Rehairing the bow

August 5, 2019, 2:05 AM · I need to rehair my favorite bow, but unfortunately there are no places in this country to do this job (the only man who used to do it, does not work any more). I will have to rehair myself, but I will practice several times in an unused cheap brazilwood bow, until I think I can do it right. My questions are:
- Those who had to learn how to rehair, how many times did you need to do it until it was satisfactory? That's to order enough hair, but not in excess...
- Any recommendation to purchase hair?

Replies (10)

Edited: August 5, 2019, 2:24 AM · Cotton went through this process not long ago, you should get in touch with him - I'm sure he'll be willing to share what kind of resources he used in gaining knowledge as well as where to buy the hair etc.
If I remember correctly, his first attempt turned out as pretty usable, and after only a few runs he seems confident enough about his skills.
August 5, 2019, 7:42 AM · A lot depends on the bow.
I would always get mine done. I gather (from the luthier that did my last one) that the slots in the bow for wedges vary a lot. Cheaper bows are probably harder, because the slots are less well cut.
August 5, 2019, 8:58 AM · And some bows have nonstandard mechanisms. Victor Fetique, for instance, invented his own mechanism at the frog and apparently it makes cutting the correct-size wedge quite difficult.

You could ship your bow, potentially, to an archetier.

August 5, 2019, 10:58 AM · Yes, my first thought was to send it, and that would not be a problem, but I don’t trust the way back. Local customs and the local branch of most couriers are not to be trusted
August 5, 2019, 1:37 PM · Be very careful. An improperly rehaired bow can result in a snapped head. If the hair is not perfectly distributed, it can result in twisting forces when you apply pressure to the bow.
August 5, 2019, 3:50 PM · Carlos, since you're living in one of the worlds most humid places, it certainly would be a benefit if the rehair was done under the condition the bow would be played afterwards. I do understand all concerns about that, and I'm myself not free of them. So let me ask one simple question - is your bow irreplaceable? (financial / historic value, or personal value like "it took me a decade to find MY bow" or it came down to you from a beloved person or as a heirloom)

If YES - get a decent enough spare bow and bring this one for a rehair when you'll next time go outside of (?) Vietnam.
If NOT, and the financial value is low enough that a broken tip wouldn't be the end of the world... well...?

August 5, 2019, 3:52 PM · There are only two bows in my possession on which I would never try it on my own. The first one because of it's value. The second, because it just sounds that good...
Edited: August 5, 2019, 7:00 PM · Welcome to the world of bow rehairing, and quite possibly one of the most frustrating learning experiences of your life.

Before you take any bows apart you need to get some sort of rig to hold the bow in place while you work on it. Basically a long wooden board with a clamp on one side to hold the frog end and a triangular well on the other to hold the tip (with the help of a rubber band). Make sure to put soft pads in both so they don't mark up the stick.

You'll also need a lighter, powdered rosin, fishing line thread, a very sharp knife, and some wood to make the wedges out of. I use hardwood for the wedges because I've had issues with spruce wedges getting compressed over time and coming loose.

Once you've got that down it's a matter of watching how the pros do it on Youtube and trying your best to copy their technique. I would explain the entire process start-to-finish but it would take too long and you'll understand more from watching videos.
I will say that I get better results starting from the frog, although you should try going both ways. And definitely get a plate or bag for all the small components of the bow. Dropping a tiny little tip wedge and having to dig through your entire shop to find it will ruin your whole day.

I got my hair from bowhair.com last time. If you like black, they have hanks of hair for bass bows with enough hair for 2-3 bows at a fraction of the cost of normal white hair. You just have to wash it first because it comes with some strange dust on it.

Another neat trick I learned from taking apart someone else's job: you can make the bottoms of your wedges concave with a small gouge so that the burned end of the hair fits snugly underneath and is channeled into the centre of the mortise. It makes the fit a little tighter.

August 5, 2019, 9:15 PM · Thank you Cotton, that's helpful. How many times you crashed on the process until you found yourself satisfied with the result?

@Nuuska: My decision about rehairing this bow myself or wait until an opportunity comes in the future depends precisely on my tryouts with a brazilwood bow. If I don't find myself confident about how to do it, I will not do it.

August 6, 2019, 9:25 AM · The first hank went straight to the trash, and #2 as well after a while, but each subsequent job got a little bit more refined. But only a little... I think my first good rehair (as in it never came apart and there were no crossed hairs) was around #8 or so. Granted, I tried to do my first couple using my family as human bow clamps, so you can imagine why they didn't turn out.

It's definitely not something you get perfect the first time. But once you learn it, you have the skill forever.


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