Bow Repair

Bow Repair

Tom Neitzert is our bow expert and carries out all bow repairs and rehairs, our typical turnaround is 2-3 days, and we also offer a ‘same-day’ and express rehair normally within 1 hour.

Finest Quality Hair: We source only the very finest hair which has been thoroughly sorted and picked leaving only the best and strongest hairs for your bow, we then check and hand select the very best of these hairs, these are the most resilient, offering strength and flexibility.  This achieves the perfect balance of hair for a consistent tension, long life and supreme tone.  We are happy to always offer advice and support.Vice

Your bow is amazing, it is light, strong and flexible, it has the ability to produce a variety of bow strokes; detache, staccato, spiccato etc, and yet knock it off the edge of your music stand and the head could snap off!

There are good reasons why some bows make it into old age often it’s routine maintenance, prompt repairs that prevent more serious problems later on.

Bow Hair a bow rehair can prevent damage, when too many hairs break from one side, usually the playing side, it creates an uneven tension along the length of the stick, this eventually, if not corrected, leads to the stick warping, to correct this the bow needs straightening and this involves heat!  There is always a slight risk that a hot bow could crack or break.  It’s definitely cheaper to get a rehair.  So while a rehair is technically maintenance it’s also more than this as it prevents damage.

Hair shrinks in dry conditions, if it shrinks too much the bow will be under constant tension and this can lead to losing its camber, recambering again involves heat and the associated risks, it’s a difficult and expensive rehair so once again it’s cheaper to rehair it. Occasionally if left unchecked the head can be pulled off!

Hair stretches as relative humidity rises and it gets damp.  The hair can become so long that the gap between the frog and the thumbpiece is too great, although its possible to play like this your thumbnail will be wearing the wood of the stick and if your bow has any value this could easily be reducing it.  Bow repair and rehairOn some old bows where this issue was not addressed there is a significant indentation where the thumbnail has worn away the wood, the frog’s front edge will no longer be supported and this can lead to cracks in the frog.  This type of wear and tear can be filled to correct the damage but the value will always be diminished.

If you are unaware of the mechanics inside your bow and the hair has stretched too far, the frog may no longer be tensioned, the screw and adjuster will feel very tight, to keep tightening can crack the end of the stick, wear out the brass eyelet or pull the adjuster off the screw.

It’s always going to be more economical to have a rehair as a preventative measure than deal with the high cost of some of these repairs along with loss in value.


Thumb Leather

The thumb leather is for comfort and aiding position but it does more than this; it protects the bow from your fingers and thumbnail. If the leather wears through to the stick, have it replaced as soon as possible. Lizard leather can be harder wearing but be aware if it is on the restricted list for CITES (protection of endangered species).

Some players sweat is more acidic than others, for these players their fingers eat away the stick above the frog. If left unimpeded, in some cases players wear all the way through to the mortise, leaving a hole in the stick and exposing the brass eyelet! In this case we recommend fitting a stick protector made of leather, another advantage of this repair is to protect a makers mark or name brand, once again maintaining playability and value of your bow.

Replace the grip when worn down

If the winding on the grip comes loose, this can often be made of silver wire, silver thread, or imitation whalebone or for baroque/classical period bows of coloured thread, have it repaired. It’s often easy to fix this back in place rather than replacing it. If it can’t be saved, have it replaced—similar to the thumb grip this winding protects the stick from your thumb and fingers. It is also an important part in the balance and weight of your bow, changing a grip to another material e.g. from solid silver to silver wire thread can change this balance and mess up how the  bow plays. If your bow is working well it’s best to replace the grip with the same material, if it’s not working or feels un-balance speak to us, we’re always happy to offer advice and support.

The price of this repair will vary greatly depending on the material used.

Mechanics of the Screw and Eyelet

The adjuster button, the often either plain silver, gold or nickel, sometimes mounted with an inset pearl eye in the end or made of three pieces, silver/ebony/silver is attached to a steel screw which sits inside the stick. The steel screw fits inside a brass eyelet which is attached to the bottom of your frog.  As the button is turned into the stick the frog travels along the screw in a hidden mortise. It is the eyelet that pulls the frog along the screw, adjusting the hair tension. Over time, the harder material of the screw wears out the softer brass eyelet. This is by design; it’s significantly easier to replace the eye than it is the screw.

If the screw feels tight or lumpy and uneven or even slips so that tension changes or isn’t turning at all then the eyelet is worn. Bring it in for repair as soon as possible, the worst case of a seized bow is difficult to fix and once it’s worn the bow quickly becomes unusable.Eugene Sartory viola bow

We can easily fit a new eyelet, even making custom eyelets where necessary, we have a range of sizes with different threads both for the screw and for where it is screwed into the frog, all eyelets are fitted and adjusted precisely to your bow.

