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Bow Rehairing

Instruments: Info on bow rehairing in Ohio.

From Danielle Goatley
Posted July 11, 2005 at 05:33 AM

I've had my Klaus becker bow I bought from Shar for a year and 1/2 and my teacher keeps saying I need to get it rehaired. What's the best place to get a bow rehaired around NW ohio or SE michigan?
My parents say they don't mind driving an hour or so but that's it. Also how much does it cost? Are there different kinds or horse hair, which is better?

Thank you for all your suggestions!

PS-I need a place that will fix the silver winding on my bow because it is tarnished.

From Marty Dalton
Posted on July 11, 2005 at 05:55 AM
bow rehairing costs can vary a lot. When I lived in Pennsylvania it cost about 50 bucks, but there's a guy in Oklahoma who does it for 30 bucks (and a great job, too). Most violin shops do bow rehairs, so just check the internet for shops near by.
From Sarah Benedict
Posted on July 11, 2005 at 07:40 AM
Definately go to The Loft Violin Shop in Columbus Ohio if it is not too far away...they are experts and I have never had a problem with their service. It costs about $30 to get a rehair done there. I believe they are listed on this site under "Find Luthiers".
From Brian Sura
Posted on July 12, 2005 at 02:02 AM
Yo Brian, I almost re-haired my bow myself... But I learned how to do it, and it takes like a 100 dollars in supplies. Mostly on tools. And there not the tools you'll have lying around like a screwdriver, they are wierd looking ones and such. Of course the second time you re-hair it your only expense would be the horse hair.

How did I get my bow re-haired? I got it rehaired from a music shop for only $24 dollars.

1 last thing if you have like a $24 dollar bow, mabye try buying 1 instead?

From Sarah Benedict
Posted on July 12, 2005 at 07:48 AM
No offense, but people go to school a long time to learn how to rehair bows properly. It isn't as simple as slapping some hair on the stick and screwing it in place!!!!! If you aren't able to afford a repair person to fix your bow, the expense of trying it yourself, buying all the supplies, and THEN taking it to a professional to re-do it will be much greater.
I admire your ambition to try it yourself....but it is a little like assuming skiing is easy because all you do is slide down the hill.....
From Carley Anderson
Posted on July 12, 2005 at 12:08 PM
Brian W...Yikes-clamping your violin to straight piece of wood? It's probably too late, but that is probably not a good idea. What is warped about it? Maybe the neck needs to be reglued. If your violin is not very old, that is a very likely situation. My 5-year-old violin had to have "her" :) neck reglued just this spring, because "she's" not old enough to withstand much weather change yet. Not that they ever get to the fool-proof stage, but she really reacts to the weather right now. Anyway...you sound like a do-it-yourself kind of person, and that's great, but...be careful. Just words of advice...take it or leave it. :)
From Brian Sura
Posted on July 13, 2005 at 03:05 AM
Yo Brian, if you have the patience to attempt and re-attempt to re-hair your bow then I have confidance you will succeed. Also please listen to me on this 1 thing though, get a book. A good book on bow re-hair.

Though you will require a $100 spent in tools, you could probably substitute tools, like if you have scissors and the book says to use wirecutters, just use the scissors. (Of course you won't need wirecutters I'm just showing you an example.)

1 last thing, if you're low on money and need money to buy tools, and the violin book. You can either get a job, or try going to garage sales and look for valuable items, (antiques, popular books, collectors items ect.) Always make it seem like your not that interested in the item and ask if they will take a quarter ;) Then once you have the item go on ebay and do a search, if its worth more then .25 cents go sell it.

Cheers!

