Bow depreciation


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What are others quoting for depreciation on splined head repairs? I have always figured a 50% devaluation but some people are telling me today's market deducts up to 75%. I am talking about well done virtually invisible repairs but I am not sure I would sell one like that under any circumstances and if I did would obviously disclose the repair to the buyer. My concern is more what to write for insurance purposes. Thoughts ?

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I have a couple of well repaired bows that I keep and use regularly for their fine playing qualities. A Voirin with a head spline (well done over 40 years ago by Arnold Bone) is currently insured for roughly 30% of its probable unrepaired value. A Lupot with a handle graft about 50%. I could probably have the Voirin's appraisal higher, but I've owned it for over 40 years and don't feel the need to raise my insurance premiums unecessarily.

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With more reliable repair methods/adhesives, some are decreasing the depreciation for splined bows. Still others are still of the school the bow is near to totaled. 

 

I use 70% as a guideline (if the fittings are original) as I figure that the bulk of the value remains with the frog and button.

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My current Good Bow has a grafted head, and according to the store that I bought it from, it lost nearly 70% of its value from that (AU$4.5k -> $1.5k).  The graft was magnificently done - it's only apparent under good light - but the frog is worn to be point of significant damage, and the button is well worn.  That is what 90 years of use will do though.

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Aside from 'value', how do repaired ones compare to mint ones for playing ? 

Pretty vast question. In the case of my Voirin and my Lupot, I didn't play either of them when they were in mint condition. They are excellent playing bows at the moment, and I am less put off by a splined head that broke before the stick and a handle graft under the lapping as they shouldn't have too much bearing on the flexible parts of the bow, unlike a broken stick behind the head. I did once own a Sartory that got broken behind the head by a careless stand partner, It was well repaired by Arnold Bone, and frankly, I remember the bow as being very much the same before and after...I actually never really liked it that much, 

 

P.S. Just thought I'd add that one of the very best playing bows I've ever tried was a Tourte that had been broken for over half its length. It should have been a dog, but it played wonderfully.

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I'm sure the value of a splined bow is reduced because it has been damaged.  I don't know how much the reduction is.

 

But it seems to me that the cross-grain spline, if well done, could make the bow head stronger than it was when the bow was new, and therefore the bow is structurally better than new in this respect.  Does anyone know of any strength tests comparing undamaged and splined bow heads?

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...repaired bows play as well as they did before being broken.

 

I see no reason why they shouldn't.  I recall a "The Strad" article many years ago saying that bows with broken and splined heads could be great bargains for players because the playability is the same and they could be bought at bargain prices.

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A bit like sound post cracks in the back people seem to think that damaged instruments hold more value nowadays.

 

If that's so, it might be because everything is getting more rare and expensive every year.  I would never, ever buy an instrument with a post crack in the back, but that's just me, and I've been told by knowledgeable people I'm wrong to hold that prejudice.

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I have a bit of experience of playing splined bows before and after ... I have never sensed any difference, and I don't think there's any mechanical reason why there should be a difference.

So it's always worth doing the repair. I prefer a visible spline (in a different coloured wood) since I think it's important that everyone always knows what they are getting!

However, when it comes to valuation I sell a bow with a head spline for around 25% of its previous value. A bow with a head break and Hill brass pins wouldn't be worth more than 15% of the original value.

in my view (and in my experience as a player) a bow is valuable because of its history and its workmanship, not because of its playing qualities. I'm sure the best work of Tourte and Peccatte has never been surpassed, but it is regularly equalled from a player's point of view by new makers.

So the value of a historic bow is in its collectability. A head spline is really a very serious defect in this context, even if it might be irrelevant to a player.

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With more reliable repair methods/adhesives, some are decreasing the depreciation for splined bows. Still others are still of the school the bow is near to totaled. 

 

I use 70% as a guideline (if the fittings are original) as I figure that the bulk of the value remains with the frog and button.

Jeff,

Are you saying it is devalued 70% or still worth 70% of the unbroken price?

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  • 8 months later...

If the bow is not an historically significant bow and frankly not worth more than $1000-$4000. Would depreciation of 70% still be relevent? Seems like if it was just a good German bow  lets say a F. C. Pfretzschner  worth maybe $700 and it required a spline, seems like as a functional bow it would still be worth more than $210.00 wouldn't it?

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If the bow is not an historically significant bow and frankly not worth more than $1000-$4000. Would depreciation of 70% still be relevent? Seems like if it was just a good German bow  lets say a F. C. Pfretzschner  worth maybe $700 and it required a spline, seems like as a functional bow it would still be worth more than $210.00 wouldn't it?

 

Another way to think about is is: "How much is a F. C. Pfretzschner frog and button worth?"  I'd guess maybe $200 (max) "if" you had a stick that needed it.  That's basically/roughly where the depreciation formula comes from.

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... I figure that the bulk of the value remains with the frog and button.

 

I admit I'm shocked at this.  I always thought the value was primarily in the stick itself.  Modern makers can do exquisite work, but I've always been led to believe the choice old pernambuco these days is extremely limited.

But then my perspective is that of a player, not a collector.  I made out OK with a Marcel Fetique, but I don't really miss it in my life.

