V.com weekend vote: When was your last bow re-hair?

February 2, 2018, 4:00 PM · I recently received my bow back after a good re-hair, and wow, everything suddenly feels fantastic!

Of course, it's all too easy to let regular maintenance slide, and time tends to fly very quickly between re-hairs. I realized that it had been more than six months this time around, and for me, that is just too long.

bow hair

I find that, for students, the time period between re-hairs can be much longer, despite my best efforts to educate and remind. The expense, combined with the busy schedules of young people and their parents, make it difficult for them to get this done.

Once, after weeks of frustration over a student's weak and mushy sound, I simply handed the student my own (identical Coda) bow and said, "I'd like to you to try it with this bow and see how it sounds." It made such a huge difference: suddenly the sound was focused and beautiful. The student noticed it immediately.

"How long has it been since your bow was rehaired?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said, still rather wide-eyed. "I can't remember, it's probably been more than a year!" By the next lesson a week later, he'd had his bow re-haired!

There's no doubt that time and expense keep a lot of us from getting re-hairs as much as we should. When is the last time you had your bow re-haired? Also, please share with us how often you feel it needs re-hairing, as different people have different views on the topic.

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Replies

February 3, 2018 at 01:06 AM · My vote of "18 months or longer" is skewed because I have 5 bows on the go!

February 3, 2018 at 01:09 AM · That's one way to make it last longer -- until they all need re-hairing! ;)

February 3, 2018 at 01:49 AM · My 12 to 18 month vote is because I alternate among 3 bows. So far, so good on all three. I have to pick a time for the next rehair when I'm in between concert dates. However, the place a mail my bows reserves a specific date for the job. The turnaround time is only about 7-10 days including time in the mail.

February 3, 2018 at 04:42 AM · Actually have two bows in for the last two weeks and got the word that they are both ready to go. I don't get there often, so they may have been ready for a few days already. I have another bow that will be going in in about 3-4 months. I usually rotate my bows so that they don't have to go in at the same time, but I also don't want the hair to get old and dried out (Colorado).

February 3, 2018 at 05:38 AM · My violin and main bow are always on a stand but when I recently opened my case the spare bow was almost unusable. It is in the shop as I write.

February 3, 2018 at 07:35 AM · I actually just had 3 rehaired, two that get regular use and a spare that got attached by bow bugs.

February 3, 2018 at 09:33 AM · What about thorough cleaning... does that extend lifetime of bow hair?

February 3, 2018 at 10:54 AM · For twenty years I was a full-time string teacher in Adelaide, South Australia, teaching approximately nine half hour classes a day during school time and often played trad on Friday nights. We had 4 ten-week terms per year so at one stage I was re-hairing my bow every 10 weeks. It was simply necessary! Btw, baroque bows are THE best bows for East Clare (west of Ireland) fiddle music

February 3, 2018 at 04:25 PM · I've had a Coda bow for a bit more than 8 years and have never had it re-haired or cleaned. It seems to still be fine, and when I went to the luthier about a year ago he didn't think that it needed re-haired yet.

I'm an amateur and play a bit less than an hour a day. I do live in a dry climate, and my play style is probably a bit timid/soft, so that might help.

Did I just get some freakishly good bow hair?

February 3, 2018 at 05:11 PM · How do you know that a bow needs rehairing? I only play for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours each week.

February 3, 2018 at 07:42 PM · Every six months, I re-hair my violin and viola bows and restring both instruments, in accordance with my luthier's rule of thumb on when to do it.

February 3, 2018 at 08:11 PM · I've never had bows worth rehairing.

February 3, 2018 at 09:33 PM · I guess it all depends on the "mileage." I don't play as much as most people on this forum and I guess the sound would improve if/when I take the bows to be re-haired. Now you have me thinking...

February 5, 2018 at 03:22 PM · I have had mine rehaired every six months; but with this cycle of rehair, I've been forced to go a bit longer to 7 months. I play for 75 minutes a day on average, and I feel that I can tell when my bow needs rehairing. I'd like to get my bow rehaired every 5 months, but with changing strings every 2-3 months that gets extremely expensive...

February 6, 2018 at 03:40 AM · Never - I'm a cleaner not a rehairer!

February 6, 2018 at 10:16 PM · I think my viola bow came with bad hair - I would break two or three at every rehearsal. After a while I had to get a rehair before there was nothing left. I know I might break a hair when I get really excited, but my violin bow has never had a problem. And the rehaired viola bow is just fine.

February 6, 2018 at 10:56 PM · To answer Paul's question, as I understand, hair gets wear and stretched over time and that's the main reason for rearing. Cleaning doesn't slow down this.

February 6, 2018 at 11:42 PM · Paul and Michael both mention cleaning the hair in between, or even instead of rehairing.

I remember in my father's office/workshop in the Central School there were bows that had had a hair wash with the stick resting on one end of a lectern and the hair stretching over to the other end to dry. I wouldn't swear to it, but I think here was a smell of meths.

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