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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Bow rehair


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/55102

old cowboy - Posted - 04/15/2021:  13:17:37


How often do you repair or replace your bow?

Peghead - Posted - 04/15/2021:  13:34:45


I just had mine re-haired. It's been done, 2 -3 years maybe? Long enough that I don't remember. 


Edited by - Peghead on 04/15/2021 13:37:05

old cowboy - Posted - 04/15/2021:  15:00:51


I have had my bow for 2 yrs and so far the hair is not falling out and it still sounds good to me. I play most everyday for at least a few mins. To an HR or more. The reason for asking I read of a pro who says he rehairs or replaces every 2-3mos. I know I don't play near what he does but made me wonder why mine is still holding up after over two years. Also how do you feel about rehairing your own. I saw a video on this and it didn't look that hard.

DougD - Posted - 04/15/2021:  15:16:29


"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
I know I bought my best bow in 1997, and I'm still using it with the same hair, although I don't play nearly as much as some of you.
As far as rehairing your own bow, I don't think its as easy as it might seem.

Woodcutter - Posted - 04/15/2021:  15:38:57


quote:

Originally posted by DougD

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

I know I bought my best bow in 1997, and I'm still using it with the same hair, although I don't play nearly as much as some of you.

As far as rehairing your own bow, I don't think its as easy as it might seem.






Very true Doug. I've been using my current bow for over a decade and it seems like new. I've been told that unless too many hairs start breaking to just leave well enough alone. I have twice now used rubbing alcohol to remove all the rosin and start 'fresh'.



At one point I considered doing re-hairs as a side business. I heard then that you had to re-hair around 200 bows before you really had the knack of it. I can tell you that after doing 40 bows I still felt my re-hairs were not satisfactory.

farmerjones - Posted - 04/15/2021:  15:43:45


quote:

Originally posted by DougD

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"






This.



I guess I'm not hard on bow hair. My player is four or five years old. Making my backup bow older than that by double. No rehair needed. 



Doug Kershaw had an umbrella stand full of bows on stage. He's a showman, and evidently not too fussy about bows.  



Kinda subjective.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 04/15/2021:  20:03:01


The general rule of thumb is t have the bow rehaired every six months if you play about an hour a day.



If you play more or with a heavy bow arm, you’ll most likely need to have bows rehaired more often. If you play less or have a light touch, you may be able to go longer between rehairs.



Many players have their bows rehaired and strings changed at the  same time every six months. 


Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 04/15/2021 20:04:38

RinconMtnErnie - Posted - 04/15/2021:  21:00:47


I have multiple bows that I use. Two hang on the wall for daily use. The others are a little better, live in cases and are more for playing out. I try to keep those bows with good hair. I eventually can tell a bow needs a rehair by comparison with the others. I think I rehair a little more than one a year. Afterwards it's sometimes obvious that I waited too long.

It depends some on the hair. I had a brand new bow that sounded pretty crappy after only a few months. So I had it rehaired and it sounded good again. But that was the exception and not the rule.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 04/16/2021:  05:34:28


Well ... I have mine re-haired when I have broken enough hair that it becomes noticeable. For me that is with three or so years of use. That is playing maybe ten hours a week in a good week and four in a busy one. Much depends on your "style" and usage. I had a pro tell me that it needs to be done annually. Perhaps for him it does. Over time the hair does seem to become a bit brittle on my bows. I have also gotten "bad" hair that lasted only a few months. R/

Baileyb - Posted - 04/16/2021:  05:59:06


Is there any difference in the quality of bow hair? My Coda Diamond SX pulls a nice sweet tone where as my hundred dollar wood bow leaves a lot to be desired.

Snafu - Posted - 04/16/2021:  07:10:27


Interesting topic. My daily player bow was purchased used but I was told it had just been rehaired. Codabow conservatory model. Now 5 years later it plays like it did the day I got it but I’m wondering if maybe I have just adjusted to its slow decline and it should be rehaired.

I’ve taken to leaving my fiddle and bow out of the case so it’s easy to pick it up and play. Maybe that will affect the hair life because of exposure to daylight?

