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What's happened to my hair

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by jtlownds, May 26, 2005.

  1. jtlownds


    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    About 6 years ago, my wife bought me an old student model violin from an antique store. It came in a wooden case with 2 apparently new bows. They have never had rosin on them. The violin was unplayable, as the sound post was set up about 1 3/4 inches ahead of the bridge. It's about 80 - 100 years old. I put it back in the case, and it sat in the closet for the next six years. I opened it up for the first time yesterday, and there was loose hair all over the case. Both bows had lost 25 - 30% of their hair. Do I have critters living in the case? I can't think of any other reason why the hair would break. And, if I do, how do I get rid of them. The violin was bought in California, and I moved to Florida 2 years ago, if that's any help.
  2. You've got horse hair bugs living in your case. Very common for bows that are not in use for a while. Only way to get rid of them is to remove the hair from the bows, all of it, just cut it off, and either burn the case or at least give it a good spraying with bug killer. Stand it out in the sun for a couple of weeks, that should kill any eggs that might be in the case.
  3. jtlownds


    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    Thanks for the quick reply Toby. Burning the case sounds a bit drastic. I am thinking that the little buggers are probably in the violin too. Would spraying the case with bug killer, and then closing it up with the violin inside work?
  4. They are a small moth. Moth balls work.
    They like dark places, so always store your bows in the light.
  5. This will also happen to bows stored under tension sometimes. Particularly if stored in an area that gets cold and dry seasonally. The hair will contract and a few or several strands break, usually right at one end or the other, not generally in the middle. It happened once to my psaltery bow with black horsehair because I forgot to releive the tension. It hasn't reoccurred since I've remembered to loosen the bow.

    This is the first I've heard of horse hair bugs, but I'm convinced somewhere in nature there is a bug that will eat just about anything. An alternative to mothballs without the dangers of naptha is red cedar oil. A few drops in the case upholstery keeps the insects away. Another alternative is fresh tobacco. Nicotine is toxic to insects and they stay away from it. I wouldn't want naptha fumes to be concentrated around the finish of the instrument for extended periods.

    It depends on the finish, but I've been very careful after a bad experience with nitrocellulose and aerosol DEET bug repellent. That stuff will soften the finish. Some of that was on my shirt at an outdoor gig a few years back and it left the impression of the shirt cloth on the back of my Fender. :eek: Yikes! Fortunately it was not vey deep at all and polished out mostly after a few years.
  6. jtlownds


    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    I decided to try the mothball thing. I put a couple of moth balls in the case, not touching either the violin or the bows, and closed it back up. Hopefully that will kill the little buggers. The box says that it will kill adults, larvae, and eggs. The hair was broken at the tip and at the frog, not in the middle, but neither one of the bows was under tension.
  7. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    Take a look at the broken ends of the hairs with a magnifying glass. If they look kind of thinned out or tapered, it's bugs. They eat into the hair from the side. If the break is more straight across it's more likely from tension.
  8. After that many years the hair probably needed to be replaced anyway... Just so long as the bugs don't feast on the new stuff!
  9. wait is that a joke? about the bugs? lol

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