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Powdered rosin and rehair

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Steve Boisen, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choiceâ„¢ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Every time I have my bow re-haired, the luthier I go to (a well respected local violin maker/repairman) puts powdered rosin on the new hair. This chalky stuff is more like anti-rosin from my experience. I suffer with a scratchy sound until I wipe the stuff off with a cloth (takes a long time) and apply enough "regular" bass rosin to get the bow to where it will grab the strings again. When I complained to the luthier about this, he nearly got offended and stated that this powdered rosin is absolutely neccesary, otherwise the regular rosin won't be effective. He tells me none of the other bassists who come to him for bow re-hair complain about this, but I'm tired of dealing with the powder everytime I have my bow rehaired by this guy. He does a great job otherwise, but I may just go to someone else next time if he won't re-hair my bow without using the powdered stuff. Anyone ever have to deal with this? Is this guy correct about the powdered rosin being neccesary?

    - Steve
  2. Yes!
    Jeshua likes this.
  3. Tell him why, Bob!
  4. I recently bought my first bow from Amro music in Memphis. There was a little gnome-like guy working at the string counter who treated it with the powder. Basically what he told me was that with new bows or hair that was something like a breaking in period where the hair wouldn't take rosin that well. After a few weeks things would settle in and work well. According to the gnome the powder treatment accelerated the break-in period.

    Obviously, I have no knowledge or expertise--I am just passing along what I was told which may or not be accurate. I am sure BOB BARNSTORMER will soon set the record straight.
  5. Actually, the powdered rosin is a primer. Bow hair without any rosin on it is very slick. The powered rosin simply gives the bow a little bit of grip so that when you apply your regular bass rosin, it will go on evenly. Without it, there is a good chance that the the bass rosin will stick tight in places and not go on evenly OR may even pull some of the hair out to the bow where it grabs. This isn't something just for bass bows, the powdered rosin is needed after rehairing on all bows. FWIW, the powdered rosin is simply some finely ground violin bow rosin.
  6. Thanks Bob!
  7. I can vouch that newly rehaired bows SUCK until they get broken in a little. Usually takes me a week or so to get it into decent shape.
  8. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised. Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Does the tone change once a bow "breaks in", or is it more a matter of the feel? I'm relatively new to arco playing and recently had my bow rehaired for the first time. It came back with noticeably less hair than the way it was when new, and the sound seems thinner, so I'm hoping it'll mellow out a bit once it's broken in. Does the amonut of hair mounted in the bow have any bearing on the tone? Would it be out of line to go back to the violin shop to ask about it, or should I just give it some time?
  9. I don't know if it's a fact or not, and it may just be in your mind, but bows always feel different to me after a rehair. I think the new hair does have to reach its stretch maximum {that place where you usually tighten your bow to) and the stick adjusts to that. And, of course, you get use to that. You mention "Violin Shop".......
    is the person who did your bow a regular bass bow guy or is he someone who doesn't normally do bass bows? Either way, if you are unhappy with what he did , of course take it back and talk to him about it.
  10. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised. Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    The bow doesn't feel noticeably different, but the sound certainly is. That's why I was wondering if the tone changes as it breaks in, or just the feel. I'm also still wondering about the basic question, does the amount of hair on (in?) a bow have any bearing on the tone it produces? Does less hair yield a thinner tone, more hair a thicker tone, or is it governed more by other characteristic of the hair?
    The shop does do quite a bit of bass work, and I'm told that the owner does work for several of the Detroit Symphony bassists, but I got the feeling that his junior workers do the rehairing for us commonfolk. However, I don't want to go questioning their work without having some idea of what I'm talking about, because I'm sure that even the newest employee there has far more experience that I do.
  11. Based on my experiece with the symphony guys around here, I found many of them very specific on what they want done during a rehair job. I've had a couple who told me they wanted very little hair (just a ribbon) and others that you couldn't stuff enough hair in to please them. Most rehairers will go for somewhere in between. I doubt if you will get a free rehair because you don't like it, but I'm sure they will put in more hair the next time if you specify that ahead of time.
  12. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised. Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Since, in my inexperience, I didn't specify anything about the rehair job, other than to use white rather than dyed hair, I wouldn't expect a free rehair. I didn't specify that I wanted the same amount of hair, I just mistakenly assumed that they'd do it the same as it was. If they chose to rehair it or make some other adjustment I'd certainly accept, but I'm not inclined to even question them until I know what to ask.
    I'd rather not advertise my ignorance :rolleyes: any more than neccessary, but so far, I'm still searching for an answer to the question of whether less hair on the bow (mine is now much more "ribbonlike" than before) would account for the thinner tone, and if that's likely to change as the bow is broken in. Given that the tone of my plywood bass isn't particularly rich, and that I'm using Spiricores, I'd rather avoid thinning out the tone any more than neccessary.
    Thanks for all the other info though.
  13. It would probably be a good idea to discuss this matter with your teacher.
  14. Are you under the impression that bow hair that isn't white automatically means it's dyed?
  15. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised. Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    No, I know about white, black and salt & pepper blends, but when they offer me a choice of red, orange, yellow, blue, green or purple I kinda guess that it might be dyed. ;)
    The guy I talked to told me that they think that the dyed hair that they get is actually better quality than their white hair, because their supplier for the dyed hair is pickier about quality, and rejects more hair lots, than their supplier for the natural colored hair. I just couldn't choose which color, so I went with white...
  16. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised. Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    So, one last time. Does anyone have experience, an educated guess or even an opinion, as to whether the amount of hair on a bow has any bearing on the tone, and does the tone change at all as the bow breaks in? At this point I ask mainly out of curiosity.
  17. Ahem. As if the dye itself had no effect on the performance of the hair...
    Anyone can e-mail me for contact with one of the finest bowmakers in the US. The finest bowhair and no bull$h+t. Quick turnaround and priced fairly and reasonably.

    I have a blue haired bow for war zone gigs. When people ask me why, I say the bowmaker told me there's no such thing as a green horse.
  18. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised. Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Yeah, even with my inexperience, that's the first thing I thought.

    Email set for info on the bowmaker
  19. IMHO starter rosin is not necessary any more. In fact, we often tell our customers NOT to put starter rosin on. Of course it depends on the type of hair applied. A thicker, coarser hair like a good bass black or salt & pepper will hold the rosin better and will require less of it.
  20. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    I believe it does change to some degree with the amount of hair. With less hair in the bow, each hair is carrying a greater amount of the overall tension and thus any irregularities will be pulled out straighter. With more hair, the tension on each individual hair is less and therefore there is less constraint on any tendency towards waywardness. The result is that the same hair in the same bow should feel marginally smoother with a thin hank of hair than with a thick one.

    Also, I've seen a lot of bow damage caused by people trying to force more hair into a bow than it is designed for.

    The tradeoff, of course, is that a thin hank will not last as long for an agressive player.

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