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Andreas Preuss

How to match ebony pieces in bow frog restorations?

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Looking through piles of old ebony fingerboards and other ebony pieces I realized that finding a perfect match is indeed pretty difficult.

To make no mistake I first cleaned the frog and polished it with fine micro mesh. Then i polished a small portion of seemingly good matching pieces. 

There are many different hues of black. Blueish black, brownish black, grayish bkack etc. The type I was looking for had a blueish hue. 

However, when I found an almost matching piece I saw that the pore structure wouldn't match. 

With further search I got a piece with finer pores but color was a sort of suboptimal, somehow not dark enough. 

Finally I decided to select rather by pore structure than color  At the same time I wondered if the blueish hue didn't come from wear .

Before glueing the piece I tried to find the best orientation to have a similar pore structure .

Wondering if someone here has a better recipe to match ebony replacement wood in a frog restoration? 

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I often try to use ebony from the loads of junk bow frogs i have,as even the cheap factory German frog have very nice ebony. You can also get a very good impression of how the wood looks particularly if taken from a similar place as the missing piece.

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I seem to remember a sort of a treatment or stain that was made just for ebony.  I want to say I saw it in a book about guitar building and it was used to even out the look of an ebony fingerboard.  I will look and see if I can find it.  I bet Jerry and Josh have a few tricks.

DLB

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20 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Looking through piles of old ebony fingerboards and other ebony pieces I realized that finding a perfect match is indeed pretty difficult.

To make no mistake I first cleaned the frog and polished it with fine micro mesh. Then i polished a small portion of seemingly good matching pieces. 

There are many different hues of black. Blueish black, brownish black, grayish bkack etc. The type I was looking for had a blueish hue. 

However, when I found an almost matching piece I saw that the pore structure wouldn't match. 

With further search I got a piece with finer pores but color was a sort of suboptimal, somehow not dark enough. 

Finally I decided to select rather by pore structure than color  At the same time I wondered if the blueish hue didn't come from wear .

Before glueing the piece I tried to find the best orientation to have a similar pore structure .

Wondering if someone here has a better recipe to match ebony replacement wood in a frog restoration? 

No better recipe...unfortunately it is not like violin work where you can play with color, opacity, and gloss afterward; you are naked and if you do not get a match it will always be seen.....the good news is, if you get a match those last few hours of work are very rewarding.....and no one has to see you naked..... Match the medullary rays and you are most of the way there.

 

 

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One of the things that can be imparted to the owner of the stick is that over time patina from handling {basically oil, sweat,acid and dirt} and it will help even out any color differences,and that yes the pore/grain type is the most important thing to focus on, there are,as mentioned some ebonizing dyes that can also be used to even things out.

Also uv light plays a part in everything looking the same, the two pieces in their lives have not had the same amount of exposure, once glued and turned into one, the two pieces will share the same amount of exposure together,in time this helps with "oneness" as far as visuals are concerned. 

To me much of this gets into pre communication and really imparting to the client what level of "invisible" they want or are expecting

Invisible=time and money and in certain cases may not be possible,but I know Jeffery and the Oberlin guys are pretty good at making things disappear if they want.

But of course being a bow, this leads into the ethics of a completely invisible repair and is it the "Right" thing to do as far as some poor unsuspecting person of the future buying a bow they thought had no damage that was damaged.

I'm personally ok with invisible repairs on bows that would not be considered at the time to be historic or of a high value from a well known maker.

And even if a frog could be considered a "transient piece" of a bow,when you get into well known high dollar bows , suddenly they are not 

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54 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

But of course being a bow, this leads into the ethics of a completely invisible repair and is it the "Right" thing to do as far as some poor unsuspecting person of the future buying a bow they thought had no damage that was damaged.

I'm personally ok with invisible repairs on bows that would not be considered at the time to be historic or of a high value from a well known maker.

And even if a frog could be considered a "transient piece" of a bow,when you get into well known high dollar bows , suddenly they are not 

After much consideration and consultation, we have decided not to dumb down the quality or integrity of our work based on the lowest common denominator of ethics in the field.  I have a problem with the concept that doing sub-optimal work is ever the "Right" thing to do.  I understand your point, but there are ways to mark your work without have to sacrifice your standards.

