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Replacing Violin Bow Lapping


itrebmirag

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If you are familiar with my posts, I hope that I don't bore you too much haha. I have a gold mounted Richard Grunke bow, around 62.3g, that is frog heavy with a balance point a bit too low on the stick for me. I recently went on a bow expedition and played on dozens of bows and have concluded that this is my bow and I want to play it for a bit longer. I want to change the balance of the bow a bit and move the balance point a little higher. I've been thinking about getting the lapping re-done for a while for.

My bow currently has a faux whalebone wrap, I assume original. It doesn't come down close enough to the frog for me to touch it with my index finger. Touching the wrap is a sensation I miss and makes me feel more in control. I don't particularly like the look or feel of the whalebone wrap. It's too high? I want something that is closer to the stick. Is there a reason why lapping is put so far away from the frog? This is something I see that is super common with Richard Grunke bows.

What do you guys suggest? I've been trying to learn about lapping but it's a lot haha. If you can answer these questions I would appreciate it!

1. Do you recommend this be done or should I just look for a new bow?

2. Will this affect the sound qualities of the stick other than the balance?

3. Will this negatively affect the bows value/desirability?

4. What kind of lapping should be done for a lighter bow and higher balance point?

5. Is silk, tinsel, and silk and tinsel different types of lapping?

6. Is it better to do like a short amount of gold wire or a longer amount of another type of lapping?

7. How much should I expect a service like this to cost? 

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Faux whalebone is pretty light as it is ,so if your wanting to move the balance more towards the tip because you feel its frog heavy ,then your only real choice is silk /tinsel lapping which has a negligable weight. Dont forget a thick  thumb leather can add almost as much weight as silk/tinsel lapping. Your bow would then weigh around 60 - 61 gms approx.

You say that you would like to feel the stick and find the faux whale too thick? Does it currently have a thumb leather on top of it ?

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Before changing the grip, you could experimentally change the balance point of your bow by temporarily taping small objects -- perhaps little bits of wood or small metal washers -- to the head.  Of course, this would also increase the total weight of the bow, but it still might give you some idea of how it would perform if the grip weight were changed.

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I’m with Brad on this one. A very good player (concertmaster of the Louisville Orchestra) had a very nice bow and felt that the bow was a little light at the top end. I suggested taping a small piece of lead to the tip of the stick with blue painters tape. Try it for a week. If that helped the problem then a properly fit piece of lead would be placed in the tip (not glued) and then do a normal rehair. The weight of the lead was about 1/2 gram. If the bow owner ever decided against the modification it could be easily reversed. The lead was in the bow for several years and may still be there. The owner has since retired and moved to Denver. 

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You need to put the frog on a diet since the bow is slightly overweight.  Maybe you will be in luck and the maker put some lead tape under the leather grip--removal will move the balance point to the tip and lower the overall weight.

Otherwise, you are in trouble.  Moving the balance point to the tip will only increase the overall weight.    It is the heavy frog which is causing the problem (gold is heavy).

Time to look for another bow--this one should have a good trade-in value.

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I agree with those above... faux whalebone is light. A silk lapping might be as much as a gram lighter. Also a simple thin long leather wrap can be a good option, light but still gives grip and protects the stick.

One option would be to have the whalebone taken off and try it without anything. Maybe your tech (or you) can get it off and leave the thumb leather for feel.  Also check the weight difference without it, should be about 2g for whalebone and leather, depending on length etc.

I think the thin double leather might be a good option, weighs about a gram or less.

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Thanks Dwight for the shoutout--I should check in here more often.

itrebmirag:  Here are a few thoughts from me (a bowmaker and specialist in bow restoration)

The imitation whalebone lapping is one of the lighter materials out there, so you won't feel much, if any difference by changing it out with tinsel or silk/tinsel lapping. It sounds like someone did not replace the leather thumb grip properly, leaving too much space in front of the frog. (Either that, or your hair is too long in the bow.) Often, with the imitation baleen lappings, the windings will stop short of the front of the frog. That space should be built up to the same thickness with material such as paper tape or thread. This will not only fill in the gap in front of the frog, but it will also ensure that there is not a bump in the thumb leather where it overlies the lapping. 
Silver tinsel is considerably lighter than solid silver wire, so it is often used as a lighter material. Tinsel has a stranded silk core, which is overspun with very thin flat silver--very similar to the outer wrapping on strings. A fancy pattern can be inter-wrapped with colored silk thread to make a silk & tinsel lapping, or there are some people that will inter-wrap several colors of silk thread to make interesting looking lappings. All of these are quite light in weight.

