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black bowhair has no grip.. what gives?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by eucalyptus, Sep 27, 2009.


  1. eucalyptus

    eucalyptus

    Feb 17, 2009
    oakland, ca
    hi bassists. i recently busted the neck on my bass, and while it was in for repair i thought i'd get my white bowhair replaced with black. just for kicks. i have another bow with white hair so i figured i'd try black on this one. anyway - i've always heard that black hair is 'grippier' than white hair, but have found that not to be so in my case. in fact, it has significantly less grip (virtually none, actually) than it had before. i even tried applying a heavy dose of rosin, but no dice. i mean, the rosin helped a little. i compared the bow with black hair to my other bow with white hair and there was no comparison - the white hair worked, while the black hair just slides and skithers all over the strings. is there some 'breaking in' period for black hair that i don't know about? i'd hate to think i just wasted $50 for a rehair, only to have to spend another $50 to put white back on. has anyone else encountered this?
     
  2. JtheJazzMan

    JtheJazzMan

    Apr 10, 2006
    Australia
    It can take some time for the rosin to work its way evenly over the hair, which just takes playing time.

    Just keep playing it, and putting a swipe of rosin on regularly, its worked for me on 3 bows.
     
  3. eucalyptus

    eucalyptus

    Feb 17, 2009
    oakland, ca
    alright, i'll stick with it. thanks for the advice!
     
  4. emilio g

    emilio g

    Jul 16, 2008
    Jersey City, NJ
    I had the same experience. It took a while for it to hold rosin properly.

    That being said, the grip is nice, but I'm not nuts about the sound. Too coarse and chunky for me, so whenever I need a rehair again I'm just going to stick with unbleached white.
     
  5. eucalyptus

    eucalyptus

    Feb 17, 2009
    oakland, ca
    it's good to know others have dealt with this, and that i didn't just get stuck with bum hair. that didn't sound quite right. i'm really looking forward to when the bow starts to grab, so i guess i'll just wait it out. thanks guys.
     
  6. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    A fresh re-hair with CLEAN* hair can be a challenge to get rosin into. I used to pre-rosin bows...but I had to redo a few re-hairs for angry people because I did not use the rosin they use. :rollno:

    I found the best way to get rosin into new hairs is with powdered violin rosin. Just get some cheap violin rosin and pound it until it's a fine white powder. I put a small pile of rosin on the corner of my bench (about a tsp) and inch by inch work the bow hair across the rosin (down, wiggle wiggle side to side, repeat). Then a few swipes with your regular bass rosin and start sawing away at your strings for a minute. reapply rosin evenly and you should be good to go (wipe off your strings!).

    I'm sure others have methods too...not saying mine is right or the only way...it's just how I do it. It gets the process going much faster.

    *you would be surprised how dirty hair can be....even the good stuff that is washed and triple drawn!
     
  7. The first bow I bought was a cheap Glasser German. The string guy working in the shop coated the strings with powdered rosin like Eric mentioned. He likened it to applying a primer before painting. After that, the rosin went on easily. A couple of years later I upgraded to one of Bob G's bows. With no "primer" it took numerous "rosinings" before the bow began gripping the string. If I had thought about making my own powdered rosin it would have saved me a lot of application time.
     
  8. eucalyptus

    eucalyptus

    Feb 17, 2009
    oakland, ca
    wow, powdered violin rosin, eh? that's a great tip! what do you do, just wrap the rosin in a cloth and pound it with a hammer or something? does it need to be a really fine powder? i was almost thinking of putting some rosin in the microwave for about 10 seconds to make it kind of gooey and then really saturating the hair, but for all i know that could be a really bad idea..
     
  9. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    eucalyptus, what kind of rosin do you use? just curious
     
  10. billybass

    billybass

    Oct 14, 2003
    New Orleans
    No reputable shop prerosins bass bows.
     
  11. JtheJazzMan

    JtheJazzMan

    Apr 10, 2006
    Australia
    VERY VERY bad idea!

    You dont want to saturate the hair, you just want to evenly and lightly coat it. A good couple of hours of practice time and regular rosining will do it, you just have to be patient.

    Remember, you paint by using lots of light coats, not a giant heavy coat.
     
  12. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    Eugene, Oregon
    On what do you base that statement? The reputable bowmaker from whom I learned to rehair bows does it. If someone were to request that I not do it, I wouldn't, but I haven't had any complaints. In fact, I've even gotten a few compliments.

    I dip a toothbrush in the powdered rosin and brush it into the hair. Then I knock off the extra, apply rosin, and play it to make sure that it works.
     
  13. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Indeed, bad idea... do you keep your rosin in a ziplock bag with a drop or two of water in the bag (don't get the rosin wet, of course)? If not, give this a try.
     
  14. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Indeed, apparently there are quite reputable folks who do pre-rosin. I was hoping someone would jump on that statement. Thanks, Michael. ;)
     
  15. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    Eugene, Oregon
    I take a chunk of rosin and put it in a sandwich bag. Then I go over it with a rolling pin until it becomes a powder (no visible chunks, which are useless). It goes pretty quickly; it's the same process I use on graham crackers to make a crust for a cheesecake. If the rosin is soft, put it in the refrigerator until it hardens, and then have at it.
     
  16. eucalyptus

    eucalyptus

    Feb 17, 2009
    oakland, ca
    Phil, i use pops rosin. the plastic baggy trick with a drop of water sounds like a good one. and Michael, thanks for the info about breaking up violin rosin - will give it a try!
    now for another question: is there a way to tighten the stray hairs on the bow? the bow tension is nice and taut but there are several 'stray' hairs which are just hanging all limp and straggly. they're attached at both ends, but are not taut like the other hairs. just a shoddy re-hair, i assume. should i just pull the stragglers out or have it looked at again or not even worry about it?
     
  17. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    Eugene, Oregon
    If it's just a few long hairs, you can cut them off at the ends. It's normal (for me, anyway) for some hairs to be like that after the hair is installed, and the person who does the rehair should do a few careful passes over an alcohol flame to tighten them up uniformly. (The heat shrinks 'em right up.) I'm not advising that you try it because it is very easy to singe the hairs, and then you definitely have to cut them off.

    After you cut off a hair, hold it somewhat loosely over a hot coil on your range--or maybe even over your toaster--and watch it tighten up. (See if you can do it without singeing the hair.) That's the idea, except we use real fire under just the long hairs.
     
  18. eucalyptus

    eucalyptus

    Feb 17, 2009
    oakland, ca
    Michael, thanks again for your expert advice! before i was able to read your response, i took the bow to a different shop out here. got there just as they were closing, so they've got the bow for the night. tomorrow i can pick it up for $5, he said they'll see what they can do..
     

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