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Casey Jefferson

Heartbroken moments

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I'm trying to improve as a better violinist and I'm having some very frustrating moments with finding the right bow at the moment. I came close to that but the bow lost its playing characteristic after some work done on it.

I'm sure I can work with luthier closely but that's where the problem usually make things stuck. I felt like I'm the weirdest musician in the industry, for e.g., asking lutheir to copy exactly what the maker done with it originally. Particularly the head plug was a weird one and doesn't match the standard measurement. I expressed that just copy everything but ended up with a standard plug installed (which was a wonderful job regardless) and the playing characteristic was lost. The point here is that whenever I further express my request I'll usually receive some counter comments and sometimes some lectures. Frankly, that was intimidating to me. It makes me feel like I'm the very weird one just because I'm making requests different than normal. Maybe I am!

Without much choices and travel restrictions, I try my luck with dealers who accommodate international customers. I admit I'm pretty anxious about it, but I gotten a feeling that I was being brushed off as a joker or not a serious customer. I can't help but to feel that, I don't deserve to buy a good instrument or bow if I don't have credentials. It just further make me feel like I just don't belong in this field.

I gave up. I should just stop being a better musician altogether. 

Sorry for such a negative post. Not trying to name names (and not going to respond privately either). But I just need to express somewhere.

I enjoy reading mnet from time to time and it was very fruitful and wealth of information. Thanks to everyone who helped me in the past.

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23 minutes ago, Casey Jefferson said:

I'm trying to improve as a better violinist and I'm having some very frustrating moments with finding the right bow at the moment. I came close to that but the bow lost its playing characteristic after some work done on it.

I'm sure I can work with luthier closely but that's where the problem usually make things stuck. I felt like I'm the weirdest musician in the industry, for e.g., asking lutheir to copy exactly what the maker done with it originally. Particularly the head plug was a weird one and doesn't match the standard measurement. I expressed that just copy everything but ended up with a standard plug installed (which was a wonderful job regardless) and the playing characteristic was lost. The point here is that whenever I further express my request I'll usually receive some counter comments and sometimes some lectures. Frankly, that was intimidating to me. It makes me feel like I'm the very weird one just because I'm making requests different than normal. Maybe I am!

Without much choices and travel restrictions, I try my luck with dealers who accommodate international customers. I admit I'm pretty anxious about it, but I gotten a feeling that I was being brushed off as a joker or not a serious customer. I can't help but to feel that, I don't deserve to buy a good instrument or bow if I don't have credentials. It just further make me feel like I just don't belong in this field.

I gave up. I should just stop being a better musician altogether. 

Sorry for such a negative post. Not trying to name names (and not going to respond privately either). But I just need to express somewhere.

I enjoy reading mnet from time to time and it was very fruitful and wealth of information. Thanks to everyone who helped me in the past.

Sounds like you got some less than great customer service on your tip repair.  I'm very sorry to hear that.  The Covid-19 experience is running a little rough on a lot of us where shipping and vendor accessibility are concerned. 

When it comes to your playing, don't give up.  Ever!!  :)

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29 minutes ago, Casey Jefferson said:

Particularly the head plug was a weird one and doesn't match the standard measurement. I expressed that just copy everything but ended up with a standard plug installed (which was a wonderful job regardless) and the playing characteristic was lost.

Are you sure the original plug was intentional and not just someones screwed attempt? Good maker would not like to copy someone's botched work even at customers request as someone could later just show it around and his reputation could be damaged.

Also are you sure that the wedge style damaged the playing characteristic? Type and count of bowhair havemuch more effect than any weirdness of wedge. Though sometimes placebo effect can be even stronger.

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13 minutes ago, HoGo said:

Are you sure the original plug was intentional and not just someones screwed attempt? Good maker would not like to copy someone's botched work even at customers request as someone could later just show it around and his reputation could be damaged.

Also are you sure that the wedge style damaged the playing characteristic? Type and count of bowhair havemuch more effect than any weirdness of wedge. Though sometimes placebo effect can be even stronger.

That's exactly it. I take that you're suggesting it's my own problem. Bow hair were untouched, just a new plug installed. The workmanship of the new plug was made up to standard and it was a wonderful workmanship. But the bow just doesn't play like how it was.

I might be suffering an ongoing placebo effect, and I understand where luthiers are coming from. So that also means I'm not suitable for going into that level or I'll drive myself (and especially luthiers) crazy. I'll just stick to where I am now.

I just want to buy another now. As a matter of fact, it was a huge investment for me. And I thought I shouldn't be going through dramas...