How many hairs are typically installed in a new rehair job and how many have to break to justify a rehair? Or do they just wear out and can’t hold rosin like they used to?

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 04/16/2021:  12:51:18


I don't know if it's me or the bow, but after about two years of steady use it seems to take longer for my bow and fiddle to warm up past its initial scratchy, ugly tone. As it happens I live on an island with, as far as I know, one bow rehairer at best, and the guy is a 'hair' grumpy.

Mark Ralston - Posted - 04/17/2021:  01:47:04


Speaking from personal experience and not as an expert:

"re-hair around 200 bows before you really had the knack of it"
I started to learn rehairing bows a few years ago and have gotten to the point where I can do a pretty decent job. I learned from a very good DVD by Roger Foster and lots of practice on a bunch of "student" bows. I've rehaired bows for some pretty good players. I use white hair or black hair that I buy on eBay from China. I pay less than one of my "luthier-schooled" friends does for hair, and the less-expensive hair seems to be just a little more brittle than "expensive" hair, maybe a few more reject hairs, otherwise works well. Roger Foster recommends dividing a hank of hair in 2 and reversing direction on one of the halves..... this evens up the distribution of the thin & thick ends of the hair in the tip & frog, also evens up the "texture direction" of the hair. I don't think that everyone does this.

"rubbing alcohol to remove all the rosin"
I rehair a lot of bows at festivals (back when we had OT music festivals). Maybe 10% of the people who ask for a rehair do so because the bow has plenty of hair but doesn't play well...... many of these have dirty / oily hair and respond beautifully to cleaning. I found a cleaning method that uses a toothbrush w/ a mild dish soap/water solution, then rinse, then denatured alcohol, then rinse, then blot & air-dry, reapply rosin. Also takes practice, but you can get a good result.

The high point of my rehairing "career" came at one of the Henry Reed fiddle conventions. A competitor was playing away enthusiastically and the hair came out of the tip of his bow. I loaned him a freshly-rehaired bow, and he continued. Someone in the audience said that he sounded better with my bow than with his bow....... not a scientifically-reproducible result, but I took it as positive feedback.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 04/17/2021:  07:53:48


quote:

Originally posted by Snafu

How many hairs are typically installed in a new rehair job and how many have to break to justify a rehair? Or do they just wear out and can’t hold rosin like they used to?






There isn't an exact number of hairs for every bow because the mortises are not all the same size. If you try to put too much hair into a bow it won't perform properly and will lose its good characteristics until it is rehaired  properly.



Don't use the number of hairs broken alone to determine whether to rehair. Most players don't break hair off that often, unless they are rough players or the hair is bleached. Here are some things to check as indicators:



1) Cleanness of the hair. The hair will gradually become discolored and dirty where the thumb comes into contact. Once it gets dirty, it's likely time to rehair. Also, if the hair gets any oils on it, it will stop working. 



2) Length. Hair will stretch out over time. It has an elastic quality to it, and just like a rubber band, the ability to spring back to shape decreases over time. When you see that the frog is moving further and further to get to playing tension, have it rehaired. 

 



3) Rosin adhesion. Over time the hair will wear out and stop holding rosin well. You'll notice that you have to add rosin more and more often. Get it rehaired when you notice this. 

 



The idea of reversing half of the hair is an old myth. It's a bad idea and really makes no sense when you think it through. The last thing you want is to put the thicker end of the hair at the tip. It's easy to disprove the idea that doing that will improve up bows. If it worked, professionals would do it. 

Gallaher - Posted - 04/19/2021:  20:21:59


I lean on it pretty heavy, play 1-2 hours most days. rehair every 6-9 months

This has been a hassle during pandemic. I’ve resorted to hairing them myself.
Seems like I get every other one done right.

RinconMtnErnie - Posted - 04/19/2021:  21:35:11


People should also consider taking their bow to a luthier or other fiddler they trust and ask them if they think the bow needs a rehair. I've gone too long without a rehair. You just get used to it. But after it's rehaired the difference is obvious.

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