Bow Rehairing and Bow Repairing
Whether violin, viola, cello
or double bass, the bow needs to be rehaired and repaired on occasion.
The bow hair is held into place by perfectly fitting tapered wooden
plugs. No glue should be used to hold the plugs into place. Only
a tight friction fit is acceptable.
Many new bows from Chinese factories have the plugs glued in
with epoxy. The glue oozes onto the hair at the tip and stiffens
it. The stiffened hair breaks as the bow flexes from playing and
tensioning. With regular use these bows will need to be rehaired
in about one year as opposed to five years or more with a properly
haired or rehaired bow. Some of these bows are sold for $500.00
or more. It will cost you more for a rehair as the plugs need to
be drilled out and the cavity in the bow tip reshaped. Then a plug
has to be shaped to fit snugly. You have been warned.
Rehairing a good quality bow that has perfect plugs is a joy!
Straightening a crooked bow or re-cambering
a bow requires heating it over a hotplate. Before electricity
they used small charcoal fires. The bow is held with bare hands
to avoid overheating to the point of combustion. Bows are cut
and shaped straight to begin with then the bow maker heats it
to "install" the camber.
After heating the bow is held to shape in the hands until cool...so
if you get the message machine..... Heating usually mars the finish
on the bow so it needs to be stripped and revarnished as well.
Grips are pretty standard. The wound silver wire is favored
because of its durability and beauty. The grip is actually to protect
the wood from wearing out. The ergonomic grip never caught on.
I suppose it is best to be one with the stick.
Broken shafts are impossible to repair
to the point of "as
good as new". Even a long fracture with lots of surface to
glue will yield a bow that will be difficult to straighten in the
future as the glue will melt when the stick is heated. However
broken tips are a regular repair. If the tip of the bow is broken
below the shaft it can be repaired but not just by gluing alone.
A thin slit has to be cut down the center of the tip and a wafer
of matching wood glued in with the grain opposing the bow's wood
The best bows are made from pernumbuco wood but this does not
mean that all bows made from this wood are good.
Experienced players usually spend more purchasing their bow
than their violin.