David Tamblyn | The Canadian Encyclopedia


David Tamblyn

(Robert) David Tamblyn, bow maker, born at Ottawa 17 Apr 1946.

David Tamblyn

(Robert) David Tamblyn, bow maker, born at Ottawa 17 Apr 1946.


David Tamblyn first worked as a performing musician but soon developed an interest in specialized woodworking and bow making. He ran an independent cabinetry concern in Toronto (1979-1993) while pursuing his interest in music, then in 1978, turned seriously to bow making on the encouragement of American violin maker Jonathon Conover. Feeling that the "precise, individual projects" involved in bow making particularly suited him, David took courses at the University of New Hampshire with famed New York bow maker William Salchow, (1988-93), with Lynn Hannings and George Rubino (1994-97), and in England with Tim Baker and Derek Wilson ( 2007, 2009 and 2011).

Bow making: Tools and Restoration

David Tamblyn designed and developed unique bow making tools, often made to order, which he sold (1989-97) under the name "Tamblyn Products". These included planes, pearl eye/ring cutters, underslide formers, ferrule formers and custom size spade drill bits. Beginning in 2000, he has been the senior bowmaker-in-residence at The Sound Post, a Toronto luthier, where he performs and oversees the rehairing, repair and specialized restoration of fine bows. His expert skills have been recognized widely in Canada and abroad, and he has done major restoration work on many fine, valuable, modern and historical bows for a range of musicians including Roman Borys and Annalee Patipatanakoon of the Gryphon Trio; Shauna Rolston and Thomas Rolston; Min-Jeong Koh and Rachel Desoer of the Cecilia String Quartet; Jeanne Lamon, Christina Mahler, Thomas Georgi of Tafelmusik; Joelle Morton of Scaramella; teachers Katharine Rapoport and Susan Spier; and well-known Canadian fiddlers Anne Lindsay, John Showman, and Anne Lederman.

Tamblyn has always taken particular care to preserve original materials while keeping fine bows in excellent playing condition. In his own bow making work, which he also pursues at his home workshop on Toronto Island, Tamblyn has especially favoured the cello models of Dominique Peccatte, although his work covers bows for all string instruments.


Happy to share his knowledge, Tamblyn has influenced such Canadians who work as bowmakers or in their repair and restoriation as Bernard Walke, David Doyle (Ottawa); Michelle Speller (Vancouver); Linda Bardutz (Saskatoon); Rodney deVries (St. John's); Stephen Marvin (Toronto), and others. He has taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts summer Violin and Bow Restoration Workshops (2004-05), at an intensive two week programme organized by Banff and held at Gibralter Point, Toronto Island (2006), and workshops at the Sound Post with William Salchow and Derek Wilson as invited guests. Tamblyn has contributed the article "Refurbishing a bow" in The Conservation, Restoration, and Repair of Stringed Instruments and their Bows, Volume 3, ed. Tom Wilder, (Montréal, 2010).

See alsoString Instrument Making.

Further Reading