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Lusitano

Confusing bow wood.

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To cut a long story short, I received 3 bows recently - 2 "old" and 1 brand new as gifts. While the old bows are wonderfully easy to identify as pernambuco and have clear "personalities"  which I am surprisingly happy with (the folks who bought them have no knowledge or experience with anything bow/violin or musically related), the new bow baffles me completely.

 

Initially I dismissed it as a probable inexpensive chinese hard wood bow with a "nice" frog until I took the time to examine and put it through a few "hurdles",  the sound was strangely "very pleasant" as was the handling. Upon close inspection it turns out there are what seems to be very faint wood weave marks which apparently seem to be colored the same hue as the varnish itself making it very hard to distinguish without a close look over (sad choice for varnish color!). What's also intriguing is the fact my father (competent jeweler) seems to believe the metallic fixtures are an actual silver compound, most likely stirling silver as the scratch test did not reveal any sort of coating and the porcelain indicated silver as well as the sheen and coloration but ofc he himself states there is margin for error o0

 

I am pretty sure it a chinese bow, I'm just confused as to what it's made out of and if the craftsmanship is decent by modern standards?

 

What do you all think? The tip is obviously bone, the edge work and tip seem very clean and it does not die out on me no matter what I seem to do to it.

 

 post-61117-0-96533700-1371895909_thumb.jpgpost-61117-0-28538700-1371895917_thumb.jpgpost-61117-0-45082900-1371895928_thumb.jpgpost-61117-0-42843100-1371895944_thumb.jpgpost-61117-0-96113800-1371895974_thumb.jpg

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I was under the impression sappan wood was a horrible wood to use on bows from general word of mouth. This thing isn't horrible and there aren't any of the odd grain lines or stiffness issues I read about with this stick, if it really is sappan wood I'm sort of impressed. Not exactly a soloist grade bow but it makes for a good every day bow, outdoor stick, fun extra bow to play with.

 

The bow stick itself does look very clean which suprised me, I was under the impression chinese bows looked much worst than this! Machine made or not, I like the design LOL

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I was under the impression sappan wood was a horrible wood to use on bows from general word of mouth.

 

I also believe this is from China. I was told that Chinese grows (a variant of) pernambuco in southern part of China and the stick would look like what the picture shows.

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If it really is sappan wood, its surprisingly (because I was under the impression it was a horribly unsuitable wood which produced unusable bows and did not stand a chance of competing with pernambuco) impressive and not at all . Any bow maker opinions on this bow? The wood, craftsmanship?

 

I've never worked with sappan wood and I'm curious as to what sort of comments people have on it. I love old pernambuco bows but I have no complexes with wood "pedigrees". The craftsmanship, even the machine made frog, are something i didn't expect from China... When did they start making such nice (at least to me) looking bows sans the obvious flaws? The chinese bows I'm used to seeing all look like they where carved with blunt stones and waxed over with plastic wrap like "varnish".

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Heres one with the same inlay to the frog ,thumb leather looks the same as well. The Chinese make inlaid frogs in a huge variation ,most are a sort of mish-mash of styles. Yours has the Tourte style heelplate ,the one i link to has a Fonclause type pearl  button inlay.(as seen on bows  by Benoit Rolland only with smaller dots)

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Pro-Performance-Pernambuco-Violin-Bow-Ebony-Forg-w-Silver-Cross-Ebony-Forg-4-4-/261054161080?pt=UK_Musical_Instruments_Sting_Instruments&hash=item3cc80a60b8

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Just because its probably Sappanwood doesnt mean that every stick is unsuitable for bowmaking.Wood within a tree can vary greatly in density ,stiffness ,etc... this is particularly evident with Abeille wood which is widely seen on old bows .Some of it has good playing properties ,some is awful. Many older abeille bows of the cheapest type were probably made of improperly seasoned wood ,which is why you see many that are bent and twisted all over the place. But good makers used it to good effect. 

Sappanwood probably has similar variations in quality . Ive seen a nice bow made from Chakte Viga (Mexican Pernambuco) ,also called red heart  and another member of the Caesalphinia family .

If your interested in wood properties for bows ,heres a few  PDF`s

study of bow sticks.pdf

0066.pdf

0068.pdf

0070.pdf

0072.pdf

study of bow sticks.pdf

0066.pdf

0068.pdf

0070.pdf

0072.pdf

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Thank you so much for the pdf, extremely helpful and oddly interesting! If what is exposed on there is correct, I'm curious as to why no one seems to be using bamboo as a stick wood?

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I purchased a split cane bow from Lawrence Cocker in 1965 (it had a head of Cocobola wood). It was a good bow though I found it too stiff. I traded it for a bow by Joseph Kun at his shop in Ottawa and oddly enough, it was purchased by my teacher who in turn sold it to another of his students. I also purchased a Guarneri model violin from Cocker, but that is another story.

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I would love to hear about your Cocker violin - there was one in Bromptons which looked nice and sounded very good.

I have one of the split-cane bows. If I close my eyes I have to admit that it's spectacularly good, and I wonder what incredible bows would result if serious makers applied themselves to bamboo .... but when I open them again it just looks wrong, and I would rather use a less good bow that's pernambuco and French.

Most of the orthodoxy surrounding violins and bows is like that - it's all about acquired tastes. If it doesn't look like a valuable antique, it must therefore be no good.

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Well Martin, it's a strange tale. I must say that Cocker was a very nice person to deal with. As I was an impecunious student at the time, he let me pay for the instrument in monthly instalments over two years until it was completely paid for at 125 pounds! He said that tonally the instrument was equal to or better than anything he had made. It was nicely made but unfortunately, I didn't like the sound. It seemed to me hard and metallic. Also, after several years the varnish crackled rather badly. Finally, I sent it to Joseph Kun to see if he could make any improvements. On its return, however, the belly was badly smashed in transit. Mr. Kun was terribly upset an offered me $1000 credit on anything in his shop plus free repairs to the instrument. However, I didn't want the instrument back so after much bargaining, Mr. Kun agreed to take the instrument and I walked away with amongst other things a very nice tortoiseshell and gold mounted Kun bow. The bow, however, didn't seem to suit me so after a few years, I sold it to a friend who liked it. Last year, some twenty years or so later, my friend came to visit and to my surprise, I now loved it. I traded him a gold mounted Nurnberger and it has become my favourite bow. I wonder now what I would think of the Cocker violin were I to try it again. Luckily though, I had lessons later with Alfredo Campoli and was fortunate to acquire one of his Roccas (Rocca No. 3 as he styled it). Is there a lesson in all this?

By the way, I'm told that after Cocker's death, his wife tried to make a few of the bows but they were quite inferior.

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I am rather impressed with everyone's lack of negative comments, very open minded and informative comments. Not a single explosion over the origin or apparent untraditional nature of the wood and construction of the bow. 

 

If only I could find an apprenticeship with someone as nice as you all have been and as pacient with my innovation oriented way of working, I'd die a happy noob luthier LOL

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Jesus christ this thread is old! (turns out the bow is actual pernambuco, it's waiting to be sold off :) )

 

 

$_12.JPGNow that's innovation!  :lol:

Guarneri's beard..... I need coffee to process this image, a lot of coffee...

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