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1 hour ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

After much consideration and consultation, we have decided not to dumb down the quality or integrity of our work based on the lowest common denominator of ethics in the field.  I have a problem with the concept that doing sub-optimal work is ever the "Right" thing to do.  I understand your point, but there are ways to mark your work without have to sacrifice your standards.

Nice response, Jerry.

I believe there are some who furnish substandard repair quality, relying on the excuse that they don't want to be deceptive.

And there are some who are able to make repairs disappear on the outside, but don't try to hide it on the inside of the instrument. And there are some who are really good at making a highly repaired instrument look superficially like it has never been messed with, both on the inside and outside.

Thoughts on which is better, and why?

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58 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Nice response, Jerry.

I believe there are some who furnish substandard repair quality, relying on the excuse that they don't want to be deceptive.

And there are some who are able to make repairs disappear on the outside, but don't try to hide it on the inside of the instrument. And there are some who are really good at making a highly repaired instrument look superficially like it has never been messed with, both on the inside and outside.

Thoughts on which is better, and why?

I must admit it is really tempting to make things disappear all over the place and see if you can get it past colleagues.....that is fun once, right up until the colleague gets word they were sandbagged.  I think now mostly hiding things in plain sight is the way to go.  Siegfried had a way of carving the throat on a frog so everyone could see it was not original....using silver solder on gold, or I always thought micro stamping would be neat as well on say the end of ferrules.  Mostly I think UV markers are the way to go.....when some Inspector at the airport shines his little UV flashlight on a tortoise shell frog and it glows bright purple with a Triangle Strings logo, he will come to the realization that it is not real tortoise.  At some point it is a matter of intent don’t you think?

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1 hour ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

After much consideration and consultation, we have decided not to dumb down the quality or integrity of our work based on the lowest common denominator of ethics in the field.  I have a problem with the concept that doing sub-optimal work is ever the "Right" thing to do.  I understand your point, but there are ways to mark your work without have to sacrifice your standards.

My point was that in certain rare cases with something "special", that may have been damaged, that there may be motive to make it seem like it was not,all based around trying to hide something with the thought of future sales,. Based on the bows dynamics of tension there is a difference to me with the need for integrity based on its performance parameters .

That being said I was just trowing that in there because of course I have no idea what Andreas is working on, for all I know its a Tubbs,that being said, I basically agree with you that in most cases we want to do the best job that is humanly possible within reason based on compensation.

That all being said, to me this type of repair, above and beyond any skill input into the project, the success of "invisibility" will pretty much be up to a certain level of luck and other factors that make it so the "optimum" piece can be sourced and then used. Anytime you dutch something on there is the crapshoot luck of the draw of finding just the right piece, and of course that "luck" can be dramatically increased based on the amount of material one has to sift through and the amount of time one has to sift, which may or may not be dependent on what someone is paying for the job.

All I know is I love it when I look down on the floor in the recesses where the vacuum may not have got too find that perfect little chip for the purfling blow out.

All I can say is its things like this that make it so I save most all of my scrap pieces and keep them in several boxes,its also the kinda crap that makes people think I'm a hoarder when they go into my work/storage area "look at this guy with his boxes of wood cutoffs" , well all I can say is at least I can refer people to this post because it's hard to explain to people who don't understand this work

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1 hour ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

Mostly I think UV markers are the way to go.....when some Inspector at the airport shines his little UV flashlight on a tortoise shell frog and it glows bright purple with a Triangle Strings logo, he will come to the realization that it is not real tortoise.

Will he?

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Do you find that there is quite a different esthetic for both new and restored bows vs. instruments?

New bows are generally finished in a flawless perfect finish. I have never seen a brand new bow finished with an antiqued finish. ( I haven’t seen everything!)

New instruments with more or less antiqued finishes are pretty much normal or one of a range of normal finishes.

 

DLB

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Assuming the owner is present. Otherwise wouldn’t the inspector just think ‘That’s weird’ before destroying it?

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5 minutes ago, Dwight Brown said:

Do you find that there is quite a different esthetic for both new and restored bows vs. instruments?

New bows are generally finished in a flawless perfect finish. I have never seen a brand new bow finished with an antiqued finish. ( I haven’t seen everything!)

New instruments with more or less antiqued finishes are pretty much normal or one of a range of normal finishes.

