Bow Hairs Breaking !!!

March 3, 2008 at 03:47 AM · Lately,I try to break at least 4 bow hairs during a 10 minute practice piece.

Oh,I really enjoy watching fragmented,broken bow hair flying before me eyes as I practice a piece;it gets me 'in the mood' to play faster and faster and,in a way,makes a piece all the more worthwhile to add to a playlist.

What are your experiences w/broken bow hair ?

Replies (23)

March 3, 2008 at 06:55 AM · Just don't lose too many or you'll find your bow starting warp towards the direction where you have the least hairs.

March 3, 2008 at 11:50 PM · I`ve lost a lot of head hair and am now extremely warped...

March 3, 2008 at 11:55 PM · No toupee?

March 4, 2008 at 05:41 AM · Dear Joe:

There are many reasons for breaking hair. Aside from inferior hair quality, a common cause is that the rehair person jammed the tip or spreader wedge at the frog in too tight. This can can partially slice the hair making it weaker and more susceptible to breakage.

Also, if the ferrule (the silver "d" ring) has a sharp edge where it contacts the hair, this could also cut into the hair.

Another cause is that many rehair people use a flame or heat gun to even up the hairs long hairs when completing the rehair job. Good hairing technique requires that the hair be made quite damp as part of the rehairing process. A lot of rehair people rush the drying time by using a heat gun rather than letting the hair dry naturally. Too much heat can weaken the hair.

When I execute a rehair, I always check for these potential hazards and avoid applying artificial heat to the hair. With reasonable care during rehairing, you should rarely break a single hair.

Good luck!

John Greenwood, Bowmaker

March 4, 2008 at 03:41 AM · Mr. Brivati, hats off to you. That was hilarious.

March 4, 2008 at 03:47 AM · I'm warped, and I still have all my hair!

March 4, 2008 at 04:07 AM · Greetings,

Anne, hair is akin to a speedng ticket-

Toupee or not toupee

That is the question.



March 4, 2008 at 06:24 AM · to hair or not to hair

that is the question.

to loose hair COULD become demeaning

especially to aficionados

March 4, 2008 at 01:49 PM · Buri, All that glisters is not gold; Often have you heard that told.

Also, Joe, "loose" hair is not demeaning. It is just merely inconvenient, especially on windy days. I would guess the toupee wearers agree. I am not sure about if to "lose" hair is demeaning. I never break bow hair. But I have a terrific re-hair guy, that uses high quality hair. I also have my bows re-haired several times a year.

As for enjoying watching the poor bow hairs break, well, that is the Weirdest Case Of Schadenfreude Ever.

March 4, 2008 at 10:46 PM · Greetings,


`Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils ... `

I think Berlioz said that.

Silly bugger.



March 5, 2008 at 04:24 PM · Yes, Berlioz did say that. He also said (and this is my favorite Berlioz quote):

"At least I have the modesty to admit that lack of modesty is one of my failings."

(Insert smiley face here).

March 5, 2008 at 11:07 PM · Simply Fantastique!

March 6, 2008 at 01:10 AM · LOL

May 13, 2012 at 07:44 AM · In my opinion, breaking the hair on your bow in such a fashion demonstrates poor technique. Nothing else.

May 14, 2012 at 12:09 PM · This problem can be caused by bad technique, a warped, twisted, or overly flexible stick, incorrect tension of the hair (how tight you make it), the type of strings used, the quality of the hair installation, the quality and age of the hair itself, or some combination of the above.

The first thing I'd look at is the stick. Check for warping, twisting. Is it stiff enough to prevent the stick hitting the strings, pinching the hair between stick and strings?

Next, I'd look at the hair and installation. If it's been more than a year since you installed it, get a rehair. Old hair breaks more easily. When you do, ask for fresh hair from a live horse, preferably from a stallion. Ask how often the luthier buys new hair. Does he keep his or her hair in a dark, air-tight location or out in the sun? It doesn't help to get a rehair if the technician puts on hair that's from the slaughterhouse and then sat around the shop, in direct sunlight for years before being installed.

Personally, I enjoy playing very demanding fiddle music - I sometimes feel that I'm attacking my violin! - and I never break a hair. Also, I frequently hear from customers after they buy a bow from me that their new bow miraculously doesn't break hair anymore.

Good luck!

May 15, 2012 at 02:55 AM · @Anne, my favorite version of that is "I used to be conceited, but now I'm perfect."

There is a local pro that I've watched in recital many times. He just seems to break a lot of bow hairs, more than the other violinists that he plays with. I've not asked him about this, but it cannot reflect negatively on his technique because his playing is wonderful, always so precise but expressive too. I do know that he prefers a specific type of hair and requires his bows to be haired in a certain way that he's described to me in some detail.

May 15, 2012 at 06:18 AM · No one has mentioned bow bugs yet but if that many strands are breaking I would suspect it. Vaccuming and sunlight help to get rid of them.

May 15, 2012 at 03:45 PM · I too am surprised that nobody mentioned bow bugs before Kevin. For further enlightenment, go to Search, type in bow bugs, click on Search and you will find much treatment of this subject.

May 15, 2012 at 04:03 PM · Joe is breaking hair while he plays. Damage from bow bugs is typically found when the case is first opened (the result of the bugs feasting while the case is closed), not in hair that breaks during play.

May 15, 2012 at 04:43 PM · John Greenwood said this above in 2008:

"Also, if the ferrule (the silver "d" ring) has a sharp edge where it contacts the hair, this could also cut into the hair."

I was shocked to read it. That would seem to be a major design flaw. Why would anyone even make a ferrule with a sharp edge?!

May 15, 2012 at 11:11 PM · Am i the only one that found this really weird?!

Plus - gonna cost him a bomb in rehairs...

May 15, 2012 at 11:32 PM · Only four broken hairs in ten minutes, Joe?

For gawd sakes, stop being a girly-man!

I can't remember whether it was the Electric Light Orchestra, or Moody Blues who came into our shop claiming that their bows were nearly hairless after every show, but that's the the claim you will need to beat. ;-)

May 16, 2012 at 02:04 AM · Hi Joe,

Usually if bow hairs are breaking, it's a sign that there is too much tension in your right arm, resulting in too much pressure onto the string. It's hard to diagnose your exact problem without seeing you play.

It's worth mentioning, however, that broken hairs can also be a problem if you don't have enough rosin.

Good luck!


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