Cheap Baroque Bows - Thanks Lyndon!

Edited: September 5, 2017, 1:07 AM · In a post some months ago Lyndon said an off the cuff comment about recambering cheap Chinese concave Baroque bows to make them convex. I just tried it on what were quite-useless-to-me-since-buying-a-Roger_Rose-bow bows. It worked. One perfectly formed now convex, one a little misshapened but does the job. I did it by over tightening the bow, wrapping the hairs in a wet cloth and turning it under an overhead grill. Thanks again Lyndon!

Replies (30)

September 4, 2017, 4:35 AM · That is certainly making do with what you have and a good trait to have. I woukd like to hear in the future how your bow holds it shape after the recambering.
September 4, 2017, 4:42 AM · Yeah, I'm hoping the not-so-perfect one undoes a little.
September 4, 2017, 8:50 AM · I sure do love the cheap baroque-style bow I bought on Etsy from luthier Glenn Braun, who makes these in Chicago. Great ancient shape and authentic-style sliding frog. For me, I find it well-balanced and easy to hold and play.

And I love the lira da braccio he made for me, now I need some years to learn how to play it!

September 4, 2017, 5:57 PM · You recamber the bow by taking the frog off so the hairs can't get heated up, then you bend the bow in the direction you want it to go and heating lightly till the stick is hot to contact in the area you are trying to bend, then you continue holding the bow bent until the stick cools down, not something for an amateur to attempt, unless on a completely junk bow!!
Edited: September 4, 2017, 11:17 PM · A basic technique is explained in Basic String Repairs: Guide for String-class Teachers by Arthur Bergan. It's a do-it-yourself for trashy school bows. Because I was bending the other way I kept the frog on and in fact extra tightened. Until you mentioned it Lyndon it hadn't occurred to me that such a huge bend was possible.
September 5, 2017, 12:05 AM · I take off the frog, let the hair hang down and just heat the section I want to bend over a low flame gas stove, while holding a bend more strong than how much I want it to bend,as it is going to spring back some when I let go of it. For major recambering some people use a frame to hold the bow at the correct warp while heating and cooling.

I would never let the flame get anywhere near the hair.

September 5, 2017, 1:10 AM · I've edited my first post a little so it makes more sense. I wrap the hairs in a wet cloth but I'm also careful to keep the cloth away from the flame/heat.
Edited: September 5, 2017, 6:20 AM · one or two sellers from China on ebay are selling "baroque violin bows with outward camber", about $60. Seems like a lot less hassle than the rather risky recambering of incorrectly bowing inward "baroque bows".

Please note this auction is $55 including shipping for one bow, not three as shown in the picture, I just bought one, Ill let you know how it turns out when it comes.

September 5, 2017, 6:45 AM · I love how they're described as 'most ancient style baroque violin bow'. If I had to do it again I'd try one but I'm done with rubbish bows!

September 5, 2017, 7:01 AM · they're calling it most ancient style because it doesn't have a thumbscrew, and the hair tension is from pushing your fingers on the hair, and the frog clips in rather than having the thumbscrew to hold it, at least they're trying to be somewhat authentic.
September 5, 2017, 7:11 AM · Its the same company that listed my bow, melodywoods, they seem to be on of the only Chinese companies that is actually trying to be halfway authentic about their baroque bows. Chinese baroque violins are notoriously un authentic also.
September 5, 2017, 7:15 AM · I hadn't noticed that. Here's one with a screw:

I wouldn't again consider buying without trying though. Here we have the Greenwich Early Music Exhibition every year - pricey but mostly worth it. Last year I got to chose (and play) a bow from at least a dozen makers.

Edited: September 5, 2017, 7:36 AM · Same company again, melodywoods, while that bow has the correct camber for circa 1700, later bows would often bow in somewhat under tension, and then become straight or very slightly outward under tension, I don't see melodywoods offering that type of baroque bow.

