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Dianne
In my violin journey I am constantly learning and adjusting, and that includes equipment and accessories. Everything along the way has helped tremendously. But now I wonder about strings and bow rehairs. I am perfectly satisfied with year old Peter Infeld Strings that I have played on for about 9-10 months solidly, and I have never had a rehair on any of my bows. Rosin adheres and grip is fine. Tracking is fine and sound is good. Bows tension properly. Would my playing really take off if I had new strings and a rehair? Thoughts?
Dianne
16 Responses
Posted: June 8, 2019
Last Comment: June 23, 2019
Replies

Timothy Smith
Posted: June 23, 2019
Getting back from a trip and wanted to respond to comments here by Barbara and Fabriano Formiga de Carvalho.

Barbara thank you for sharing your experiences with rehairing a bow. I think it probably seems easier than it really is. I still plan to try it, but I also think that for a beginner like myself, time spent working on a violin is time i could be practicing. If a rehair is in the 100.00 US  range and I can buy a bow for 100.00 it is tempting to just keep replacing a bow every year instead of rehair. Either way accomplishes the same thing, though not knowing the quality of the hair would be one variable I couldn't control. So presently I'm "on the fence" with this one. If I eventually get a better bow I would certainly get it rehaired. The rosin used plays a greater role than many realize too I think.

I admit to feeling bad about anyone who isn't close to the resources they need to learn. Many times, especially with adults we think we need things that will help us play better. In my experiences if a player is still at the basic levels most of it won't help in any huge way aside from having a well set up violin with decent strings and an average bow. This is one reason I posted my experiences, to say, we probably don't need as much as we think we do. In my case the bow made only a small difference in clarity of tone. This includes the hair. The usable life of bow hair can be extended with a good cleaning if a rehair isn't possible.

There is usually a way to learn well without having access to huge inventories of instruments and/or bows. 

I tend to get hung up sometimes on the technicals of a subject and sometimes end up chasing my tail around to get the same results ;) I believe I still need to go through the process to prove it to myself. So I tried a bunch of cheap bows and got cheap bow results lol! Even a blind squirrel gets an occasional nut. I get lucky sometimes.

Barbara Habel
Posted: June 14, 2019
Thank you Fabiano!!!

Fabiano Formiga de Carvalho
Posted: June 14, 2019
Barbara Habel,

your kind words left me really too moved.

The purest and richest sounds from your violin! That's what I wish from the bottom of my heart.

Barbara Habel
Posted: June 14, 2019
Dear Timothy

I had a go years ago at changing bow hair. I failed at getting to open up the frog with its mother of pearl bit. Ray told me how to do it but I could not make it work. So I broke it. Then I tried to rehair it but could not get the length of the hair right. So I quit rehairing. There are several good videos of how to do rehairing on YouTube. But the one´s I saw only showed you how to do parts of the whole process.

Cutting my bridge into shape was a more successful venture. I cut the bridge on my expensive violin and the bridge and nut on my electic violin. I started by looking at the bridge of my cheap acustic and using that shape for my expensive bridge. And the nut from my expensive violin for the cheap acustic and the electric.

Important here are to know the measurements of the strings above the fingerboard at the end of the FB. 3,5mm on the E string, 5-6 mm on the G string and D and A a measurement in between.

On the bridge of the expensive violin I did my work with the bridge in position on the violin. Since I am able to use my left and my right hand for working with the carving knife doing the work was no problem.

You should start off with the willingness to loose your work and having to go to a luthier to fix it and having to pay for him or her. Cheap instruments and bows to experiment on are a good idea. Then you could just bin it if it all goes badly.

If you do DIY work on a violin or bow please let me know how you did.

Barbara Habel
Posted: June 14, 2019
Dear Fabiano

What an enriching point of view. I think we in our richness have scared off Stravensky.

I am glad you are still around with your down to earth wisdom. Keep sticking around. We need you.

Fabiano Formiga de Carvalho
Posted: June 14, 2019
Dianne,

You all who live in rich coutries could answer to questions, such as you raise, simply renting a high level violin.

In the cities where I live there aren't any violin rent services. So I can rely only on my efforts, improving my technique, my skills.

Dianne
Posted: June 14, 2019
Thanks for that. This I also found helpful in general.

My bows all get pulled off the rack whenever I have a problem with new technique and help me to figure things out. Some are tip heavy, one weighted toward the frog, one more toward the middle, some bounce better than others. Tones vary but for some reason now even my club bow is splashing some color. In reality, I only needed one beginner bow, perhaps an upgrade when learning advanced techniques, and carbon fiber is perhaps indestructible for outdoor, pit and orchestra work.

