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Letter: Thoughts on Bow Hairing

Letter: Thoughts on Bow Hairing

by Dale Randall

Originally published in American Lutherie #92, 2007


Dear Tim:

American Lutherie #91 is one of the best in years. Lots of good, useful, informative articles with great pictures. I especially liked the one on rehairing bows. I’m seventy-one and have been into lutherie for forty years. Rehairing can go like clockwork or drive you to drink.

I must take exception with a few of Paul Hill’s methods. He is not the first to recommend starting at the tip and working toward the frog, but this is contrary to what I have learned. The hardest work the bow hair does is nearest to the frog end, therefore the thicker base end of the hair should be on that end. I have read that the finest violinists want the hair mixed end for end so half is in one direction and half in the other, assuming that hair takes rosin better in one direction.

I also believe that one should never use hardwood for plugs and never use any glue on either end plug or wedge. I do use Paul’s method of tying and supergluing the hair to keep it together. I give mine a squeeze with opened-up pliers to make it sort of flat before it sets up, and dip the end in a little baking soda to speed the hardening. This is not to criticize Paul’s methods but to try to clear up the concept of which way the hair should be mounted. I like the way Paul shared his procedure with words and pictures.