partially broken bow.. what about value?

January 27, 2007 at 09:25 PM · Today, my bow broke. Because it it very cold, the hair contracted and pulled the frog in too close. The frog became stuck and would not move from the well. When the pin was removed, the frog popped out and chipped the purnambuco. It was in one piece (about 1mm thick and 2 cm long), so that's certainly helps the situation, and it also seems have been broken along the grain. Right now it is in the shop being fixed.

The bow is of R. Zabinski, worth in excess of $4,000.

what do you think are the effects on the value? will it play the same (i think so)? has this happened to anyone else?

Replies (20)

January 27, 2007 at 09:28 PM · I had the tip of a $450 bow snap off on me once.

I guess it was faulty (and I just purchased it so they replaced it), but the luthier explained to me that bows like that can be fixed/refurbished or whatever, but it will lessen the value.

Maybe it was the type of repair that it would need.

I would double check with a bow maker or luthier for the appraisal and such.

Good luck.

January 28, 2007 at 02:20 AM · Ian,

What you are describing is slight damage to the mortise, correct?

Value of the bow depends on the damage and which part of the bow the damage occurs.

Damage in the head is considered severe damage, as opposed to minor or even severe damage around the mortise area.

Devaluation of the bow depends on the nature of the damage.

If the damage is around the mortise area, I doubt there will be any change in playing quality of the bow (after repair).

January 28, 2007 at 02:34 AM · Gennady,

Yes, you are exactly correct. The front of the mortise is what was damaged. It appears to have broken directly with the grain of the purnambuco, in a very very thin "flake" less than 2cm long, and does not extend to anywhere near the leather thumb grip. In my opinion, the damage does not seem all too serious, and I brought the bow in fairly quickly, as not allow the woods to be affected by humidity and temperature (its winter up here on long island).

I also feel quite relieved for when i was putting the bow away, i was unable to relieve the bow hair tesion, even when the frog was at the start of the mortise. I fear that if i did not attempt to remove the frog, then the tip could have "popped" off in my case, and that would have been far more serious and detrimental the bows performance.

Back when getting the bow rehaired in august, I did notice that the hair was a little short, and now i am greatly regretting my decision not to take it in. i did ask my luthier to rehair it with a bit longer hair, leaving about 2mm between the frog and the thumb grip wen the bow is fully relaxed. How much room is between the frog and the grip on your bow(s) when fully relaxed? I sure hope he listens. I decided taht if he does not satisfy my needs, that i will take my bows elsewhere.. saddly i will still need to visit him because i do own a violin that he made (Charles Rufino), and i will say, it is a magnificant instrument. i have been very impressed with its sound and power and beauty.

FMI. how long do these types of repairs usually take?

January 28, 2007 at 11:20 AM · If it was my bow I would:

(a) Take it to someone who specializes in bow repair. You could call Zabinski for a recommendation.

(b) Get a statement of depreciation, and see if the insurance company will cover both the repair and the depreciation in value.

David Burgess

January 28, 2007 at 12:19 PM · Ian,

just as an aside, I will be interested to know, once you get the bow back with longer hair, if you notice a significant change in the balance.

I have a bow with hair so short that, in the winter, I have to remove the frog to completely loosen it. I want to have it re-haired, but I absolutely love the current balance.

I suppose the frog could be lightened a tiny bit to compensate, by my bow is also fairly expensive so maybe not.

Please let us know.

January 28, 2007 at 01:47 PM · Thank you for all your responses: I've recieved an email from my luthier.

David: Regarding speaking to Mr. Zabinski, my luthier, Charles Rufino, is actually quite good friends with Mr. Zabinski and they talked and discussed the bow damage. Because it was such minor damage, they deemed that there will be no decrease in price. Mr. Rufino told me that it is "equivilent to a scratch on the frog". So that certainly makes me feel much much better. I will be talking to my insurance company to pay for the repair, but it may not even be worth it because i will only be charged for the time spent on it, which is estimated to be less then a bow hair (so around $35).


Mr. Rufino also did mention that legthening and shortening the hair can significantly change the playing characteristics of the bow. To long can mess up the balance. He said to change the lenght of the hair is a simple process he can do while i wait, so he said we will do some experimenting when i go to pick up my hurt bow.

