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Beech wood bows, any one?


Guido
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When one reads production statistics of bows for the Markneukirchen trade, there is always a large share (if not the largest) of beech wood bows... but I have never seen one.

I always assumed they must have been throw away items not worth rehairing even back then.

However, I now have come across one (I think, see pictures). I have rehaired it more out of curiosity than anything else.

And it surprised me: at 50.9g it is a strong stick with good playing qualities.

Ups, that doesn't fit into the picture.

Makes me wonder why beech has been abandoned these days, or has it?

And have you seen any (old) beech wood bows; and what was your experience?

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I am very interested as to where this topic goes… it so happens I have a lifetime supply of beech and nothing to do with it. 
 

I do find it strange to use beech for a bow though. Beech is one of the denser woods, some even more dense than American maple, and it reacts to moisture to where playing outside in a slightly humid environment could potentially ruin the bow just like that. It doesn’t have the springy recovery of pernambuco…

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5 hours ago, Flattmountain said:

I am very interested as to where this topic goes… it so happens I have a lifetime supply of beech and nothing to do with it. 

Beech has been used in stead of maple, often for necks and scrolls, but also for backs and ribs. By Saxons, but also by none less that del Gesù and Ruggeri. So there is a lot you could do with beech, if you like.

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16 hours ago, baroquecello said:

Beech has been used in stead of maple, often for necks and scrolls, but also for backs and ribs. By Saxons, but also by none less that del Gesù and Ruggeri. So there is a lot you could do with beech, if you like.

Thank you! 
id imagine that beech ribs would be interesting as one could simply wet bend them I heard.  

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On 11/24/2021 at 2:23 PM, Flattmountain said:

Thank you! 
id imagine that beech ribs would be interesting as one could simply wet bend them I heard.  

It indeed is. Using beech for the ribs is perfect. It cuts like butter and bending it is beyond easy. The look under varnish is quite appealing too. I do also have very good experience with using quatered beech for small viola backs. The plate generally needs to be a bit thinner than maple back, but it gives the instrument sort of deeper sound as you can even hear in del Gesú's Terminator for example.  

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On 11/23/2021 at 8:46 PM, Guido said:

Makes me wonder why beech has been abandoned these days, or has it?

Maybe beech doesn’t hold the bent shape so well. But just looking at wood properties it is lighter and has less resistance. I think that’s the reason why the stick of the bow you are showing is pretty thick a the head. And 50.9g is really light. 

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There are so many other species (and cheap), from IPE, massaranduba to accacia, with much much more good properties than beech for the purpose of bowmaking. Also the carbon fibers are here too! 

I cannot find a single reason somebody to use this wood for bowmaking except one : someone that has factory and beech stock. So he wants to make trash quality bows to sell the with cheap violins, as this bow is the picture.  

(for bow wedges is good choice) 

 

 

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My main point was: Where are they?

According to a production survey 1872 referenced in the Gruenke book about 200,000 beechwood bows were made ANNUALLY, which was almost half the total production of bows. Why do we never see them? If I'm wrong, let's see them!

My observation of the playing characteristics of this bow was surprising, but rather a side issue for me. But again, at 50.9g the bow is plenty strong with good spring and handles rather well. Obviously, I can see that the bow was made to be extremely cheap.

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Actually I see a lot of them. Occasionally I'm using them to make bushings, drumsticks, practice woodworking with children and similar. The quality is simply too low for a financially rewarding rehair.

There are old bows from other homegrown woods like alder (s.photo) which are often worked better and can be used for transitional/Biedermeier bowing with an open trench frog. The original frogs are unfortunately often lost and replaced with cheap modern style frogs.

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