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To Hair or Not To Hair, that is the question...


danddd
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Hi,

I am new to playing the violin. Years ago I purchased an antique violin and bow and never bothered learning and have finally decided to jump into it. The violin I had restrung and that wasn't an issue but the bow I have, I am unsure if its worth it financially to have it repaired and haired by a luthier or if I should just stick with my cheap Korean bow I am currently learning on? 

The bow is marked TOURTE. I have searched here for posts about bows like mine and have found 2-3 but not much more information about it. What I am assuming from my own research is the TOURTE stamp on the bow isn't an actual French Tourte bow (as genuine Tourte bows aren't marked apparently) but a German bow based on a Tourte model/form. From the measurements I have found for actual Tourte bows, his bow matches exactly, except for the weight as its slightly lighter (due to lack of hair?) but the length & balance point are exact. I assume that they've matched the camber also but I haven't measured that. It is an octagonal bow, which I would like to hear others opinions on whether anyone here has experience with this style bow? Whether you prefer octagonal or round, is there a difference in play? I have attached the photo as a collage but if you need to see a photo larger let me know. I also know there's a rule against having a pattern background but I couldn't capture the wood grain or color properly or bright enough when done on a white background so I apologize for breaking that rule but I did try. The color is quite reddish-lighter brown and a bit darker than the photos but its the closest comparison. I don't know the type of wood, Pernambuco? or Brazilwood (not the Chinese type but the other part of the Pau tree)? or Beeswood/Abeille wood (Manilkara bidentata)? The front plate is ivory - can that be repaired or do I need to get another ivory one? I have read from others on here that its best to get an ivory replacement (instead of a synthetic material). It also needs padding & lapping and the frog (ebony/nickel?) needs to be reattached to the slide.

Is it worth the dive to invest in repairing/hairing this bow? If you've been in my situation before, what would be a good price to have a luthier do this? We have an Italian violin luthier who's only a city away, so I want to know if his quote would be a fair price and what to expect. It honestly feels great in my hand, light and well balanced without giving fatigue to my hand, especially compared to my cheap Korean bow. Thank you for all your comments & suggestions for this newb, be gentle on my ignorance!

All the best,

D

 

1221361140_Bow1b.jpg

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I would get an in-person opinion from a respected archetier.

I would be inclined to have it repaired to a useable state assuming no issues that I cant see in the pics. You should be able to get value for the cost... but you won't know until you have spent the cash!

It is likely quite old based on the rolled rather than cut thread on the screw. And... I would not assume it is ivory, unless you know for sure.

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Welcome to Maestronet!  Thanks for posting the excellent photomontage of your bow.  IMHO, that is a very good-looking German-made Pernambuco stick which is worth preserving.  Investing in having it fixed up would be worth it.  You never know how a bow will play for you until you use it, BTW.  :)

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It looks to me like an average German trade bow that needs the following:

- New tip plate (the broken one looks like it is not original and was poorly fitted) ($75-175)

- New lapping and thumb pad ($50-175)

- Re-hair ($35-75)

- Possible re-cambering ($50-125)

There maybe a crack forming (or a repaired crack) along the bottom of the frog in back of the ferrel. Was glue already rubbed into the frog?

It would be nice to see a picture of the mortice.

Personally, I can't tell if the wood is pernambuco or abeille. It looks like pernambuco to me, but, again, I can't tell. :)

If the frog is cracking, then it is not worth repairing. If the rest of the bow is in good shape, it could be worth repairing, particualrly if it is pernambucco. You can have a plastic tip plate installed for less than an ivory or mammoth tip plate. The cost of restoration will depend on who does the work.

Where are you located?

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29 minutes ago, Dave Slight said:

George, I’m afraid it’s not pernambuco. Unless these are valued much higher in America, than they are in England, a restoration would not be financially viable.

Thanks - good to know. 

In the bigger picture, I wonder if early 20th century pernambuco nickel-mounted trade bows in similar condition and quality are worth restoring? It seems to me that re-cycling of these kinds of bows might be of environmental benefit given the scarcity and over-harvesting of pernambuco wood. Of course, competition in the market from CF and modern trade bows might still make restoration financially unsupportable.

What is the retail value of a good fully-restored early 20th century pernambuco nickel-mounted trade bow? $400 - $600? More? Less?

I write this as someone who has stashed away about 30-40 of these bows in various states of disrepair. They came with violins. I just can't bring myself to throw them away, but I don't want to spend the money to restore any of them. In this regard, I suspect that I am probably not alone in this group.

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Worth it if you think you'll use it. If you have a need for an inexpensive bow, a student loaner, back up, etc. Always good to have something around you can loan out without too much worry.

But if you already have a decent bow, and are just kind of wondering how it might play, if it might be good, then chances are that new rehair will just sit in your case unused. 

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5 hours ago, Blank face said:

It seems to be a cheapish Markneukirchen mass produced Abeille (Brasil) wood bow, ca. 1920s, a rehair and headplate would exceed the value if one cannot do it oneself.

The wood looks to me like Paubrasilia echinata, Pernambuco or brazilwood (depending on the layer and the color, but it's all from the same tree).  Vintage German bows like this will cost you around $300 or more retail in the US. 

Abeille is something different, and doesn't have the same interlocked grain:

 Abeille.thumb.jpg.7949f274dc203ac6608830f648d653cf.jpg

 

:)

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24 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

The wood looks to me like Paubrasilia echinata, Pernambuco or brazilwood (depending on the layer and the color, but it's all from the same tree).  Vintage German bows like this will cost you around $300 or more retail in the US. 