Timothy Smith
Posted: June 14, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Dianne I apologize, I sometimes make a big circle in my thinking. It was difficult to address only bow hair without also delving slightly into the bows themselves...your comment about how many cheap bows we have sort of led to the rest.

It about the HAIR here, so I began out of curiosity to look into it more. This luthier says Japanese violinists change the hair about every three months, wow. I'll let that sink in. The edges/ridges tend to wear down on horse hair making replacement necessary. I'm only repeating what he said, not saying it's gospel.

 I think I want male Mongolian horse hair after watching this video. This luthier recommends different types of hair based on the material you prefer to play. Japanese horse hair has smaller edges and therefore works best on smoother passages and for recording (according to this) Female Mongolian horse hair is best for Bach kinds of things. Male Mongolian horse hair is best for  non baroque  material. Chinese horse hair all depends on the source...so there you have it. He has another video showing how to change the hair on a bow but he doesn't recommend it to beginners unless you have something to experiment on if you are so bold. I have plans to give it a try on one of mine eventually.


Ray
Posted: June 12, 2019
A number of factors determine when to change the hair on your bow.  

One factor will be the number of hours you have played with that hair?  But in addition to that is how you are playing?  With what intensity?

Another factor is how tight do you usually have the tension?  Hair, no matter what animal it comes from has elasticity.  But this elasticity will deteriorate not only by continuously over tightening (so not just once or twice).  In addition to that is simply age.  Over time, and to the best of my knowledge no one has ever studied this, age will also deteriorate that elasticity.

All hair, horse hair included, develops scales as it grows.  It is those scales, with the help of rosin, which allows the horse hair to pluck the strings.  The health of those scales and their ability to hold unto the rosin will also determine when to rehair your bow.

   

Timothy Smith
Posted: June 12, 2019
To directly answer your question I can only go by my own experiences. None of my bows made me a better player. I have a small collection of "cheap" bows too depending on how you define "cheap" since one or two are in the 200.00 range. Several in the 100.00 range and the others I have no idea because they came with violins and I don't know the cost.

If you're asking what  1000.00 and up bows would do for your playing, I think those bows have generally nice balance and a more defined sound. 1000-3000 would get you a decent CF bow. It isn't uncommon for good players to spend much more than that on a bow, especially if it's custom made. "Cheap" and "better" are subjective I suppose based on your wants/needs.
My "cheapo" collection is as follows. I posted a pic but might have omitted a bow or two laying around I missed.
From top to bottom
-Bows #1 and #2 are extremely cheap bows. The wood is so soft it's sometimes hard to tell if you're tightening it or not lol. They still play though, just not much definition. A really "soft" sound.

-Bow#3 is a little better but not by much.

-Bow #4 is probably my best wood bow. It actually plays pretty well to the intermediate level. My teacher made it sound very good. It can't possibly be pernambucho wood for something in the 200.00 range, however it's a harder wood than the other wood bows. I think it's just a decent entry level Chinese bow. Gets the job done. Not a lot of definition.A good player can make it sound ok. I'm not that player.

Bow#5 is rather unique. It's an Incredibow. Looks a lot like a Baroque bow. Never needs rehair because the hair is synthetic. Never warps. In my opinion it trades some warmth for definition, but you can play crazy fast with it because it's so light weight. I wouldn't recommend it for a first bow but I like it because it is averse to humidity. You could probably dip it in a pail of water and still play with it. Makes a great gigging bow.

Bow#6 is a Fiddlerman bow. I think it was about 65.00. Plays well and is good for a person starting out. I think CF trades some warmth compared to wood, at least on the lower end like these bows.. We hear that under our ear but it might not be as detectable to a listener.The bow is balanced well and is agile.Not too heavy and not too light IMO.

Bow #7 is a fiberglass bow I bought on ebay. It's slightly heavier than CF making it excellent for getting sound out of a cheap violin. None of my violins are especially loud violins and some material seems to work better using this bow. It isn't particularly agile though.
Bow #8 is a low end  entry level JonPaul CF bow. I think it borrows some of the tech from the higher end JonPaul bows. I think it might be similar to saying a low end Mercedes is better than a high end Ford lol. This bow is light and very nimble, almost too light playing a less responsive cheaper violin. On those violins I find I need to push on it to get sound. I'm sure on a better violin that doesn't take as much effort to get a decent tone  this would be a perfect bow because the low mass makes it a very fast bow. This bow has actually whetted my appetite for the higher range of JP or better CF bows. 

