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Split cane bows


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Hello all - has anyone experience of these bows please?

The LAWRENCE COCKER
BUILT CANE BOW

Known to makers of fishing rods for over 150 years, the technique of building cane has only in recent years been brought to a high degree of perfection and performance by the development of modern adhesives.

Full use of the “art” is made in the construction of these fine bows. The selected Tonkin cane which is used, is made into strips triangular in section. 6 of these are bonded together with the resin adhesive to form a hexagonal stick, this is oven tempered to specification and moulded to its camber.

This preformed stick is remarkable permanent and less likely to distort or lose its set than the solid wood bow bent by the use of heat. Beautiful grained hard wood is used for the head and nut end of the stick, the contrasting colour of this, and the natural cane is a distinctive feature of these bows.

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I can remember Cocker personally from when I was a child. He was a personal friend of my father. A few years ago I posted an original advertising brochure from Cocker himself https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330849-chinese-master-bow-makers/&do=findComment&comment=636964 which has all the relevant information. His bows had a certain following in the UK, but I have two viola bows here, and Austrian violists look at me as if I had lost my marbles when I get them out

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22 minutes ago, reg said:

Thanks Dave and Jacob

Been offered one in a cello outfit for (the bow) £150

...but has anyone actually used one - does the hype stack up?

I have one customer (she is English) who has a Cocker split cane bow, and loves it. People who have never heard of them think “what the hell?”. For 150 pounds it is excellent value for money and can only be recommended

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Materials scientist here:  I noticed that Tonkin bamboo has similar density and mechanical properties to pernambuco.  So, I have been making bows using this material.  Unlike Cocker, I make the tip and frog end of bamboo.  They work very well.

With the possibility of a new CITES agreement on pernambuco making it impossible to travel with these bows, there is need for a replacement material.  

Carbon fiber is not that material.  With its high modulus, the bows are all too stiff.  The advantage of bamboo is its' flexibility, damping, and lightness.  One of the bows I have been copying is a FN Voirin violin bow--this bow is very flexible but has superior playing characteristics--it would be impossible to copy this bow using CF.

Mike D

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1 hour ago, Mike_Danielson said:

Carbon fiber is not that material.  With its high modulus, the bows are all too stiff.  The advantage of bamboo is its' flexibility, damping, and lightness.  One of the bows I have been copying is a FN Voirin violin bow--this bow is very flexible but has superior playing characteristics--it would be impossible to copy this bow using CF.

Mike D

I'm confused, I've played with many CF bows that were soft. I owned one for a while that was very soft. Why do you say that one can't make a CF bow that is flexible?

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Some pictures, for those overseas, who have never seen one. I expect almost all of them are still in the U.K.

The shafts are made from laminated cane, with the hardwood ends splined. In this example it could be kingwood, but he may have used other rosewoods at times. Silver mounted, and a recessed fitting for the frog.

Sadly, on this bow, the thumb projection and surrounding area, have been mutilated by an idiot, at a later date.

CAB67244-3938-4561-81BD-D8BE38E88BB1.thumb.jpeg.06a1233a0901df02b22f6d6cf5435e7e.jpeg

16A5A3C6-10FB-4D67-803D-027AC33CD54F.thumb.jpeg.3fa90cb21f4a4e70b128e8a0bfa4f35d.jpeg

F7FD5F0A-04D8-4B29-8BC0-248284C3ECD4.thumb.jpeg.988b5e5cd878d24dece1b49b1a861eb0.jpeg

BB0E5021-E768-4CC5-BF9F-54819E6606F1.thumb.jpeg.d65e7d99fbffbddaa08de665982a5fd6.jpeg

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I wonder if he rotated the split cane pieces 60 degrees for glue up (they're showing the grain)?  AFAIK, most split cane rods or arrows are made with the outer hard/strong layer of bamboo left as is on the outside of the rod/ shaft (except minimal smoothing at nodes and some final smoothing).

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2 hours ago, HoGo said:

I wonder if he rotated the split cane pieces 60 degrees for glue up (they're showing the grain)?  AFAIK, most split cane rods or arrows are made with the outer hard/strong layer of bamboo left as is on the outside of the rod/ shaft (except minimal smoothing at nodes and some final smoothing).

I do not know the method of assembly for the individual parts, and bamboo isn’t a material I’ve any experience with.
Here is a closeup of the centre of the shaft.

A7866927-A999-45DD-9A6E-69960E5A2359.thumb.jpeg.48deb6c03c1dc9d203e6f5ff35605439.jpeg

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I played one for a few minutes several years ago.  The balance was very bad.  The shaft was apparently a light weight bamboo, the head a heavy  hardwood.  The head made the bow feel very strange!  With a cane heavy enough to balance the head, the bow might work, but example I played was not a good bow!

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59 minutes ago, go_oa said:

I played one for a few minutes several years ago.  The balance was very bad.  The shaft was apparently a light weight bamboo, the head a heavy  hardwood.  The head made the bow feel very strange!  With a cane heavy enough to balance the head, the bow might work, but example I played was not a good bow!

While the feel and balance of any bow, is a rather subjective assessment, what you are describing would seem unlikely, to me, to be caused by the materials used.
Given that the bow would be glued together, then shaped, realistically, the balance can be set where the maker would want it to be.
You might not have liked the bow, and found it very different to your own, but I doubt that was solely down to the head being a different material to the stick.