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Many years ago, at a weekend seminar for gerichtlich beeidete und zertifizierte Sachverständiger (court appointed and certified experts), I personally asked the president of the Viennese County Court, Dr. Krammer, who was the main lecturer, if he could be so kind, and give me an exact definition of “Wertminderung” (depreciation).

His answer was “Im Geld ausgedruckte Mistrauen” (mistrust expressed in money). At first, I was a little surprised to get such a concise answer, but over the years, thinking about it, I have become more and more convinced that he was exactly right, and would encourage Maestronetters to philosophise over his answer too.

Trust or mistrust is of course inherently subjective, although the subjectivity is necessarily seriously tainted by ones role, as either seller or buyer.

The whole subject is further complicated by the fact that a violin (violin bow) has two “Eigenschaften” (characteristics/properties/values). 1.That of a piece of a musicians equipment, and 2. a collectible antique and example of our cultural heritage.

With a bow who's head has broken off, and has been “Splined”, my main “mistrust” would be that the next break would be at exactly the point just behind where the repaired head has been “strengthened”, leaving one with a truly irreparable bow stick. I have a Hill Cello bow in the front room to prove this point.

My personal subjective “mistrust”, should I be in the role of he who is buying something, is such that I would certainly not buy a “Splined” bow (or violin with a post crack on the back) AT ALL.

I acknowledge that everybody is entitled to his/her own subjectivity, and can believe facile assurances that the bow is “just as good” if they like. They should however realise that the “proof of the pudding” will lightly occur in their possible future role as re-seller in what the economists define as the “Search for the greater fool”.

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I wonder if there is a market then for repaired high quality equipment that has been depreciated to the point someone like me, who considers a $1,000 bow to be a life purchase, not an investment. From what I can see/find a well executed repair (whether visible or not) can result in a bow that is as good or better than it originally was. Obviously, if the bow (or instrument) is structurally unsound to begin with and that is why it broke, then that is another issue. But, assuming it is an accident that resulted in the damage, then I for one would prefer to save $3,000 on the purchase of a $4,000 bow. I expect I am not alone.

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I wonder if there is a market then for repaired high quality equipment that has been depreciated to the point someone like me, who considers a $1,000 bow to be a life purchase, not an investment. From what I can see/find a well executed repair (whether visible or not) can result in a bow that is as good or better than it originally was. Obviously, if the bow (or instrument) is structurally unsound to begin with and that is why it broke, then that is another issue. But, assuming it is an accident that resulted in the damage, then I for one would prefer to save $3,000 on the purchase of a $4,000 bow. I expect I am not alone.

Dear Mr. Nichols,

That is what I was alluding too with the passage “The whole subject is further complicated by the fact that a violin (violin bow) has two “Eigenschaften” (characteristics/properties/values). 1.That of a piece of a musicians equipment, and 2. a collectible antique and example of our cultural heritage”

You are welcome to enjoy the utility value of your repaired bow, but I would advise that it is foolhardy to do so, imagining that you have an object worth the value of a mint condition one minus (say) 70%, since I would contend that the characteristic No. 2 (collectible antique and example of our cultural heritage) i.e. resale value is pretty well defunct.

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I wonder if there is a market then for repaired high quality equipment that has been depreciated to the point someone like me, who considers a $1,000 bow to be a life purchase, not an investment. 

 

I think that's the point.  From the perspective of someone who appraises, resells and restores, the reality from the vast majority of players who own splined tor restored bows is "This is great.  I'm sure it plays as well as it did before it broke." This statement is almost always accompanied by "...and it was really cheap."  I know a great many other players who, once a bow is splined, can't wait to get rid of it.

 

Jacob's quote from the lecturer and the added advice is excellent: "His answer was “Im Geld ausgedruckte Mistrauen” (mistrust expressed in money). At first, I was a little surprised to get such a concise answer, but over the years, thinking about it, I have become more and more convinced that he was exactly right, and would encourage Maestronetters to philosophise over his answer too."

 

This mistrust is not only concerning durability, but also concern for the future acceptability (what the bow would sell for in a restored state) of the piece should it later be placed on the market. These two factors relate to each other in a logical way, but there is an emotional component as well.

 

So... One can argue the % of depreciation, but the market has indicated that, at this time, the remaining value of a bow with a critical repair to the stick has a direct relationship to the value of the fittings... and the ultimate value of those parts relies on the demand for those fittings (note Jacob's last post made when I was typing this one).  Therefore, though I avoided "going there" when I responded to Mamawelder's question, I tend to "total" commercial or more common bows with a head break (increase, not decrease, the depreciation). There is really no significant market for the fittings.

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In my experience head breaks occur when someone accidentally drops the bow so it falls straight on to tip.  If I owned the bow and the repair makes it play as well as it did before I would pay for the repair and use the bow.  If it breaks again my additional loss would be really the cost of the repair, not the 70% depreciation I lost with the first break.  Furthermore the salvage value of the frog and button remain after the second break.  I would benefit from the continued use of a bow whose playing characteristics pleased me, something for which I might willingly pay the cost of the repair to obtain.

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