Any bows made with alternative materials will be specifically stated on the Bows for Sale listings. Rodney’s bows are generally made of the highest quality traditional materials.
Wood – Pernambuco has been the primary source of bow wood for centuries. Its strength yet flexibility, density and consistent color are essential characteristics for fine violin, viola, cello and bass bows. Primarily due to deforestation, pernambuco has become endangered in many areas of Brazil. Though forests are being restored by organizations such as IPCI-USA and its counterparts IPCI-Canada, IPCI-Comurnat and IPCI-Germany, the increasingly limited supply of Pernambuco has many bow makers researching other wood alternatives with similar characteristics.
Rodney D. Mohr has spent countless hours researching and experimenting with such woods as:
Massaranduba – (Manilkara Bidentata)) also known as Brazilian Redwood. Rodney has had great success making bows with this wood.
Wamara – (Bannia Leguminosae ) also known as Mututy in Brazil. This wood makes fine bows.
Ipe – (Tabebuia Bignoniaceae) also known as Brazilian Walnut or Ironwood. This wood is also a great option for fine bows.
While all these alternative woods will make fine bows, the drawback is acceptance by the music community. Musicians have been taught to recognize Pernambuco as the finest and most accepted wood for fine violin, viola, cello and bass bows, considering any other wood a lesser-quality substitute.
Pearl – Mother-of-pearl and abalone have been used for centuries in bow making and produce a beautiful result. The high cost of abalone and some restrictions on harvesting have forced some alternatives to the forefront, but none as beautiful as the abalone heart. Pearl’s only downside is its vulnerability to perspiration and its corrosive nature. Alternatives to pearl are typically made of synthetic materials which are often brittle and too consistent in color. The natural fluctuation in color that pearl displays, still continues to make it the primary choice for makers and players.
This substitute called Sanwa ( impregnated synthetic opal) comes in a variety of colors. The material is impervious to perspiration and will be a suitable substitute for those who experience considerable perspiration while performing. It is also very comparable in price to abalone and mother-of-pearl, however there is a minimal additional cost for preparation.