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Previously Broken Bow Head - Bow Quality Question


violinnewb
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If a good bow had its head broken and the repair was performed well, despite the value going down, does the break/repair make a big difference in how it plays?

In other words, if I do not plan on selling the bow, and can get a Bazin or Nurnberger, etc. for $500, is it worth it in terms of having a quality bow?

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Once, at a seminar for court experts, I asked the President of the Viennese High Court (i.e. Austria’s top lawyer) how he would define depreciation. He answered “Misstrauen in Geld ausgedruckt” (mistrust expressed in an amount of money). Nobody in his right senses would want to buy a broken bow, so the mistrust is extremely high. If it is yours already, you can play it “until the end” and it will be nobody's business. “How it plays” is subjective anyway

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Let me rephrase the issue(s) more carefully.

I want to buy a great bow for a fraction of the price to keep, play,  and to hold onto until I die.  

Does a previously broken bow head that was expertly repaired play any different?

I am looking for tone production, buoyancy, camber, balance, etc.  I know these things are subjective to an extent.  I don't repair bows.  I only play.  Therefore, I do not know the physics related to the before and after aspect of repairs.

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41 minutes ago, violinnewb said:

Let me rephrase the issue(s) more carefully.

I want to buy a great bow for a fraction of the price to keep, play,  and to hold onto until I die.  

Does a previously broken bow head that was expertly repaired play any different?

I am looking for tone production, buoyancy, camber, balance, etc.  I know these things are subjective to an extent.  I don't repair bows.  I only play.  Therefore, I do not know the physics related to the before and after aspect of repairs.

Martin is surely quite right, presuming the repair is perfectly done. I suppose people are different. I for one have been involved in to many probate proceedings of people who bought stuff that was supposedly “a bargain” to want anything to do with it. If I were buying something to enjoy for the rest of my life, I would want something immaculate

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44 minutes ago, martin swan said:

I don’t believe you would notice any difference if the repair is well done.

The type of break matters. The rehair person should know the disposition of the break and perhaps return to that person.

As for the stick breaks, which yours is not, the situation becomes more dire or at least complex. I have seen plenty of grafts under the wrap when the frog end has worn out. Often this was not disclosed to the buyer. If the graft was recent, I would inform the owner of the bow. 

Frogs can be swapped out. New ones made.

I own several bows with stick/ head damage and they are great. They were purchased for their sound and feel. I also purchased them knowing that at some point, another part of the bow might break and would have to be repaired. Sometimes the cavity is weaker or there are micro fractures that would give way. But I am careful and until anything additionally bad happens to the bow, I play them and admire them. The seller also wanted significantly more than the fraction that we hear about. I bet on the retail going up and that the amount of play justified the cost.

I paid close to 75% of retail at the time for one bow. I am sure that most dealers would not charge this amount. I have seen and heard half of retail at shops for broken heads. But there was no tax and If I were able to sell the bow 10 -15% of future retail, it would have been worth it. So far, the price of retail has shot up, so the bow as I play it, was a good buy.   

But back to the original point, that the type of break matters and amount of trauma the stick endured. 

59 minutes ago, violinnewb said:

Let me rephrase the issue(s) more carefully.

I want to buy a great bow for a fraction of the price to keep, play,  and to hold onto until I die.  

 ( ... )

We all do. You might have to run the bow through all the different techniques. I have a bow that can not spiccato very well but it has the creamiest sound. For lullabies, it's the best. But not for Hora Staccato.

Most are concerned with the limits of bounciness in different parts of the bow, and if one has to overly squeeze the bow to make it behave. Slight quivering can be over come.

But be sure to look over the entire bow. The stick does most of the work. Many technicians do amazing head repairs and the techniques have improved over the decades. ( most of my repaired bows were repaired 20+ years ago and they are still ok. )

As I was with limited funds, it was ( is ) a great option. But being cautious and smart is a good rule. Was the repair completed by a reputable or established technician? Would not likely have completed the work unless they had respect for the stick or viability... Bows with bad repairs were purchased many years ago, but I know now how bad the repairs were. The frogs and buttons were salvaged later, so were not a complete loss.

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58 minutes ago, GoPractice said:

The type of break matters.

We all do.

