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Old 11-05-2010, 03:47 AM
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Question Re-cambering questions

I'm wondering, since I don't have ready access to a bowmaker to bounce questions off of - and I imagine other bassist might wonder -

How is it determined that a stick would be improved by re-cambering? I suppose there is a rule of thumb about how much camber there should be, relative to something else? Or is it just a "flex-and-guess" kind of thing?

I have a pretty good idea what's involved in the job, but I wonder - is there much risk of damaging the stick?

Finally - if it is determined that a stick should be re-cambered, how much of an improvement (assuming a good stick to begin with) can be expected?

Thanks!
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Erickson View Post
I'm wondering, since I don't have ready access to a bowmaker to bounce questions off of - and I imagine other bassist might wonder -

How is it determined that a stick would be improved by re-cambering? I suppose there is a rule of thumb about how much camber there should be, relative to something else? Or is it just a "flex-and-guess" kind of thing?

I have a pretty good idea what's involved in the job, but I wonder - is there much risk of damaging the stick?

Finally - if it is determined that a stick should be re-cambered, how much of an improvement (assuming a good stick to begin with) can be expected?

Thanks!
A particular Bow probably has its own 'sweet spot' where it plays best as fat as camber goes. Some sticks are not as good as others and may not do all that you want it to. Over cambering a bow back and forth weakens its grain so get it right the first time.

If a bow has too much or too little Camber or is bent to one side or the other then it may help it play batter to set it where it needs, what ever that might be. Cambered sideways towards the stings, inwards is not the best thing if more than slight. Straight centered or slightly to the right to counter slight hand angle bend is preferred.

I have re-cambered about 80 Bows personally, some more than once. It's no fun but the results are rewarding. Most were done on import KSB Bows. My Bazin went to Sue Lipkins for a re-hair when I first got it some years back. She mentioned that the head was twisted away from the center of the stick to one side. She offered to try and straightened it IF I had insurance in case it broke as this was a stiff piece of wood (Pau d'arco/Ipe) made over 100 years ago and has settled in this position. My insurance only covers loss or accidents, not repair trials so I opted to do it myself when the bow returned. I re-bent the bow and got half the twist out and added a big more camber. Now it's one of my favorite bows to use. Maybe I was lucky. A great bow and it didn't break.

Be careful and go slow. I use the stove to heat it, bend it in place and then put the bow in the freezer for a few minutes to cool it fast. It works for me! Be careful not to burn the wood. Remove the Frog and set the screw aside. keep the hair away from the heat as you slowly turn the bow while heating and move slightly up n down the sick between the tip and the grip. Try this on a cheap bow first and don't force the bend. Let it 'give' to you little by little. Head back and forth till it is slightly over the bend you want as the wood will settle back some. Good luck.
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:51 PM
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Oh man, I wasn't planning on doing the job myself!

I just got to looking at some bows the other day and wondering, since a couple seemed to have plenty of camber and others not so much, at what point a lack of camber was generally a "problem" and such...

Thanks Ken for the info; I'm not letting you re-camber my good bow though, even it it is a little crooked and perhaps a tad slack.

Got any photos, say of similar bows with too little camber and then a proper amount, for reference?
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Old 11-05-2010, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Thomas Erickson View Post
Oh man, I wasn't planning on doing the job myself!

I just got to looking at some bows the other day and wondering, since a couple seemed to have plenty of camber and others not so much, at what point a lack of camber was generally a "problem" and such...

Thanks Ken for the info; I'm not letting you re-camber my good bow though, even it it is a little crooked and perhaps a tad slack.