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 13, 2005 at 03:43 AM
Dood that's so awsome. I think all the tools you need you can get at a truck stop. Just laying in the parking lot probably. Then when the hair is in its proper place just cut it with the wire cutters or scissors. Maybe you don't even need to buy hair. Do you have a dog? Does he have a tail?
From Sarah Benedict
Posted on July 13, 2005 at 07:54 AM
Why am I suddenly picturing "Dr. Nick Riviera" of THe Simpsons....?
From Ben Clapton
Posted on July 13, 2005 at 08:56 AM
I know my local music store stocks bow hair, all the different types. Don't know if your local stores would have them, but it's worth a shot. But be careful!
From Amy F.
Posted on July 13, 2005 at 05:05 PM
hahahahahaha jim that's great. i got a good laugh.
From Robert English
Posted on November 14, 2008 at 11:31 PM

My luthier says that the best hair is from Mongolian stallions.  Stallions are preferred because their urine doesn't contact their tails as a matter of course.  Hair can be had from a variety of sources, including Stewart-Macdonald.  I think they ask around $8 per hank.  The hair is held into the bow by little trapezoidal wedges (maybe that's not the correct description of the geometric shape).  You can access them as follows.  Unscrew the tension rod completel and remove it.  This will allow you to take the frog off the stick. Remove the flat wedge between the metal ferrule and the bow hair on the frog. Slide the ferrule off the frog. Slide the cover (usually mother of pearl) toward the tip to expose the wedge.  Mark the wedge with a fine pencil showing the direction it is installed.  That way you can get it right when you re-install it.  You can then pull the hair  and wedge up and out of the frog.  Lay it over the tip and you can slide the tip cover down the hair to expose the other wedge.  Mark it. Pull lightly and it will come up and out. Re-assembly is ther reverse.  That's it in a nutshell, leaving out a fair amount, but you can get the idea.  Now you can head out to Mongolia and get some fresh stallion hair and do a field installation. Have fun. Practice with an old or cheap bow.  Never glue the wedge or hair nto the tip or frog.  I've seen this done. It's an ugly thing to see.

 

From Josh Henry
Posted on November 15, 2008 at 12:03 AM

I'm trying to figure out what to say here...

Do you change the transmission fluid and oil in your own car? Do you fix your own computer after the hard drive crashes? How about cleaning and servicing you furnace? Do you do your own taxes and legal work?  My point here is that there are professionals that are trained to do proper work (no matter what kind of work) and that part of the cost involved in professional work is the assurance that the professional knows what he is doing and will not cause additional damage.

I see so much preventable damage to bows inflicted by their untrained owners trying to fix them (and even shops and violin makers untrained in doing bow work). This type of damage is so avoidable and can be quite costly to repair. If your bow has any value (cost, sentimental, historic, etc.), I really encourage you to get the bow to someone that is professionally trained in bow repairs. However, if it is a cheap bow--go for it as it can be quite fun and rewarding to do this kind of work. 

Josh Henry, Bow Maker
www.FineViolinBows.com

From Dottie Case
Posted on November 15, 2008 at 12:10 AM

Mr. Henry..where does one go to be trained in bow-rehairing?

From Rob Olsen
Posted on November 15, 2008 at 12:13 AM

$24 bucks! $30 bucks!

Is this a going rate in the US? with high quality hair?

I just had one of my bows rehaired in Toronto and it cost me $70  

 

 

From Josh Henry
Posted on November 15, 2008 at 12:26 AM

Excellent question Dottie. Bow rehairing is often described as a simple task, but not an easy one.

To get training for bow rehairing and other repairs is best done by focused observation and demonstration with a bow repairman or shop. There are so many factors that go into rehairing, that it usually takes about the first 100 bows to get it consistently correct. Learning to rehair next to someone that rehairs bows every day and can help work the student through all of the strange possibilities that are encountered in rehairing is the best way. The 'apprentice' concept is a very appropriate to learn bow (and violin) repairing because every rehair and repair can have different factors that can affect the outcome.

The are a couple of books that are helpful as references, but there is no substitute for learning techniques correctly from a professional. There are also summer institute training courses held in New Hampshire and in California, and these can be very helpful for observation and demonstration of proper techniques, but usually the sessions are a week (or two) long, which is not enough time to perfect rehairing skills. There is a DVD on rehairing by Roger Foster, which I have not seen, but I've heard that it is quite useful.

Josh Henry, Bow Maker
www.FineViolinBows.com

From Richard Mayes
Posted on February 23, 2010 at 04:47 AM

Wow, what a lot of hating on this thread!

