‘When you open up a bow, you never know what you’ll find,’ he says.
Andrelzyk has rehaired as many as nine bows in one day and up to fifteen a week. Challenging repair work can also be dealt with, even a cello bow broken in three pieces.
‘I used apoxy,’ Andrelzyk explained, ‘the same kind they use to repair rifles,’
The bow components Andrelzyk works with range from natural fibers to synthetic materials. Pernambuco is the hardwood of choice for the bow stick. Imported from Brazil, some of the wood is harvested from old fences.
‘It makes nice bow wood,’ Andrelzyk says. ‘It’s old and worn in.’
Snake wood is also used and for less expensive bows, fiberglass.
Frogs are made of ebony or horn. Older frogs made from ivory or tortoise shell can present certain challenges: ‘You can’t export older bows with a tortoise shell frog, it’s illegal. We sent one to England once and customs removed the frog and ground it up.’
The bow hair is actual horse hair culled from any kind of cold weather horse. It is imported from Argentina, Mongolia, and China; ‘though sometimes the Chinese sneak in fishing line,’ Andrelzyk adds.
Rare materials, however, don’t necessarily make a great bow: ‘A bow can be crude looking but have wonderful playing quality.’
The most magnificent bow Andrelzyk has worked on was a French Tourte bow.
‘The Italians are famous for violins,’ he said, ‘but the French are the bow masters.’
Kenny Andrelzyk’s journey as a bow man began in karate class. After being laid off as a machinist, Kenny was approached by fellow karate classmate and violin maker, Wilbur Wamsley, for a job at William Moennig & Son. Kenny’s first job at Moennig’s was in the shipping department, from which instruments were shipped all over the world. When a position opened in the bow department, Andrelzyk apprenticed under master bow maker, Rick Riggall. Andrelzyk remained at Moennig’s for twenty-five years until the Philadelphia violin shop closed in 2009.
Wamsley opened his own violin shop in 1998 and hired Andrelzyk after Moennig’s closing. Andrelzyk now works on bows for a number of Philadelphia Orchestra musicians. Other clients from as far as South Carolina, Arkansas, and Hawaii also employ Andrelzyk’s services.
Wamsley Violins, located at 28 Tanner Street in Haddonfield, New Jersey, is a full service shop providing high quality instruments for both professionals and students. In addition, Wamsley also offers appraisals, repairs, and sales from a trained and experienced staff, including Kenny Andrelzyk’s convenient re-hair-while-you-wait.