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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Old bows worth rehairing?

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DougBrock - Posted - 04/25/2021:  07:19:18

I imagine there can’t be a good answer to this, other than “Take the bows to a shop and ask them,” but still interested in opinions.

1. Any reasonable way to judge an unhaired bow?
2. Are old bows like these pretty much throwaways to begin with? Considering the price of rehairing when compared to the price of used bows at a store?
3. Have you found a bow included with a “fixer-upper” violin that was worth rehairing?


Insannadys - Posted - 04/25/2021:  08:13:12

Hi Doug-
You can certainly find old bows with rehairing, and you'll be conserving endangered tropical hardwoods in the meanwhile.
Some things to look for:
-Flex the bow while sighting down it, you hope not to see excessive sideways bowing and you can feel if stick has decent resistance. Check stick for cracks etc.
-Check tip for cracks and presence of tip guard. Replacing guard can be as/more expensive than rehair.
-Check frog assembly for cracks and screw for decent operation. Typically better frogs will have a metal slide facing the stick and absolutely no plastic.
If you find bows meeting these criterion you might take them to luthier for opinion.
Good luck!

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 04/25/2021:  19:19:11

Those bows look pretty rough and I think both are missing tips as well as windings and thumb grips.

You can judge the quality of a stick by checking its weight and flexibility. If it has hair and isn’t missing parts you can check that balance. You can check the camber and straightness and look for twists and signs of bad recambering or straightening. You can also determine whether it’s pernambuco or something else, like abeille or ironwood.

Good bows show up with bad fiddles from time to time. I found an outstanding Pfretzschner among a collection of junk bows and fiddles and have had other similar experiences. At the shop, all kinds of things show up. Sometimes, there are some very good bows with instruments that are mediocre, but most of the time the bows are fairly well matched to the instruments. 

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 04/25/2021 19:20:46

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