amsterdam.
Learning the craft with André Alegre
Being a professional player myself, I decided to make the bows that I personally enjoy playing. My great love of 17th century music (composers such as Castello, Fontana and Pandolfi) led me to a very light, agile model, which some people even use for later repertoire. My personal choice for 18th century music is a different model of bow, one which is also light, clear and articulate. I always look for a warm sound in whatever bow I make.
These bows are not the standard, “hybrid” type Chinese bows. They are very much a personal choice/ expression – the Baroque violin bows that I enjoy playing and that I feel work best for the music. Because the hand made bows are very affordable, they make a good choice for amateurs and professionals wanting to experiment with playing a Baroque violin bow.
The name Cat & Bow arose naturally due to the many visits I receive in my workshop from our numerous cats (10 in total). They are not only curious, but totally make themselves at home… a sort of passive sabotage!
Early Baroque bow with clip-in frog.
It is suitable for early Italian music and Biber but also works well for Purcell and French 17th century music.
The stick and frog are made from snakewood. The length is 64 cm and it is approximately 36-39 grams.
Early 18th century bow with screw mechanism. Good for playing Handel, Bach etc.
Bow, frog and button are all made from snakewood.
Length is 68 cm and weight is approx. 49-51 grams.
After playing the violin professionally for more than 25 years, I decided to take up the baroque violin – just for fun. It was difficult to know where to find a decent baroque bow. Luckily someone suggested I try the bows made by Heidi Erbrich, and I’m glad I did. The bow I purchased is beautifully crafted, has a wonderful sound and was reasonably priced. It even sounds great on my modern fiddle!Eileen Stevens
I have two bows from Heidi and I am very happy with them. One is a short light bow, for early Baroque/17th century music that is very agile and easy for fast passages, but one can also produce a beautiful legato with it.
The other is a bow from around the first half of the 18th century , a “sonata-bow” type. It is longer, but feels just as supple, light and stable and with a very fine feeling of balance. I am therefore very happy with both bows!
My violin sounds lovely with your bow (early baroque bow), it feels like I can do anything I want with it. This bow felt like being friends forever. It plays smooth as well as firm (sometimes I put a little paper between frog and hair depending on the piece and the necessity of more stiffness). The bow gives me an opportunity to get in touch with the violin. It gets into the string well but is also light.Judith Dubbeld
Whilst practicing a Pandolfi sonate I got three new bows, made by Heidi Erbrich, just to try. They were much lighter and shorter than the bow I used to play with. What a difference…. I could play with much more ease, the ‘gruppo’s’ etc. sounded wonderful…..I could play as a singer!
I chose one of Heidi’s bows. Through the lightness and quality of the bow my arm and the bow are one!