How to avoid excessive bow-hair damage when playing “scratch percussion” on string instruments?



Asked by: Nikki Smith

Using tons of rosin, especially around the frog area, also helps substantially. Ultimately, however, the best solution is to talk to your bowmaker next time you get a rehair. There are types of hair, as well as rehairing methods, that are better for this kind of agressive use than the standard rehairing job.

Why do my bow hairs keep breaking?





My bow hair keeps breaking!



Just remove them carefully from your bow (using a nail clipper and clipping the one hair close to the frog and tip is a good way to do this). If, however, you find that it happens a lot, then the hair on your bow is just too dry. This usually happens a lot in the winter time.

What do string players rub on their bows?

Violinists and violists tend to use a lighter rosin for their instruments, while darker rosins are used for cellos and double basses. Most string players apply rosin every time they play – but that isn’t actually necessary. A stroke or two of rosin can last for at least a few hours of playing time.

What happens if you touch violin bow hair?

You cannot touch the bow hair because the natural oils from the skin will stay on it. The bow hair will get greasy and the rosin will stop sticking to it. As a result, the violin won’t sound very well as there will be not enough friction between the violin strings and the bow hair.

Which parts of the instrument and bow should you avoid touching?

Avoid touching the hairs of the bow with your hands or fingers or other bare skin.

How do you fix a hair bow?





And you just blow it back into shape just be careful not to get too close or stay in one place too long because it will melt it or burn it or turn it brown. So you just start where you want to.

How often do bow hairs break?

about every six months

“For most people, every 6 months to once a year is enough if all or most of the hairs are still intact.” Laurie Niles of the Violinist.com adds that “luthiers tend to recommend getting a bow rehair about every six months.”

Should you scratch rosin?

There’s no real need to scratch the surface of rosin – it will deposit itself onto the surface of the bow hair naturally. Scratching your rosin is not hurting anyone, but it is not helping either.

How do you get rid of too much rosin on a bow?

You might know how to put rosin on the bow. But you might not know how to take it off all you have to do is take your finger. And just swipe the backside of the hairs.



How often should you rosin your bow?

every four to six playing hours

Typically, students should re-apply rosin every four to six playing hours, which equals about two times per week.

Should you touch bow hair?

Don’t touch the hair. Once kids learn that the bow has horse hair in it everyone wants to touch it; don’t allow it. The natural oils in the fingers will make dirt and oil stick and the bow will need a re-hair sooner than otherwise. Like Tony Manero says below: “Watch the hair!”



What happens if I touch my bow hair?

The reason touching the hair with your fingers is discouraged is because natural oils from your fingers or skin will transfer to the bow and cause the hairs to “slicken.” This greasiness (think of how greasy your own hair gets after not washing it for days) compromises the dry texture of the hair that grips to the

What kind of hair is the bow in string instruments made from?

horse hair

Bow hair is made from horse hair



The bow hair is made of a hank of horsehair. A single violin bow will use between 160 and 180 individual hairs. These hairs are all attached next to each to form a ribbon. Unusually thick hairs and kinked hairs are removed so that only straight hairs are used.

Are horses killed to make violin bows?

Michael Sowden, who has been in the business for some 40+ years and is probably the best-known supplier of bow hair, has stated that 95% or 98% of hair comes from dead horses which are killed for meat and other products. He has also said that it takes about 5 horse tails to get enough good hair for a violin bow.



Do violin bows still use horse hair?

Most of the hair used today is processed and supplied by China. White horsehair is used for violin, viola and cello bows and some bass bows use black horsehair as it is often believed to be coarser. The quality and texture of the hair is determined by the breed of the horse, its diet and the conditions where it lives.

Why is violin bow hair white?

Black hair is more coarse, so it is able to “grab” the larger strings of the lower instruments better. To be honest, some people say that this distinction is minimal at best, but bass players who use black hair will tell you otherwise. 3. White hair actually comes from white horses.

Why does my violin bow keep losing hair?

The oils and dirt on your hands are the most common cause of this build-up. Avoid touching your bow hair when possible and rehair your bow regularly. (See photo below.) The bow pictured above is an example of a bow with missing and dirty horsehair.

How often should I Rehair my violin bow?

every six months to a



In general, we recommend a bow rehair every six months to a year, ideally at the beginning of the winter and summer. Rehairing maintains the physical condition of the bow and enhances playability. Bowhair is extremely responsive to humidity conditions.