 

Dare I say it, the sort of person who is unwilling or unable to change the engine oil in their own car is probably not going to be mechanically skilled enough to work on a fiddle bow either. But a complete how-to is available in the classic Cassell's Cyclopedia of Mechanics: http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/mechanics/Cyclopaedia/How-To-Re-Hair-A-Violin-Bow.html

 

My cello bow had a re-hair a couple of years ago (I'm an amateur player, so it hasn't done a lot of miles since then and the hair is still good.) At a recent rehearsal there was a 'pop' during some loud marcato music and the complete set of hair pulled out of its anchorage in the tip end.

 

After consulting reference (1) above, I was able to re-attach the hair and drive the wedge 'D' back into place with a carpenter's hammer and a bit of perseverance. So far it seems to be holding. The wedge itself is quite soft, but the bow itself is made of extremely strong wood, quite man enough to resist hammer blows, and hard enough to make a big dent in my kitchen table top. :-(

 

I appreciate this isn't the same as doing a re-hair, but if anyone mechanically-minded is able to source their own hair then I would suggest don't hesitate to attempt it yourself!

 

Cheers

Richard Mayes

Classic cars, classical music, beautiful old things in general.

From David Burgess
Posted on February 23, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Since this thread has come up again, I'll strongly advise against attempting a rehair without good professional training like Josh mentioned, unless your bow is "disposable". Much of the damage we see on bows is from people working on them who didn't have proper training, and this can include some people who call themselves "professionals".

For example, one would never use a hammer to seat the wedge in the tip. Lots of times, people damage a bow, and don't even realize it. It's way more complicated than an oil change.

I don't do rehairs any more, so it's not like I'm giving this advice to try to make money off of you folks. ;-)

From Richard Mayes
Posted on March 23, 2010 at 03:08 AM

5 rehearsals so far since repair with hammer. Oil pressure and bow hair tension remain within normal operating range. :-)

Our programme is Schubert Rosamunde Overture, Brahms Serenade #1,  & Malcolm Arnold Little Suite for Orchestra. Plenty of loud scrubbing in that lot - a good solid test drive for bow and player...

(In all seriousness I agree I probably would not have been brave enough to carry out this experiment had it been a highly valuable bow.)

From Joseph Galamba
Posted on March 23, 2010 at 04:25 AM

So...you took your bow and struck it with a hammer so hard that it dented the table?

From Carol Pigeon
Posted on April 24, 2010 at 11:25 PM

I too am trying to rehair a bow.  Not a pernambuco but more sentimental and still in good shape.  The trouble I am having is getting the tip of the horsehair to stay in the tip of the bow while trying to get the wood wedge in.  I thought maybe there was too much horsehair so I cut off apx. 20 strands.  Still no luck.  Any thoughts of how to do this with only two hands? : )    Or do I need to buy a rehair rig?   Any ideas would be appreciated.

From Andrew Victor
Posted on April 25, 2010 at 12:33 AM

All I know about rehairing bows I learned from a friend who became a luthier after retiring from an engineering career (he made about 80 violins, 9 violas, and 3 cellos, and serviced instruments and bows for many local musicians and for the school systems). He said it helped to have 3 hands to rehair a bow - even with proper jigs and tools. He told me it was his least favorite thing to do.

I would ask the teacher "WHY?" Why the bow needs rehairing. Rehairing can cure a lot of problems that can also be cured by various cleaning/maintenance things the owner can do. I've been owning bows for 70 years and I now know I have had them rehaired far more times than necessary. I Most recently I tend to them myself and only have them rehaired if they have lost enough hair to affect the bend of the wood - I would never think of doing my own rehairing. I probably now do 6 hair cleanings for every re-hair I eventually get. I only live 30 minutes drive from my luthier and he will do a "while-you-wait" rehair for an extra charge. Last "rehair problem" on my son's bow was solved very quickly by just having the hair shortened ($12).

My very recent email from Clayton Haslop indicates that he treats his bows pretty much the way I treat mine.

Andy

From Carol Pigeon
Posted on May 2, 2010 at 06:27 PM

I am sure there are several serious violinist in my area.  Ann Arbor, MI.

