Ken Altman
Bow Maker

Finely crafted bows for violin, viola, 'cello and bass.
Ken Altman 2009

"Just letting you know how the bow is after a few weeks of breaking it in. I am still amazed how well it opens up my range in thumb position.  With my old bow, I was able to hit those notes, but never made them sing like I am able to do now.  I was messing around with Beethoven's 9th and for kicks tried to play the cello melody at pitch during the last solo in the "Ode" movement and exceuted it to the point that my wife was wondering where I picked up a cello from as she never heard me that sweet in that range before.
"It has been about 6 months and I thought you might want to know how the bow you made for me is handling.

As I mentioned before, this bow has opened up the higher register for me greatly.  I recently installed some silver wound gut strings to my G and D, and found the notes up to the end of the fingerboard to speak very easy and precise.

Handling is excellent.  I am very happy how you managed to keep the bow light yet, have enough robustness to put up with my playing schedule.

It also makes a wonderful conversation piece with many of my peers asking about the maker.  I know Hammond and Ashley in WA carried a few of your bows before with good feedback and all the luthiers I talked to up here are impressed with the craftmanship
In early 2009 Christopher Spencer, a Tacoma, Washington area bass player, commissioned me to make a German style bass bow with a mastodon ivory and Sterling silver frog. This was an intriguing, and to a certain degree a daunting project. Mastodon ivory is much more dense than ebony, the material most commonly used for bow frogs, so a mastodon frog will weigh quite a bit more than a comparable ebony frog. In order to compensate for this extra weight, I had to find a piece of pernambuco for the stick that was not too dense, but that also had enough stiffness to make a reasonably strong bow. Choosing the right piece of wood was a critical factor in the success of this bow. As I worked the stick down closer and closer to the final dimensions, I paid very close attention to the weight and balance of the bow, taking into account the extra weight of the frog, with the intention of imparting the bow with the proper playing characteristics.

At Mr. Spencer's request, I carved the button to resemble the spiral flutes of a narwhal tusk.

It's an honor to work with rare and beautiful materials like this ivory, not to mention the fine pernambuco wood. I feel a responsibility to do the best work that I can with these resources, so that my bows will serve their owners well for a long time to come.