Will straightening violin bow change the camber?

June 8, 2023, 5:52 PM · Just need an advice about straightening my Jules Fetique bow that I recently purchased from an auction. It has excellent playing qualities but it has a bend towards left (player side). I know that it can be fixed by a professional but I am worried that the characteristics or the camber of the bow may change. If I like the bow how it is play, should I still bother to straighten it? Thanks everyone!

Replies (10)

June 8, 2023, 6:37 PM · If it’s not a really bad warp to the left then it might actually be okay and there’s no need to fix it unless you really want it straight. I’ve had luthiers tell me that a slight warp to left is okay for violin and viola bows because it can cater to the way we play. It would be the opposite for cellists where a slight warp to the right would be best.

Either way take it to your luthier and they can tell you whether the warp is something to worry about

Edited: June 9, 2023, 8:31 AM · I was going to respond to the OP saying that my F.N Vorin violin bow had a slight warp to the left. So I took it from the case and looked at it and then tightened it to compare the stick with the hair ribbon (which is always straight) and found it is not warped. I had not used it much for some years but had it rehaired during the pandemic.

I conclude that the previous rehair might have been "uneven" and resulted in higher tension in the right-hand hairs.

Could that do it?

Personally I would seek a professional opinion VERY CAREFULLY! However I would be unlikely to have any work done on the stick if it was working for me.

Edited: June 9, 2023, 8:38 AM · As already said, A) to the left may be a good thing and B) being rehaired by a competent luthier could solve it. I'd post the problem (with picture) on Maestronet.com
June 9, 2023, 10:00 AM · I would call Josh Henry and ask his opinion.
Edited: June 9, 2023, 11:45 AM · Some re-hairers will build in a small curve to the left under tension. The idea is that your index finger will push the stick down (to the right), so you get more to work with.

But this is all a question of degree, and we really have no information on the board to base advice on, except to talk to a pro. If it is an auction item, you might as well be sure you have clean hair with no bugs, etc.

Jules is a great maker, BTW. I just tried about three or four last year and wound up with one. It is actually too bright for orchestral use, as I have trouble hearing the center of the sound. But it speaks well on its own and plays awfully well.

June 9, 2023, 1:07 PM · Straightening and recambering are two different things. When a stick is warped to the left or right it can be brought back into straightness without affecting camber. Recambering deals with the curvature of the stick along its length.

Straightening isn’t as controversial as recambering, as the latter directly affects the playability of the bow and resets what may be the original camber put in by the bowmaker. Getting it wrong can cause permanent damage or make the bow worse to handle than it was before. For that reason I would only trust maybe two or three people in the country to recamber a bow. Although I do a lot of bow work, recambering is one thing I’m not willing to do regardless of the quality of the stick. It just isn’t worth it to me to take the risk, and I’d rather entrust that kind of work to someone who has the experience and knowledge to be able to handle all the complexities of recambering.

June 9, 2023, 10:40 PM · Tks for the opinions. They give me the comfort to bring my bow to be straightened by a reputable bow maker/repairer in Toronto without affecting the camber. Just one more thing, if my Jules Fetique is not very percussive in my playing, will the bow repairer be able to make the bow behaves "quicker" after straighening it? The bow makes my violin sound very elegant because of its richness and enhanced overtones, but it is relatively "slower" when compared with my usual Malo bow. Perhaps it is a matter of for me to learning the bow. It weights 61g.

Just a side note, I find that some bows require a longer time to appreciate, love and explore while some bows give me the instant part-of-my-arm sensation. I have a Tubbs bow that sounds wonderful but it took me over a yr to start understanding how it/I can bring out the good sound, and I am still exploring its potential. On the other hand, my Francois Malo and John Sirdevan bows are those that are truly the extension of my arm immediately at my first trial. Can I hear some of your experiences in the journey of searching and collecting bows?

June 10, 2023, 1:18 AM · Responding the above post, I recently tried quite a few fine old French bows and I felt some has quicker spring (healthier) even if it's supple, while some are a little more tired despite the notes came out crisp, ricochet is relatively slower.

If I have a bow that I think need straightening, I wouldn't expect it to "tighten" up but admittedly I don't have much experience about it, just my intuition feelings. As long as the articulation seems crisp, I would give it a little more time before making decisions.

Edited: June 10, 2023, 9:18 AM · I have a very nice German bow made by Christian Wanka around 2005, which I have always loved for its warm and rich sound and its general versatility. I noticed that it seemed to develop a slight warp to the left several years ago. When I brought it in for re-hairing in Ottawa, by an extremely skilled luthier, Charline Dequincy -- now at Reuning in Boston, alas -- she took a quick look at it, and said she could probably correct it with an adjustment of the hair. Six years, and as many re-hairs later, the warp has never reappeared.
Edited: June 10, 2023, 10:08 AM ·

I would recommend someone who makes these modifications on a frequent basis. It's a tricky business that involves applying a combination of heat and tension to the bow. If not done correctly, the result can be a broken bow.

I have an outstanding luthier, and he and I spoke about this procedure. He warned me about the risks involved. He's familiar with the process; but rather than undertaking the procedure himself, he recommended that I go to a local bow-maker who works only on bows. This atelier straightens and cambers bows on a regular basis. For example, he knows to check bows for any imperfections in the bow that could break out of hand, prior to beginning.

He's done two bows for me, and each time, it improved the bow's handling.

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