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Old 02-10-2015, 08:47 AM
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Default New bow by Sue Lipkins

Hi Folks,

I want to express my gratitude to Ken, who let me try his Ode to Sartory bow by Sue Lipkins when I met him. At that moment, I knew that I wanted something similar.

I contacted Sue and joined her waiting list. A while ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to meet her and visit her workshop. We talked and played a bit; she skillfully and patiently helped me describe what I hoped for in a bow.

Last Friday, she sent me my new bow. It is as close to being a "magic wand for the bass" as I could wish. It exceeds all of my hopes.

With a clear, loud, and warm sound, the bow hugs the strings, bounces easily, and articulates well. I think something and the bow does it. Using it is as close to effortless as playing can be.

140.5 grams, octagonal stick, silk wrap, Parisian eye.

I'll share an "overall length" photo when I get one. For now, here are the frog and head.

I can't imagine being happier with it. The process of working with Sue was a true pleasure.

What a great experience! I feel very, very lucky to have this bow!
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Last edited by Eric Swanson; 02-10-2015 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:09 AM
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Thumbs up great

Beautiful bow.. I haven't played many bows in my lifetime that can compare and those were classics.
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Old 02-12-2015, 08:34 AM
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Thanks, Ken. I feel very lucky. You inspired me.

When I was a young journeyman cabinetmaker, back in the early and mid '80's, I got "into" edge tools. I wanted the toughest, "best" chisels and plane irons.

I bought myself a few handmade Japanese chisels from Woodline, The Japan Woodworker.

http://www.japanwoodworker.com/categ.../Chisels.aspx?

When I brought them into work, one of the older Italian cabinetmakers said, "This chisel is better than you are." It wasn't something that pleased me to hear, but he was right.

On the other hand, the better tools inspired me and made a higher level of work easier to pull off. I had to grow as a woodworker even to hope to be worthy of the tools. While I'll never know if I did, or not, I tried and continue to try.

That's how I feel about this bow. It is better than I am, as a bassist. It inspires me to grow, to be worthy of it. If I can't play something now, it is my shortcoming, not the bow's!

Makes me want to play and practice. What is nice about it is that the practice time is more quickly rewarded.

As I get older, having something that makes my practice time more productive is helpful...
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:33 AM
Jeremy Darrow Jeremy Darrow is offline
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My former teacher came for a visit yesterday and brought his Lipkins bow, it was beautiful and put more energy through the bass than any other stick I have played.

Congrats on yours, I'm sure it's a killer!
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Old 02-12-2015, 03:44 PM
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Eric, you will find as time goes that this will make it easier to play certain things that were before hard to play. Like my original old Sartory I played for 15 years in NYC, my Lipkins makes things that were once hard to execute a thoughtless process. As if, there is no problem now.
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Old 02-14-2015, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
Eric, you will find as time goes that this will make it easier to play certain things that were before hard to play. Like my original old Sartory I played for 15 years in NYC, my Lipkins makes things that were once hard to execute a thoughtless process. As if, there is no problem now.
It certainly motivates me, anew, to practice! I am not yet as comfortable with the new bow as I am with my old one, which doesn't help sound production, of course...

I am sure that my nervous system's connections will get used to it, with a couple of weeks of focused work on the right arm/hand.

The bow has such a clear sound that it makes playing higher up on the A and E strings much more appealing; much less muddy there, now, which helps with certain fingering possibilities.

The bow's clarity also points up some left hand issues/slop that I haven't noticed ; the softer, more diffuse sound of my other bow was obscuring some poor technique, I can tell now.

After only a week, it is already kicking my playing (and awareness of my technical shortcomings) up a few notches. I am looking forward to the bow and I really getting used to each other.
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Old 02-21-2015, 12:56 PM
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More photos...
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:54 PM
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Three weeks into having this bow, I am just increasingly blown away by it. Ken, it is as you promised; I can play things easily that were harder, before. I hear things now that were previously hidden. I don't think about the bow; I just play.

Completely even in volume from frog to head. Loud, clear, warm, and articulate. Bounces immediately and effortlessly, yet lays into the string in the most relaxed, natural, soothing way.

Moreover, it is impeccably made, from my perspective as a fairly fastidious craftsperson. I enjoy it as a beautifully wrought object, not just as a magic wand for the bass.

It is more than I hoped for. It is a better bow than I could imagine, before I played it.

When I played Ken's "Ode to Sartory" bow it felt completely effortless. This bow has that, and still more for me. Sue made it for my hand, just as she made Ken's for his. It is starting to feel like an extension of my arm.

Consider me an overjoyed customer. This thing is just so good. I simply love it!