Abeille is something different, and doesn't have the same interlocked grain:

 Abeille.thumb.jpg.7949f274dc203ac6608830f648d653cf.jpg

 

:)

It’s not for me to comment on you’re 300 Dollar bow, but to return to the OP question, the gentleman would surely be better advised to save his money towards a new bow

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10 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

It’s not for me to comment on you’re 300 Dollar bow, but to return to the OP question, the gentleman would surely be better advised to save his money towards a new bow

Not mine, the picture I posted is what abeille wood looks like.  It's not what the OP bow is carved from, and neither is the OP bow ipe or or one of the other common substitutes for Paubrasila

Can anyone here honestly guarantee to the OP that a new bow will play better than what they already have (if their bow is rehaired, etc.) ?  :huh: :P :lol:

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

The wood looks to me like Paubrasilia echinata, Pernambuco or brazilwood (depending on the layer and the color, but it's all from the same tree).  Vintage German bows like this will cost you around $300 or more retail in the US. 

Abeille is something different, and doesn't have the same interlocked grain:

 Abeille.thumb.jpg.7949f274dc203ac6608830f648d653cf.jpg

 

:)

Time for some news specs dear.

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4 hours ago, Violadamore said:

The wood looks to me like Paubrasilia echinata, Pernambuco or brazilwood (depending on the layer and the color, but it's all from the same tree).  Vintage German bows like this will cost you around $300 or more retail in the US. 

Abeille is something different, and doesn't have the same interlocked grain:

 Abeille.thumb.jpg.7949f274dc203ac6608830f648d653cf.jpg

 

:)

Sorry, but that’s simply uninformed BS.

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9 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Which part?  All of it?

I’m not informed about retail prices for junk bows in America, but the rest.:(

Codt for headplate and rehair should be more than 300, if done by a qualified shop, not to mention all the other necessary work.

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Wow.

Thank you everyone for all the replies! I appreciate everything you've all said. My knowledge and experience of violins & bows, especially antique ones isn't a lot so I wanted the pro's and cons of spending the money to have this repaired as its a nice feeling bow. I will respond to each poster below -

@Jwillis I will take that into consideration

@Mat Roop I think I will take it in for a quote, just to see but I thought I would post it here first just to see if its worth my time or if its junk as it is. I'm 90% certain its ivory, as it has some of the telltale signs but it's such a small piece its very hard to be definitive but I do know a bit about ivory. It's hard to tell from my photos though.

@Violadamore Thank you! Yes, I wish it was haired so I could at least test to see how it plays first as you said.

@Blank face Yes. I know Germany made a lot of cheap mass produced violins (cough "Stradbonanza" cough) so I wasnt sure if this fell in line with that production also.

@GeorgeH Thank you for the price listing, that's really what I was interested in knowing also. I do see a hairline through the frog as you stated but its not through the entire frog unfortunately someone did some very poor gluemanship to repair this but its definitely sealed. What it looks like to me is wood that's dried and possibly started to split and someone's just glued it to prevent it from continuing further into the frog and glue got everywhere. Located in Canada.

@deans I think you're right. I think I will get a quote but from what I have read from everyone here - it will probably be worth saving my money. I am still interested to see what they say about what the wood is though. 

@David Burgess Yes, I agree. If everyone went off saying it looks good and even with its defects worth sprucing up then I wouldn't have minded but it seems like the majority say its not worth putting the money into it.

So thank you everyone for your help! I definitely still have a lot to learn and am excited to hopefully find the perfect bow. At the moment I will stick with my Korean one and hopefully something nicer will just fall into my hands and I can test it before I commit ;)

 

 

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43 minutes ago, Jwillis said:

Junk bows in the United states are still just junk bows and valued accordingly. 

There are old German and French trade bow that are obviously "junk bows," and there are old German and French trade bows that could possibly be restored to good playing condition. They may not have the prettiest heads or silver-mounted frogs, but they might have good strong pernambuco sticks and decent frogs with the potential to be very good players. Given the environmental concerns around pernambuco, it seems a shame to just throw them away.

2 hours ago, Blank face said:

Cost for headplate and rehair should be more than 300, if done by a qualified shop, not to mention all the other necessary work.

In the USA, one can get easily get a tip-plate and re-hair for well under $200 from a qualified shop. 

https://www.google.com/search?q=violin+bow+repair+price+list

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13 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

There are old German and French trade bow that are obviously "junk bows," and there are old German and French trade bows that could possibly be restored to good playing condition. They may not have the prettiest heads or silver-mounted frogs, but they might have good strong pernambuco sticks and decent frogs with the potential to be very good players. Given the environmental concerns around pernambuco, it seems a shame to just throw them away.

In the USA, one can get easily get a tip-plate and re-hair for well under $200 from a qualified shop. 

https://www.google.com/search?q=violin+bow+repair+price+list

Thanks for the info. First thing to note is that the Op bow isn’t pernambuco but cheap and nasty Abeille, second that the US bow repair prices seem to be half of the actual German and these type of bow should have a retail below 100$ accordingly.

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Georgeh, I suppose if one felt this way they could donate these bows to local shops or luthiers who would be willing to invest their time and resources for needy students. I have donated bows to my luthier quite a few times. He would fix them up and the bows went to inner city kids music programs. 

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Danddd, if your current bow is doing the trick now, id start saving for a step up bow.  You mentioned you were a beginner so your bow may work out for you a little while. However, You will find that a bow is not just a bow. Good bows make playing easier and more rewarding. Perhaps look at a secondhand coda bow or the like. They are predictable and will probably outperform the stick that you were mulling over fixing. 

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