Occasionally the hole in the frog where the eyelet is fitted may be out of alignment or twisted, this can cause other problems with the smooth adjustment when tensioning the frog, it can also mean the frog no longer is seated well onto the stick, this leads to wear and tear to both the frog and the stick.  The hole will need to be bushed (filled with ebony) and the eyelet or a new eyelet fitted correctly.

A screw that’s not set into the button correctly will, over time, wear the end of the stick which will then need a new insert fitted, this is a complex repair and quite costly.

The metal rings on the adjuster, typically of silver but occasionally of gold or nickel can come loose, they are normally fitted with a small metal pin of the same material so you often can’t tell, If one of these metal rings comes loose or falls off, have it repaired and re-fitted as soon as possible, do not continue using the bow if this part has come adrift as the ebony beneath can wear out quicker than you might expect.

The Frog

The frog has been made to fit precisely onto the stick; it should be stable and firm without wobbling from side to side and without a gap at the back.

If your frog feels loose, wobbles or has a gap at the back this will affect how your bow performs and will be wearing the stick.  As above this may be a worn or badly adjusted eyelet or worn facets, even dirt and debris can add to this problem, the underslide, the metal that sits beneath the frog and fits against the facets, may also have become loose or detached from the frog.

If the frog is loos and there is too much movement from side to side this can pull the stick to one side, warping the stick. This movement, or movement from front to back, stresses the top edges of the frog. This can result in cracks to the front or back of the frog which can quickly spread along the length of the frog and lead to sections coming adrift.  If the edges start to crack, have them glued as soon as possible. If any pieces break off, save them, we will be able to refit them back onto the frog and the sooner this is done the better. If wood has been lost, squashed or distorted new ebony can be fitted to restore the frog. This is often invisible or nearly invisible repair.

The pearl eyes or other inlays to the side of the frog or end of the adjuster are purely decorative, if they fall out; replace them quickly as the wood around the holes can wear surprisingly quickly. Similarly if any of the metal parts should come loose or fall off, equally if you see any crack in the side of the ferrule, this is the metal part where the hair emerges from the frog, bring it in for repair, we can solder this back.

The pearl slide that is fitted into the top of the frog is mounted on top of a piece of ebony, it is an incredibly touch material but over time wears thin, or can be cracked by poor repair, eventually its thickness due to wear and tear is reduced and you will notice on old bows that the pearl slide sits a little below the surface of the frog, once again left for too long the edges are worn down either side of the slide making fitting a new slide much more complex or the need for new ebony to be fitted to re-build the sides.   The purpose of the slide is to help hold the hair in the mortise.


Cracks in the Stick

If you notice any cracks or unusual marks bring your bow in for a check-up.  Cracks and breaks are the most serious type of damage; they can often be repaired but will nearly always affect the value of your bow. Bow repair broken stick If you drop your bow, inspect it carefully for cracks. Have any cracks repaired immediately. There are various methods to repair cracks from bushing, pinning to tying with thread.


The Head and tip

The head is arguably the most vulnerable area of a bow. The stresses and strains of tightening the hair, withstanding the constant pressure but be flexible enough for expressive playing is considerable, typically the middle of the stick when the hair is tensioned is under 1 Newton of force whereas the head is around 1.5 Newton’s, these are moderate values for violin playing.

The head is incredibly strong yet a knock or fall can lead to the head becoming detached from the stick.  Although it can invariably be repaired thereby continuing the life of your bow it will have a considerable impact on value.  Heads after gluing back are often pinned with small threaded crews which if inserted through the mortise can be invisible; more serious breaks may require splices and wood added to the throat.

The tip, or headplate, which in older bows is often of ivory mounted on ebony, we fit bone, mammoth and composite headplates now, ivory can no longer be used as it comes under the CITES ban in endangered species.  The headplate provides extra strength to the fragile head and strengthens the mortise. If the tip becomes unglued the mortise cut-out can break especially where the thinnest points are, if the headplate breaks at these points it is always advisable to replace it as it no longer offers the structural stability that is required for the mortise and to keep hair in place, bring it in for repair as soon as possible, regluing is simple and cheap, a new headplate is not. If the very tip of the headplate breaks off this too can be glued back so if you find it, keep it! Without the tip the end of your bow will suffer damage all too quickly and this will reduce its value.  Fitting a new tip is an exacting repair and is done with sensitivity to the maker’s original intentions and without touching the original material of the head.

Request a bow repair here Bow RepairBridgewood and Neitzert Shop Sign

1 Comment

  • Hello there.

    the eye on my transitional ‘cello bow seems to have stripped. to be .. can you please give me a ballpark figure for either making a new one, or bushing it…. the screw seems to be quite thick, so I don’t think a standard ‘cello eye will work…. the screw from my baroque bow just dropped through it:-(

    Many thanks


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