MikeCanada

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  1. I have usually done/seen about four turns around of black before adding the lighter colour. That would work out to just under half of what is in your photo, and would look "normal" from what I have encountered. Another thing to consider is that although the whalebone is significantly thicker than silver or silk, usually you want to put a layer or two of something over the whalebone under the thumb leather such as masking/painter's tape or newspaper, so the player does not see and feel the ripples/valleys of the whalebone. Otherwise, it looks great. I haven't done one in a while, and it's making me feel like I should give one a go.
  2. Thanks again. The first two are exactly what I was describing, and what I have seen before. The majority of the first type I have seen on German bass bows, where they were added for a bit of weight, and often to cover the transition from round to octagonal at the frog end, which I know some players and makers alike do not like the look of. I personally prefer German bows without a winding (as a player) and think that transition can be quite nice depending on the execution of it. As you mentioned, the second I have seen primarily on student bows. It can be done quite quickly, is very durable, and unless you have a student picking at the overlap and pulling the leather off, it should last for a very long time. I have seen it with quite thin leather like the one pictured, but also with the same thickness of leather that one might use on a thumb leather with proponents of it postulating that beginners, particularly less dexterous children, benefit from having something a little thicker in the hand. That is one of the same benefits often mentioned in regards to whalebone, but it is also one of the reasons a lot of people don't like it. As for the third I have not seen it at all, and was curious as to how it looks and feels. There are a lot of really interesting things that can be done with windings, and occasionally it seems that we are wrapped up in tradition. While using something historically appropriate in restorations/repairs particularly on pedigree/fine bows is the right thing to do, I do not see an issue with being more creative with modern making, or student bows. I know that many modern makers are concerned with selling bows and that straying too far from tradition can sometimes shrink your potential market, but an interesting winding is a low pressure/risk way to do something innovative that can be "fixed" if so desired by a player/buyer, where a radical new head/frog model is not such an easy switch.
  3. Brad, you can also "cheat" and put a piece of double sided tape under there, or add a little bit of powdered rosin to increase the friction as well. I am curious about the leather you mentioned. I have seen solid leather windings that are either essentially a very long thumb leather on it's own, or that with a thumb leather on top, but never something using leather in a similar fashion to the whale bone. Suede side in or out? Do you have any photos of those? What does it feel like to the player? I'm imagining it being fairly "grippy" under the first finger, which some players would really enjoy, others not so much. Thank you for taking the time to take the photos and write it out. I remember making a post explaining how to measure a balance point to someone who was concerned about a bow being tip heavy, and having a bow in one hand and a camera/phone is awkward at best.
  4. I've encountered a few bows where the frog has a fair amount of wobble. If I give the eyelet a half turn either it becomes unacceptably tight, or it won't catch at all. It seems like 1/4 turn would be the perfect amount, but obviously that's not a viable option. Does anyone have any tips/tricks/suggestions?
