Ivory bow tip and US customs
I will be flying to the US for some chamber music concerts at and around Harvard soon. We have ordered an extra seat for the cello and have been assured that oboe, violin and viola is OK to bring as carry on. But I have heard horror stories of people being stopped in customs because of the ivory tip on their bow. I have a very nize Heinz Dölling bow that I do not want to have confiscated! Is there any truth in those stories? Should I be worried? I am not quite sure how old the bow is - but I bought it about 30 years ago. Could a local luthier here write some sort of statement regarding the age of the bow that US customs would accept?
Do you have a bow without ivory? If not, and you travel much, consider whether it might be worth getting one.
I had the ivory tip on my Voirin replaced with a synthetic (the original tip was cracked anyway so this was not a big deal) and got a written statement from the bow repairman.
Thank you for your suggestions.
I have a bow with a silver tip for this very purpose.
My new Emmanuel Bégin bow has a silver tip -- same reasons.
If you have an original ivory tip in good condition on a collector-quality bow, I'd think twice about replacing it. Might be necessary at some point in the future, but I wouldn't be in a hurry to do it. Better, I think, to buy a bow with an original alternate-material tip to tide you over until things shake out.
They used mastadon on my Charles Peccatte instead of ivory.I whapped it on a music stand last April and broke the ivory and a part of the ebony.Luckily not the stick itself.
Carlos is right, you absolutely want to have a CITES certificate with you if you're bringing in any ivory. I'm planning to travel to Canada and back with a violin next year to play at an event. Personally, I'll be taking my CodaBow so I can avoid any potential issues while crossing the border in either direction.
Your quickest and cheapest solution would be to replace the tip on your good bow with synthetic. If you plan on travelling again in the future this is the way things are in the 21st century, better get used to it as much as you may dislike it, you'll dislike the customs agent ineptly carving off your ivory tip a lot less than just replacing the tip, plus if your near a luthier it shouldn't take long to do. It will not effect the tone or playability of your bow in any way that I know of.
As to original ivory adding to the value of a bow, that's a thing of the past, any kind of Ivory tip is a liability today, unless you plan never to have it leave your country. If you wan't to sell it, you would be limited to customers in your own country, so as I said its really a liability now, not like it used to be.
Would I have to change the tortoise shell frog as well?
The problem with silver tip is that it weighs more, no? Can you just swap out materials like that?
No way you're going to get a tortoise shell frog through customs, not going to happen.
Its not that you might get it through with a proper Cites certificate, its the custom agents that might not believe you that might just go ahead and confiscate your frog, no recourse.
A Mastadon tip will do the job in most places, but not all.
Bo, it's not uncommon to have an ebony frog made to replace one of tortoise shell. An ebony frog holds up much better to wear and tear anyway, and allows putting the tortoise shell frog away for safe keeping, and keeping in pristine condition.
I talked to my repairman and he also uses veal bone for tips.He says it looks somewhat translucent and doesn't have the texture of ivory but complies with the law.Veal bone,according to my repairman should be easy enough to identify at the border.
Lyndon: "replace the tip on your good bow with synthetic. (...) It will not effect the tone or playability of your bow"
There is the time Zimbalist took his bow to Morel because the "tone" of the bow had deteriorated. Morel took it back into his shop and brought it out in 5 minutes. Zimbalist played a few scales and beamed, "You fixed it! But how?" Morel replied that he only oiled the screw.
Peter, I don't think I have a very good way of answering your question.
I have been tracking my Carrera shipment the past week, and it seemed to be stuck once it arrived in Sweden. So I borrowed a friends Codabow Diamond GX to bring to the US to be on the safe side. And then just because of that the Carrera turned up! The Carrera is somewhat softer than both the Codabow and my pernambuco bow. It handles quite well - better than the Codabow and the sound I think is also better than the Codabow. When ordering the dealer had two bows - one with ebony frog and one with horn frog. I ordered ebony. It now turns out that the bow with ebony frog is the "flexible" model and the one with horn frog is "firm".
Arrived in Boston yesterday. The customs had absolutely no interest in looking at my bows. And we had no issues with bringing the instruments as carry on. Flights operated by KLM and Delta.
@Bo congrats! I was stopped by TSA for having a steel tip for some reason, but nice
Old and new bows give you different feel and sound. I still can't find a modern bow that give the same experience as playing a tourte. Generally speaking, I find good older bows tend to be warmer, thicker in tone and have less edgy sound than good contemporary bows.
I agree Thaneadpol. I just used a Michael Vann bow yesterday and although it was lively and very "springy" it just didn't pull out the "meaty" sound of my fiddle.it was a lovely bow though.
Try playing the new and old bows blind or double-blind, and see if your opinions remain the same.
Try driving your muscle car blind and see if you can make any valid conclusions!!
I think it's worth it to have the other model shipped and compared. Maybe with the same shipping cost you can order other carbon fiber bows to try out - the more the merrier.
Lyndon, what you have suggested is unsafe and against the law. ;-)
Well you seem to think that decisions are best made blindfolded!
Ill give it a try...
Lyndon, that would obviously depend on the sort of decision, and the circumstances, wouldn't it?
Lyndon and David, I can't tell whether you guys are seriously having this discussion or just making fun of yourselves! After the "Paris" megathread nothing surprises me anymore.
I'm blindfolded right now, its all coming clear to me now!!
Han, I was seriously suggesting that the bows be tried "blind", to see if any different opinions emerge. Always useful as a part of the selection process, in my opinion.
I can't see right now, but I appreciate David's contributions more when I'm blindfolded, it really works.
One might note, Thaneadpol Burapaskul, that I also haven't run into non-Tourte antique bows that sound like Tourtes, either. :-)
@Kan Pai: good idea. If I do order the firm version I will have to make a return shipment anyway. So I should order some of the other Jon Paul bows as well and perhaps a codabow.