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Greg F.

Bow opinions

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Hi,

 

I'm a total newbie having started taking fiddle lessons about 1 1/2 yrs ago (at an "advanced" age) and have enjoyed reading about the instrument online and elsewhere.  I've found the discussions regarding bows perplexing and since I have a bow that I like (remember, a total newbie here) I wonder what the knowledgeable readers think of it.  Is it a beneath contempt bow or at least a mid-ling one.  It came with one of my ebay factory violin purchases but can't remember which one.  Some of my factory violins are late 19th century, so this bow might possibly date from such time.

 

It weighs 64.2 g, is 73 cm long, balance point is at 9 5/8 inches, no name, octagonal, old silver wire wrap, "German Silver" mount, very dark.  Brazilwood?  Snakewood?  Other? 

 

 

 

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/comments.

 

Greg

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German factory, the balance is O.K but the weight is a bit too much. If it doesn't bother you in the hand I guess you can use it.

As far as the wood goes I cannot say from the pictures, but snakewood it's not. Low quality Brazilwood would be my guess.

Do I see something like a repair patch at the profile of the head?

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Thanks for the reply.  What weight would be (all things considered) best?  I know there is a debate about bow weights going on elsewhere, but is there a generally accepted upper limit?

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If you all don't mind my picking your collective brains some more, here's the info on my second bow (which is sometimes my first, depends on how things are going).

 

It has silver mounts on the frog, the silver wrapping is as it was found but there is some copper wire (full disclosure-I added this myself and to be clear it is fully reversible (removable) if need be) where the bow had some leather that was largely worn away (I also added a new leather near the frog), 74.5 cm, 61.5 g, balance point at approx. 10 3/8" (which from what I've read is a bit too far(?)), round, no name or marking that I can find.  I'm pretty sure that this one came with one of my older ebay violins (personally I enjoy ebay, but I understand that many don't).

 

Brazilwood again?  Acceptable for use?

 

Thanks,

 

Greg

 

 

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Oops!  I think I measured the balance points on these incorrectly (from the very end of the button instead of from the bottom of the button).  So bow 1 would be about 9 1/8" and bow 2 about 9 6/8".

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Basically if the bows seem comfortable to you and there is no obvious damage just use them.

Maybe make a visit to a violin shop and ask to try some bows so that you get a feel for how yours compare.

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This is sound advise, go to a shop and try some bows and compare with how your own bows feel.

9 1/8'' is out of the presumably accepted standards. Try to aim for 9.5''

The second bow looks far better than the first you showed us.

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I'd say, too, that the second bow deserves proper restoration. But the first one could be rather good if you rehair it and replace the leather grip (I'd put the small leather ring on the tip side of the wrapping too, in order to hide the traces of soldering). I know two guys just looking for the a little bit heavier bows, with the balance point slightly moved toward the tip and I'm sure that there is a lot guys of same type. Martin Swan very well explained the reason for that here: http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330743-the-need-for-a-heavy-bow/?p=635047.

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The first one looks like a typical Markneukirchen trade bow from what we call Brazilwood - what doesn't mean that it won't play well. 64,2 gr is IMO very, very much for a violin bow, but much too less for a viola bow.

But it seems to have a very thick and long wire winding (probably it was originally just thread or leather, which reduces the weight for 3-4 gr.), and also the full-metal adjuster could be a younger, later replacement. Such bows are not of any significant commercial value, you should take this into consideration, when you're going to plan a restoration. As long as it plays well, all is well.

 

The second is much more interesting in my eyes, although it needs a greater restoration of the damaged frog. I'm not so proficient in all the botanical names of wood. but it looks like Amourette or Abeille (some botanist, please correct me!), has an good and interesting carved head and could be of french (Mirecourt) origin, what would make it always worth a professional restoration. Also here the adjuster seems to be a replacement, a more contemporary synthetical not-ebony artefact.

That's my impression from the few photos, maybe I'm mistaken. It would be helpful to see more details of all sides (frog, head), the "heel and shoe" of the frogs etc., but your photos are showing a great improvement since the first you posted B) .

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First is German trade bow out of manilkara also called abeille wood or beewood, beefwood ,bulletwood ,Balata, etc,...... and Brazilwood)

Second bow looks Japanese to me out of the typical wood used on those bows.

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This bow came with a violin that my neighbor gave to me (the instrument being in pieces).  It is marked Germany and what struck my newbie eyes was how wide the frog is.  The squarish back edge of such seems typical for violin bows but isn't the wider frog something viola bows have?   Or were some student violin bows made like this for ease of playing?  Length is about 74.5 cm and weight 58.6 grams.