  5. The internet has changed bow making right from the acquisition of knowledge and raw materials, all the way to selling the bow. A lot of our information comes from the internet now, and the internet is often where we start our search even if we intend to retrieve that information elsewhere. Forums like this allow us to connect with other craftspeople, makers, suppliers, shops, auctions, performers, professional associations, etc. all have websites, and we start there. Because bows are such a visual and tactile tool, we gravitate a lot to photos online. Shops often have photos of at least part of their inventory, makers have examples of their work, auctions usually have photos of what is for sale, many performers have photos of their instrument and bow if not on their own, in their head shots. We are constantly looking at photos, and depending on the nature of our professional work, we may have far more interaction with good/great bows via those photos than in person. Sharp, crisp lines and intense contrast photographs better than soft lines, curves, and similar colours. Some aspects do not photograph well or are extremely difficult to photograph such as arching, which is why we see a lot of side profiles of frogs and heads. How we look at bows, and what we look for is influenced by the medium through which we see them. When it comes to supplies, suppliers, and raw materials, many people are purchasing through online suppliers and automated websites. Precise information, quantitative measurements, and clear photos are what many people look for. That makes sense when buying tools and mechanical parts like screws and eyelets, but is harder to do with things like wood, which we typically measure with qualitative measurements. We see a lot of emphasis being placed on tight grain and lucchi numbers because you can see grain in a high resolution photograph and lucchi numbers are a quantitative measurement, but you can't pick up the blank, tap it to see what it sounds like, flex it a bit to see what it feels like, etc. if you are buying online. Similarly, bold and dramatic are easier sells because they pop out of the crowd better, so we see a lot of bright coloured shell and extremely dark ebony. Sitting at the bench to make a bow, you then have to make a large decision: do you make a copy/model heavily influenced by a particular maker, or do you make something original? Because we have access to photos of really great bows, copies can be very similar to the original work. If you are making a copy for a competition, often you will have access to the original bow you are copying if not for the entirety of the making process, for a period of time when plenty of measurements can be made. Some of the copies that result as so faithful to the original that they copy the tool marks (if any) left by the original maker, and often the graduations as well. That dedication to replication does not necessarily lead to a bow that plays and feels like the original especially if the graduations are copied, because each piece of wood requires something different. If you are making a *insert pedigree maker here* model, or a "influenced/inspired by ** model" there are a lot of things to consider in that making process. If it is being evaluated by someone who is familiar with that original maker then they will be making direct comparisons, and there may be an opportunity to see the two side by side. There is almost always an opportunity to see photos of the two side by side. While this can be successful for a lot of makers and it is pretty common for bow and instrument makers to stick to a well known template, it is also a risk you take if you attach a name that is not your own to your work. Original models are challenging because if you intend to keep the frog and head within the realm of traditional looking frogs and heads you will more than likely make something that looks similar to a particular maker (intentional or not) and if you decide to deviate dramatically, you run the risk of decreasing your potential customer base as there are plenty of players that don't want a "weird" looking bow. After making that decision, you have to complete the bow. Chances are you have acquired "the best" materials and tools you can afford or have available to you, and you want to make the best possible bow you can. The best usually means being extremely particular about the finishing stages of the bow and the aesthetic result, especially if you aim to promote it via photographs. Even if you attempt to put words to how the bow feels on a website, photos have a far greater impact. If it is destined for a competition, workmanship and aesthetics are significant factors and tool marks, asymmetry, or a lot of things that are called "character" are usually avoided. Currently bows are not judged for how they feel/perform and while I doubt any maker sets out to make a bow that does not play well, that is not the deciding factor in competition. Selling a bow is not an easy thing to do, especially for makers who have yet to establish themselves. Competitions give a maker an opportunity to attain an award proving that their bow is a great bow, and it is another one of those quantitative measurements that is easy to point to. Mentioning an award on a website, or having the certificate hanging on your shop wall gives you something physical to point to that shows you do good work, where things like testimonial pages are subjective and in a lot of players' minds carry less weight. A lot of that selling does not happen in person, where either a maker has an arrangement with a shop that carries their bows, or the maker is contacted (often through email) and ships bows to a potential buyer. As a personal example, I own bows from a couple of Canadian makers who I have never met in person, and have tried bows from countless others, most of whom I have had little if any contact with. It seems like a lot of it comes down to how we take an "old" craft, and integrate it into the modern world we live in. When most everything around us is mass produced, machined, and laser precision is the norm, that absolutely impacts how we look at and make bows. None of that suggests that we make better or worse bows than in the past but that we make different bows for a different environment which may or may not be suited to the personal tastes of each player.