Gotta go play my bass...
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Swanson View Post
Three weeks into having this bow, I am just increasingly blown away by it. Ken, it is as you promised; I can play things easily that were harder, before. I hear things now that were previously hidden. I don't think about the bow; I just play.

Completely even in volume from frog to head. Loud, clear, warm, and articulate. Bounces immediately and effortlessly, yet lays into the string in the most relaxed, natural, soothing way.

Moreover, it is impeccably made, from my perspective as a fairly fastidious craftsperson. I enjoy it as a beautifully wrought object, not just as a magic wand for the bass.

It is more than I hoped for. It is a better bow than I could imagine, before I played it.

When I played Ken's "Ode to Sartory" bow it felt completely effortless. This bow has that, and still more for me. Sue made it for my hand, just as she made Ken's for his. It is starting to feel like an extension of my arm.

Consider me an overjoyed customer. This thing is just so good. I simply love it!

Gotta go play my bass...
Eric, is we rave too much, Sue might raise the price!

All kidding aside, when ever I compare bows when practicing, it's so obvious what the better bow is and I have some other fine bows here as well. Just nothing as nice as her bows are.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:55 AM
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Well, Ken, if the pricing goes up, is that a bad thing for those of us who are fortunate enough to be the stewards of these bows?

I don't mean to rave. I do want to find some way of describing what the bow is like.

Here's my best attempt at description, a month into the relationship.

This bow feels like a living thing. A very powerful, lively, intelligent, but never willful friend.

It is one of the very few bows I've ever played that feels literally as if it is alive when I play it, in the best possible way.

Sounds odd, but there it is...

If/when the price goes up on Lipkins bows, based on the ones I've played, they are still a bargain, in my limited, modest opinion.
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:38 AM
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Thumbs up agreed..

Here's a twist. If you believe in Karma, it happened to me last night. About 8 years ago, a player in the section that was shopping for a bass found and old Juzek at a great price from a family. I think the owner had passed. A few minutes before the concert, he shows me his brand new Sihon sliding mute. I have mine since 1966, an original. So he asks me to show him how it goes on the bass. So, I put the mute on the bass, and it was tight, not exactly as nice as the old ones. Sliding it up, I tried getting it on the bridge and POP, the old original 75 year old bridge breaks in several pieces in my hands on stage just minutes before the downbeat. Luckily, the place we were playing at had a music program and there was a cheap Chinese or Romanian bass in the back so we grabbed that from the music room and he was set to play. His bass needed a new bridge anyway..

Last night, I am on stage with a new acquisition, a 1980 Pollmann Busetto, 4/4 model (7/8? in USA). One of the players in my section also has a 1980 Pollmann (Gunther Krahmer) but a large Fendt-Maggini round back model. So he came to try my bass having only seen it for the first time the night before at the dress rehearsal. We had been talking about my friend in England, Leon Bosch who tunes up Orchestra strings for solo and doesn't use solo strings. So he tunes up a string or two to show me on his bass and I start doing the same on mine. He has Orig. Flatchromes, the same Leon uses and I had Belcantos. I had the G was almost to the and I was tuning the D up and then when to the G to get it to pitch and POP, my Tailpiece breaks. A piece of the rosewood tore out where the cable slides through. This is the original TP, the same as on his Pollmann bass, the cable slides thru underneath and not drilled thru the top and the cable on one side ripped out of the TP. I was told by Arnold some years ago that this can be weak for a bass and he was right. Looking on the stage floor I found a sliver of rosewood that was ripped out, the TP held by a single cable and ready to rip out like the other if I applied pressure. Luckily, we were at a school, the conductor is head of the music department there and I know they have a few basses in the music room. It is minutes before 7pm and I need 1 1/2 hours or more on a Saturday night to drive to my office and back to pick up my other bass (Marcucci). So, I went and told the conductor the situation and he showed me into the instrument storage room. I see about 8 basses there, all plywood and in bad shape. One with the neck ripping out, several half sized basses, some of them Kays and one German plywood half sized bass with terrible old floppy gauge strings! The conductor says they only have one bass player in the orchestra and he uses the Kay. The German Ply has been sitting for years untouched. I tune it up, pull the bridge tip down, straighten the bridge placement and I'm on stage playing Principal bass with a 50+ piece Orchestra doing Sibelius 2 and other Scandinavian pieces with a student plywood 1/2 sized bass and a Lipkins Sartory bow. If not for the Lipkins bow, I would have been in Bass-Hell. Instead, I buckled down and played good because instead of relaxing with a bass that plays itself, I was on my toes trying to get sound out of this bass shaped object and, it worked.

