Restoration of H.R. Pfretzschner violin bow

The head of this violin bow made by H.R. Pfretzschner had "blown out" through the side and back of the hair mortise. Several pieces of the original pernambuco had broken out, and unfortunately, a few small slivers of wood were missing.

The owner of the bow absolutely loved the way that this bow played, and was very disappointed that the bow had broken. Several shops that saw this bow declined the repair, and one even told the owner that it was not repairable. He found my website in a Google search, and after a few emails and phone conversations, sent me the bow.

The following pictures and descriptions document the restoration of this bow.

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
These are the 'before' pictures of the head of the bow.

 

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
The first step in this repair was to glue and stabilize the side of the head to prevent further damage. After this, the remains of the tip ivory were removed. The original thickness of the wood at the back of the plug mortise was only around 2.5 millimeters, and the thickness of the wall of the head was so thin that light shone through the wood.

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
Because of the thinness of the original wood, I made the decision to entirely replace the wood in the interior of the head--including the wood behind the plug. I call this repair a "plug graft." I decided that this would be the best way to reestablish the strength of the head so that it could bear the pressure of a head plug and the tensioning of hair. The pictures above and below show the head after I cut out the remaining wood behind the plug and thinned and smoothed the sides of the mortise.
H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
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H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
The bow head with the piece of pernambuco that will be fit and glued into the void in the head.

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
Fitting the pernambuco into the void in the head. Chalk was used in the fitting process to ensure that the plug fit all dimensions inside of the void.

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
This picture shows the pernambuco plug glued into the head.

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
Here is a view of the face of the head during the shaping process. The original contour of the face was reestablished first, leaving the material at the back to be trimmed once the tip ivory is in place.

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
In this picture, the face of the head has been lined with a strip of ebony in preparation of gluing the ivory in place.

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
In these two photos, the tip ivory has been glued in place, and initial shaping of the back of the head has been started.
H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration

Here are some pictures of the head after shaping has been finished. The repair is nearly complete, with the exception of recutting the plug mortise and thinning the ivory.
The first picture shows the same side of the head that was broken out, followed by views of the replaced wood in the back of the head.
H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
To cut the plug mortise, a hole is first drilled in the head, and then enlarged into the correct shape for the mortise.

H.R. Pfretzschner Violin Bow Restoration
And finally, the repair is finished.

(Back to Bow Restoration Page)