Modern Historical Bows by Antonino Airenti



Original viola da gamba bow by the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna


Above, an original Renaissance or Early Barque bass viola da gamba bow, purchased in 1608 by the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna, where it is still kept today. This is therefore one of the very few bows for which one may attribute an exact date: the bow was built on or before 1608.


It is made out of either fruitwood or local maple, not snakewood, and is subsequently light and stiff, very suitable for the Renaissance bass viol. Eight faced stick section deeply fluted in two different ways, possibly for balance. Rather shallow “swan neck” head.

The clip-in frog is made from the same wood of the stick but probably not original and maybe 10 mm higher than the original itself. The hair is fixed into mortises at both ends of the stick.


The stick has surely been shortened (maybe 65 mm), as a fact, it is still possible to see the old site of the frog that has been closed with a piece of the cut off wood.

The change of frog and the shortening suggest a possible use of this bow for violoncello. The sound it produces is remarkably bright.


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Weight: g. 67,4. Overall lenght: mm 697

Property of of the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna

Measurements and drawings by Antonino Airenti



Mrs. Airenti, photographing the original bows for the archive.


The Airentis, who have already cataloged the bow collections of several museums, have now completed the study on the original bows of the Orpheon Foundation and will publish the results very soon.

You may wish to visit their informative site BaroqueBows or