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Bow Maker Roger Zabinski has Died, Age 74

After creating over 900 bows within his lifetime, The Violin Society of America shared that he passed away of cancer


Born in Sauk Center, Minnesota, in September 1950, Roger Zabinski grew up in Hibbing. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, majoring in music history and literature, Roger’s introduction to violin making came in 1972 with a visit to Chester Groth Music in Minneapolis. There, he met luthier Vaido Radamus and went on to make 20 violins, 3 violas, and 3 gambas.

In 1975, Zabinski met the Minneapolis bow maker Martin Beilke, who at the time had gone blind. Despite this, Beilke passed on some of his bow-making knowledge and experience.

Zabinski opened his own shop in 1976, and in 1982, he accepted a job at Givens Violins in Minneapolis doing instrument and bow repairs.

By 1985, Zabinski was able to devote all his efforts to making and repairing bows, and he gradually developed his unique models of violin, viola, cello, and bass bows. That same year, he was elected member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and was awarded a journeyman’s certificate.

Roger won a gold medal at The Violin Society of America's International Convention and Competition in 1986. He became a member of the Entente International des Luthiers et Archetiers in 2011.

According to The Violin Society of America, by the end of his life, Roger had made over 900 bows. Speaking to his attention to detail and dedication, the society writes that "he made them one at a time and made all of the parts of each bow himself.

"He numbered them and kept a 4-by-6-inch card in his shop with the number and details of each individual bow, and where each one went."

Our condolences to Mr. Zabinski's family, friends, and colleagues.

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