Reparing a broken bow
I have a question to the violinmakers, bowmakers and especially those who are specialized in restauration:
My quite valuable violin bow broke last year on the way back to me in an ups parcel, that wasn't very secure. I already got a new bow from the original maker, where it was for service, before it broke.
He said he could make me a bow with the same attributes and I trusted him.
Now I miss my old bow in terms of playing characteristics. I still have the old and broken bow stick at home, without hair and frog and everything (mounted to the new bow).
I wanted to ask if a damage in the middle of the stick is restorable and if to what degree. Since most of the stick is intact and the middle of the bow usually not under the most pressure, I think it must be possible. Despite the fact, that my bow maker said it was not repairable, I want now more opinions, because I feel, that I can't trust that man anymore after he couldn't package my bow right and couldn't make me a good new one.
With the new bow I have issues with the response and also playing characteristics that I am not used to and was never looking for in a bow. The new bow feels also much more wobbly in some places and needs to be tightened quite much not to have some bad effects. After that the hair gets hard. With my old bow I could play a lot with the tension regarding the music I play or the weather I was in.
Any answer is appreciated. Maybe anyone who had a similar accident? Btw. I will not name the maker... yet, but some people might have read in the past from my old bow, because I praised it so much. I just want to tell it is in the 5k range and a very good quality stick and I just can't accept that this stick just rots away now.
I snapped a bow once. Several times in multiple places, in fact, and I fixed each break simply by applying instant glue and wrapping it with string (which was later removed ofc). Not a difficult repair, and the bow lost very little flexibility—if any.
Simon, I have no answer to your problem. But on Facebook there is a group called Les Archets. I've seen some fantastic repairs posted there, and I'm sure if you posted a couple of pictures there, you'd ged the information you are asking for.
Simon, can you post a photo of the break? Some are more easily repairable than others.
It was quite a shock around 1997 when the F.N. Voirin violin bow I inherited in 1954 spit diagonally 3 to 5 inches from the tip a few minutes after I had loaned it to a very vigorous viola player in orchestra. I had it repaired and the repairer could spot that this was not the first time that that separation of the bow into two parts had occurred (so no one was sued). He repaired the bow the same way it had been before(just glued along the 2-inch break) and I still could not spot the break - no change in the way it plays.
If it’s a clean break, I don’t see why it can’t be salvaged. The adhesives today that some bow makers use to fix breaks are better than what was around 40-50 years ago. There’s Gorilla Glue and Krazy Glue which I know can seal a break like it never happened - if the repairer knows what he/she is doing. I know a pretty top violin soloist who plays on a Pierre Simon bow that had a break at the tip. I also know the gentleman who repaired it. He’s kind of a reconstructive specialist for bows in New York. People from all over the world bring broken bows to him. He uses tight bond glue and claims that none of his repairs have come undone.
Thank you all for the answers, here are two quick pictures:
I have repaired a bow with a crack like that. It's still in use to this day. There is no value left in the bow but it would be worth a shot. Visit my website at www.adbowsllc.com to learn more about my shop, but also check out the facebook groups that were mentioned. A lot of us bow makers post photos of our repairs.
That's pretty much the angle of the break in my Voirin bow, but mine broke cleanly all the way through and closer to the tip.
If the bow was replaced by the original maker, could you see if he has a stick your would like more? In some ways this is like a commission, where Version 1.0 didn’t quite do it for you. Not an uncommon problem with bows, especially.
Simon, from the photo, the break looks long enough to be repairable. In Germany, you might check with Klaus Grunke in Langensendelbach.
That sounds like good news. I mean one thing that concerns me is that the break is not 100% clean and splits a little like being squashed. Thank you for mentioning a name David. I heard his name a lot before. I will take that into consideration.
Simon, since David named him - another vote for Klaus Grünke. I've got no idea how far he is into restauration, but he's a top notch expert in German bows in general, and he makes marvelous bows for a most reasonable price. Another option would be Daniel Schmidt in Dresden, son of C. Hans-Karl Schmidt.
Mr. Gerbeth is also a dedicated repairer and restorer, BTW.
If Klaus Grunke is not himself a top-notch repair specialist, I'll bet he knows who is, and would be willing to pass that along. Super high-integrity guy, in my experience.
Quite repairable. The only problem is that no adjustments to the camber can be done ever again. No straightening, no alterations.
I think this break is basically impossible to screw up unless the repairer is a serious klutz. If it were my bow, I would just glue it back myself. There's really not much risk.
Cotton: If, as Simon has surmised, the break is not 100% clean and splits a little like being squashed, it will be anything but easy to repair, unless one is satisfied with a real hack job.
David, as usual I agree with all you said.
I really thank you for dropping some names. I have to exclude one though.
Duane Lasley said, "Quite repairable. The only problem is that no adjustments to the camber can be done ever again."
If it were my bow and I did not mind losing all the monetary value of the bow, I would consider a carbon fiber bow-quality sleeve to replace the damaged region near the center of the stick.
Even epoxy becomes thermoplastic at the temperatures required for altering the curve.
Simon, since I had very good experiences with all three I'm really curious about whom you exclude, but I understand why you don't want to name him in public. Could you send me a PM eventually?