Can anyone suggest a place other than Shar music, where you can get a bow rehaired properly for less than the cost of a new one.

From Ed McCoppin
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 09:04 PM

Carol, I live in Monroe, Mi. I do nice quality rehairs. You can contact me at emviolins@gmail.com for more information.

From John Cadd
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 09:53 PM

For any non experts what are the safe things a player can do to improve a bow without getting it re-haired. Cleaning the hair is not out of bounds.Do some bows have hairs criss crossing that could be combed straight?  Noody has mentioned the way a wedge in the tip will hold the hair in place.It is not done by hammering or pressure.The hair when it is tightened will tend to rotate the top end of the wedge outwards.The wedge is shaped to lock against the hair which presses against the inner top part of the wedge box .The wedge shape is just angled to lock against that inner  surface .The bit of the wedge away from the tip is the "pivot".  Nothing actually moves but it`s always trying to.That`s why it can`t ----See?

From John Cadd
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 10:04 PM

Separate to the previous points, have a close look at the hair with a magnifying glass and a strong light.See if you can find any hairs that are misshapen.That means any not completely tubular and regular all along the bow.If you have been using the bow the faulty hairs will be shiny as the rosin has not attached itself due to the distortion.Any bad hairs will mess up the smoothness of the sound.There are 3 or 4 types of hair faults. Educate yourself about this without doing any damage to your bow.Your bow may need a rehair so do this before the hair gets changed.You will learn a lot.

From Allan Speers
Posted on July 18, 2010 at 08:08 AM

John Cadd raises an interesting question:

 

Can you tell, visually, when your hair is starting to go?  Obviously, once it's really bad, you can hear & feel it, but what if you still have 95% of it and it's JUST starting to go bad?

 

Also:  Can anyone recommend a good shop that can do 5-6 bows for me?   None of my bows are super-expensive, and the best local guy is quite a snob.   Actually he's an INCREDIBLE snob.  My best bow is only a Sartory workshop. A few others are named but probably fakes, yet still excellent old sticks, but this guy won't even look at them.  -  And then I have a $300 CF bow which kind of stinks, but I use it when I play in rock bars.  I want all of these bows to be done perfectly, and wit the best hair.   

 

So, can I find a shop that will do this for me?  A shop I can trust?  I don't care where it is, as shipping is cheaper than gas.

From Joseph Weiner
Posted on August 8, 2011 at 07:14 PM

 Actually, I do change my own transmission fluid, oil, and coolant in my car, as well as other basic maintenance jobs that aren't worth paying $80 an hour for. I also do my own taxes. I think we all choose what we're willing to do ourselves with these things. Do you mow your own lawn? choosing to hire somebody is a choice to be more likely made by somebody who has a lot of disposable income. When I bought my first violin it was a big deal because I had to save for a long time, and I knew I didn't want a "beginner" instrument. Anyway, if somebody wants to try rehairing their bow (assuming they can tell that they really need it) then more power to them. I think there should be more resources to help people do things for themselves. You don't need an expert for everything.

From Howard Harkness
Posted on January 8, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Here locally (Plano, TX) a bow rehair is just north of $40. I have recently seen some reasonable bows for sale less than $45 (I wrote up a couple on my blog at http://celtic-fiddler.com/fiddler), so rather than pay somebody $40-$50 for a rehair, I'd probably buy a new bow -- if the bow I already had was worth less than $50.

On the other hand, I do get my better bows professionally rehaired, because I know a luthier who does a good job and I haven't made the investment in tools or training to be able to do it myself.

I do have a bunch of cheap bows (I sell them for about $30 to my students who need a bow, or have a cheap bow that needs a rehair). I would eventually like to learn rehairing, since it would probably be a good income stream, and I could use those bows for practicing on. If I break a cheap bow, well that's just part of the price of learning. I'm told that once you have done about 15 re-hairs, you should be good enough to do it for a living.

A lot of luthiers would rather not do rehairing, because they consider it boring. I have a high tolerance for repetition (I'm probably borderline autistic), so I don't think I'd have that problem.


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