Bow Grip Loose

October 8, 2019, 3:29 PM · The little black grip on my viola bow has come loose. My luthier does not work on bows. There is another local chap (mostly a maker of mandolins) who did a rehair for me (nicely done, actually) and he "fixed" my bow grip by securing it with "a drop of hide glue," but the "fix" only lasted about a day. I could take it back to him, and normally I'm not a big-time violin DIY person, but we're talking about a middling CF bow (with wood cladding) that's only worth about $450 (Cadenza "Master").

With that background, can anyone recommend a better adhesive for this job and suggest a means of applying it?

Replies (25)

Edited: October 8, 2019, 3:44 PM · For a bow of that value, assuming the thumb grip material is in good shape, I would use superglue after evaluating exactly how the wrap has to be joined to the bow stick and gluing of any overlap or grip-to-grip contact.

If the the grip material itself is damaged I would attempt to replace it with a rectangular piece of leather cut to the appropriate size. The four edges of the leather should be tapered on its underside to provide a smooth taper of the topside to the bow and to itself where the overlap occurs.

This is the full extent of my knowledge - Except this---> if you work on the stick, remove the frog first so you don't mess up it or the hair. I did this sort of thing once or twice a long time ago when I lived far from any violin repair people.

Edited: October 8, 2019, 4:57 PM · Superglue works fine, but it leaves little white crystals on the stick if you aren't careful and can obviously damage the varnish. It can also make the grip hard and lumpy if the leather is thin.

The last time I got a bow with a loose grip, I just worked some white wood glue underneath the leather and squeezed out the excess. It's held up so far---at the very least, the lady who owns it hasn't complained.

October 9, 2019, 5:20 PM · White glue is what is often used to glue the leather in the first place, and may work for the repair, but if there is any other glue, dirt, grease, etc. in there, nothing may hold well. It probably wouldn't cost much to send your bow to a repair person who can put new leather on, and then it would last for years. Since it is a CF bow, you won't have to worry as much about damage in shipping - but of course still pack it well in a mailing tube. If you need a re-hair, do it all at once.
October 9, 2019, 8:00 PM · I appreciate all suggestions. I'll try the white glue. I don't really want to mail it off right now since I'm playing too much and don't have a spare viola bow (but I do have violin bows), and I just had it re-haired.

About having a new leather put on, I appreciate that suggestion too but the bow itself is only a couple of years old.

Edited: October 10, 2019, 12:52 AM · If I remember correctly (I had it done about a year ago), doing a new leather costs only 20 EUR at the workshop of a top bow maker here in Brussels, so it suppose it will be a similar price at your local rehair guy?
October 10, 2019, 3:56 AM · My thumb leather is also coming off a bit at the end. It is not a serious case, and I plan to just glue it back myself. Someone on internet recommended Titebond. What difference does it make if I use Titebond, white glue, or any other glue. Thanks.
Edited: October 10, 2019, 6:26 AM · Titebond is a brand name. One of their biggest products is essentially a form of white glue. What you don't want to do is make it impossible for a professional to do a proper repair later on. For example I'm a little worried about getting something like superglue into the silver windings. Should I be?

It's not about the cost for me. It's about not wanting to send my bow to Bethesda for two weeks right now, and realizing also that I might have to do this again in the future too. And I don't need a new thumb leather -- I just need the one I have to stick down better.

October 10, 2019, 8:17 AM · I install leather grips with white Elmers glue. You can use soft string wrap and hold it down while the glue dries. This is how I do a silver winding and leather grip:

October 10, 2019, 9:11 AM · OK sorry, I thought you could just drive there and wait while it is being done. It takes less than an hour.
October 10, 2019, 9:57 AM · Getting glue into the winding is definitely a problem if you want to get new wrapping later on, because any thin wire will deform around the gluey crust left behind. You'd have to scrape it off. Luckily, the leather usually covers the part that does get gunked up, unless you spilled glue all over the stick or get a shorter thumb leather.
October 10, 2019, 5:49 PM · Thanks folks for your most invaluable input. I will go ahead and use the Elmer's Glue-All, and also wrap the thumb leather with string while the glue dries. Problem solved. :-)
October 10, 2019, 10:51 PM · Curiously, that's what I'll be doing too.
October 11, 2019, 8:26 AM · You can also wrap with adhesive or scotch tape - if you are concerned about it sticking to the leather too much you can wrap the tape with the adhesive side facing out, not in contact with the leather.
October 11, 2019, 8:37 AM · I just fixed mine. It is now good as new.

Andrew, What a creative way to wrap the thumb leather! I will try it next time. :-)

October 12, 2019, 5:30 AM ·
October 12, 2019, 8:05 AM · Two of my bows are replica 18th c bows with no windings. I have no problems in using them for a wide range of orchestral repertoire extending into the modern era.
Edited: October 12, 2019, 9:59 AM · The point of the wrapping is to protect the stick and make it look pretty. It has no function in playing.

Edited: October 12, 2019, 4:48 PM · Disagree. It does have a function by contributing to the overall weight and weight distribution. It also seems to affect tone, since there are people who claim that stripping a bow might improve its sound. However, I don't have experience with this, and would never try this with a bow of any value. But one of my flea market findings was a bit shrill without windings, while after giving it a silver winding and thumb leather, it sounded warmer. (But now it feels too light at the tip. Dang! But still was good for faking a baroque bow as long as I didn't own one. Maybe I should try it with a thinner silver wire, or even silk...)
Edited: October 13, 2019, 7:55 AM · The wrapping adds something like a half of a gram close to the balance point, so not really. I've changed the wrap on a few bows and never saw any difference in sound or playability. The idea that stripping a bow makes it warmer is in the same vein as cutting away the varnish under the bridge feet to improve contact.
October 13, 2019, 7:45 AM · You can use tape, but I use grafting tape, the same that arborists use to graft branches, there is no adhesive to it It is nice because it has some stretch/tension to is.
October 13, 2019, 7:50 AM · Different winding materials definitely play a role in function and believe it or not, tone. A typical silver winding adds about 5 grams to the overall weight moving the balance point almost an inch towards the frog. A full silver winding does sound different then just a silk or whalebone winding, if it's better, that is up to you. It's always best to replace with the original makers intent as the winding they choose is what they think is best for that specific bow, speaking of high quality modern handmade bows here.
October 13, 2019, 7:55 AM · A typical silver wrap, 5 grams? Do your bows have a solid silver sleeve on the stick?
October 13, 2019, 8:19 AM · My R. Weichold violin bow came to me somewhat frog-heavy; it had a very long stretch of silver wire wrap and weighed 65 grams. A half-century later I had my luthier replace the silver with "faux whalebone," which resulted in what I considered perfect balance. There was no change in the sound produced but a big improvement in playability - for me. The mass of the bow was reduced by 3 grams.
October 13, 2019, 9:00 AM · Five grams seems like a lot. Five grams is the mass of an American 5-cent piece also called a "nickel" (useful fact to remember). But, if it's solid silver wire (sterling silver is typically used) then that can add up.
October 23, 2019, 7:00 PM · Update: I used a little wood glue as recommended by Karl and it worked great. Thanks to all.

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