  6. I have been working on student, school, and non-profit bows for a few years. Communication is key. Your contact may be a string player, it may be a wind player, it may be someone who is not a musician, and/or they may have multiple people they need to coordinate repairs and repair budgets with who fall into any of those categories. Being able to explain what you can do for them in terms that everyone will understand is important. Including a brief description of each repair as well as common reasons for those repairs along with my price list was a large part of that. What you are repairing: Depending on the age, size, budget, and target student for the program, this can vary sometimes quite dramatically. Many new programs aimed at beginning students are purchasing violin outfits often from China. If they are part of a school board or affiliated with an educational institution, a registered non-profit, or a large organization, they likely are seeing much better pricing than you would walking in off the street to a shop. Economy of scale. At that point, the whole outfit of violin, bow, case, shoulder rest, rosin, etc. will have a replacement cost that whoever looks after the budget will be very much aware of. If an outfit costs $100 and an instrument needs $101 in repairs, they are replacing instead of repairing. Sometimes that number is even lower than replacement cost, as $80 in repair gets you a repaired violin, but $20 more gets you another bow, case, shoulder rest, and rosin, most of which would cost that much or more separately. The equation shifts a bit if they have more expensive instruments, but almost every decision is a budget decision first. When budget enters the equation, there are likely some repairs that you are not going to perform as a result. You might stop at anything that requires taking the top off, you might do exclusively bridges, pegs, nuts, and open seams, or you might have a different set of criteria. After I had developed a rapport with a music program I was working with, I occasionally took on interesting repairs that would usually be cost prohibitive for them to have repaired, but things that do not come through my workshop very often. Head splines where in that category for a while. I had studied them and completed two with a teacher but wanted to do a few more before I offered that service on professional bows, so I did a couple for a school which helped me feel confident in them. The school had bows repaired they were going to replace, and I was paid (less than I now charge to professional clients) to practice a repair. As far as biting off more than you can chew, this can absolutely snowball quickly. Especially if you start doing work they like at prices they like, and there are other similar programs in your area. While they may have a backlog of instruments in need of repair, you also need to set realistic expectations with them. Chances are they have some instruments that are a higher priority than others to be repaired which you can get to first, and if they have been just collecting an instrument graveyard for years now, they have made it work without those instruments this long so another week isn't going to kill them. Repair work tends to come in waves, so be prepared for a big dump at the end of their season that they will expect ready to go for the beginning of their next season, but also smaller ones before and after any travelling they do, new terms, when they reinventory instruments, when their budget for the next year starts, holidays/school breaks, etc. If you are just one guy and you have a day job doing something else or another reason for limited time in your workshop, be up front with them. Saying "No, I cannot have 50 violins ready to go for next month, but I can have xx ready" and delivering on that is far better business than saying you can do it and not being able to follow through, or over working yourself and setting the precedent that that type of work load is something you are capable and comfortable with. I agree that is horrible marketing, but could be a mutually beneficial arrangement, but may not be financially viable. If said violin needs a new setup of adjusting/replacing the pegs, nut, bridge, and soundpost as well as a set of strings, what will that amount of materials and labour cost you? Chances are the bow (if there is one) will also require at least a rehair, and if there is or is not a case, shoulder rest, rosin, those are all the things they expect in a violin outfit. The numbers might work out, but that depends on the cost of what they typically put in the hands of their students. This can be great for them while also helping you develop your knowledge, skills, confidence, speed, and business, or it can bury you in a pile of student violins you would rather light on fire than spend another minute working on. Good communication is key, and then see where that takes you.
  7. After give or take 12 hours soaking in acetone, trying with my thumb, duct tape, and again super gluing a piece of wood to the slide and using a hammer, the slide did eventually come out. In two pieces. It appears that the mating surfaces between the ebony and the pearl were not particularly flat, so during the process of getting it out the shell cracked in what looks like some sort of router/file created crevice. I am going to give Brad's suggested ebony only slide a go as I haven't made one of those in a while. It should take far less time and far less material cost to make one, so that might become an economically viable repair for some of the bows in that not worth it category. I really despise the "disposable bow" mentality and try to fight against it when possible, but I also know that repair budgets for student programs are really tight, replacing bows instead of repairing them is often cheaper, and from a business perspective I can't be the Chinese bow saviour. I do not think it was a problem with the super glue to a stick and tap it out method. That method has been successful when needed before. With this particular slide I broke two pieces of wood from striking them too hard, and even though I used a new tube of fresh glue the glue joint between the stick and the slide failed on my third attempt. it was an extremely tight slide, and given the amount of glue used in the tip mortise, I am guessing a similar amount was employed in the frog as well. Thanks for the acetone suggestion. It worked even though I ended up with a broken slide at the end of the day, and I am sure that will come in handy in the future.
