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Polishing Silver Bow Fittings


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I've gotten away from power buffers, they remove too much too quickly, and will facilitate the rounding of corners and edges on ferrules and screws. I've switched to the micro-mesh sticks, they have 3 or 4 (depending on model) different grits and work with only a little water. Another nice thing about them is that there's no buffing compound residue left after polishing, therefore the process is cleaner. If polishing a ferrule on an assembled bow you might want to slide the ferrule down the hair and flip it over to polish the curved side to avoid wearing down the frog.

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I have a stick of jeweler's rouge. I moisten a piece of paper towel with alcohol and rub it on the rouge stick. It dissolves the rouge and transfers it to the paper towel. I then clean the offending silver pieces. Any residual rouge can be removed from the bow or frog with clean alcohol on a clean paper towel. It's not the fastest way but it works safely and you can pinpoint the area to be cleaned.

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If you are only facing light tarnish you will not need an abrasive. I use a product called Rolite with terry rag then buff with polishing rag. It is something like Simichrome but will last longer. I've kept silver out in open on shelf for over a year without turning.

If you have some pitting then you won't be able to circumvent abrasives. A little diamond on a leather wheel in your foredom (or dremel) will do wonders.

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I use a nifty little cloth thingy which has one cloth impregnated with jewelers rouge and one plain cloth for buffing. I stole it from my mom (she gave it to me really) about 25 years ago... It says it's from Bulova so it was obviously a promotional item they gave out. Works great to brighten gold, silver, brass, and with some patience even on nickel. You might try a jewelry supply for something similar.

Or with a quick Google search they are available all over, plus here's one on ebay


Just like everything else, it is on ebay

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Hi Jim,I use a polish like cream for polishing brass instrumwents ( unipol works fine).

I, just like Woodland, don't use power tools.

But if the surface of ferrule (especialy on germansilver )is too smudge,I rub it with a very fine steel wool befor the finer polishing.

Sometimes there is a rosin residue onto the wrapping,then may clean it with a string cleaner or very carefuly with alkohol and then polish finer with a cream polish.

Finaly buff with a clean soft leather piece or woolen cloth.

Take care to protect hairs from soiling.

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That's why I like the Micro-Mesh sticks, because on the nickel mounted bows the tarnish can be rather heavy and will need more than a light buffing, I can just flip the stick over and use the heavier grit, and it comes right off. Then I switch to a finer grit and I'm done, just a quick wipe with a cotton cloth or even paper towel and it comes clean.

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A Glasser 4/4 bow is 29-1/4" long. That includes the button. This is not to say Glassers are the last word or anything, but they do come in standard sizes.

Different classical makers made slightly different length bows. This is one reason why sometimes you have a bow that doesn't fit well into your violin case.

Best material? Pernambucco is generally recognized as teh best material, but there is currently a ban on the harvest and export of that wood, since it is endanged in Brazil. Eventualy, the ban will lift, since seedlings are being raised in plantations, but we are years away from having trees big enough to harvest.

There are several different species of wood called Brazilwood; some are the same species (different subspecies) as Pernambucco and make very good bows, Other types of Brazilwood are inferior.

Ipe is one wood that is being experimented with as a pernambucco substitute. Historically, snakewood was used, but was discontinued in favor of brazilwood and pernambucco.

And then there is always carbon fiber. Some people really like it.


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I've switched to the micro-mesh sticks, they have 3 or 4 (depending on model) different grits and work with only a little water.

I haven't heard of the mico mesh sticks. Where do you get them? Are they the same thing as the sticks they sell at the drug store that are used for filing fingernails? I think International Violin sells the sticks I'm thinking about also.

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