I had packed up my bass and left it in the Directors office. When I got back to the office after the concert and post-concert dinner, I took off the strings, bridge and tailwire and with the strings still on the TP and o n the gears in the pegbox, I looked at the possibility of repairing the TP rather then replacing it. The sliver of rosewood that ripped out did not press back into place but rather 'slid' in from above without out a splinter missing. The holes drilled for the cable were about 3/16" so I looked all around the shop for some 2-ton epoxy but nothing was anywhere to be found. Then, in the supply room next to the 5-minute epoxy supply that we use to inlay the graphite bars on the Smith Electric Basses, was a single box of a duo-tube mix of Devcon 2-ton epoxy.

So, with the bass on my bench and the Strings and Tailpiece still all together I gathered all I would need. A piece of cardboard to mix the epoxy, a small dowel piece to mix and apply it, paper towels for drip, a clamp and 2 3/16' dowel pieces I just cut to length to plug up the old holes so after it's fixed, I would drill thru the top and do it the stronger way. Right now, it is all clamped up since about 1:00am this morning (last night). After I have my Sunday buffet breakfast at my favorite Diner (you had a late dinner there with me when you visited), I will go back and finish the job. The set time for the 2-ton is listed as 30 minutes but being that I have 3 pieces glued up to withstand 100s of pound of pressure, letting it dry over night before working the piece is recommended. I once had a bass come in from overseas and the pegbox was ripped off from the base of the box so I glued it with 2-ton and the next day, strong up the bass. This is was just a temp-fix as the bass needed a restoration regardless. It probably a neck graft anyway because it was too long for the bass for the needed measuremnts as well as being made from some local Neapolitan junky maple-like wood. For a fine bass, it deserved better and will get it before long.

So, rather than replace it with an Ebony TP that I actually have available from another bass awaiting restoration, I opted to fix the original one and re-use it with the cable running thru the top instead. My friend with the other Pollmann has the exact TP as mine so I advised him NOT to tune his bass up to solo or 'his' TP cable might also rip out and be in the same boat as me!

Being a bass player and a woodworker yourself, you know how exciting this can be, doing the fix yourself and improving it in the process. I will post an update here when all done but being this is YOUR Lipkins bow thread, all of this for ME at least is connected. My bass section of 4 consisted or a 1933 Juzek Gamba, a 1900s Markneukirchen bass, a 1980 Pollmann and a 1950s 1/2 sized German plywood that was barely playable. If not for the Lipkins bow as I said, I would have been struggling to play. Instead, I played and led the section, ignoring the left hand discomfort and got thru the concert with flying colors. We have the best and tightest section of all the other strings in that Orchestra. I was about to switch places on stage, being embarrassed to be on the first stand with such junk in my hands BUT, this is what they give students to learn on, not a Pollmann or Marcucci so I played with that bass just to put myself in the shoes of a beginner that had to learn to play with such an inferior instrument. Thanks to Sue for making a great bow, that bass with her bow turned a bad situation into a Miracle!
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Old 03-15-2015, 02:17 PM
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Great story, about epoxy, ingenuity, vision, and the magic of Sue's work. As an aside, I'll share an epoxy tale of my own.

About twenty something years ago, when visiting my Grandmother, she asked me if I could fix the corner of her garage; she had brushed it with her car. About 6" x 1" x 1/2" of wood trim was obliterated; gone, missing, no longer there.

Of course I would do what I could, but I'd have to work with what I could get either at the local hardware store or from her house. I dammed the area with duct tape. I used Devcon 2 ton epoxy and flour for thickener (works just fine in a pinch). I cast a new area "proud" of the surrounding woodwork and let it harden.

After rasping it down to the level of the surrounding work, sanding it, and hitting it with the touch up paint she had in the basement, you couldn't tell that it had ever been damaged. The repair was still intact and invisible twenty years later, when I last saw the place.

I'll broaden my expression of gratitude for 2 ton epoxy, your guts and ingenuity, wood that breaks along the grain, your playing skill, and for Sue Lipkins' bows!
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Old 03-15-2015, 06:24 PM
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Thumbs up ok..

All fixed and ready to play. When something like this happens, you never know if all is back 100% where it was exactly.

It feel good and sounds good but I had to chisel down the ends of the two dowels I glued in to the old wire slots and get it flush with the Rosewood with not much room to work in those curved channels. Some sanding and touch-up and it looks just fine.

Then drilling new holes thru the top of the Tailpiece on a beveled surface, angling the holes slightly from outside to inside to spread the wire and getting the wire clamp back on and to a similar length was nothing short or tedious work. I must be getting soft, too much bowing and not enough chiseling because my fingers and hands are sore!

But, shes ready for service now without changing anything else and that's a relief.
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