I also just bought one of these for $40 from a different company, it looks like it bows in under no tension, but they are claiming it has outward camber, I presume under tension, not a lot of money at risk, so lets see

September 5, 2017, 8:59 AM · Lyndon buying chinese bows on EBay. Now that's a surprise :-)
September 5, 2017, 9:05 AM · Just had a look on eBay. They have pictures "before screw up" and "after screw up" LOL!
September 5, 2017, 9:27 AM · Given that they don't use real Pernambuco or Brazilwood, I'm more impressed by the quality of Chinese bows than I am Chinese violins, largely because I think making a decent bow might be a bit easier than making a decent violin, certainly a less complex manufacturing process.
September 5, 2017, 11:03 AM · My experience is the opposite. i have purchased a number of violins, violas and a cello for my children to play. Most of the were quite good and certainly much better than what I could get locally for the same amount of money. On most of the purchases I also bought a couple of bows thinking that I might as well fill the case now that the shipping was paid. And the majority of these bows are rubbish.
September 5, 2017, 11:05 AM · I might just try my hand at recambering one of these bows. I was thinking that a heating gun with setable temperature might work. Do you happen to know what temperature to aim for?
September 5, 2017, 11:14 AM · Use a gas stove if you have one, you have to have it on very low heat so it doesn't burn the finish on the bow, keep the stick moving and heat it from above, touch the stick against your cheek to check how hot it is getting, the whole time you're holding the bow tensed in the direction you want it to move, but quite a bit further than the end position you want, as its going to spring back. When the stick gets to where its really hot against your skin, not enough to burn you, though, take it off the heat and continue to hold it bent until it is cool to the touch, then you can let go of it and see if it has moved to where you want it, better to do a major recamber in smaller steps.
September 5, 2017, 11:15 AM · I'm not saying most Chinese bows are good, just that some of them are very good for the money, I get mine from Howard Core, the ones that market the Kohr brand violins.
September 6, 2017, 12:25 PM · There are many interesting YouTube videos of bowmakers cambering their work over a little lamp with a small flame. I would think it looks easy for someone who does it a lot but I would not want to attempt it on my own.
Edited: September 6, 2017, 1:21 PM · I've successfully recambered a Chinese baroque bow over the electric burner on my stove. It worked well and I moved it quite a bit (it had been damaged in shipping to me), so that's a possibility. I'd guess that a heat gun (not a hair dryer) would work too. The seller of the bow gave me a partial refund for my efforts. I ultimately found that it was a useless toy for me, and resold it at a loss anyway.
September 7, 2017, 3:40 AM · Heat bending bows is not something that amateurs should be attempting, especially on more valuable bows, its just that someone mentioned a wrong way to do it, and I was trying to make clear how it is properly done, some people are going to go ahead and try it no matter what advice I give.
September 7, 2017, 4:45 AM · My bad! But I'd only do it with something cheap to make it cheerful :)
September 30, 2017, 3:09 PM · So Lyndon - did you get the bow yet? What are your impressions?
Edited: September 30, 2017, 3:26 PM · Yes I got two, both specified outward camber, one was a little weak and bowed out quite a bit, the melodywoods snakewood one, looked beautiful, the other one, "brazilwood", was strong and bowed straight under tension, the weaker one we actually demonstrated how you can play three note chords you cannot play with a modern bow. Haven't had someone try out the other one yet. But they both look good, its real horse hair.
September 30, 2017, 11:39 PM · My recambering shows no sign of reverting - must be a quality of snakewood.
October 1, 2017, 3:09 PM · All bows are heat cambered when they are made, the curve is not cut that way, the stick is cut straight, then heat bent to have the inward camber, even baroque bows have some inward camber under no tension, at least most of them.
October 1, 2017, 11:24 PM · I didn't know that! My expensive (£600) Baroque bow is straight, then cambers out when tightened.
October 2, 2017, 1:35 AM · That would be the older style, the later baroque bows usually camber in ward slightly then become straight when tightened.

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