Commissions and Testimonials

Jaige Trudel (violinist with Crowfoot, Maivish): “Your bow has transformed my experience of my instrument and it makes me really, really happy to play. The quality of tone that my fiddle produces now, and the ease and dependability with which I can create this sound, is downright magical. I’m absolutely delighted!”

Camden Shaw (cellist, Dover Quartet): “I had been looking for a new bow for 6 months by the time I went to visit Mt. Airy Violins and Bows, and after spending a very enjoyable two hours there. . . I had narrowed it down to two (bows) without knowing how much they cost, as that knowledge often influences one’s perception of their quality- and I was very pleased to find that one of the two bows was made by Elizabeth!  I took both bows home for a while (the other was much more expensive, by the way) and played them for friends and colleagues in bigger performance spaces.  Everyone agreed that Elizabeth’s bow drew a noticeably richer sound out of my instrument, in every register, and maintained a clear sautille stroke, which is unusual in bows with such a deep sound.

Elizabeth’s work is clean, beautifully executed, and utilizes beautiful wood.  But most importantly, her bow gets results.  I can honestly say that after trying a few hundred bows in the last 6 months, hers gets by far the best sound out of my instrument and offers me the most opportunity to grow in my playing.  I highly recommend looking into her work.”

Bruce Molsky (old-time solo recording artist): “Elizabeth Vander Veer Shaak’s beautifully crafted bows heighten articulation and tone like no others I’ve played. My Shaak bow seems to know what I’m going to play before I do!”

John Blake Jr. (iconic jazz violinist) “I love my Shaak bow. I never knew how much difference a bow could make!”

Commissioning A Bow

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Elizabeth enjoys partnering with players when they commission a bow by listening, understanding the player’s approach to the instrument, and allowing the player to sculpt his or her sound.

Elizabeth uses tools that are original antiques or replicas of the old masters. Using hand tools instead of larger, faster machinery allows her to know the bow by keeping in touch with the wood. Every part of the bow is designed and created by hand — the soldered silver or gold ferrule, the carved and inlaid frog, the turned button, and the carefully planed and graduated stick. All the materials used in the bow, down to the abalone in the frog and button, are chosen with great care.

Each bow is made from materials that come from all over the world. The rare woods come from Madagascar and Brazil. The abalone and oyster pearl come from New Zealand, Japan, and Australia. The silver is mined in New Mexico. The tip is made from prehistoric mastodon tusk unearthed by glacier movement in Alaska.

Can I try a bow before I buy?

Yes. I always have one bow in the shop. You are welcome to come and try it. If you like it, you can order your own bow by putting 5% down. When I am ready to begin your bow (I have a 3- to 6-month wait list), another 10% is due. You will start to receive pictures of your bow in progress via email. When your bow is finished I will send you both the custom bow and the shop bow for you to choose.

What else do I need to know about ordering a bow?

Meeting with you and listening to you play is the best way for me to understand what you are hoping to find in a new bow. If that’s not practical, the answers to these questions can help me in choosing the best design and wood for you:

  1. How would you describe the tonal qualities of your violin?
  2. Which of these attributes do you wish to enhance?
  3. Do you feel that your present bow is limiting you technically? In what ways?
  4. Are you hoping to improve certain aspects of your playing by purchasing a new bow?

The art of making an instrument for a musician is an exciting and fulfilling process for both of us. It’s always a privilege for me to help you achieve your best.

Please contact me by email at mountairyviolins@gmail.com or call 215-438-9031

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Vander Veer Shaak Violin Bow

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Vander Veer Shaak Violin Bow

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Vander Veer Shaak Cello bow

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Vander Veer Shaak Cello bow

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The Bow Maker, Elizabeth Vander Veer Shaak

With almost 20 years of experience and original training in Paris, Brussels and New York, Elizabeth uses precious materials while giving consideration to design, tone and playablility to create a “one-of-a-kind” bow to be enjoyed for generations. She draws on her research of master bow graduations to create bows that have a specific feel from a particular period of time. She enjoys partnering with players when they commission a bow by listening, understanding the player’s approach to the instrument and allowing the player to sculpt his or her sound. Elizabeth studied the art of bowmaking in Paris with Jean Grunberger and Stephane Thomachot, in Brussels with Pierre Guillaume, and in New York with William Salchow in the mid 1980s. The methods she learned while studying bowmaking in France follow traditions dating back to the 1700s. Elizabeth participates regularly in the prestigious Oberlin College Bowmaking Seminars, which feature the most prominent international makers of our time.

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