Got any photos, say of similar bows with too little camber and then a proper amount, for reference?
Pics? No, sorry.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:47 AM
Jonathan Stefaniak Jonathan Stefaniak is offline
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I read this thread with great interest since I've been basically scouring the internet for information on bows. I stumbled across Charles Espey's Blog and read every post about bow making he wrote. This post about the relationship between bow camber and the overall concept for the bow warns against corrections that depart from the maker's intentions. A very interesting variance of opinions must be held by many people. When I called Susan Lipkins to put my name on her list, I mentioned one bow of mine(an overly flexible/weak Steven Reilly bow). She suggested that she could make adjustments to the camber and improve the bow. I don't doubt that she could greatly improve this stick's performance - she can. It may just be better to get a new bow (which I already have) then bother with correcting a bow I have begun to outgrow anyway. I haven't decided whether I will go down the road of correcting the bow or simply sell it as is and buy another.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Stefaniak View Post
I read this thread with great interest since I've been basically scouring the internet for information on bows. I stumbled across Charles Espey's Blog and read every post about bow making he wrote. This post about the relationship between bow camber and the overall concept for the bow warns against corrections that depart from the maker's intentions. A very interesting variance of opinions must be held by many people. When I called Susan Lipkins to put my name on her list, I mentioned one bow of mine(an overly flexible/weak Steven Reilly bow). She suggested that she could make adjustments to the camber and improve the bow. I don't doubt that she could greatly improve this stick's performance - she can. It may just be better to get a new bow (which I already have) then bother with correcting a bow I have begun to outgrow anyway. I haven't decided whether I will go down the road of correcting the bow or simply sell it as is and buy another.
If a bow or stick rather is weak or soft, then you may not know the makers intention if the stick changed over time from being weak under hair tension. Correcting a bow camber is like pressing out a sunken top of a bass. You do what you need to to make the bass more playable and as healthy as possible. The same goes with bows. The best makers cannot correct a weak stick. Rather only care for it over time.

As I mention about my old Bazin (now in a new happy home), I have another similar bow by Fetique that has a bit more side camber than I would prefer. I was about to re-camber it but in flexing the stick I realized how stiff it was. Concluding that this is mainly settlement of the old wood and would be dangerous to try and change it. Then, I took the bow out a few times, tried it as-is and decided it was fine the way it was.

If a bow feels less than playable without re-cambering, I think it's worth the effort to try something to make it work again than leave it aside unused. We are way past the makers intentions at this point. The bow was made to be played.
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Old 10-18-2012, 02:49 AM
Jonathan Stefaniak Jonathan Stefaniak is offline
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That seems reasonable for sure. It is a bit of pity to let the bow just sit there unused. It was probably a pretty poor choice of wood on the maker's part that led to it loosing camber over time, if that is what happened.
BTW, how do you like that Fetique? How would you describe the tone, balance, strength, tonal flexibility etc.? I am really in love with the Andre Richaume bow I got last year - a dense, clear tone that leaves of room for the string to sing. Since Richaume apprenticed with his uncle Victor, I would be curious to hear more of your impressions for comparison. Thanks!
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Stefaniak View Post
That seems reasonable for sure. It is a bit of pity to let the bow just sit there unused. It was probably a pretty poor choice of wood on the maker's part that led to it loosing camber over time, if that is what happened.
BTW, how do you like that Fetique? How would you describe the tone, balance, strength, tonal flexibility etc.? I am really in love with the Andre Richaume bow I got last year - a dense, clear tone that leaves of room for the string to sing. Since Richaume apprenticed with his uncle Victor, I would be curious to hear more of your impressions for comparison. Thanks!
On the wood choice, I don't think it's the makers choice of wood all the time. It could be the player not loosening his bow of just tightening it more than that stick likes. On some stiff bows, I have seen players tighten them till almost straight so they can play real hard with downward pressure. As long as the hairs stay off the stick in the FFF passages, it's tight enough. I have learned over the years to pull the bow rather than to only press it down when needing more sound. My softest bow works just fine but doesn't have as strong a spine as some other bows for heavy orchestra playing. It was at one time my main and favorite bow. I grew out of it as my arco got stronger.

The Fetique grabs great and for a bow its size and weight, the best I have seen. Comparing it though to my 2 Bryant bows, the Fetique is a stronger stick than my 136g but my 152, that pulls a bigger sound. Also, it depends a lot on what I am playing and on which bass.

Playing these bows, even new ones like the Lipkins of which I have had several of them, I find them as different from bow to bow as I do bass to bass in feel and sound.
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