  8. Thank you everyone. I tend not to have nail polish remover at home as I tend not to have nail polish, but I will give acetone a try. It is also very good to know that my workshop could use more pizza, wine, and naps from some highly respected members of the community. Brad, by "the bow isn't worth breaking the slide and making a new one" I do mean a new pearl slide. I quite enjoy that look of an ebony slide in the event that you find a piece of ebony that nicely matches the frog, which I know is not critical for a student bow where function is a more important factor. I was hoping I would be able to find an alternative solution to that, and will have to give the acetone, increased humidity, heat gun, and nap all a go before ruling it out. If those things do not work for this particular bow, I can see them coming in handy down the road. Josh, I do have a bit of a collection of bows that were not repaired, unfortunately nothing that fits this particular stick. The majority of my work so far has been on full size bows. This particular client has a lot of fractional sized bows they would like repaired, and it seems that the dimensions are not nearly as standardized as full size bows. There have been some pretty significant variations in weight, balance, length, and other dimensions from various manufacturers. In most cases not enough to suspect that I am dealing with a 5/8 bow instead of a 1/2 or 3/4, but enough that swapping out parts hasn't worked out all that well. As I acquire more bows beyond (economic) repair, I am sure my chances at achieving a match will increase. In a perfect world I would like to see far less super glue and oval mortises. Given the volume of repairs I am receiving from them that allow me to make bow repair/making a much larger part of my income than it was previously, I can't complain too much.
  9. I have been rehairing a fair number of student bows lately, and a common theme seems to be a whole lot of super glue in places it really shouldn't be. I have encountered a few pearl slides that have been glued in. I don't think the slides have been glued in intentionally, but more often than not it has been frog plugs that are glued in and the excess has resulted in the pearl being stuck as well. Regardless to how/why, I am in the situation of trying to get them out. I have had some luck with with the double sided tape/duct tape trick, running some alcohol around the edge of the slide, and using heat to soften the glue. I glued a piece of wood to the slide and then tapped two out recently as suggested here by Josh Henry on an old post with a similar problem, but even that tactic has not worked on the bow in question. The bow isn't worth breaking the slide and making a new one. Does anyone have any other suggestions/miracles I have yet to try? The bow is fine otherwise and while "I couldn't get it to come apart" is the truth, I really don't want to have to say that to the client who wants it rehaired. Thank you for your help.