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First is German trade bow out of manilkara also called abeille wood or beewood, beefwood ,bulletwood ,Balata, etc,...... and Brazilwood)

Second bow looks Japanese to me out of the typical wood used on those bows.

Thanks for clarifying! Many of this wood names are used for blurring the differences, I suppose. The word "Abeille" seemed for me to express, that it is not Brazil, but now I know better.

But I'm completely unfamiliar with japanese bows (and it could explain the plastic adjuster). Are some of them silver mounted?

(The last bow is another Markneukirchen Brazil/Abeille/beef... tradey with some "fancy" details; and the width of the frog's underside seems to be not more than a kind of "experimental" detail, I've had some of similar odd proportions.)

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Thanks for clarifying! Many of this wood names are used for blurring the differences, I suppose. The word "Abeille" seemed for me to express, that it is not Brazil, but now I know better.

But I'm completely unfamiliar with japanese bows (and it could explain the plastic adjuster). Are some of them silver mounted?

(The last bow is another Markneukirchen Brazil/Abeille/beef... tradey with some "fancy" details; and the width of the frog's underside seems to be not more than a kind of "experimental" detail, I've had some of similar odd proportions.)

What/where is the plastic adjuster?

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What/where is the plastic adjuster?

 

Maybe I'm completely wrong again (and it looks as if it isn't one of my best identification days) but the black parts of the adjuster at the 2nd bow you posted, the prob, japanese, seems by the reflections and the very homogeneous surface not to be from ebony, but synthetic - the whole shape reminds me of synthetic adjusters I've seen.. That's not very rare on contemporary manufactured bows. But the photo isn't of a very high resolution, If you take a close look and there are some "pores" visible, it's almost wood.

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Here's a better pic of the adjuster.  The black bit is wood and has grain lines.  The end has something like mother-of-pearl.

 

Re Japanese bows, I have a broken one handy that is somewhat similar in color to this bow (second one) but it sure doesn't look as nice.  But I would defer to the opinion of those who know.

 

This is all rather educational for me...thanks!

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A couple more pics of bow 2.  I can find nothing stamped on this bow such as letters or numbers.  Comparing it with the Japan marked bow that is handy, the color of bow #2 is somewhat darker.

 

As I recall, imported items (to the US) required a stamp or such for the country or region of origin beginning in the later part of the 19th century.  Did this rule apply to bows or were they exempt if sold as part of a "kit" or ???  When did Japan begin to make bows in quantity?  Would a 19th or early 20th century French or German factory have used Japan as a source for bows?

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Thanks for clarifying! Many of this wood names are used for blurring the differences, I suppose. The word "Abeille" seemed for me to express, that it is not Brazil, but now I know better.

But I'm completely unfamiliar with japanese bows (and it could explain the plastic adjuster). Are some of them silver mounted?

(The last bow is another Markneukirchen Brazil/Abeille/beef... tradey with some "fancy" details; and the width of the frog's underside seems to be not more than a kind of "experimental" detail, I've had some of similar odd proportions.)

JTL made some odd looking bow frogs of which ive had a few with the extra width. .

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JTL made some odd looking bow frogs of which ive had a few with the extra width. .

FWIW, the bow with the wide frog was with a violin having a JTL label inside.  Is there any playing benefit or difference in such?

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But I think you're not suggesting this is JTL-made?

No, as this bow is marked Germany.  But being with a JTL violin perhaps it was part of one of their student "kits".  I don't know if JTL sourced some of their student bows from Germany or not.

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No :) I think i have a spare frog somewhere in the wide style.

I'm curious as to the reason for the wide frog (and thus the width of the hair).  How would it influence playing, etc.?

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Don`t no why these bows were produced .They look pretty ridiculous and feel strange to play with. Just found a dismembered JTL one which has had the pearl eyes scooped out probably to be reused by someone in a repair. The ferrule width is 16mm which is wider than most cello bows.

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Regarding the japanese bows I found (during a quick google search) only this relevant informations from violinist.com:

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=11727

I remember I once had a bow with a chrysantheme-like small stamp, but it was from different wood.

I'm still thinking, that the head looks good, much better than an average german trade bow, and also the frog seems to be neatly made.

But are you sure, that it's silver and not some kind of alloy or stained aluminium?

And the adjuster shows a different metal.

 

Beyond that it's a red herring to reason that a bow and a violin have the same origin (or were once sold as a factory kit) only because they were found in the same case - they could have come together for 1000 and 1 coincidental reasons over the time. I've heard from german bows stamped with a french maker's name, because they were sold in his shop, but that JTL sold a "Germany" branded bow with their violins seems very unprobable to me.

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