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Could you take the (new) hair, on a French bow

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    and re-use on a German bow? I don't see why not? provided bows are comparable.
  2. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    If they're the same length or the receiving bow is shorter, but aren't German bows typically longer than French? Or at least that's the case with my two bows.
  3. bengreen


    Jan 26, 2016
    San Diego

    1. Premium hair is around $300/lb in 30" lengths. The black a lot of players like is more like $70/lb. There's about 20 bows in that pound. So $4 to $15 a bow. And we're fortunate. The rest of the strings need longer hair and the price goes up exponentially with length. So even though we use more hair, the hair itself is cheaper so it's almost a wash.

    2. What you're chiefly paying for in a rehair is the time, skill (training isn't cheap), experience, tooling, insurance and rent of the person doing the rehair for you. Unless you have the skills yourself, you're still going to have to pay someone to do the changeover (if they will: unlikely because it would be a LOT more fussy trying to preserve your old hair than just cutting it off and going with new).

    3. German is usually longer but even if similar, used hair (however new) will have kinks where it bent around plugs and extremely unlikely existing knots will line up in another bow. Adjustments are limited.

    4. Why would you want to leave a perfectly good french bow without hair?


    Did this answer your question? Or was I just snookered into biting into a hypothetical posted for entertainment value. I'm actually ok with that but I really should be practicing.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
    wathaet likes this.
  4. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Why? Good question. I used to play French before deciding that German is the better way to go. In the process, I had a work in progress French bow re-haired. I never ended up going back to that bow, so practically unused. As the German bow I am currently using needed a re-hair, I was just curious if I could take both to a luthier and ask for the switch. Reading the replies, I think I'll jut leave it all alone.
    And bengreen - I am really cool with all of you reply! thanks!!
  5. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Would that mean the black I usually go for is not considered premium? If I choose white how will I know the luthier is using top quality hair? Just ask him?

    I don’t actually notice that much playing or sound difference between white and black hair, I have a few bows with both. Nothing like the massive difference in sound between bowing Spiro and Bel Canto strings.

    I let a pro try my best bow, he said ‘nice bow, could use a rehair’. This is after a top bow maker had just rehaired it, at about $125. The bow world feels like black magic sometimes.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
    Even Normann and Andy Mopley like this.
  6. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    The bow world feels like black magic sometimes. - :thumbsup::thumbsup:
  7. bengreen


    Jan 26, 2016
    San Diego
    Sorry, should have said premium white. I don't know why black is cheaper, even when it's really good. Maybe because we (and a tiny handfull of cellists) are the only folks using it. Big supply, no competition?

    When I've gone to bow workshops, the sense I've gotten is that for a lot of luthiers it's almost the luck of the draw whether you get good hair even when it's from the same source.

    The prices seem to increase with length, fineness (vs coarse), unbleached whiteness...i.e. not pissed on (boy vs girl horse), freshness (not brittle) and the number of sorts.

    The initial sorting is partly for separation by grade and length, but then it's removal of bum hairs from the bundles (too short to use, discolored, twisted, ribbony, kinked, too thin or tapered..."get rid of any hairs that don't look like the rest of the hairs in the bundle" was how I was taught.

    Any decent rehair person is going to hold up the hank intended for your bow to a light and strand by strand remove any hairs they don't like before using it. With the cheaper hair I've tossed up to a third of them. But I'm small fry and can take that time. I only rehair my own bows, bows I make and those of a small handful of colleagues. For a high volume shop, they'll pay more for better sorted hair (more culling from the supplier) so they don't have to take so much time doing it themselves.

    But all of that is just eye candy. Luthiers won't know if a batch is actually "good" until they hear (or don't hear!) from us players. And they'll tend to stick with the suppliers that give them the most consistant physical quality and best feedback from the players.

    But bass just seems different. I paid a couple of hundred for a half pound that was highly regarded by a luthier I greatly respect. It was a delight to handle, straight, fine, no culls at all, straight from the bundle to the bow. Well, the violinists might love it, but every bass bow I tried it on...no sound, no grip.

    Oh, sweet mystery of life....
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  8. The difference is Spirocores.

    You need rough black hair and grippy rosin to get a sound on Spiros. Everything else squeals.

    There’s also the fact that the higher strings treat the bass like $#!t. We’re the problem child of the section.

    Let them compete to pay out the nose for the best white hair. Screw it. We’ve got Sue Lipkins.
    flint likes this.
  9. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    In what sense, KfS? I get (in my very limited experience) that we are somewhat down in the pecking order - and there is some sort of hierarchy in the orchestra itsef dare I say! - but by the same token, take us away and a whole lot goes missing!!
  10. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    The only person who will let you recycle your bow hair is the same guy who will recycle the old nasty rosin off the top of your bass and reuse all the old hide glue that dripped inside your bass....
    Michael Eisenman and Mgaisbacher like this.
  11. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    It is mostly a phenomemon in very regional orchestras. In better ensembles you do not see this. In middle range orchestras I have seen the odd mediocre tutti cellist with a chip on their shoulders.
    csrund likes this.
  12. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    If you really think German is where you are at, for good, sell it (with fresh hair intact), and pay for (some variable number depending how much it goes for) of re-hairs on your German.

    As reported here (Mirecourt thread, I believe) I have managed to get the same hair back into the tip of my cheap China carbon bow when the original knot popped off, but it was A: the same bow B: only one end & C: a right pain in the tookus, but my options were rather limited so I persevered. On the whole I don't recommend it.

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