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Bow Straightening

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Classical Bass, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. Classical Bass

    Classical Bass Guest

    Jul 7, 2005
    South Georgia
    I have a Joseph Richter octogan bow - it looks like model # 150. It has a warp to the left. Is it worth trying to fix?

  2. I would say Yes. I don't think you have much to lose at least trying to get it re-cambered. Recently I encountered the website of Lynn Armour Hannings , a professional bow maker and symphony bassist who had this to say on the subject of bow restoration and repair:
  3. I've never had it done, but I don't think getting a bow straightened is a very difficult or expensive thing to do. I'm sure it would be cheaper than getting a new bow, and then this one will of course be worth more in the future, too.
  4. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    My teacher just had the curve put back in his bow. The woman in New York who did it for him told him the "operation" was at his own risk. But he told her to go ahead and it came out very nicely. I think there is some risk of damaging the wood, but in the right hands I'm sure your bow could be brought back to alignment.
  5. Julie


    Mar 6, 2005
    Ft. Worth, TX
    Classical Bass, I studied with Lynn Hannings and learned to recamber bows, however it is one thing that I will not do because it's not worth the risk to me.
    The best thing you can do is find someone that does a lot of recambering and send it to them. I would probably send my bow to Lynn if I needed a recamber especially since she is a bass player.
  6. I though we were talking about a straightening a stick that was warped slightly to one side or the other, rather than having lost it's camber. Is there any difference in the risk? I would think fixing a slight warp would take less actual work than recambering the whole thing...
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Recambering a bow is not the same as straitening out a warp.
  8. i just recently had my bow recambered by mike shank in pennsylvania. it was also warped slightly to the left and he fixed that as well. he told me up front that it was a risky thing to do, but he did a beautiful job and it plays way better than before.
  9. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I looked into this a bit (I think there's a thread here somewhere that I started) when I was looking at buying a warped bow. The bottom line is that an expert really needs to look at it to tell you and sometimes what they will say is that they can try but there's no guarantee and it might end up a lost cause.
  10. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    i took a warped bow to my bow teacher and she said" do you care if it breaks ?"

    kinda the outcome that is totally possible.

    i have learned that a warp to the left is worse than a warp to the right...but i cannot explain why.
  11. Granted, they are different maladies that both require bending the bow to the desirable shape. I didn't mean to equate them, only to imply that they might be simultaneously fixed.

    BTW, your observations, DZ, about warp in one direction being worse than the other are shared by bowmaker Don Reinfeld .
  12. Classical Bass

    Classical Bass Guest

    Jul 7, 2005
    South Georgia
    I took the bow to Atlanta yesterday and had it checked out by one string person - thought the warp was small enough to continue using. I'm going to follow up with the info you all sent.

    I was particularly interested in the page from Don Reinfeld. Plus, I learned something else to find about...camber.
  13. Maaaven


    Jun 24, 2003
    Pasadena Area
    I have a cheap student violin bow that had a major
    bend to the left, almost an inch out of whack. I had
    just been sanding and french polishing, and could easily
    touch up the finish, so I took the plunge. I fired up
    the stove burner, grabbed it near the ends, and put
    it into rotisserie mode. I worked slowly, back and forth
    while rotation the stick continuously, and got the stick
    up to temp and at while reversing the bend, at some
    point the wood relaxed and it is now rather straight.
    No breakage, only a bit a crazing of the finish, which
    french polished right out. Now I have a straight,
    cheap student violin bow, that I can try to put hair into.

    All the caveats; sure dont try this on your good bow, etc.
    Trained profesionals, personal protection equipment, blah blah
  14. This is particularly true of bass bows. Violin bows are relatively easy to re-camber because they only about a quarter inch in diameter at the thickest part. A bass bow, being considerably thicker, requires much more care to get the wood hot enough inside to re-bend without turning it into charcoal. If you don't get the wood hot enough, the bow stick will not retain the new camber permanently and it also increases the odds of breaking the stick while attempting to bend it. Contrary to what you might think, a bow specialist heats and works a small area (a few inches) at a time rather than trying to do it all at once. Even the best specialists will occasionally scorch the bow stick a little and may leave a darkened area on the bow. This is definitely not a good DIY project.
  15. Maaaven


    Jun 24, 2003
    Pasadena Area

    Thanks for the expert's take on. I had not considered thickness
    and temperature gradients, but it makes perfect sense. I used
    my chin as a temperature sensor. I figure if I don't get burned
    I won't burn the stick. As for the size of area heated, small
    makes good sense, but with a kitchen burner, you get what
    you get... I would still do it on a bass bow worth less than
    $50, but would certianly hand over any nice stick to someone
    who has more experience.
  16. GriffithLea


    Aug 29, 2006
    Cypress, TX
    My pernambuco octagon French bow, after my 16-or-so year hiatus from playing, had developed a bit of a turn whose epicenter was at about 5" from the tip. When I took it to Philip Gold in June for a rehair right before my restart, he said he could straighten it. And he did. There is a slight discoloration in the area of the fix, which anyone besides me - i.e. the person who knows the bow best - probably would not notice.

    The bend may be returning slightly - I recently did a double-take, thinking perhaps it wasn't quite as straight as when I got it back from Philip, but I couldn't be sure. I need to take another look at it.
  17. I would guess that you didn't get the bow hot enough for the re-bending to be permanent.
    If you are doing it for the experience and don't mind the potential loss, go for it. I was fortunate to apprentice in a shop that did a lot of school bow work and had accumulated a box full of bow sticks that were not worth repairing. I'm sure that I broke at least a half dozen bass bow sticks in one summer while I was learning the craft. I still worry about breakage when ever I have to re-camber a bow. It's real easy to do.

    One final thought. Never re-camber a bow without having it rehaired immediately afterward. Bad rehair jobs can cause warpage and leaving the same hair (that may have caused the warpage) in the bow is false economy.
  18. Philip Gold appenticed in the same shop that I did a few years earlier and is an excellent bow maker and repairer. Recambering a bass bow is actually more difficult than putting the camber in the bow while it is being made since when you make a bow, you can scrape away the burned spots. I'm sure that Philip will attempt to correct any problem if you make him aware of it.
  19. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have a bow that is labeled "Oskar E. Meinel" that had developed a significant left warp with a very slight skew of the tip. It also has a very slight crack at the warp point that has been repaired.

    With the "it may break" agreed to, I had it straightened and recambered. It is actually pretty scorched, but it is perfectly aligned now. It has stayed that way after two years. It plays beautifully.

    And yes, it was re-haired at the same time.
  20. GriffithLea


    Aug 29, 2006
    Cypress, TX
    Agree with you on Philip's abilities. My family has known him, and his dad before him, for many years. Thanks for the recommendations. The problem (if it even exists at all) is very slight and can wait until the next bow rehair. Which may be a while! Philip did an excellent job and used really nice hair, so hair breakage and lossage is at a minimum. This is probably the best white hair I've ever used.

    I can usually tell it's time for a rehair when I've got a layer about 1/2" long of brown crud - which is a mixture of rosin, dirt, and who-knows-what-else - on the hair right next to the frog. :) On this first rehair since my restart I've only got a little bit of the crud so far.