Here is my recommendation on your bow:  Leave the imitation baleen lapping, but fill in the gap with paper tape under the thumb leather so it is positioned correctly on the bow. 
As far as losing weight on the bow, I'd be willing to bet that the screw is a standard stainless steel screw. It is very easy, and fairly inexpensive to pull the screw from the button, and replace it with a titanium screw. A titanium screw weighs about one gram less than other screws. This will get the weight down a bit, and push the balance point forward a few millimeters without doing anything that is irreversible on the bow. 

 

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10 hours ago, Josh Henry said:

It is very easy, and fairly inexpensive to pull the screw from the button, and replace it with a titanium screw. A titanium screw weighs about one gram less than other screws. This will get the weight down a bit, and push the balance point forward a few millimeters without doing anything that is irreversible on the bow.

Great suggestion!!

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2 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

The weight of the lapping is really miniscule, especially if it isn't metal wire. Consider adding a tip weight, or if it is not of historical value, removing mass from the frog.

The issue I have here is that adjusting the frog is not really a reversible operation. With any bow, it will eventually have another owner, and what one person thinks is an improvement, another will not.
Personally, I have not felt that all bows need the exact same balance. Mine do not, and that is why I prefer one over another for certain things.

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On 12/12/2023 at 1:04 PM, Josh Henry said:
As far as losing weight on the bow, I'd be willing to bet that the screw is a standard stainless steel screw. It is very easy, and fairly inexpensive to pull the screw from the button, and replace it with a titanium screw. A titanium screw weighs about one gram less than other screws. This will get the weight down a bit, and push the balance point forward a few millimeters without doing anything that is irreversible on the bow. 

 

Thank you so much for all the info! If I may ask, how much is a titanium screw install normally and does this affect the the value/condition of my bow? I know Grunke made tons of bows, but I wouldn’t want deface it

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On 12/13/2023 at 11:40 PM, itrebmirag said:

Thank you so much for all the info! If I may ask, how much is a titanium screw install normally and does this affect the the value/condition of my bow? I know Grunke made tons of bows, but I wouldn’t want deface it

The cost of replacing the screw will depend on the professional that does it for you. It is not something that many shops will have on hand, so there is no standard price for this service.  
Replacing the stainless screw with a titanium screw (while of course, retaining the original button) will not in any way affect the value of the bow. 

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I measured how the balance point changes for a Viorin violin bow I made.  This bow is unusually lightweight in the Voirin manner.  It was about 4 mm/gram when the weight is altered at the middle of the frog.  It will probably be less for the OP's bow since it is on the heavy side.

The OP never gave us any pictures; so we do not understand what the grip problem is.  The OP never gave us the balance point, either.  Changing the screw material to lower the mass is problematic.

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On 12/13/2023 at 5:46 PM, Wood Butcher said:

The issue I have here is that adjusting the frog is not really a reversible operation. With any bow, it will eventually have another owner, and what one person thinks is an improvement, another will not.
Personally, I have not felt that all bows need the exact same balance. Mine do not, and that is why I prefer one over another for certain things.

Well, it sort of is. You could drill out some material and plug it back up if you don't like it. Or just switch out the whole frog for one mounted with a lighter metal.

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Having experimented with all of these options, I would definitely side with @Josh Henry on this.

Shortening the screw, drilling out ebony will only lighten then frog end by a few tenths of a gram, half gram max. Removing ebony is damaging the original frog, possibly weakening it. As faux whalebone is already light, you can only do so much to lighten it more.

The other option is

2 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

 just switch out the whole frog for one mounted with a lighter metal.

Frogs are also heavier or lighter due to wood density. I tried to make a 9g copy frog, but chose too heavy wood. Later I measured different ebony blanks and there was up to 25% weight difference.  Live and learn!

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  • 1 month later...
On 12/14/2023 at 6:40 AM, itrebmirag said:

Thank you so much for all the info! If I may ask, how much is a titanium screw install normally and does this affect the the value/condition of my bow? I know Grunke made tons of bows, but I wouldn’t want deface it

Wondering how this ended up, did you do anything?

It occurred to me, a good way to try the effect of the adjuster weight is to just temporarily change it. A solid gold button and steel screw may weigh up to 6 grams, while a 3-part silver button and titanium screw might weigh as little as 3 grams.

By switching screws temporarily you might find your goal...

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