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Barry J. Griffiths

Source for good bow hair

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I've been getting very good bow hair from one supplier. The last batch was very substandard and I exchanged it another bundle which was a bit better but still not up to snuff. I'm throwing out 25-30 hairs per violin bow. This is very time consuming and expensive. Any suggestions for a good hair supplier would be greatly appreciated.

Barry

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I've heard great things about Sowden:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/sear...=clnk&gl=us

They hand-remove all of the bad / uneven hairs for you, and charge a little extra. (I'm sure other good suppliers do as well.)

One interesting thing: You read on many websites how one should avoid Mare's hair, as the urine ruins it. Yet, Sowden's top-line hair is ALL from Mares. They claim that the urine causes the scales to open up, which holds more rosin.

Go figure.

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My neighbor across the road has half a dozen horses. I'll have to go over there some dark night and procure some. :)

Is the hair bleached with peroxide or something similar?

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My neighbor across the road has half a dozen horses. I'll have to go over there some dark night and procure some. :)

Is the hair bleached with peroxide or something similar?

I live near Amish country here in Michigan and had a similar idea to yours, so I talked some of the Amish guys I knew to giving me a bunch of hair when they trim their horses. Being Amish, they had a difficult time understanding why I would want something they just throw away. To make a long story short, after sorting, processing, etc my final conclusion was: it wasn't worth my time and effort. Now maybe if I could convince the Amish to start using Mongolian horses instead of the draft breeds they use, they might:get their plowing done faster, and I would get better quality hair.

Frederick Dale

Still shaving with Occam's Razor

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I've been getting very good bow hair from one supplier. The last batch was very substandard and I exchanged it another bundle which was a bit better but still not up to snuff. I'm throwing out 25-30 hairs per violin bow. This is very time consuming and expensive. Any suggestions for a good hair supplier would be greatly appreciated.

Barry

I have had very good success with the hair sold by Cleveland Violins. I did a test and bought the "best" hair from several suppliers, including Sowden's, and theirs came out best with Pioneer Valley's hair a close second. One has to remember that the suppliers hair quality is subject to what is sent to them from China and can vary.

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I'm just contemplating learning bowmaking and repair.

Some friends gave me 60-70 year old hair mint in

packages. I was wondering if hair has a shelf life?

I also got some old gut strings in original packages.

the rosin is probably good. Anyone with comment on

shelf life on these goods?

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I'm just contemplating learning bowmaking and repair.

Some friends gave me 60-70 year old hair mint in

packages. I was wondering if hair has a shelf life?

I also got some old gut strings in original packages.

the rosin is probably good. Anyone with comment on

shelf life on these goods?

I have no idea about hair, but gut strings last a year if you're lucky. Definitely toss them.

Most people say rosin goes bad, but I have some from the 1920's that still works fine, so who knows... Also you can take old, funky rosin and melt it in a double-boiler, and then it should be close to "as new" again.

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I live near Amish country here in Michigan and had a similar idea to yours, so I talked some of the Amish guys I knew to giving me a bunch of hair when they trim their horses. Being Amish, they had a difficult time understanding why I would want something they just throw away. To make a long story short, after sorting, processing, etc my final conclusion was: it wasn't worth my time and effort. Now maybe if I could convince the Amish to start using Mongolian horses instead of the draft breeds they use, they might:get their plowing done faster, and I would get better quality hair.

Frederick Dale

Still shaving with Occam's Razor

Frederick, we must be neighbors. Some Amish families around me have been selling vegetables around my area from their buggys for the past couple of years. I've been buying green beans just to get a closer look at their horses. I finally asked If I could buy some hair. Most of the hair was not long enough and very dry and brittle, but the guy reached up high in the tail and grabbed a beautiful hank of black silky hair. I ran to the house to get some scissors. He was reluctant to take money for the hair but finally took three dollars for it. I used this hank for a 3/4 bow, nice stuff, thick and almost indestructable.

Scott

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I have had very good success with the hair sold by Cleveland Violins. I did a test and bought the "best" hair from several suppliers, including Sowden's, and theirs came out best with Pioneer Valley's hair a close second. One has to remember that the suppliers hair quality is subject to what is sent to them from China and can vary.

Fenwick, do you know if the hair you preferred was from mares or stallions?

I'm very curious about Sowden's preference for mare hair, since it seems to go against "common knowledge." I tend to over-rosin, (I like that edgy midrange) so a hair that holds it longer might be beneficial.

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I have had very good success with the hair sold by Cleveland Violins. I did a test and bought the "best" hair from several suppliers, including Sowden's, and theirs came out best with Pioneer Valley's hair a close second. One has to remember that the suppliers hair quality is subject to what is sent to them from China and can vary.

Which Sowdens hair did you use, the Mares hair ,blue string brand? Most Americans use Stallion hair and Sowdens Stallion hair is Canadian i think.

I have a preference for the Mares hair it looks better on a bow and plays better on more expensive bows .

