A bow is a fragile and valuable object. It can be
easily damaged; the older it is, the more fragile and
sensitive to temperature and hygrometry changes it
becomes. Even though fine bows may play well over
several centuries, their life will not be indefinite.
The guiding principle is to preserve as much as
possible in a valuable historic bow, during a
restoration. Yet most historic bows will continue to
be played, and these bows are thereby subject to wear,
similarly to new productions. It is widely
understood that such wear can be addressed by the bow
maker without taking away any of the historical value.
Ivory tips, for example, are notoriously fragile, and
most mother-of-pearl shall be replaced in the long
run. Once the original components have served their
time, a knowledgeable professional may choose to
replace them without compromising the overall quality
of the bow, as long as he/she understands
all historic aspects in the style of the bow.
Benoît Rolland supports a combined approach for
prudent use and competent conservation; he builds
customized tools or replicates ancient ones, employs
rare materials to ensure the greatest possible retention
of historic value and musical qualities.
While it is true that damaged bows can often be
repaired, loss or removal of any wood is irreversible.
A simple but imprudent sanding can undo an originally
perfect adjustment or affect the style of a head. For
this reason, we strongly recommend placing your
historic bow in the hands of a knowledgeable
artisan who will be aware of which techniques
were used at the time the bow was made and what its
Bear in mind that precaution must be a rule,
particularly during typical yet hazardous maintenance
procedures such as rehairing.