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White or Black hair?...opinions?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Rob W, Sep 26, 2000.

  1. Here's something I don't think I've seen discussed here (that I can remember anyway). I have my own opinions but I am curious to see what other people's thoughts are on the subject.

    I used black hair all along until maybe 2 years ago, when I decided to try white on one of my bows. It seemed to me that the tone was a little more to my liking. It seemed a little less coarse sounding to me. What I always disliked about black hair was that "gravelly" tone that one often gets from the old rosin that is accumulated on the hair, especially when first starting to play each day. I never get that at all anymore since switching to white hair.

    The things I don't like about white hair are that I seem to have to use a lot more rosin to get similar grip and the hair doesn't last as long as black. I will put up with those things for better tone though.

    Anyone agree or disagree?
  2. You've pretty much covered it. I use white hair on my orchestra basses (I used the plural just to irritate Ed Fuqua). As for the rosin, I'm experimenting with using a little less, but also loosening the bow hair a little. My hope is that the extra "wrap" of a looser bow will compensate for less rosin. The down side is less margin for error with my bow angles. A piece with alot of crossings at quick tempos can be quite exciting. I'm becoming known as the king of double stops.
    As for black hair, I find it the best solution to the problem of screechiness when bowing jazz (pizz) strings. Again, I use much less rosin, and let the natural coarseness of the black hair get the string moving.
  3. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    you know of course, that there are going to be some BG guys coming over here talking about their green and blue hair, don't you? i mean, i can smell it coming.

    better go get my stick :D
  4. Better King of the Doublestops than Captain Crunch!
  5. Sorry John, it's already been done -


    - Wil
  6. Wil- I have one bullet-proof bow that I keep for special situations. You know, like where the band is behind chicken wire to protect them from flying Lone Star beer bottles, the kind of gigs John Turner plays. I've considered using colored bow hair like they show on the Wild Hair site. Do you (or anyone reading this) have any experience with it? Does it perform well enough? Does the color eventually get covered with rosin? Etc.
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, man, chicken wire gigs rule. :D
  8. curtscheschuk


    Dec 20, 1999
    i mix white and black and find that that works best for me.

    curtis scheschuk
  9. Some white hair has been bleached. This hair is bad from the begining and has a very short life. A friend that rehaired my bow used this kind of hair which works good for Bluegrass fiddle bows but is not for good bass bows.
  10. ablick


    Oct 26, 2000
    I used white hair on my bow for about 20 years, tried a 25% black hair mix for a year, and now trying all white again. I use Spirocores and had problems with white hair note attack. Black hair helped but like others I lost clarity of tone and pitch. Over the year I adjusted my technique to compensate, and now that I'm back with the white hair have discovered all the ways I've been overcompensating/struggling with the black. I believe the ultimate, and sometimes costly, solution is trial-and-error combinations of certain string varieties, rosin (soft vs. hard), and bow hair types. Six of one/half-dozen of the other; the verdict is still out for me.

  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    could someone enlighten an ignorant electric player, please :D? what's the diff?
  12. ablick: Spirocores are probably the least arco-friendly strings of all. I can't remember ever seeing a full set on a major orchestra bass. Some folks use a Spirocore E to get clarity and definition in the lowest register, but that's it. When I have to bow them, I find black hair with minimum rosin yields minimum screech. My good bow, with white hair, is superb on orchestra strings and bad on Spirocores. That's why everyone must go through the process you describe.

    don: (I'm answering my own question of 9/27) Colored bow hair-blue green,etc.- such as is sold from the website above, may be Siberian, but it's not really very good.

    john: The difference was really summed up in the first post by rob w. Everything else is pretty much testimony. But, to sum up, Generally Speaking, concensus seems to be that white hair produces a smoother sound than black, and might be the more frequent choice for soloists (glaring exception: Gary Karr). Black seems to require a little less effort and finesse in getting a tone started due to some coarseness of the hair, but this impacts on tone quality. Hence, the compromise position stated by curtscheschuk. Complicating the matter is the fact that a "bow" is really three components-stick, hair, and rosin. Double bass playing involves the (unappreciated) integration of many discrete material, physical, and mental components. That's why double bass players are intellectually and morally superior. And we're better looking and better in bed, and kinder to children and old people and pets. And we're all going to get arthritis.

    [Edited by Don Higdon on 10-28-2000 at 08:41 AM]
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

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