Sowdens have far more experience than all these other companies you mention and hand sort their blue string Mares hair.I suspect these other companies use Chinese slave labour to do all the Donkey work of ultra sorting .I cant imagine these American companies sitting sorting through bow hair.

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Fenwick, do you know if the hair you preferred was from mares or stallions?

I'm very curious about Sowden's preference for mare hair, since it seems to go against "common knowledge." I tend to over-rosin, (I like that edgy midrange) so a hair that holds it longer might be beneficial.

The Sowden's hair I used was blue string Mare's and it came in fourth in the six different supplier's premium hair.Other than this, all the rest were stallion hair, which I prefer. Another bow rehairer graded them as well and other than changing the top two, placed the others in the same order. All the hair I checked was very good, but some was better than others. The differences were colour, minute differences in hair sizes and bumpy things on the hairs. Probably if I checked the same supplier' hair now the order would be different.

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Sort of on this subject....

I recently did a re-hair for a client, and she came back later saying that despite having put on lots of rosin, the hair wasn't imediately gripping the strings, and was slow to respond. I have never gotten this from anyone before, and am puzzled as to possible sources of the problem. The only differences I can think of in this case was that it was my last little bit of hair in the bundle (I use Sowden's blue ribbon), and I wondered if possibly it had gotten a bit of an oily film on the hairs over time? Or, the other possiblity is the number of hairs- she had complained that person she took it to last time put in far too many hairs, which I'm sure was to balance the stiffness of her stick, so I put in fewer hairs than I normally would have for a stick of that stiffness.

What do you folks think?

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Laura, if the player is an experienced pro with some savvy, then I'd re- think the re-hair.

If the player is an amateur with no idea and likes to make a fuss, I'd tell em to take a hike.

Cheers.

I'm still curious what the bow professionals here think of Mare's hair vs stallion hair. Despite the rating of both Fenwick & his associate, it could be one of those subjective things. Does anyone else prefer, or have clients that prefer, Mare's hair?

Fenwick, what was the criteria used in your test? What specifically did you like better about the three "top" brands?

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Sort of on this subject....

I recently did a re-hair for a client, and she came back later saying that despite having put on lots of rosin, the hair wasn't imediately gripping the strings, and was slow to respond. I have never gotten this from anyone before, and am puzzled as to possible sources of the problem. The only differences I can think of in this case was that it was my last little bit of hair in the bundle (I use Sowden's blue ribbon), and I wondered if possibly it had gotten a bit of an oily film on the hairs over time? Or, the other possiblity is the number of hairs- she had complained that person she took it to last time put in far too many hairs, which I'm sure was to balance the stiffness of her stick, so I put in fewer hairs than I normally would have for a stick of that stiffness.

What do you folks think?

Pre-rosin the bows before returning to customer. Most players do not know how to charge a bow with rosin for the first time. The customer claimed to have applied "lots" of rosin. "Lots" of rosin to some players could be equal to 4 to 5 swipes of rosin, not enough to charge a bow with rosin for the first time.Pre-rosin your bows and test them before returning to customers.

Scott

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'' Most players do not know how to charge a bow with rosin for the first time. ''

You'd have to be a total amatuer to not know that, and why would Laura give a re-haried bow back that was not properly rosined ?

Also, better players do NOT cake their bows in rosin.

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'' Most players do not know how to charge a bow with rosin for the first time. ''

You'd have to be a total amatuer to not know that

I agree, but it does take a while. Powdered rosin is a lot easier.

...and why would Laura give a re-haried bow back that was not properly rosined ?

- Because a lot of player are picky about the type & brand of rosin they use, and don't like the idea of mixing them. I guess the smart thing would be for the bow repairer to keep on-hand many tubs of powdered rosin, of all the popular brands & densities. -Then ask the customer which to use.

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'' Most players do not know how to charge a bow with rosin for the first time. ''

You'd have to be a total amatuer to not know that, and why would Laura give a re-haried bow back that was not properly rosined ?

Also, better players do NOT cake their bows in rosin.

Read Lauras post again. Doesn't she imply that she returned an unrosined bow to her customer?

Scott

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It is an interesting point about not mixing rosins, and attempting to be able to apply the client's preferred rosin before giving it back- one that I have thought about, but haven't done anything about.

In this case, however, I had pre-rosined the bow with powdered rosin, and had played it myself, and it seemed fine. But my playing is not to as high a standard as my clients, so I give her the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, it seems there is no obvious and clear cut answer that I ought to have known?

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It is an interesting point about not mixing rosins, and attempting to be able to apply the client's preferred rosin before giving it back- one that I have thought about, but haven't done anything about.

In this case, however, I had pre-rosined the bow with powdered rosin, and had played it myself, and it seemed fine. But my playing is not to as high a standard as my clients, so I give her the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, it seems there is no obvious and clear cut answer that I ought to have known?

Sorry, I mistook the words in your post. Sometimes it would be nice to deal with the instruments alone and not the customers, and sometimes the customers make it more fun and interesting.

Scott

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