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bow hair


David Tseng
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China is the main source of supply for bow hairs we use today. The hairs are cut from live horses (not from the slaughter house). The horses are very valuable animals there if they are still can work and run. Top quality bow hairs can be purchased from China Bow Hair at $165 per kilogram, email: bowhair@home.com, tel 714-545-1677, attn. Paul Goedinghaus.

The number of hairs per bow is usually 200 to 225 for straight, cylindrical, small diameter hairs.

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China may be the main source of hair but the hair is nowhere as good as Canadian hair. Canadian hair is far superior in both sound production and strength.

: China is the main source of supply for bow hairs we use today. The hairs are cut from live horses (not from the slaughter house). The horses are very valuable animals there if they are still can work and run. Top quality bow hairs can be purchased from China Bow Hair at $165 per kilogram, email: bowhair@home.com, tel 714-545-1677, attn. Paul Goedinghaus.

: The number of hairs per bow is usually 200 to 225 for straight, cylindrical, small diameter hairs.

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DEAR DAVID,

THE POINT YOU MAKE ABOUT HAIR COMING FROM LIVE HORSES IS A GOOD SALES PITCH ONLY,WELL DONE.

ABOUT THE NUMBER OF HAIRS YOU SURGEST THAT GOES INTO A BOW,I HOPE ITS A CELLO BOW AND NOT A VIOLIN BOW ?

ALSO DONT YOU THINK ITS A BIT POINTLESS PUTTING CYLINDRICAL HAIRS INTO A BOW AS ONLY 25%OF THE HAIR WOULD HAVE ANY CONTACT WITH THE STRINGS, THINK ABOUT ALL THOSE TINY EMPTY SPACES YOU WOULD HAVE WITH NO CONTACT AT ALL.

BY THE WAY IF YOU HAVE ANY CYLINDRICAL "TAIL" HAIRS PLEASE SEND ME A SAMPLE AS I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A LOOK,IT WOULD BE THE FIRST TIME IN 40 YEARS OF DRESSING HORSHAIR THAT I SEEN SOME.

LOOKING FORWARD TO RECEIVING THE SAMPLE.

BEST REGARDS.

MICHAEL'

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...Could you tell us a bit about how horse hair is harvested--e.g., if it is cut off close to the quick, or plucked. Also, what would be the problems involved if live horses were used? Would it cause severe trauma to the animals? I'm sure a number of us would be interested in the answers.

Thanks,

Mark W.

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Well spoke, Michael.

You're my hero!

What David wrote just happened to contradict

almost everything you kindly told me in response

to some questions a week or so back! Maybe he

was just trying in on?

I quoted you to a repairer-acquaintance on a

couple of counts recently - about most of the

hair coming from China and Mongolia -

he said he was not personally aware of much

coming or being available from China at present

but mostly from Mongolia.

When I asked him how to distingish mare or stallion

hair and told him about yellowing from urine stains

he roared laughing and said it was the funniest

thing he'd heard for a long time.

(and of course, didn't believe it for a moment)

he said some of the stuff he has he believes to be

chemically treated and bleached.

So, an additional question or two for you.

(I've really been fascinated by what you've told us).

1) For an average student or their parent

(not so much a professional) is there some

simple rule of thumb to gauge when it's time for

a rehair?

2) Are there any other bits of advice about how

to get full value and long-life out of bow hair?

tips for maintenance?

(I appreciated the recent discussion of overuse of rosin and how to rectify it).

3) Is there anything you should say to someone

whose about to rehair you bow? Anything you should

check before or after the job given that most of us don't get the chance to see it happening. It's really

a quick operation for anyone experienced and fascinating to watch the first couple of times.

I like asking questions while they're doing it -

which is probably why they don't like people around.

Again, sincere thanks,

omobono.

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:DEAR OMOBONO,

THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR QUESTIONS.

ITS NOT SUPRISING TO LEARN THAT YOUR FRIEND,THE REPAIRER, DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE CHINESE SITUATION,IT IS MOST LIKELY THAT HE WAS TOLD THAT WHAT HE WAS BUYING WAS CHINESE MASQUERADING AS MONGOLIAN OR WAS ACTALLY SOLD TRUE MONGOLIAN.(SOME SUPPLIERS CLASS ALL SUPPOSIDLY WHITER HAIR AS BEING"MONGOLIAN")?

IF YOUR FRIEND WANTS "PROOF OF THE PUDDING," AN OLD ENGLISH SAYING,I WILL SEND HIM SOME SAMPLES OF MARES AND STALLION HAIR I CUT FROM THE DOCKS MYSELF THEN HE

CAN EASILY TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRUE STALLION AND BLEACHED.

