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The dilemma of the trash bow that plays better than the rest


Byrdbop
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The bow that was lurking in the case of the first violin I purchased was also the first bow I ever used and always enjoyed using it.  I was informed that it possibly couldn't be rehaired and I would be better off spending the money on a better student bow anyway.  12 bows later this crummy Chinese (?) tomato stick still sounds best, has perfect balance/weight, great bounce and vibrates in a way that is helpful to me when I play.  No idea what the wood is.  Can it be rehaired?

 

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Yes, it can be rehaired.

The stick wood looks like what I see on a lot of Japanese bows from about 1910 to 1930, but the frog wood doesn’t quite.

I don’t see what the dilemma is.  You are very lucky to find the bow of your dreams for almost no money.

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As long as it is traditionally made it can be rehaired. Bows (and violins) have values that do not necessarily reflect their sound or playability. If you like the bow, get it rehaired and feel superior to all those people with expensive French bows that they aren't sure they like!

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Of course you can rehair it! If it plays well for you, it's a keeper.

I remain absolutely flummoxed by the notion that a bow must cost $$$ more than the cost of a rehair to make it valuable as a tool.

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12 minutes ago, Rue said:

Of course you can rehair it! If it plays well for you, it's a keeper.

I remain absolutely flummoxed by the notion that a bow must cost $$$ more than the cost of a rehair to make it valuable as a tool.

I was informed that the direction of the grain made it a very difficult bow to rehair and certainly not worth the effort.  I've tried to convince myself that this must be correct ever since.  I will insist that it is rehaired and hopefully it will play at least as well as it does presently. 

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2 hours ago, Byrdbop said:

I was informed that the direction of the grain made it a very difficult bow to rehair...

The person who told you this was probably referring to the grain direction of the plugs that hold the hair in the head and in the frog.  Cheap Chinese bows always have vertical-grain plugs.  It is true that this type of plug is much harder to remove, and I always dread encountering this type of plug.  But it just means that it might take five minutes to remove the plugs rather than thirty seconds.  If you really like the bow, offer to pay extra for the additional time.  And once the plugs are replaced with the normal type, future rehairs won’t be any harder than for any other bow.

Putting on a head face plate is a good idea, too, if you love the bow.  If someone asked me to put a face plate on this bow, because it would not be justified by the value of the bow.  (The commercial value of this bow is zero.)  But it’s worth it if you love the bow.

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24 minutes ago, Clare@Iscaviolins said:

You'll need a new plate on the tip which will increase the price...but if you like it it will be worth it.

Yes! It also will help prevent the head from splitting. (Also look nicer!)

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

Of course you can rehair it! If it plays well for you, it's a keeper.

I remain absolutely flummoxed by the notion that a bow must cost $$$ more than the cost of a rehair to make it valuable as a tool.

And nobody wants to flum an ox!

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12 hours ago, Byrdbop said:

I was informed that the direction of the grain made it a very difficult bow to rehair and certainly not worth the effort

I would interpretate this as meaning without a reasonable headplate such a slender head would be cracked up easily along the grain when installing a tight wedge, which is always necessary to rehair it properly. A cosmetical replacement like making a plate from some celluloid or plastic simply won't do this necessary reinforcement, and also the mortice in the plate needs to be cut correctly to make it working.

So therefore a rehair which isn't a sort of sloppy mess would invariably cost something between 200 and 400 Euro and I would dare to say that for this money you could choose between some hundreds of trade bows untill you'll find something playing the same way. Not to mention that there's no warranty that the OP bow will still play the same way as before after a rehair, balance, stiffness and hair grip would most probably be different with new hair instead of the worn out old.

I agree that it looks like an old Nippon bow with a later added (worsly fitting) German frog.

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54 minutes ago, Blank face said:

I would interpretate this as meaning without a reasonable headplate such a slender head would be cracked up easily along the grain when installing a tight wedge, which is always necessary to rehair it properly. A cosmetical replacement like making a plate from some celluloid or plastic simply won't do this necessary reinforcement, and also the mortice in the plate needs to be cut correctly to make it working.

So therefore a rehair which isn't a sort of sloppy mess would invariably cost something between 200 and 400 Euro and I would dare to say that for this money you could choose between some hundreds of trade bows untill you'll find something playing the same way. Not to mention that there's no warranty that the OP bow will still play the same way as before after a rehair, balance, stiffness and hair grip would most probably be different with new hair instead of the worn out old.

I agree that it looks like an old Nippon bow with a later added (worsly fitting) German frog.

Ok this makes perfect sense.  Oh well I'll keep on searching. 

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How long will it take to find another bow of similar playing quality? And perhaps that one will need to be rehaired as well soon.

If you get this bow rehaired (and the missing headplate added) you will most likely get bow that you will like. Without all the search.

If you are handy you can add the headplate yourself. I have lots of bone and ebony offcuts from my mandolin work and replaced damaged headplates on several similar bows. It's not rocket science.

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6 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

The plate on the head is important for the strength of the head. I will NOT rehair a bow with a damaged plate!

Agree completely. Neither with a DIY made. Otherwise you would be made responsible for any damage during or after the rehair or if the wedge will slip out after a short time.

Maybe it's not rocket science to fit a headplate functional and esthetical pleasing, but a challenge.

OTOH there are surely many ways to nail and/or superglue some bone and hair to a bow; the only question is to whom this might be helpful.

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If I took this in for a rehair, other than having to explain why I wanted to rehair it.  It would be done in a day or two with a new faceplate.  I’d expect a $200-225 bill.  If the shop doesn’t really want to do it. Send it to someone that is more confident in their ability to rehair it. Shipping a bow costs very little 

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8 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

What does the verb "to flum" mean please

It was a joke on “flummoxed” Which means to be confused. It’s one of those word play jokes that doesn’t translate.

But I still consider it to be immensely clever, ha ha

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On 6/7/2021 at 7:35 AM, FiddleDoug said:

...I will NOT rehair a bow with a damaged plate!

I do fairly often when the bow is so cheap that the plate's cost exceeds the bow's value, as is the case with the bow under discussion here.  But it makes sense to replace the plate on this one given the owner's affection for it.

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Well... I would try to convince ( this always works!) the bow's owner to fit a new plate and rehair the bow... my cost would be in the order of $110... but... I would do whatever the customer wants, and document the consequences (if any)... its their bow, and their money. 

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2 minutes ago, Byrdbop said:

Does a plate have to be fitted or could some form of hardening epoxy be applied to strengthen the head?

Yes you could apply epoxy, but why not do it properly or get someone else to do it? 

If it's a question of wanting to keep the costs low, you need a talented amateur.

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