I don't feel that any of these bows really impacted my playing at my level so far. Some don't have as much definition and so the sound comes out less defined. Other lack much warmth...but I still sound like me :)

Dianne
Posted: June 12, 2019
Definitely the cheaper bows wouldn't be worth a rehair as it would cost the same to replace the bow. The one I had in for rehair cost $275US and for that one I thought it was worth it. I liked that bow a lot. It had a darker brown, flexible, round stick. I have its counterpart here still, a lighter color almost identical but with a slightly different balance point. To me they sounded the same. In my quest to find the 'right' bow, I ended up with quite a collection of cheap bows, with the two round Chinese bows being the most expensive at the time. They had a lot of color in them. Many times I've thought of asking here, how many bows do you own? But I'm almost embarrassed to admit how many cheap bows I have! Right now I am using one I thought I liked the least - earlier thought to be a club with no resonance at all. But it is helping me tremendously with double stops and spiccato learning. And although heavier, is helping to tone my hand and strengthen it. It just feels heavy because of the balance point. It seems to have some color now, too. It could be that it is a good match for the German made violin I'm using. Or it could be my technique is a bit better than a couple of years ago!

Timothy Smith
Posted: June 12, 2019
You might try cleaning the bow hair. I have heard that people do that using alcohol. Not the drinking kind. I've seen videos on youtube. Sorry I'm at work and can't really look any deeper. If it were me I might try that avenue first. It's the least expensive.
I seriously considered getting my own rehair jigs and trying to rehair one myself. Mainly because a certain luthier told me I should never try to do it lol. Seriously, it would save money over the years if I could learn to do it.
On the low end, you can probably buy one for the cost of a rehair. Just a thought.

Dianne
Posted: June 10, 2019
Uhh, my upgraded cello bow was left under an air conditioning vent and the hair stretched. I can no longer tension it. And it was perfect when I got it and for months afterward with the A/C vent closed. We are heading into 110 degree Fahrenheit weather this week so literally no humidity outside. I moved the cello bow to another room and closed the vent over the bows. I'm waiting for the hair to shrink, because I was out in my great room today with my violin bow and that room caused the hair to tighten in less than 5 minutes! Once everything stabilizes, the rack will be ok. It's that time of year again here..

Dianne
Posted: June 9, 2019
Thank you for your responses. I actually did put a bow in for rehair and the tip snapped, and I ended up getting a replacement bow that was a much better bow used, and have not had that rehaired yet. Then I purchased a new bow with premium hair, and although it felt a bit smoother and the sound was a bit smoother, I found that I could get close to the same results with my other bows with just a bit better technique. So I was just curious why I would get a bow rehaired (the bow I put in for rehair was just to try it to see if it made a difference as I had played on it for a couple of years and had read that you should after that much time). But I was searching for a good reason for a rehair other than dirty bow hair at the frog or something like that, and overstretched hair was something I hadn't thought about. It makes sense now. As far as strings, today while playing, although the sound and response of the strings was good, I remembered reading that you don't really know how bad they really have gotten until you change them. It could make things easier. I think once I have a tuning issue they would certainly go. I have a box of a few sets of 3 month old Peter Infeld strings I plan to use for the next set! I'm glad the PI are holding up like this. I got this idea of sticking with strings for a long time from the orchestra- no one changes strings apparently until they snap. They get really warm sounding but still tune well. Interesting!

Alan Barnicoat
Posted: June 9, 2019

Hi Dianne,
I too never had my bows rehaired until very recently. I made an appointment with a wonderful local luthier last friday and am really eager to pick them up and try them out sometime this week.  My situation was very different from yours. I've sensed for quite awhile that they needed rehairing and also that my violin needed a general checkup.  I'm so glad I finally pulled myself together and did this so I can eliminate anxiety due to the physical/structural reasons for dissatisfaction in my playing.  So, if you have the means and time, I would recommend having at least one of your bows rehaired so you will no longer have to dwell on it.  As far as changing strings go, I tend to think that is more of a subjective choice - it sounds like you may have already found the perfect strings for you and your violin. 

Michael Baumgardner
Posted: June 8, 2019
"Take off" might be a little much to hope for. :). Seems like there is a lot of variation among folks I play with.  Some haven't changed their strings or rehaired their bows in years and seem perfectly content.  Of course I assume there is a lot of variation between those who perhaps play an hour a day and those who may play 3 hours a day.  I change my strings every three months.  I play with Dominants or Obligatos.  When I first started playing, I couldn't tell much difference after I changed strings.  Now (after developing a hopefully better ear) I look forward to the change of strings because my sound brightens quite noticeably (at least after an initial week or 2 of letting them settle).  

 As far as rehairs, I don't seem to notice much difference after a rehair.   I rehair about once a year.