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Some CF bows, such as ARCUS are very stiff, but not all.

I measured the stiffness of a number of bows over 20 years ago and present here the results for a few of the violin bows in Newtons/meter of deflection, the carbon fiber bows are marked with an asterisk:

F.N. Voirin               63

R. Weichold            90

Pfretzhner              82

*Coda Classic         82

*Rolland Spiccato   67

?*Berg Deluxe         81

*ARCUS Concerto  133

 

?* The Berg Deluxe is a composite-synthetic material bow, possibly CF, possibly not, but it looks and plays like a very good pernambuco bow (and cost like one too)

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Andrew, what was the deflection that you used for this stiffness measurement?

I am impressed with the Rolland Spiccato flexibility but can find little info on it.  How does the adjustment mechanism work?  Is the bow hollow?  It appears that this bow is no longer made, and I get the impression Rolland make one batch of them.  I cannot understand how this flexibility was possible unless very little CF was used--was this a composite bow of wood with a center CF?

I have an Arcus violin bow, and wow is it stiff.  Belong belief stiff, but extremely light (too light in my opinion).

Go-oa:  AS far as the balance of a Cocker bow is concerned, the density of pernambuco and Tonkin bamboo is fairly similar--I cannot understand how one of these Cocker bows is unusually head heavy--it does not make sense to me.  

OK--looking up the Rolland patent to figure out how it works.

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7 hours ago, Mike_Danielson said:

I cannot understand how this flexibility was possible unless very little CF was used--was this a composite bow of wood with a center CF?

One way of controlling the stiffness, and stiffness-to-mass ratio of a fiber-reinforced bow or rod is by the orientation of the fibers. If the fibers are wound tangentially, for instance, the stiffness could be very low. Oriented lengthwise, the bow could be very stiff.

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RE:  Rolland Spiccato bow

 

What got my attention is the flexibility and lightness of this bow which Victor published.   I examined the November 1990 patent, and I must say it is an engineering marvel.

The patent focuses on the mechanism to change the camber.  The bow is hollow with a metal rod running down the middle.  It is not certain what type of fibers are used in this bow--they could be something that is not CF.  The patent shows a complicated double adjuster in which one part adjusts the camber and the other part, the frog.  The production model shows a conventional adjuster; so, some modifications were made for the camber adjustment.

This design seems to be very complicated to manufacture.  I would like to know the steps that Rolland had to do to make this.  I am sure it cannot be done in one step; in other words, there are multiple pieces that must be spliced/attached to the stick.  

I do not know if adjusting the camber (really the stiffness) is a useful property or not.  If this bow ever breaks down, there is probably no way of fixing it.  I wonder if it rattles from the internal rod?  I do not think this bow is made anymore.  But what an engineering design--I am very impressed.

Mike D

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My Rolland Spiccato bow was one of the early ones made while Rolland was still in Paris. A late violinist friend of mine, with whom I played in orchestra and chamber music groups for 20 years, always used his Spiccato bow on his Enrico Rocca  violin in preference to his Coda Classic or his Lamy.

At the time I made the measurements (mostly in 2001) I was using my Spiccato bow with the internal Kevlar cord completely loosened.

The following is what I wrote about the bow stiffness measurements back in the year 2002 (the equation line seemed to get messed up a bit in pasting it here):

"Stiffness was determined by supporting the bow stick (with frog and screw removed and set out of the way) firmly at the frog end with the thumb leather in contact with a table top. A weight was suspended from a position three inches from the tip of the cantilevered stick and the resulting deflection of the position of the tip was measured.  Weights used were in the range of 150 to 340 grams, with the lighter weights used on the softer sticks. Generally deflections in the range of 20 – 30 mm (with measured reproducibility within ± 3 – 5%) were used to obtain values to fit equation (1) for the stiffness coefficient, K.

 

                        K = F/X = Mg/x, N/m                                                                                     (1)

 

Where: g is the gravitational acceleration, 9.8 m/s2

            F = force on the stick, N

M = mass suspended from bow, kg (1 kg = 1,000 g)

            X = measured deflection of bow tip, m (1 m = 1,000 mm)"

 

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David, I recall a cello student of mine who had bought a Spiccato Arpege CELLO bow that I thought was a very nice bow; good sound and good handling. I liked it! I never had my hands on an Arpege violin or viola bow.

I think I probably tried some adjustable Spiccato CELLO bows at a violin shop at least 20 years ago, but they did nothing for me that I couldn't do with the bows I owned. So I can't really compare the adjustable and unadjustable Spiccato bows.

To completely honest I have not used my Spiccato violin bow very much - only performed with it once for 2 weeks of performances of Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream " music accompanying performances of the Shakespeare play. My stand partner for that was a local pro using the same bow model so I thought "why not?"

There was an article describing 3 "new" composite bows in the July-August, 1996 issue of STRINGS magazine (I know I still have that issue, but could not find it now to provide more info.). If I recall correctly the 3 bows described were Coda, Berg and Spiccato. That was my first issue of STRINGS and I have continued the subscription ever since. I also tried and bought bows of all 3 brands and still own most of them.

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