Sousa Bows made from ipê hardwood

Bowmakers are now turning their attention to another South American hardwood – ipê.

Over the centuries many woods have been used for stringed instrument bows; Brazilwood/ pernambuco, snakewood/amourette, spindlewood, tung wood, coral wood, ironwood, plum wood, beech wood, ebony, bois d’abeille (also known as bulletwood or maçaranduba) and other tropical hardwoods. Due to the increasing concern about the sustainability of pernambuco, bowmakers are now turning their attention to another South American hardwood – ipê.

A study from 2010 in the  IAWA Journal, Vol. 31 (2), 2010: 149–160, called, The Potential of Ipê (handroanthus spp.) and Maçaranduba (manilkara spp.) Woods in the Manufacture of Bows for String Instruments, by Eduardo Luiz Longui, Takashi Yojo, Daniel Romeu Lombardi and Edenise Segala Alves, has brought ipê to the fore as a possible substitute for pernambuco.

The study evaluates the anatomical, chemical, physical, mechanical, and acoustic characteristics of ipê and maçaranduba. Their summary states:

Length, frequency of vessel elements and rays, and the higher percentage of fibers influence the density, modulus of elasticity, modulus of rupture, and the speed of sound propagation, whereas the content of lignin influence the sticks’ stiffness. It appears that handroanthus bows can provide quality equivalent to that of pernambuco wood. Despite its appropriate heartwood color and texture, manilkara provides bows of inferior quality.

We now have in stock a number of bows made from Ipê by Julio Batista and his staff at Sousa Bows, and invite interested players to come and try them in one of our practice rooms. They offer a realistic alternative to pernambuco at a very competitive price.

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