As I was with limited funds, it was ( is ) a great option. But being cautious and smart is a good rule. Was the repair completed by a reputable or established technician? Would not likely have completed the work unless they had respect for the stick or viability... Bows with bad repairs were purchased many years ago, but I know now how bad the repairs were. The frogs and buttons were salvaged later, so were not a complete loss.

Dear @GoPracticethanks for your input.  Although my questions were relatively straight forward, you gave an intense and thorough response.  

I only care about bow head breaks.  I do not own such a bow, but I have seen quite a few and want a great bow for cheap.

As to "we all do," NO.  That is not true.  This is precisely why I specified that I want a bow to play and to keep.  I knew for a high degree of certainty that there would be responses relating to collectors. 

Ultimately, your last paragraph gave me the most direct response and food for thought. Thank you!

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There are less drastic ways to get a high quality bow on the cheap than to buy something with a head break.

For a start, buy a stick with later mounts. At least the stick will always have a future value that’s easy to quantify.

You might also consider a stick that has been shortened slightly, or where the handle has been slightly rebuilt.

Overall though I’m with Jacob and I don’t see the point of going after some big name bow which is heavily compromised, unless it’s for the joy of saying “I’ve got an Henry “ etc.

Better to put time into finding a great and well preserved bow by an inexpensive maker. 

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4 hours ago, violinnewb said:

Let me rephrase the issue(s) more carefully.

I want to buy a great bow for a fraction of the price to keep, play,  and to hold onto until I die.  

Does a previously broken bow head that was expertly repaired play any different?

I am looking for tone production, buoyancy, camber, balance, etc.  I know these things are subjective to an extent.  I don't repair bows.  I only play.  Therefore, I do not know the physics related to the before and after aspect of repairs.

Since you will not have ever played the bow in its unbroken state, any changes are a moot point.
You can only judge it on how it plays now.

All the things you desire could be in any bow.
If you wish simply, to have the satisfaction of having something with a name people know branded on the stick, and understand any time you wish to part with the bow, it is a poisoned chalice, go for it.
I'm sure you can find many such bows at auction, either already repaired, or broken and waiting to be repaired.

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4 hours ago, martin swan said:

I can see a cheek repair but no head break.

So if there’s a head break it’s invisible but it must also be reinforced in some way (spline, pins etc) or it isn’t really repaired …

Noce head!

Martin,

I’m sure I have the terminology wrong.  I’m referring to the horizontal crack that you’re likely referring to.

 My luthier pointed it out before he sold it to me, I’d never have seen it otherwise.

Same luthier thought this was a German bow but assured me it was not a Dodd as stamped.

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My favourite bow of 40 years I dropped and broke the head off 30 years ago. Was repaired and played ever since with no difference at all. While it lost 80% of its resale value, utility has remained unchanged. To acquire such a bow would seem a great bargain and for the same reason I would never sell it.

But maybe I’m just lucky or oblivious to the risk of future failure.

As an economist by trade I will say that there must be a reasonable reason for the typical devaluation. No free lunches anywhere.

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One reason that I mentioned Bazin was because years ago I played with a Bazin as a loaner for three months.  Ironically enough, it was because my good bow was dropped on its head and it broke.  Now, I personally didn't notice, nor do I now, the difference in playability between pre-break and post-repair, but what I DO remember is that I LOVED the Bazin.  It was the best bow that I had personally tried.  

So, its not so much about brand names or such.  Now that Bazin could have been an outlier, but given the reputation of the Bazin name, I figured (rightly or wrongly) that a Bazin, or other notable bow maker's bow, would be nice to own for my personally use.  I don't care about resale.

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V'newb, don't overthink it. Set your price range and get the best bow you can in that price range. If a sweet-but-well-repaired bow drops into your price range, consider yourself lucky.

Would you rather have an intact, but far inferior, bow or a splined, Bazin-level bow for the same price?

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It may not be about the bows but the experience. ( no purchase in life has made me truly happy* ) And I beg to differ, that not every good looking head repair returns the bow to a complete recovery. But close enough.

But if I were to purchase one for a fraction of retail? Would it not make sense? That I could learn, were it to have a fine repair?

* there are somethings that monies cannot purchase, directly. My father purchased a Hot Wheels kit - something more than a car - once and it had an immense impact on my person. It was not the joy from the toy.

Without being coy, support worked better during the age of impressions.   

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