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Finally Broke Down and Bought a Bow


rynthae
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Well, after a few years of growing rusty, I've picked up the violin once more and lately I've really started to think about the effect that my bow, rosin, and strings have. The violin I play is good quality -- German and probably late 1800s, stamped "GLASS" (Franz Johann likely). It has such a unique dark, booming voice with a very unusual color (the stain is nearly black it is so dark) and is such a delight to play. Unfortunately, I never really invested in quality rosin or strings, mostly for financial reasons, and the bow is just a cheap fiberglass bow. The strings are mismatched, with the only good one being the "G" string (Dominant) and the rosin I have is just the $2 cheapo stuff. Wanting to turn that around, I am going to be using a little bit of my tax return hopefully to buy some Andrea Solo rosin (hopefully it won't melt in the South Florida heat) and some quality, darker strings.

Which just leaves the bow.

I'm definitely not rolling in money by any stretch of the imagination, which means that a lot of the bows that I want are laughably beyond my means. But I really wanted to hold out for a real wood bow, and I was really hoping for a decent German bow from a similar time period as the violin. Most of those are out of my price range... but I did find one on ebay and broke down and bought it. It needs rehairing obviously, but otherwise I felt that it was a decent buy. I was wondering if you guys think I did okay buying this? This isn't to resell or anything like that -- I'm not looking for the next million-dollar bow, but I am looking for something that will play well and that appeals to me.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Beautiful-Old-Antique-4-4-violin-bow-Stamped-034-Grimm-034-/251853605018?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=VTIn2AuWpAc6%252FQfffmHruYJl2iQ%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

Here's the breakdown on the bow: It weighs 55 grams without hair (after looking it up, it sounds like it would end up around 60-61ish grams with hair), it is stamped "GRIMM" near the frog. Underneath the frog is another stamp, "GERMANY" and what looks to be a hand carved "V" symbol. The metal is all real German silver as far as I can tell, and the slider and eyes of the frog are just gorgeous - very iridescent (the pictures don't do it justice). From what I gather, the frog is ebony, the tip is ivory, and the bow is most likely made from pernambuco wood. The wrappings were a cheap, shoddy job (not original, "glued" on with jewelers wax and not even real metal), so I removed those and will be replacing them. The bow was very slightly warped to one side to my alarm (despite the listing description), but after some creative clamping and Floridian humidity, I have straightened it back out. (The listing didn't have any good pictures of the stamps, but if I can later today I'll take a few)

Anyway, here are the pictures! Please let me know if you think I did all right. :) I haven't been able to play it yet since I'm waiting on my tax return to take it to be rehaired and rewrapped, but I get a good feeling from it.

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Listing Description: "Here is a beautiful old  full size violin bow stamped "Grimm" that is in excellent condition only needing a rehairing and cleaning. I don't see any damage what so ever. It will probably need a cleaning but that is it. The bow weighs 55 g, has silver fittings (I think), and is straight."

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:D I'm glad to hear that it looks good! Hopefully it'll sound good, too. :) Seeing how low the auction price was for this (making it affordable to me), I couldn't resist! That is awesome seeing that other auction! :D Definitely gives me hope that this one might play well, too!
 

Looks good to me, hope it plays well after rehairing, etc.  $68.00 is worth the gamble for an old German, IMHO.  :)

 

 

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A slight warp in an old bow is no big deal, especially if the warp is to the left (as you sight down the bow from the frog end with the frog hanging down).  That slight warp to the left will counteract the deflection of the bow to the right as you play it. 

 

You said you've straightened it. Don't be surprised if the warp returns after some time.  It might not be worth fussing with any warping, if it is slight and especially if the slight warp is to the left.

 

The concern in trying to straighten a warp in a bow is that you might also take out some of the camber, and that would definitely change the playing qualities of the bow.

 

later edit:  I just saw the photo of the warp in the bow.  It warps to the right but not very much, very little, in fact.   I wouldn't worry about it or try to fix it, until you see what it does when rehaired.

 

The test will be whether the bow does any appreciable warping after it's rehaired and tightened to playing tension.  If hair ribbon is at playing tension and If the bow doesn't warp any more to the right than it is right now without hair, you're ok.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some Grimm bows are excellent, I played one that was going at a shop for around 2K.  I think Grimm was an old German dealer, not necessarily a bow maker...but I'm not sure. 

 

mmmm - that's encouraging news! I am more than anxious to get this one fixed up and playable and I'm hoping it will play well! Honestly, just about anything would be an improvement over my mediocre fiberglass bow that I've been playing with!