 

DLB

Yes, that is a good point.  But on the other side of the ledger, tiny cracks on bows make dramatic differences in value as you know.  I do not know any single crack on a violin that would devalue by 75%.

Bill Salchow used to lament the fact that to be considered a good bow maker one had to be able to shave with the frog.......(paraphrasing with added flair).

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2 minutes ago, rudall said:

Assuming the owner is present. Otherwise wouldn’t the inspector just think ‘That’s weird’ before destroying it?

I guess there is always one in the crowd with more testosterone than good sense........

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I just can’t help but think that a customs inspector would simply think that someone had for some reason put an ultraviolet marker on a tortoise shell frog. 

Perhaps if the marker said ‘This is not tortoise shell’?

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4 minutes ago, rudall said:

I just can’t help but think that a customs inspector would simply think that someone had for some reason put an ultraviolet marker on a tortoise shell frog. 

Perhaps if the marker said ‘This is not tortoise shell’?

There are always going to be people that have beliefs that are contradicted by available evidence.

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43 minutes ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

Yes, that is a good point.  But on the other side of the ledger, tiny cracks on bows make dramatic differences in value as you know.  I do not know any single crack on a violin that would devalue by 75%.

Bill Salchow used to lament the fact that to be considered a good bow maker one had to be able to shave with the frog.......(paraphrasing with added flair).

I think you said it exactly right. Almost anything on a valuable instrument can be forgiven to some extent. I guess a bad back crack would be one of the worst for value but that could be fixed pretty successfully most times. The tolerance for cracks and flaws in bows is an awful lot less especially when it comes to value. 
 

I’m always hoping for a great bow that is splined but it makes me feel like a bit of a ghoul.

DLB

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17 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Nice response, Jerry.

I believe there are some who furnish substandard repair quality, relying on the excuse that they don't want to be deceptive.

And there are some who are able to make repairs disappear on the outside, but don't try to hide it on the inside of the instrument. And there are some who are really good at making a highly repaired instrument look superficially like it has never been messed with, both on the inside and outside.

Thoughts on which is better, and why?

My philosophy is:

On the outside as good as you can do, on the inside as good as necessary.

If repairs are not visible to laymen, that's a desirable and good goal, but it shouldn't be meant to deceive your peers.

However in other fields of restoration, Japanese lacquer ware restoration for example, there are interesting ideas of making the repair visible in an aesthetical pleasant way. 

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On 5/31/2020 at 5:30 AM, Andreas Preuss said:

My philosophy is:

On the outside as good as you can do, on the inside as good as necessary.

If repairs are not visible to laymen, that's a desirable and good goal, but it shouldn't be meant to deceive your peers.

However in other fields of restoration, Japanese lacquer ware restoration for example, there are interesting ideas of making the repair visible in an aesthetical pleasant way. 

Yes we have discussed Wabi Sabi before. My thoughts are not so much about fooling peers as much as allowing a low moral person who owns the bow the ability to pass a damaged and repaired bow off as an un-damaged not repaired bow and thus achieve full sticker price should they sell it whereas if the damage was revealed they would not in general. I suppose we can't act as the violin police, but when it comes down to it frog damage is not as detrimental as stick damage  and I'm sure you'll do the best you can, assuming execution is correct it really does come down to the wood match.

I suppose if it were becoming overly difficult you could take some good pics of the grain and color and that some kind soul may have some scrap around that matches that they'd be willing to send you

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5 hours ago, jezzupe said:

Yes we have discussed Wabi Sabi before. My thoughts are not so much about fooling peers as much as allowing a low moral person who owns the bow the ability to pass a damaged and repaired bow off as an un-damaged not repaired bow and thus achieve full sticker price should they sell it whereas if the damage was revealed they would not in general. I suppose we can't act as the violin police, but when it comes down to it frog damage is not as detrimental as stick damage  and I'm sure you'll do the best you can, assuming execution is correct it really does come down to the wood match.

I suppose if it were becoming overly difficult you could take some good pics of the grain and color and that some kind soul may have some scrap around that matches that they'd be willing to send you

Thanks for your thoughts and your kind offer. I was able to work with a suboptimal matching piece of ebony to get a result better than I expected.

It is unfortunate that people with a low moral can take advantage of the honest efforts of good restorers. 

Sometimes I wished expertise would include a very detailed examination of original parts as part of the certification. 

 

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