IN FACT I WAS CONVERSING WITH A "DRESSER/SUPPLIER" FROM CHINA THE OTHER DAY BUT WHEN ASKING IF IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO SUPPLY US WITH "STALLION" HAIR HE REPLIED THAT THEY HAVE NEVER KEPT THE TWO SEPERATE AND ALWAYS CLASSED THE STRONGER HAIR AS "STALLION" EVEN IF ITS BEEN CUT FROM THE MARE???IN HIS NEXT SENTANCE HE SAID IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE,AT A PRICE, TO KEEP THE TWO SEPARATE, NO WONDER PEOPLE GET CONFUSED....ANSWER TO QUESTION 1.I AM SORRY I CANNOT ANSWER THIS, YOU WOULD HAVE TO GET ADVICE FROM A BOWMAKER.THERE ARE QUITE A FEW DIFFERENT THINGS TO CONSIDER SO AN EXPERT WOULD BE FAR BETTER TO ASK.

ANSWER TO QUESTION 2. MAKE SURE THAT THE WHITEST/ROOT END IS PUT INTO THE FROG AND ALWAYS USE GOOD LONG HAIR AS YOU WILL GET THE BENIFIT OF 'STRONGER/THICKER HAIR WHICH IN ALL PROBABILITY WILL LAST LONGER.

QUESTION 3.AGAIN PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGIES FOR NOT BEING CONFIDENT TO ANSWER YOU ON THIS SUBJECT,THIS IS AGAIN ANOTHER ONE FOR AN EXPERT BOWMAKER OR REPAIRER.

HOPE I HAVE BEEN SOME HELP,

BEST REGARDS

MICHAEL.

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:DEAR MARK,

AS I HAVE STATED BEFORE THE VAST MAJORITY OF HAIR COMES FROM SLAUGHTERHOUSES AS A BY PRODUCT WITH ONLY A SMALL PERCENTAGE CLAIMED FROM LIVE HORSES.

THE TAIL IS GROWN FOR TWO PURPOSES,1 TO SWAT IRRITATING WINGED INSECTS AWAY.2 TO KEEP ITS DOCK WARM AND DRY.

WHITH THE SCALES ON THE HAIR RUNNING DOWNWARDS IT ALLOWS WATER TO RUN OF EASILY.

PLUCKING LIVE HORSES TAILS IS A COMMON ACCURANCE WITH THE DOMESTICATED HORSE SOCIETY FOR GROOMING PURPOSES

AND THEREFORE WOULD CAUSE ONLY SLIGHT DISCOMFORT AS SO LITTLE HAIR IS PULLED OUT.

BEST REGARDS

MICHAEL.

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Hello Paganinii, I agree with you. I had the opportunity to work in a Canadian horse farm as a winter part time job and had the permission to harvest bow hairs from a few white horses in the farm. Since the majority of horses in the stable were race horses, they were very well cared for, and one more important point, they were not allowed to lie down. Consequently, these horses produced the best quality hairs for the bow trade. One could find higher percentage of straight, cylindrical hairs containing not a single kink along its length (sorry, I can't give away creme de la creme as a free sample). A common fault is that at certain length, the hair is crushed flat. Also some horse tends to grow flat hair. The flat hair is always curly. In my opinion, curly hair is not suitable for professional bows.

Lets get back to Chinese bow hair. The Mongolian Republic (in China, it is called Outer Mongolia) was created by CCCP (the Evil Empire. Weren't you British and American happy to see its demise not too long ago?) That region was integrated into the Middle Kingdom since 13th century. The south-west region, the Inner Mongolia, is still part of China. The land-locked Outer Mongolia exports its products through China. The consumers in the West can never tell whether the bow hairs come from the Outer or Inner Mongolia- now commonly referred to as Chinese bow hair. The stallion hair is available at the California warehouse at higher prices.

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: PLUCKING LIVE HORSES TAILS IS A COMMON ACCURANCE WITH THE DOMESTICATED HORSE SOCIETY FOR GROOMING PURPOSES

: AND THEREFORE WOULD CAUSE ONLY SLIGHT DISCOMFORT AS SO LITTLE HAIR IS PULLED OUT.

Someone at the stables where I used to ride (can't afford violin and riding both!) said that it caused the same or less discomfort as when you pull a hair out of your own head. Those nasty grey ones, for example. :-)

Thanks

Laurel

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