  10. As far as how you go about measuring the balance point, there seem to be two main camps. The one that I am more familiar with is to measure from the end of wood at the button end, to where the bow balances, with the frog in the forward position. That measurement in North America tends to be in inches even though most other measurements in bow making tend to be metric, because players who have a desired balance point in mind are most likely to know their number in inches. The reason for the frog being in the forward position is that it will be the most consistent/repeatable placement of the frog regardless to the length of the rehair. The advantages being that it is a fairly common way to measure the balance point, (again, from a North American perspective) it is measured the same for every bow, and the numbers are pretty easy to remember. 9 1/2" for violin and viola bows tends to be pretty typical, depending on the cellist they tend to prefer something in the 9 1/2 - 9" range, and bass is all over the place, much like many of the other measurements on basses and bass bows. The second method of measuring from the thumb projection to the balance point takes into account variables such as a model with a frog mortise cut a little farther in either direction, or if the frog is a different model with a longer/shorter overall length, etc. I have not encountered that method as much in North America, but that could have more to do with the limited exposure I have to bow makers than its prevalence. I agree that balance point measured in either fashion does not paint the full picture. As a bassist who plays German bow, there can be a huge difference in feel depending on how a bow is mounted. Some makers make their German bows without a winding at all, and some make them with quite heavy silver windings. Regardless to the balance point, I have yet to find a German bow with a winding that I like in my hand. It inevitably feels as if there is too much weight in front of my hand. A bow without a winding is balanced with the weight of the stick, frog, and button instead of the addition of a winding and the distribution feels much more natural to me, as the weight at the frog end is in or behind my hand instead of in front of it. How a bow reacts while playing becomes a much more complicated equation than balancing it on your finger and measuring from there to your desired landmark. The bow has to be in a state of motion in order to create a sound, and that motion continuously changes how much bow is on either side of the string. I am guessing there is a way to scientifically observe and measure exactly what is happening when a bow is being played but from the perspective of a player, it either feels right or it doesn't. Some players use balance point as a qualifier when shopping for a bow because they have a particular number in mind that has worked for them this far, much like some players use weight, round vs. octagonal, silk, whale bone, silver, gold, or no winding, colour or species of wood, and a whole host of other characteristics. While I have known a number of players with a list that significantly narrows their options, I have yet to meet a player who does not let the feel and sound of the bow factor into their evaluation of it. A player who likes their gold mounted bow is not destined to like all gold mounted bows, but the weight of a gold winding in relation to their hand could be a large part of that preference.
  11. What is the "currently relatively light grip" on your bow? Typically silk, tinsel, whalebone, thin silver, thicker silver, gold tends to be the progression from lightest to heaviest, although there are some variations there as well. It is quite common for silver to end under the front of the leather. On many student bows it is often a cost cutting measure, but on better bows that tends to be an intentional decision for the sake of weight and balance. Lead can be added under the thumb leather in just about every case, the exception being whalebone as the thumb leather becomes almost comically large at that point. Suggesting that it just can't be done, or that the balancing process is entirely in the stick and not at all influenced by the winding is suspect information. Whether or not adjusting the winding would be a cost effective idea is up for debate. Depending on what you are looking to transition to and what the bow maker intends to charge for it, they could be looking at it as something they would not consider a wise economic decision. The train of logic being that the money spent on a new winding would be better invested into a new bow that better suits your needs, particularly as you have identified it is not an exceptional bow. If you like how it plays and sounds otherwise, it could be a decision you would like to make though.
  12. The mass produced bow business is being disrupted by Chinese bows. You can get a Chinese bow for $50, and in some cases even less. Typically it isn't the greatest bow, but it has hair on it and can make a sound. For $100 you can get something better than that, and when you get a little bit deeper in, you start to see some ok stuff. Some shops have their own line of shop bows that are now Chinese bows. They often have a German or French sounding name stamped on them because that typically means they sell at a price that favours the shop a little more, but when you ask for some more information on La Francais a Paris or Z. Deutchmann that is stamped on the bow, you may get a fairly vague answer. They may even have a few different models in a few different price points. Once you reach the higher end factory stuff that typically happens around $1000+ that part of the market is still largely dominated by the same names that have been in the game for a long time. Doerfler comes to mind as an example. You are not seeing a lot of Chinese competition in that part of the market yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it starts to happen in the not so distant future. As far as bow makers feeling that pain, I am not so convinced. Most modern makers in Western countries are typically selling at a price point where the high end factory stuff ends, let's say $1500+. At that end of the market, new makers are between high end factory stuff and established makers who have the experience, knowledge, and reputation that allows them to sell their bows for a higher dollar value. It may be a challenge to sell the first few bows, but establishing a client base is a challenge for any new business regardless to whether you sell bows or pizzas. The biggest squeeze I have been seeing is in repairs. Many of the cheapest bows are cheaper than even the cost of a rehair and while having the bow professionally rehaired will almost always result in it performing better than how it left the factory, asking someone to spend $60+ on a rehair when they only spent $50 or less on the bow is a tough sell. Many of those would be clients will just buy a new bow instead. If that happens to be an upgrade that can be a good move, but there are people who are buying another $50 bow, and just disposing of the old one. "Disposable bows" that are more expensive to repair than replace are becoming more common, and the attitude of if it's broken I just buy a new one is now happening in the bow world. I worry about what that means for the future of bow making because it puts a lot more strain on an already scarce wood supply.
