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Jan 12, 2021 - 5:38:26 AM
49 posts since 9/4/2007

Not sure if this is the best location for this topic, but don't quite know where it fits.

I am curious if bows (wood, carbon fibre, composite, or whatever) wear out with age and playing? I am not asking about the bow hair, but the stick itself. Did a quick search and couldn't find anything on this.

Reason for asking is that I have two bows. I like them both, but the wood one sounds better and plays easier to my ear. I alternate playing with both because I don't want to "wear" out the wood one. Not sure where I even got the idea that was a possibility. Anyway, thought I would check and see if anyone had some information or thoughts on this.

Jan 12, 2021 - 6:45:30 AM

DougD

USA

9921 posts since 12/2/2007

I'll defer to the luthiers on this, but here's a shop with a nice selection of bows. Those old French ones seem to be holding up pretty well. brobstviolinshop.com/instrumen...view=grid

Jan 12, 2021 - 7:15:06 AM
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banjopaolo

Italy

90 posts since 9/14/2010

it depends on the quality of the wood and the care of the player, the bow can deform, and loose the right curve: a good bow made of a well aged and dried wood can keep playing well more than a lifetime if you don leave it always in tension (it's important to relax the hair tension every time you stop playing), a cheap bow often became bowlegged after some times...

Jan 12, 2021 - 10:01:25 AM

4963 posts since 9/26/2008

Different bows sound and play differently with different fiddles, plus the wood ones all have variables that make each different. Also, some are just not that good to begin with.

Jan 12, 2021 - 10:30:02 AM

2142 posts since 10/22/2007

Pernambucco wood is very dense and tightly grained. But I have heard of recambering a bow. I don't recon I would.

Jan 12, 2021 - 11:15:23 AM
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278 posts since 3/1/2020

There isn’t a simple answer to the question, unfortunately.

Fine old bows can last indefinitely when cared for properly—there are plenty of baroque bows and Tourte bows that are still performing well after centuries.

Bows are made with a certain amount of camber to give them their character. Over time, the camber can change, making the bows behave differently. Camber can be re-established, but the more a stick is recambered, the weaker it becomes. In that sense, it’s similar to a violin bridge; if the bridge is warped, it might be straightened, but the more it bends, the weaker it will be in the future.

Sticks can warp sideways for several reasons, and that can also affect the way bows work. Or there can be twists at the head, which can similarly change things.

Another part of it is the hair. If the hair tension or amount are not appropriate, the bow will feel dead or too twitchy. There are bows by an excellent English maker that will turn into noodles if too much hair is put in. The quality of the hair is important as well.

One last part of it is changing player preferences. Bows made a hundred years ago were made for the players of another era, who favored lighter and whippier sticks. The trend now is toward stiffer and heavier sticks, so many players who try old bows will conclude that the bows have been “played out” over the years. Again, bows can lose their character, but that usually has more to do with their upkeep than their age.

Jan 13, 2021 - 5:28:29 AM
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RobBob

USA

2716 posts since 6/26/2007

Been fiddling for well over 40 years and I haven't worn a bow out yet. Been through a pile of horse hair though.

Jan 13, 2021 - 5:32:31 AM
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49 posts since 9/4/2007

Thanks to everyone for the comments and information. Looks like I don't need to worry about over using a bow. If it loses camber, or whatever, that just means it's time to get another better bow.

Jan 13, 2021 - 6:13:02 AM

4963 posts since 9/26/2008

Camber- the bend in the bow when not tightened.

Jan 17, 2021 - 4:32:12 PM

47 posts since 5/1/2010

I haven't noticed any change in my sticks over the years, but just a few weeks ago one of my frogs suddenly slipped and wouldn't hold the hair tight. I took the frog apart and removed the "loop" of metal (have no idea what it's called) from inside the frog, where the twistee thing went through, squeezed it with pliers, re-inserted it, put everything back together, and all was well. Good grief! Are there names for all these parts of the frog which I tried to describe?

Jan 17, 2021 - 5:48:33 PM

2142 posts since 10/22/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Fiddleharp

I haven't noticed any change in my sticks over the years, but just a few weeks ago one of my frogs suddenly slipped and wouldn't hold the hair tight. I took the frog apart and removed the "loop" of metal (have no idea what it's called) from inside the frog, where the twistee thing went through, squeezed it with pliers, re-inserted it, put everything back together, and all was well. Good grief! Are there names for all these parts of the frog which I tried to describe?


One tightens the hair with the frog-screw. The frog-screw goes through the frog-nut. What you did was deform the frog-nut, so the threads would better engage. Now, were the thread in the frog-nut deteriorated, or the frog-screw? Brass is soft. Both can easily be replaced, but together. Best of Luck FJ

Jan 17, 2021 - 6:00:42 PM

DougD

USA

9921 posts since 12/2/2007

The "frog-nut" is usually called the "eyelet."

Edited by - DougD on 01/17/2021 18:02:13

Jan 17, 2021 - 7:25:37 PM

2142 posts since 10/22/2007

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

The "frog-nut" is usually called the "eyelet."


Aren't the eyelets, the pearl inlaid eyes on either side of the frog?

Jan 17, 2021 - 7:38:29 PM

DougD

USA

9921 posts since 12/2/2007

Jan 17, 2021 - 7:56:48 PM

278 posts since 3/1/2020

Eyelets are traditionally made of brass and are threaded into the frog. Brass is used because it is softer than the iron or steel of the screw and won’t destroy the threads and so that the eyelet can be drilled out should that be necessary. The screw shouldn’t be replaced unless it must be.

Different manufacturers use different systems of measurement, so not all threads are the same—for this reason blank eyelets are sold.

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