I got the inclination to re-hair my "Fiddlerman" $70.00 carbon fiber bow that's a year old. I like the bow and the sound and playability but that dang thing has shed a lot of hair. My other two, very low cost bows haven't broken a hair. The Fiddlerman, quite a bit. One of the bows I have is a $30.00 Chinese carbon fiber bow (Kmise) that plays pretty well but is a bit "thin" in sound. The other is a wood bow that came with the GEWA fiddle kit I bought from the Bluegrass Shack. The GEWA bow weighed 64 grams and didn't play as well as the Fiddleman. I thought perhaps it was a bit heavy.
I have some "Incredihair" hair coming with the idea of putting it on the Fiddlerman bow. I looked at a lot of Youtube videos on re-hairing and decided to give it a try. What could go wrong? If I foul the whole thing up, I get to buy a new, better bow. It's a win - win.
I have a 70 year old bow with original hair that came with my first, free, not very well homemade fiddle so I decided to tear into it and see what I could learn. I used the hair from it to practice wrapping the end, burning and fitting it in to the tip and frog. I've practiced carving wedges and plugs. It's fun and I like to tinker. 70 year old hair is pretty brittle and dusty when you cut it and certainly not useable for anything but practice.
While I was messing with bows, I decided to do some mods on the GEWA bow (unbranded) to reduce weight and increase grip comfort. It weighed 64 grams. To reduce weight, I removed the "silver" windings and the grip. I slid heat shrink tubing on it to cover the whole area exposed and shrunk it up. The weight dropped to 61 grams and it plays a lot better now.
The re-hair videos were interesting. Re-hair from frog to tip or tip to frog? I'm thinking frog to tip. Use thread or metal wraps? I tried both. I used the metal wrap that I took off GEWA and used thread on another attempt. The GEWA wrap was "kinked" and didn't work as well as I think that thin, smooth copper wire from my fly tying days might work. I'm thinking that thread might be the best thing to use.
Burn hair ends, use glue? I don't have an alcohol burner and a lighter kinda worked but, on one attempt, the whole works burned up. (70 year old hair is like kindling.) I have a little single, coil type burner that I used in bullet casting. That worked great for sealing the ends with no worry of fires. I think that the burner will work really well on synthetic hair. I also found that the electric coil burner worked really well for shortening a couple of long hairs.
I tore apart the bow that came with the Kennedy violin kit that I first bought as it weighed 72 grams and I didn't care what happened to it. I hated that bow. The plugs and the wedge were glued in. What a pain it was to remove the hair and plugs and clean everything up. That led me to think that I might use a small drop of glue on the wedge but certainly not on the plugs for the tip and frog.
Anyway, Groundhogpeggy wanted to see some traffic on the forum so this is my contribution.
I probably don't need to tell you this, but be sure and run some burn tests on a single of the synthetic hair before committing a bunch.
thread is standard, I have seen carpet thread recommended, and a little drop of glue. some people do frog to tip and visa versa, so its up to you. I use poplar for the plug, flattening the hair and getting the right width is the trick, good luck and have fun
When I started learning bow re-haring, I watched many videos and read many books. I have found the t hat what Kevin stated is so true.
Measuring the hank thickness is the trick to ending with the proper thickness. There are a few measuring tools out there that will do the job. Then you need to take half the hank and flip it end to end before you tie the not. I use surgical thread to tie the not. I have tried magnet wire and found that you cannot get enough tension, the knot slips off. Next is the combing, combing, combing,combing and more combing. Either Frog or Tip works well for starting. The wedges I make are from spruce for the frog spreader, just because they are easy to remove when a mistake is made. Inside the frog and tip I also use poplar. Practice is the key to consistently getting the results you desire.
I have run into glued wedges. Errr! I asked my luthier what's the deal? He said some bows are so inexpensively produced, they were not intended to be rehaired. I say if you can deal with the situation, good for you!
Personally, i don't think much of synthetic hair.
FWIW i have peeled off windings on my a few better sticks to my preference. Played naked bows for years. Found a bow that, well being as lazy as i am, it was so much better than any i had, i left it alone.
Best of Luck on your project! FJ
I bought a bought a P&H <https://www.pandhbows.com/our-bows/ph-violin-bow/> graphite bow from International Violin <https://www.internationalviolin.com/> many years ago. It's an easily self re-hairable bow and they sell hair that fits perfectly. However, the hair is not the very best. A few years later, I bought a couple of hanks of the really good hair (also from International Violin). The knot fit easily into the tip, but then I had to figure out how to tie the other end. I looked at the end that fits in the frog and solved that problem as follows.
Looking at the crimped end that goes in the frog, I went to the hardware store and bought a piece of rectangular brass tube (1/8 x 1/4 x 0.014 in) and cut off a small piece that was just about the same size. After combing out the hair, I measured the length of the P&H hair and the took a piece of Scotch, or similar, tape and wrapped it around the hair just below the proper length. I then cut off the extra hair and just a little bit of the tape. The tape portion now easily slid the hair through the hollow brass. After carefully measuring the length of the P&H hair, I slid the hair through the brass and crimped it at that length and cut off the extra hair. I then slid the metal piece (don't know a name for it) from the frog onto the hair and inserted the crimped end into the frog. Then I slid on the metal piece (not easily) onto the frog to hold the hair in place. Turned out not bad for a first re-hairing.
Originally posted by WyoBob
...70 year old hair is like kindling...
Thanks for the tip...and a heckuva belly laugh.
Billy, I certainly will test flammability. If the synthetic is not a hazard, I'll know what to use if I ever decided to buy a toupee.
Kevin, Though I like Carl's innovation on using tubing, I doubt any can be found where I live. I'll most likely go with thread. I wonder if floss would work? And, yes, I'll have fun. Like I said, the downside is I have to buy a new bow. Oh, the horror
Carl, I think even the smooth, fly tying wire would not give as good of a grip as thread. As you said, practice is key. Thanks for the tip on wood species to use for plugs and wedges. On the synthetic hair, I think some of the synthetic thread I have on hand to tie the knot might work best. Then, perhaps a dab of "medium" super glue. Perhaps melting the hair into the knot, if the "Incredihair" melts and fuses together like I think it might and melts into the wrap, I think that will be pretty solid.
Steve, When I started with the fiddle and, after lots of searching, I ordered an "Incredibow". I thought the hair worked fine and the tone was good but the shape of the frog and balance of the bow didn't suit at all so I sent it back. The bow just wasn't as comfortable as a conventional bow.
Carl, I thought your innovation on crimping was pretty neat. Back in my airplane building/restoring days, we used crimped fittings on pretty important control cables. Of course, those fittings were "giant" compared to what we're talking about, now.
I liked your comments on hair quality. There is sure a lot of "moving parts" on a fiddle bow. On wood bows, all sorts of factors are present. I guess that's why I lean towards carbon fiber. It seems like variables can be reduced quite a bit based on what the stick is made of. IOW, carbon fiber sticks will have more consistency than wood bows (especially bows in the cost range that I would consider.) Likewise, horsehair. I'd guess that there is more consistency or "repeatability" with synthetic hair than horse hair.
And, Walter. I'm glad I made you laugh!
Thanks for all of the thoughtful posts. This was a fun thread.
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