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Brad Dorsey

Extra hair on the playing edge?

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Yesterday I received two bows for rehairing from a customer who requests extra hair on the playing edge of the hair ribbon.  She would like me to wrap a little hair to around one side of the ferrule wedge, and she says that this is the way bows should be done.  Although I was not taught to rehair bows this way, my default inclination is to give the customer what she wants.

 

I can think of two ways to put more hair on the playing edge:  1.  Cut a full-width wedge with more clearance between the wedge and the ferrule on the playing side; or 2.  Cut the wedge with even clearance across its width, but make it a little narrow to leave room for some hair between it and one corner of the ferrule.

 

Here are my questions:

 

1.  Is there any reason I should not do her bows the way she wants?

 

2.  Is this how all bows should be done?

 

3.  If I do put more hair on the playing edge, which way is preferred?

 

4.  What is the reason to play on one edge of the hair instead of flat on the strings?

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I was taught to do it that way in New York.  I always offer this to my customers but not many players take me up on it anymore.  It's subtle and I do it on the bow that I play.   I find that a lot of players tend to play on the edge of the hair ribbon rather than flat.  And, of course, you put the little extra on the opposite side for a cello bow than you do with a violin or viola bow.

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1. no (except for when the bow requires less hair than average and/or the ferrule is very wide. In that case the bow would have too much hair and I would try to convince my client about that. Contrary to widespread belief, too much hair doesn't damage a bow, unless it is a. overtightened to compensatefor lack of spring or b. the amount of hair doesn't fit into mortices)

 

2. no

 

3. If a player  breaks a lot hair I accumulate by cutting a clearance, if a a player wants extra hair because he thinks the bow needs more  hair to play well I wrap around the corner. I looks bad when some hair is broken and a few strands remain above the corner, detached from the main ribbon

 

4. Two reasons: To create sound colours or just because of the school of technique. There is a natural tendency of any arm to tilt, simply because of arm mechanics, this has to be compensated for (or accepted).

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I think your "default inclination" is wise.  After all, we players who are honest about ourselves know that we are irrational sometimes, but we just can't help ourselves. :)  If it makes her day, go for it.    

 

Regarding whether it is "the way it should be done," of course not. IMO  Who knows where she got the idea.

 

As for the question of tilting, it would be very rare to tilt so much that one was actually playing ONLY on the edge.  You can experiment with it to see how awkward that is.  Even tilting quite a bit, we are still using about a quarter or third of the ribbon, so as far as I'm concerned the "wrap around" is incidental.  It's next to impossible to tilt enough to play only on the sides. 

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Also, would not having more hair on one side tend to make the stick bow out in the opposite direction, due to more hair tension on one side? I have heard of compensating for a slightly warped bow by adding extra hair to one side..would doing this on a straight stick not have the opposite effect then?

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Fiddler45 asks a good question.

 

I will only rehair a bow with an equal ribbon of hair.

Ever.

The wedge is cut straight and even, always.

 

Even on a bow with a slight warp in either direction -

As you can't remedy a bow with a warp, with a rehairing job...

 

Extra hair on the playing edge?

good question.  I don't, but I would like to hear further opposing thoughts on the matter.

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I know for a fact that because I play with the bow tilted a bit toward the fingerboard, when I break hair, it is always on that side. When enough hair is broken, the stick will be straight when loose, but start to bend out to the opposite side when tightened. Logic dictates that an uneven amount of hair on one side could do the same thing.

Maybe the customer should invest in one of those bows that is made with a tilted frog and tip so that when one tilts their hand, the hair is even on the string. I played with one of these last year. Not the greatest bow, but the concept worked.

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...I will only rehair a bow with an equal ribbon of hair.

Ever...

 

Would you refuse to make the ribbon uneven if the customer requested it?  If so, why?

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Hmm, when I play on the side of the hair, it's because I want to use less hair. When I want more hair, I play on the flat of the hair. There are plenty of degrees in between that can be used. I wouldn't want more hair on one side of the bow than the other, but this thread isn't about me. :)

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I don't think that many of you are grasping what this player is really asking for.  It's subtle.  Just a few hairs that wrap around the edge of the spreader wedge.  It's not a big deal.  It doesn't change the pull or warp the stick.  It's really not the big deal that a lot of posters seem to think it is.  

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Hello Brad,

It is certainly fine and often preferable to put more hair on the playing side.

Believing that you should always rehair flat and even is naive at best, and pretty silly.

Of course you can remedy a warp in the bow with rehair, as long as the warp is toward the playing side, doing it the other direction will kill the response of the bow.

Most of the time when this kind of rolling around the spread wedge is done it is on a Vuillaume style bow.

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Hmm, when I play on the side of the hair, it's because I want to use less hair. When I want more hair, I play on the flat of the hair. There are plenty of degrees in between that can be used. I wouldn't want more hair on one side of the bow than the other, but this thread isn't about me. :)

Yes, you are absolutely right. I think every string players on earth have been brainwashed with the mantra by their teachers to use full bow and full (read: flat) hair when playing loud with maximum projection. Unfortunately most of us are human and fallible...

 

fiddler 45 the stick will not warp: when it is played it is wildly pushed around anyway, when it is untensioned in the case it can relax into its natural state (whatever warped that is...)

