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Removing Camber


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Looking for a little help/advice on a bow. A customer brought me a nice violin bow that she had re-cambered the last time she had a re-hair. She said that it was not responsive when she was playing at the head of the bow. Whoever added camber (she did not tell me who) added it right in the middle of the bow so that it is almost pushing through the ribbon of hair; and, she is still having the same problem. Now, I have removed camber before, but only on bows that I have made that were unfinished. I have tried the same method I was taught and that I used on my own bows, but this stick is not moving. The method is heating the area that needs camber removed and tightening the hair so that it pulls up evenly along the stick, not leaving any flat spots. I have been working on this for several days now without success.

So, my question is, should I try another method, or is there another method to even try? Or, should I leave it as it is, or is there a camber specialist out there that I should suggest she send it to, or should she send it back to the maker and let him fix the issue? I am painfully aware of the risks involved with re-cambering and would appreciate some input. The bow actually needs camber behind the head. There is a nice flat spot a little less than a hand-width behind it.

The reason she hasn't sent it off yet is purely monetary and the risk of shipping.

Thanks for any help,


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...The method is heating the area that needs camber removed and tightening the hair so that it pulls up evenly along the stick, not leaving any flat spots...

I've never heard of this method. I don't think it would work very well, and it might be more likely to result in more camber -- not less.

...should I try another method...

The few times I've wanted to do it, removing camber has always seemed harder to me than adding it. Described briefly, my method is to heat the area of the stick (in an alcohol lamp) where I want less (or more) camber then bend the stick between my hands in the direction that I want to shape it. If the stick doesn't move, I try again, heating it a bit hotter and/or bending it a bit harder.

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Recambering is always a risky business. As Brad describes, you heat a section of the stick to a point just below the scorching point, and adjust the bend, either with your hands, or over a curved block. Always the risk of breaking or burning the bow. Not something that you want to do on a customer's bow without some previous experience and practice.

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If the camber went in , it can come out. I use a heat gun... the type used for removing paint. I find the trick is to go easy, keep the bow a good distance from the gun, keep the gun moving, the bow rotating and be patient... It takes time to get the heat thru to the center of the wood. Rock the heated bow against a cork lined convex curved block. Impatience leads to scorching and blistering.

Good luck! Mat

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