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Bow Rehairing

Bow Rehairing

by Paul Hill

previously published in American Lutherie #91, 2007

Bows need rehairing on a regular basis. As bow hair ages it gets brittle and breaks more easily, and with use it wears itself smooth, won’t hold rosin as well, and produces a thin sound. Sometimes hairs break more on one side than the other, pulling the bow sideways. Bow bugs may chew the hair into a frizzy pile. Some fine violinists can hear the change in tone and have their bows rehaired every few months, and some fiddlers wait till there are only a few dozen hairs left. Beginning violinists may not notice the degradation in tone since it happens slowly, but most will notice immediately when they get new hair!

I rehair about fifty bows a year, and have been doing it for thirty years. My one-man repair shop is in my basement and space is at a premium, and since this is not my favorite job, I’ve evolved a compact system that works for me, minimizing the time and tedium, and making it enjoyable in a Zen kind of way.

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