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Without quoting anybody, and not having rehaired thousands of bows, I've always been more comfortable playing bows—of whatever quality—with even spreads of hair, NOT curled around the edges.  I don't like that Vuillaume style.  As far as teachers asking to play flat, I've had some world class teachers who never presented that.

 

As I mentioned to Brad, experiment for yourselves and you'll see that even with a normal tilt the ribbon touches in from the hair toward the fingerboard-inward quite a distance.  I have NEVER seen a player so tilted—even for special effects—who had the ribbon so close to perpendicular that only one side-hair is touching.

 

I'm willing to accept there may be some reasons for sometimes putting more hair to one side or the other;  I'd like to hear some of them.  Unless someone explains them to me, I will go my merry way assuming a "nice even ribbon" is better.

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Indeed, different players require different things. I believe wrapping of the hair around Vuillaume style ferrules makes it more comfortable for some players because these ferrules are skinnier than straight ferrules. Wrapping the hair gives the player a little extra hair ribbon.

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Would you refuse to make the ribbon uneven if the customer requested it?  If so, why?

 

Yes, I would. I always make a complete even equal temperament ribbon across the full width of the ferrule.

And I do see that there are as many opinions here, some by people who would know, from having done this many times, and some (opinions) that I can see or observe, are just supposition by people who are using their thought process, to suppose what the correct answer must obviously be. Cool, as this is the internet...

 

Why?

 

Because the bow is designed a certain way. And it accepts things done a certain way, best.

That you can alter this? Yes you certainly can. But does that make things better for the player? well, that point remains open to argument, doesn't it?

 

A few hairs to one side (either side) of the ferrule wedge, will not really alter the playing charistics of the bow, in any real way, other than perhaps, what is imagined by the player when he or she sees that they now have a few hairs wrapped around the spread wedge on either side.

 

I simply prefer to rehair this way, with a full, even, equally tight ribbon - from one side (fully to the edge) to the other.

Well, you tell me what the story is with regard to a correct rehair job, and how well it works for any specific player. That some people do it otherwise will be a given.

I have rehaired bows before, with all of these variations, at one time in my career or other. Sometimes by accident and other times by request.

But now I only do what I consider is a "correct " rehair. I simply do not have the time nor do I want to expend the effort to do an "improper" job.

I will, however, offer to re-rehair a bow, if the customer is not happy with the results.

Very rarely does a customer want a *custom alignment* of hair anyway. It's mostly here on MN that I see this idea come up, and it is always argued back and forth as if it was a common occurrence, which, of course, it is not.

 

Most commonly any and everyone is satisfied with a standard rehair. I suppose that I could go on about why the standard rehair works best, but this type of argument wears out my desire to participate. So I'll answer once and usually drop out as the argument gets farther and farther away from reality. But your question makes sense and so here's my answer to it.

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In a way, it's like starting an argument that the bow should be pre bent slightly in one direction or the other. And then, arguing the advantages of every possibility that there is.

 

Perhaps, and perhaps not.

Straight as an arrow can work well also. It comes down to; what do you want, and what do you believe?

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Yes, I would. I always make a complete even equal temperament ribbon across the full width of the ferrule.

Most commonly any and everyone is satisfied with a standard rehair.

I absolutely agree CT, I do believe however we should strive for better than "satisfactory".

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I always do a little extra on the playing edge. It is a straight forward little jobby, once everything is fitted and I am ready to put the spreader wedge onto the ferrule with my hair al apread across evenly, I cut tiny chamfers on the sides to receive the extra hairs. 

 

It is a very small amount of hair. 

 

How do I go about the fact that putting that little bit extra hair make the tension biased? well, I do the same amount on both sides. 

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I don't know how many players read this area of the forum, but I'm curious how many have found certain re-hairers do better than others.  I don't mean the obvious flaws that a bad rehairer will have compared to a good one.  I mean among really first rate re-hairers.

 

I ask this because I had one fellow who had it down, big time.  When he died, no matter how good other people's work LOOKS,  it doesn't feel the same.  I think there may be little tricks or awarenesses, choice of hair, or a certain something intangible that sets some apart.

 

Of course I realize it might just be what I got used to, but I don't think so.

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I don't know how many players read this area of the forum, but I'm curious how many have found certain re-hairers do better than others.  I don't mean the obvious flaws that a bad rehairer will have compared to a good one.  I mean among really first rate re-hairers.

 

I ask this because I had one fellow who had it down, big time.  When he died, no matter how good other people's work LOOKS,  it doesn't feel the same.  I think there may be little tricks or awarenesses, choice of hair, or a certain something intangible that sets some apart.

 

Of course I realize it might just be what I got used to, but I don't think so.

I had one of my shop mates recommend this:

http://www.magpictures.com/jirodreamsofsushi

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I don't know how many players read this area of the forum, but I'm curious how many have found certain re-hairers do better than others.  I don't mean the obvious flaws that a bad rehairer will have compared to a good one.  I mean among really first rate re-hairers.

 

I ask this because I had one fellow who had it down, big time.  When he died, no matter how good other people's work LOOKS,  it doesn't feel the same.  I think there may be little tricks or awarenesses, choice of hair, or a certain something intangible that sets some apart.

 

Of course I realize it might just be what I got used to, but I don't think so.

 

I must agree here.

The very best rehairers, are able to simply rehair a bow, so that it plays at its best.

 

Period.

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