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Review: Violin Rehairing with Roger Foster

Review: Violin Rehairing with Roger Foster by Ronald Louis Fernández

Reviewed by Ken Altman

Originally published in American Lutherie #100, 2009

Violin Rehairing with Roger Foster
Filmed and presented by Ronald Louis Fernández
DVD, 53 minutes
$59.95 from Fernández Music
Box 5153, Irvine, CA 92616

Bow rehairing is a bread-and-butter job for shops that do work on instruments of the violin family. Professional players may have their bows rehaired twice a year, and even casual players may need to get new hair every year or two. It’s work that can be tedious and that must be done with care in order to do a good job and to avoid damaging delicate bows. I have quite a few bows come through my shop each week for rehairing and repairs, and unfortunately far too many of them have been damaged by careless, unskilled, and untrained workers. Educational materials that would impart knowledge about the craft of bow rehairing might just save a few bows from premature demise.

The cover of the DVD case for Violin Bow Rehairing with Roger Foster carries the byline, “This DVD shows how a professional violin and bowmaker rehairs a bow in his shop,” and the video does indeed deliver on that promise. We get to watch the whole process from beginning to end, with Mr. Foster offering comments and explanations along the way. He starts by inspecting a bow for any damage that may need attention, and then proceeds to take the bow apart, clean the various parts, and prepare the bow for receiving new hair. There follows a long sequence showing how the wooden plugs for holding the hair in the frog and tip mortises are made, a critical step in doing a rehair. I thought it was good that he showed this process in real time, conveying the attention to detail necessary to insure that the plugs fit properly. There are cutaway views of a bow tip and frog, which illustrate clearly how the plugs should fit. From there he goes through the steps of selecting the hair, tying the ends, securing the hair in the tip and frog, fitting a spreader wedge, and taking care of the finishing touches. Through each of these steps he stresses the importance of working conscientiously, taking care not to damage the bow. I found this very commendable.

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