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  • Writer's pictureHannes Karpaty

The art of rehairing a bow

Restoring a violin bow to its best condition requires uncanny techniques and an unwavering attention to detail. This article provides an insight into how to buy the best quality horsetail and the expertise required to do a rehairing job well.

Restringing a bow involves replacing the worn hair, a component responsible for producing the bow's sound. As time goes by, the hair loses its effectiveness due to wear and tear, making rehairing your violin bow an essential routine for any serious violinist.

Getting premium horsehair.

Choosing the finest horsehair is like going on an expedition. The most sought after hair comes from stallions living in the frigid regions of Mongolia. Here, the harsh climate promotes the growth of thick, coarse hair that is ideal for violin and cello playing.

Once the precious hair is collected, it is carefully hand-sorted and graded based on thickness, color and strength. This selection process, which requires a keen eye, is an art form in itself and a crucial factor in making a bow truly great.

The video in the link shows how the selection process works.

Mastery of the art

Rehairing a violin bow is a bit of an art that requires patience and technical skill. Every step, from removing old hair to attaching the new hair, affects the sound quality and balance of the bow. It starts with a thorough arch cleaning and careful preparation of the new hair. Usually between 150-200 hairs are carefully selected for a violin bow. The hair is bundled and soaked in water to increase its flexibility. These hairs are then carefully fitted into the frame.

Violin maker Karpati uses a specialized tool called a bow-tagging clamp to hold the hair in place while he attaches it to the bow. He attaches great importance to the hair being stretched evenly, which is crucial to producing the best possible sound.

Here is a video where Karpati shows from start to finish, the art of rehairing a bow:

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