 

Let us know how it plays when you get it back from being rehaired. :)

 

Just curious (as ever)...German silver is just nickel silver - so what do you mean by 'real German silver'? :ph34r:

 

Rue - will do! :) I took it to a local shop that does in-house work (they have a luthier on-site and all that) and their estimate was completely outrageous ($450 for rehair, windings, and grip). Luckily, my dad and I have brought violins and bows to someone in Spokane, Washington for years who really knows their stuff and does excellent, just fabulous work for a reasonable price, and we called up him today as my dad also has a bow he'd like to get rehaired, and he offered to do the rehair, windings, and grip for $125 which is a much better price... so as much as I'd love to get the bow in playing condition right away, I think it is for the best that I'll be shipping this to Spokane (we live in Naples, Florida currently) to have everything done. As soon as I get it back I will let you all know how it turns out though!

As for the German Silver thing... I got a little over-excited without knowing much on the subject. It is German Silver, which at the time I didn't realize was the same thing as nickle silver -- sorry for any confusion on that! That's all right, though. :) It looks nice, and hopefully it'll play well also!

 

A slight warp in an old bow is no big deal, especially if the warp is to the left (as you sight down the bow from the frog end with the frog hanging down).  That slight warp to the left will counteract the deflection of the bow to the right as you play it. 

 

You said you've straightened it. Don't be surprised if the warp returns after some time.  It might not be worth fussing with any warping, if it is slight and especially if the slight warp is to the left.

 

The concern in trying to straighten a warp in a bow is that you might also take out some of the camber, and that would definitely change the playing qualities of the bow.

 

later edit:  I just saw the photo of the warp in the bow.  It warps to the right but not very much, very little, in fact.   I wouldn't worry about it or try to fix it, until you see what it does when rehaired.

 

The test will be whether the bow does any appreciable warping after it's rehaired and tightened to playing tension.  If hair ribbon is at playing tension and If the bow doesn't warp any more to the right than it is right now without hair, you're ok.

 

Skiingfiddler - That's good to know about the warp. I'm glad to hear that it isn't actually that serious even if it does return to the slight curve after rehairing. Right now, it is straight again (although time will tell if it stays) -- I applied very slight pressure in the opposite direction of the warp, and nothing else (no steam, no heat, nothing like that). It is a bit humid and warm down here though (south Florida), so just applying a little bit of opposing pressure over a short period of time (a couple days) seemed to do the trick. Not sure if it will hold or not, but I suppose I'll find out....

 

Just to be clear, the fittings are nickel, not silver, and the wood isn't pernambuco.

However, if it plays well you certainly didn't pay an arm and a leg for it! How much is a rehair and a lap & band over there?

 

Martin - sorry for any confusion. Admittedly at the time of posting this I didn't realize that German silver is the same thing as nickle silver -- but that's all right with me. At the time, I pulled my information from a similar listing, so that's why I thought it was pernambuco as well. But, all in all, I'm more concerned about the playability than anything anyway, so hopefully it will sound all right! :)  I got a quote from a local store down here in Naples, Florida and they came back with an absolutely ridiculous price ($450 for a rehair, windings, and a grip), so I called up someone back in my hometown who does really excellent work that has worked on violins and bows in my whole family on multiple occasions with stunning results, and he said he'd be happy to do all of that for $125 which is a lot better than the other option! As much as I'd love to be able to test out this bow right away, I think that the wait time will be well worth it -- he does amazing work.

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How long do you think it will take? Your excitement is rubbing off on me! :)

 

I'm glad to know it is contagious! XD I just wrapped up my bow and one of my dad's bows that needs to be rehaired (we're just going to send them in together for convenience's sake) and should hopefully ship it out tomorrow. It probably won't take very long at all for Ernest (the guy who has done work for us before) to do the actual work, but it does have around 3000 miles to ship to get there, and then another 3000 to ship back! o.o I'm estimating maybe around two weeks until I get it back or so, but it probably depends a lot on the weather and such.... keep your finger's crossed, hopefully it will have a safe and quick journey there and back!

I'm so excited that I mustered enough courage to do a little recording of playing one song, on my old strings (totally mixed random strings) with my old bow (fiberglass) and old rosin (the cheap $2 stuff), and I want to play the same song again and record it once I get the Grimm bow back, now that I just got some Andrea Solo rosin and Warchal Amber strings -- just to see how much everything has effected the playability, tone, and everything. ^^ I figured all of this would be a good use of at least part of my tax return.

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