Making It: Ashland Bow Makers Add Personal Touch to Orchestras Worldwide

MAKERS: Rodney and Kate Mohr

BUSINESSES: Mohr & Mohr (Rodney), fille de Mohr (Kate) 

Rodney and Kate Mohr [Jeff Haynes]

BOWS NEED MORE RESPECT: “A lot of people think of bows as accessories, but, they’re really such an important part of the sound that you can make,” Rodney Mohr said.  “A really fine bow almost plays itself. You can almost get out of the bow’s way and let it do what it does.” 

A LOT OF BOWS, WORLDWIDE: Over the course of three decades, Rodney Mohr has made over 1,000 bows.

“I probably have a bow in every major orchestra in the United States,” he said. “I also have bows in Europe and in Asia, people of all ages, either conservatory students, professional players, soloists, you name it.”

LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER: Rodney’s daughter, Kate, has her own bow making business, fille de Mohr, upstairs from her father’s shop in Ashland.  Frustrated from working dead-end jobs, she asked her dad to show her the ropes.

“My teacher has won all kinds of awards, and he’s really put in his time,” she said.  “Now, I’m learning from one of the best.”

A FATHER’S PRIDE: “Kate’s gotten to the point where she’s really teaching herself,” he said.  “She’s showing me things: ‘What do you think of this? Do you like this line? How does this feel to you?' So, she’s actually getting to the point where she’s a thinking bow maker.”

NO ASSEMBLY LINE HERE: “I think one of the big things that people don’t really understand about the industry is a machine is not making them,” she said.  “They’re not made in an industrialized factory.  They’re made by hand. Even in China, they’re all made by hand.”

MAKING IT WITH SOUL: "There is something really special about a bow that’s made completely by hand," he said. "You kind of impart a soul into it as you’re working.  It’s really pretty amazing.”

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