  13. I am not seeing anything by Matt that seems to fit. Eric's bows look nice, but doesn't seem to be what I'm thinking of either. It could have been something from the ICPI book, but I don't think it was. What I remember was a comparison of a small sample of highly regarded French bows, and the choices that are made. Things like the angle at which the throat and the faceplate meet, and what changing that angle does to the look of a head. One example featured a rather flat faceplate compared to a very curved one, and then how that relates to the rest of the head. When coming around the nose and back up into the beak, what that curve can look like if you make it a tighter radius etc. All of that was juxtaposed against the modern maker's bow, where he was talking about the influence he drew from some makers, and where he decided to do something his own. I am fairly certain one of the French bows mentioned/pictured was a Lamy, and I cannot remember the other(s). I remember it helping me to look at heads in a different way than I had been, and it helped with a few concepts. While I have no intention of reinventing the wheel and I have a cello template I'm fairly happy with, I am looking to revisit my other templates and found it a valuable resource a few years ago when I last went through template evolution.
  14. A year or more ago I remember finding an article about bow head design. It very well could have been in two parts and also discussed frogs and/or buttons, but the head part is what is sticking with me. The article compared two or three well known makers one of which was Lamy, with the original design of a modern maker. It discussed the choices that can be made in designing a head, with some photos of the bows in question that allowed you to really see the differences that can be made with the curve of a throat, nose, and footprint, as well as some other decisions. I believe it was a .pdf linked from his website, and there is a possibility it was published somewhere. I am revisiting my templates again and found it helpful to have that information as a jumping off point. I have searched online and I'm not having any luck, but if someone has it bookmarked or knows what I'm talking about, I would greatly appreciate a chance to reread it. Thank you for your help.
  15. The roadblock for most people with something of this nature is business model: how do we make it make money? I am not suggesting a (North) American violin/bow factory, shop instruments without an individual name attached to them, or some sort of assembly line. The Stentor violin video that went around a while ago where everything was handmade in an assembly line but that happened to be in China is not the model I had in mind. While I think working in that kind of environment could be beneficial to a young maker in a lot of ways, I do not see that being a business model that works in North America. Upton Bass is a shop in Connecticut that comes to mind as an exception to this "rule". They do repairs and restorations and also sell instruments that are not their own, but they have a team of makers who make "Upton" basses. I do not have any affiliation, I do not own an instrument of theirs, and I have only visited once, but they have been in business since 1999 and they seem to be doing fairly well for themselves. What the breakdown is between repair, restoration, making, retail, etc. I have no idea, but they are cranking out a decent number of instruments so they have found a way to make it work in North America. Instead of suggesting the Upton model, I am suggesting a shared space where people who happen to do the same thing happen to be under the same roof. The benefits of being able to share machines, bulk order, pay less overhead, and potentially have a business assistant/manager/secretary/accountant/web designer/whatever you want to call that person at your disposal seem considerable, and nothing has been said about the sharing of ideas, information, techniques, etc. between colleagues. Even if everyone relatively keeps to themselves but sometimes you find yourself chatting with someone over a coffee, or the guy across the workshop says "Hey Mike, what are you working on today?" you could learn/absorb a lot too. I see the space functioning much like some of the summer workshops, without the structured teaching aspect. A space where makers can make, we just happen to be in much closer proximity to one another than is often the case.