Togaman Guitar Viol: Bowed guitar... Not another guitar... another instrument!!
Above: Johathan Wilson playing his "Guitar Viol" or bowed guitar that you can purchase at Togaman Guitars
Above: Impromptu on Guitar Viol and improvisation by the maker himself. You can see more videos in his official channel youtube channel
A bit of history about the bowed guitar
Jimmy Page. Sigur Ros. Julio Revueltas. These are just a few contemporary examples of modern electric guitar players who are noted for weilding a bow to the guitar. The fact is, however, that "guitar bowing" has been going on for centuries. Bowed guitars have their predecessors in the early instrument called "Viol" also known as Viola de Gamba, however, by the 1700's, these heavenly sounding bowed string instruments all but died off due to the modern violin family's greater volume and ability to fill a concert hall with sound.
There was a six string instrument with frets and tuning like the guitar but bowed like a cello called the Arpeggione invented in 1823 by the Viennese guitar maker Johan Georg Staufer. Franz Schubert wrote a fine sonata for it. Today, Schubert's "Arpeggione Sonata" is commonly played on the Cello
As we know guitars the bridge of the guitar is flat and traditionally flat string plane will not allow for effective bowing. I know this.. and if you're thinking about tuning your guitar and add a viola bridge... warning! unless you're an instrument maker with expertise all you will get is your strings burst with the tension and probably bend the neck and spoil your instrument...! Though it's always fun to experiment with a violin bow on a guitar, on one of the strings at the edge, and a few experimental sounds this way, the possibilities are really limited. But then there are the "guitar viols" that will solve this problem.
The Guitar Viol
Above: Toga Man Bowed guitar detail with curved bridge
And here is when Jonathan Wilson came up with the dream of having a truly bow-able guitar and he ended up designing his own guitar-formatted bowed string instrument that has captivated the imagination of sonic artists, composers and guitar players around the world and been included even in some movie scores in popular films (300, Clash of the Titans, Day the Earth stood still, True Blood (HBO), CSI Miami (CBS) to name a few).
It has two series of instruments, the electroaccoustic (costing about 5000 dollars) and the accoustic. The second models are closer to a classical instrument (rather similar to the viola da Gamba) and rather much more pricy (around 7500-9000 dollars) but also with the quality sound of a good Viola (and now ask the prices of good classical instruments and you'll even consider it's cheap!)
Jonathan is a micro builder, that creates one of a kind pieces in his studio. Thus if you're thinking to order one consider there´s a time wait of four months up. For sure it will worth. I wish I could afford one at least.. I'd be happily waiting for it! :)
But though it's a bit out of my reach you may consider and find it interesting and you can read more about them at Togaman guitars
And here you can play some examples