Thank you everyone for your responeses. It seems that all of us violinists get very worked up and worried over putting their instruments in the shop, not knowing what will happen to them. Frankly, regarding the bow, I am much more concerned about whether it will play the same than the price because i dont think im ever considering selling it, but ive been assured many times that it should play exactly the same.


Ian King

January 28, 2007 at 10:34 PM · Ian,

I'm no expert, but I can tell you that I wouldn't pay full price for something that's been knicked. I also don't know anyone who would. At the end of the day, you're lucky it's a modern bow. I recently heard some horror stories of some valuable sticks getting damaged, and in fact, the other day one of my nice bows nearly got damaged.

That's why for a lot of every day usage, I also use a modern bow so that if it does get damaged, it isn't major money out of pocket.

January 28, 2007 at 11:26 PM · Pieter,

Even though it is a modern bow, it is a fairly expensive one. I do in fact use it as my primary performace bow.

I am still getting a new apprasial. I will bring it to a professional, probably Christophe London, and see how he asses it.

This whole thing has been a horror story for me. I've been crazy about hoping everything is ok and that i didnt completly destroy my bow. I've been in constant contact w/ my luthier, and frankly, i think he may be a litle sick of me. hahahah

BTW, what happend to your bow the other day that nearly damaged it?


January 29, 2007 at 01:06 AM · Ian,

I was taking it out of the case, and the head was caught in the little holder thing. I wasn't looking and if I pulled harder I would have snapped it off. That would have been an incredibly expensive mistake.

I agree, any bow getting damaged would be terrible. However my modern bow, which costs the same as your Zabinski, would give me less of a headache. To be honest, I think taking it to Landon is overkill. If Zabinsky says it's fine, then I'd believe him.

January 29, 2007 at 02:27 AM · I always have nightmares of my bow breaking after seeing one break in orchestra this summer.

January 29, 2007 at 02:55 AM · Pieter:

Oh, that would have been so terribly unfortunate. I've done that atleast once, were it gets stuck.. for that very moment, i was very very scared.

So you dont think its even worth a second opinion in terms of apprasial?


Ugh i hate seeing violins/bows get distoryed. It makes mee feel so bad. This summer i saw a friend of mines violin get stepped on by accident. It was horrific.

You all have been so helpful. I will post pictures of the repair as soon as I get the bow back.


January 29, 2007 at 04:54 AM · Ian,

Unless you're planning to sell it, I really don't think there's any point. I could understand the anxiety with an expensive antique bow, but I'm assuming that you like this one and will hang on to it for a while, right?

If you have it insured and the company will compensate for damage, then by all means get the documentation in order. If not, I don't think it's worth the money and time running around to see if your $4000 bow is now worth $3800.

January 29, 2007 at 06:08 AM · Ian,

If you are worried about it, just put a claim in (for the stick), and have Zabinsky make a new stick for you.

This way, your investment is secure.

Your strongest argument is that it will never be the same especially for re-sale.

Just a thought.

January 29, 2007 at 07:20 PM · Pieter: your response made me laugh.. you are right though, I am not planning on selling it anytime in the forseeable future, so there is no point in acquiring a new apprasial.

And regarding having a new stick fashioned, i fear that would be a very expensive procedure, and it would be just as effective as purchasing an entierly new bow (playing-wise), so I dont have any intentions on doing that now.

Thanks everyone,


January 29, 2007 at 08:43 PM · Ian, he meant putting an insurance claim in... meaning that you wouldn't be paying for it.

January 29, 2007 at 09:44 PM · correct.

perhaps you would be responsible only for the deductible.

January 29, 2007 at 11:14 PM · oh right, of course.. wouldn't that change the timbre of my bow though, being an entierly new peice of wood?

January 29, 2007 at 11:45 PM · yeah, could be even better than before.........

January 31, 2007 at 03:55 AM · possibly, but it would be liek ahving a whole new bow. and i really really like this one..

you all have been so helpful. i will be getting it back next week and i will post pictures of the repair work

March 14, 2007 at 01:36 AM · lol im not quite sure how to post picutres to this site, but ill assure u the repair looks fantastic and the hasnt lost a bit of its oomph. Im extremely happy now that i have my bow back :) ill be keeping my hair on hte longerside now

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