Step-by-Step Instructions for How to Rehair a Violin Bow

Written by nicola gordon-thaxter
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Step-by-Step Instructions for How to Rehair a Violin Bow
A properly strung bow improves the sound of a violin. (violin player image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

Until the 20th century, a violin bow was considered to be almost an accessory, states violin maker Hans Johannsson. But today a bow is an integral part of playing the violin. If played often, a bow should be rehaired regularly. It's best if rehairing is done by a professional as it's a laborious and difficult task and requires lots of patience and skill. A badly rehaired bow can cause damage, such as scratched and indented metal fittings, so it's vital to get it done properly.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Small knife
  • Scissors
  • Soft, clean untreated cloth
  • Horsehair
  • Rosin

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  1. 1

    Remove the wedges that are on the underside of each end of the bow. A wedge is at the head of the bow and another one is located at the opposite end. Insert a knife into the edge of the wedge at the head of the bow and the wedge at the other end and gently pry them off.

  2. 2

    Cut the old hair out of the bow and tease out any remaining hairs near the head and end of the bow with the knife. Be very careful not to scratch the bow with the knife. Clean and polish the bow.

  3. 3

    Prepare the horsehair. Select enough so that when it's stretched from one end of the bow to the other, there is a slight spring when pressed. Then wet and comb the hair that you'll use. How much hair you fit into your bow depends on the bow's build and style. However, it's recommended that a violin bow have about 150 hairs.

  4. 4

    String the hair into the bow and replace the wedges and then coat the hair with rosin. Rosin makes the hair stick to the bow and is made from the residue from the distillation of turpentine.

Tips and warnings

  • If you use your bow regularly, you should get it rehaired at least twice a year. If you use it infrequently, you can rehair it once a year.
  • Don't over-tighten the hair. The best tension is about 1/4 of an inch from the low point of the curve of the bow to the hair. But this may differ, depending on how the player plays.

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