When Do I Know to Re-Hair my Bow?

December 14, 2004 at 06:44 PM · Aside from the obvious lack of hairs on the bow, what other signs imply the bow needs a re-hairing? Does the rosin stay on less? Because that's kind happening to me.... but I got my bow re-haired less than a year ago.

Replies (20)

December 14, 2004 at 08:36 PM · if the hair is discolored, dirty or if you dont have the full amount then it is time. i'm not sure about holding rosin, ive never gone a year.

December 15, 2004 at 02:16 PM · A friend of mine who gave up the violin years ago said she found little critters had eaten through the bowhair when she paid it a visit recently. I'd say that's a good sign.

December 15, 2004 at 02:40 PM · If I don't use all the hear within 6 months (which almost always happens, playing Tchaik 3 times with orchestra and I need a rehair) a just bring it in every half year. Also, my spare bow. But I guess it is also somewhat personal and depending on how much you play.

December 15, 2004 at 02:44 PM · Yes, I think it greatly depends on how much you play. Contrary to some opinions, hair does not 'go bad' or have short shelf life.

Basically, if you have enough hair, and the bow works - it's fine.

December 15, 2004 at 03:26 PM · I'd have to disagree with the comment that hair doesn't go bad. In all the shops I've worked in, they've wanted to use the hair up within 3-6 months After that, as it's hanging in the workshop, even if it's covered or protected, the exposure to light and changes in humidity will break down the hair. In that sense, it's just like hair that's cut off of your head -- it dies, and becomes drier and more brittle as time passes.

A good rule of thumb is to have a rehair done once a year, whether you think the bow really needs it or not. Some hair will last longer, some shorter, but that's a decent average to go by. It's somewhat like getting an oil change every 3000 miles.

December 15, 2004 at 03:53 PM · My luthier says to do it every six months, and that works fine. Then you do not have to worry. He also says to change strings every 120 hours. That works fine, too. Like the previous post says, changing the oil every 3000 miles. You do not have to worry about it.

December 15, 2004 at 04:36 PM · Okay...but I did ask a firm that sells hair...and that's what I was told...

...of course hair will eventually become brittle...but I think that takes years, not weeks...

...I also think one should distinguish between the needs of a pro. vs. a beginner...maybe a pro. will notice sound differences with older bow hair, and a beginner won't...

December 15, 2004 at 04:49 PM · I seem to remember reading that microscopically the hair used has little barbs which are what create the friction and also help hold the rosin sticking to the bow. If I remember the article correctly, in the course of time those barbs get worn off and the hair becomes smooth and "barbless".

December 15, 2004 at 05:00 PM · Inge, I had always thought that, too, but recently I read or heard somewhere that the reverse is true. That new hair is slippery and as the outer layer is worn off the hair become rougher and the rosin sticks better. I don't know which is correct.

December 15, 2004 at 08:24 PM · I'd think that it would be rougher in the beginning then wear down and become smoother just because the more friction there is, the smoother something gets. Also Michael, hair is technically already dead. That's why haircuts don't hurt.

December 16, 2004 at 02:01 AM · I'm an amateur player who plays infrequently (relative to full-time, professional players) and I've gone for more than two years (!) without rehairing.

However, I live in the Philippines; I don't know if and how the tropical climate helps preserve the hair.

My only indication to rehair my bows is if it's too thin because of so many lost strands already.

Michael, Amy is correct; hair is already technically dead to begin with.

It's not necessarily true that hair degrades over time. In fact, hair is oftentimes the most well-preserved part of corpses and mummies! But then again, no one uses dead peoples' hair for violin bows... (sorry for the morbid thought :-P)

December 25, 2004 at 04:18 AM · Generally, bow hair should last forever if properly treated and cared for. Good bowhair will last a long time, and if properly cleaned, will not need to be replaced often. There is a lot of junk hair on the market these days and you have to be cautious. Bring your bows to a reputable repair shop/luthier. 99.9% of the world's bowhair comes from northeastern China, Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. Some still comes out of Argentina and Chili, but not as much as has in the past and the quality is not as good. Let's face it, horsetail hair relies on the agricultural-rural-horse-based economies of the world, which are shrinking astronomically, especially in China and other parts of Asia. Anyway, I'm ranting...

If you start with good hair on your bows from a reputable violin shop, and you keep the hair loose on the stick when not in use, store the bows in a dark, cool low humidity environment, wipe the rosin off the stick every couple weeks with a clean cotton cloth and a little denatured alcohol (make sure you don't touch the wood with the cloth as it will damage the finish), you can probably get away with not rehairing your bows every 6 months as has been indicated here in the discussion.

December 25, 2004 at 04:35 AM · I can tell that my bow is overdue for rehairing when I find myself using too much rosin, as evidenced by a lot of rosin coming off on the strings, and tightening the bow excessively to prevent the bow from slipping. A good rule of thumb, which I learned from my luthier, is that the bow should be rehaired every 6-12 months, depending on how much you use it.

February 7, 2005 at 01:50 AM · Hi,

I have a 3 year old violin. Recently however, the violin has sounded raspy. Over these 3 years mabye 4 small strings came off the bow. {Could have been more.} Does it need to be re-haired? Is it possible I could send you a upclose picture of the bow's strings? Thank you

February 7, 2005 at 02:12 AM · Greetings,

you need a rehair as badly as the top of my head,


Buri the baldy

February 7, 2005 at 03:45 AM · This paper says you should rehair your bow at least once every 20 years. Hurry along now.


February 7, 2005 at 05:06 AM · Every six months. Yikes, it's time again!

February 7, 2005 at 08:30 AM · I wonder what happens if you wait until all but one hair is left and still play. I'm thinking of getting a pony... :D

February 7, 2005 at 09:58 PM · Greetings,

Henry, you do know it has to be male don"t you????



(It's a question of where the #$@% goes)

February 7, 2005 at 11:34 PM · Six months sounds, good, if you are playing regularly. Perhaps you could keep a log of your hours. I read once every 250 hours. Mine lasted considerably longer, though, closer to 400 or 500, but I had actually changed my technique to get a good tone; I wasn't aware until I played on my freshly rehaired bow, and it seemed scrunchy. Too much pressure. Anyone else run into the problem of forming bad habits on old hair?

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