During the Summer of 2014, I wrote a number of blog posts on the issue of ivory and potential alternative materials for use as headplates/tips. Strad Magazine covered some of these issues in an article called, “What’s the Alternative,” in its Accessories Supplement published later that same year. Although I wasn’t interviewed for the article I was named along with my colleague John Aniano and others as part of a group of bowmakers testing different tip materials.
On June 4th, 2014 I had posted an entry on a promising fiberglass/epoxy material called G10, which I had installed on a Hudson Reed bass bow belonging to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra member. You can see it here: https://swansonbows.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/ivory-alternative/
At the Oberlin Bowmaking Workshop that year, I gave bowmaker Rodney Mohr a piece of G10 to try. A picture of a bow he tried it on appears in the Strad Supplement.
My blog posting made its way to the Facebook site of The American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, of which I am not a member. Soon after that I got a call from Matt Wehling, who had seen the article and found the material promising due to its strength and strong, obvious non-ivory grid pattern noticeable upon closer inspection. Matt was interested if I wouldn’t mind him contacting David Warther, who had long supplied the field with ivory and mammoth tip blanks, to see if he might want to use G10 instead. I had no plans to commodify the use of G10 so I gave Matt my permission to pass it on the David.
The result was Tip Armor which is now offered at Warther’s site here: http://www.guitarpartsandmore.com/?nav=products&cat=27
It’s important to note that Warther’s headplate blanks are listed as being made of something called “AMW-814, a polymer composite” and that the term “Tip Armor” is a registered trademark of David Warther & Co. I use it all the time and love the product.
The photo above is a picture of the the original G10 headplate as it looks today. The owner dropped the bow and the only part that broke off was the very tip of the tip – the decorative part which stands unsupported above the wood of the bow. You can see the line where I glued the original piece back on. Not bad!