I played yesterday for the first time since last Monday. Two reasons – 1) I was out of town for a karate tournament weekend in New York, and, most significantly, 2) when I went to practice last Monday I turned the screw on my bow as far as it would go and the hair was still too slack to draw across the strings productively. I had been wanting to get the bow rehaired for a long time, and finally the want turned to need as the hairs gave up on me completely. Still, it was strange how the bow went from usable one day to completely useless the next!
I’ve not had any work done on my instrument since moving into our downtown place almost a year ago. Previously, I’d always gone to a shop Teacher recommended in the burbs, but moving down here put me two blocks away from one of the most prominent violin dealers/repair shops in the world. In the end, I found myself unable to muster the desire for a trip to the burbs on a commuter train when a five minute walk would accomplish the same completely routine rehair job. So I texted Teacher and cancelled my lesson for the next morning, and during lesson time I instead walked the bow over to the shop.
Bein and Fushi’s storefront is ensconced in the 10th floor of the Fine Arts Building, a magnificent historic stone structure that’s famous in Chicago for being old and for being ornate. It’s also generally thought of as a venue for performances of various types – several stages dot the interior. The building is an anachronism – while historic structures reign on its stretch of Michigan Avenue, when you walk through the door of the Fine Arts Building you get the impression that nothing has changed in there for more than a century, possibly not even the front desk man. The elevators, while electric, still require a manual operator– I believe I’ve only ever previously encountered one elevator operator in my life.
When I’d been whisked up to ten, I found the tiny storefront manned by an extremely polite and efficient fellow in a suit jacket tending to a front desk and lobby area that’s filled with signed photos of world-class virtuosos. Bein and Fushi is indeed one of the fine instrument purveyors for the greats, and it’s also the outfit that runs the Stradivari Society, the offshoot organization that loans fine instruments, including those by its namesake maker, to musicians of promise who need a top-notch fiddle.
When I dropped off the bow, the counter man told me the screw is a little short, by his estimation, a likely cause of my conundrum (I also mentioned that the horsehairs were over two years old). The re-hair was, happily and unsurprisingly, no challenge for their pro shop, which is apparently on another floor of the building – my phone conversation with the clerk for my pre-pickup inquiry two days later resulted in an, “I’ll call down and have him bring it up.”
I returned from my tournament trip yesterday anxious to try it out. When I took it out of the case I was expecting to have to rosin the hell out of the thing to get it going. I was pleased to see that instead the shop pre-treated it with powdered rosin – I didn’t add any of my own, and the bow played magnificently. With the shop around the corner, I’m going to try not to let two years pass before my next rehair. I admit to being conflicted about sticking to my luthier in the burbs for larger instrument matters that might arise with my violin in the future. I’m hoping I won’t have to worry about that for a while.
Thanks for reading.