How to replace violin bow hair

Written by allan robinson
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A violin is a stringed instrument that's played with a bow. It's the smallest member of a group of stringed instruments known as the violin family. A violin bow is about 29-inches long and usually strung with horse hair. You'll need to have the bow hair replaced periodically as part of a violin's normal maintenance. This procedure should only be performed by a qualified professional.

Skill level:
Challenging

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Things you need

  • Violin bow
  • Horse hair

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Observe your bow's performance. You can tell that your bow may need to be re-haired when it has trouble grabbing the strings. You may also need to apply rosin to the bow hair more often. If your violin bow is badly in need of re-hairing, it may also make a raspy sound when you play your violin.

  2. 2

    Check the bow for any structural damage before disassembling it. Ensure that the only problem with the bow is that the hair needs to be replaced.

  3. 3

    Disassemble and clean the bow's parts. The bow's base that holds the hair is known as a frog and contains a hardwood plug. You'll need to cut a new plug each time you replace the hair on the bow.

  4. 4

    Select hair for the bow. Violin bow hair traditionally comes from horse tails, ideally white stallions from northern Mongolia. The number of individual strands is variable, but 150 strands is generally considered optimum.

  5. 5

    Place the new hair into the bow. It requires particular skill to ensure that the hair retains its tension while being played. Carve and insert a new spreader to keep the hair in the frog evenly distributed. This step requires extensive combing and arranging of the hair. Apply rosin to the hair once it's properly fixed in place.

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