Or maybe just go sell ice cream.

24 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Sounds like you got some less than great customer service on your tip repair.  I'm very sorry to hear that.  The Covid-19 experience is running a little rough on a lot of us where shipping and vendor accessibility are concerned. 

When it comes to your playing, don't give up.  Ever!!  :)

Thank you for the encouragement. It wasn't a specific thing, just in general I had this feeling for years. Tried hard to overcome and work it out. But I genuinely felt intimidated recently.

I'll still be continuing my day job as a violin teacher. But to improve into that territory seem impossible for me.

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When this guy said the bow didn't work where the bow maker didn't copy the original "mistake" just because the maker didn't believed it, the maker then make the amendment and proceed with the "mistake".

Should I say I'm just a nobody and don't deserve it? Maybe I am. I don't know. I shall admit it, it seem.

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55 minutes ago, Casey Jefferson said:

Should I say I'm just a nobody and don't deserve it? Maybe I am. I don't know. I shall admit it, it seem.

[Pulls herself up to her full 5' 4" height in boots, fills her lungs with air, and................]

The Hell you will!!  Cut the crap, get back out there, and kick some violin BUTT!!!!  You're as outstanding as anyone.  Improvise, adapt, and overcome.

[20 feet away, a sparrow falls, stunned.  Somewhere, a window breaks.]

Just like I learned to yell like that, almost 50 years ago, when nobody else thought I could.  [Grins wickedly.]

That's all.  :)

 

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

[Pulls herself up to her full 5' 4" height in boots, fills her lungs with air, and................]

The Hell you will!!  Cut the crap, get back out there, and kick some violin BUTT!!!!  You're as outstanding as anyone.  Improvise, adapt, and overcome.

[20 feet away, a sparrow falls, stunned.  Somewhere, a window breaks.]

Just like I learned to yell like that, almost 50 years ago, when nobody else thought I could.  [Grins wickedly.]

That's all.  :)

 

Thank you VdA, that warms my soul. ^_^

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6 hours ago, Casey Jefferson said:

Bow hair were untouched, just a new plug installed. The workmanship of the new plug was made up to standard and it was a wonderful workmanship. But the bow just doesn't play like how it was.

Sorry to hear your troubles.  A good bow is everything.

It's quite possible that the new plug has changed the tension of the hair on one side of the hair ribbon, and this is the change you are feeling.  If you can visit the shop in person, perhaps they could try adjusting tension.  Or if the hair was shortened, it's changed the balance point for you.   Just some thoughts.   

Oh, and why was just the plug replaced?  Is that really all that needed doing?  

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23 minutes ago, violinsRus said:

Sorry to hear your troubles.  A good bow is everything.

It's quite possible that the new plug has changed the tension of the hair on one side of the hair ribbon, and this is the change you are feeling.  If you can visit the shop in person, perhaps they could try adjusting tension.  Or if the hair was shortened, it's changed the balance point for you.   Just some thoughts.   

Oh, and why was just the plug replaced?  Is that really all that needed doing?  

I never thought the length of the hair would change the balance, probably the frog shifted a little and throwing balance off? The hair was indeed shorten and frog is somewhat shifted forward. But the difference isn't dramatic, probably 2-3mm? 

I looked at the plug and it was somewhat slightly oversized and protruding out from the tip plate, and somewhat chunkier. The hair ribbon was also somewhat wider spread. Interesting to say that the new plug the hair ribbon probably at more of a normal ribbon width, sound is more focused but compromising the playability quite a bit. Big chords no longer felt cushioned, and slightly frog heavy, sautille felt difficult to start. Previously it felt like it's balanced from tip to frog, much more cushioned, stick felt less stiff. Initially I thought the sound improvement was a plus but eventually realized the playing character no longer at optimum balance.

Now the problem is, I'm not going to rush to my luthier and tell him someone on the forum said something otherwise. I'm tired of doing all these...

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I hope you don't let a rehair discourage you from playing!

The rehair on my best bow fell apart (last year) - and I haven't been able to have it repaired either. So I'm using my 2nd best bow. I'm not going to let a rehair keep me from playing.

Have it rehaired again - see if it's "better". Take it from there.

As important as a bow is, don't lose sight of the big picture - which is playing the violin, because of a roadblock. There are always going to be roadblocks...

 

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Small changes in hair length can have a noticeable effect on the playing characteristics. Sometimes the workaround is to adjust the tension from what you were using before the repair.

For example, I had a bow that had considerable distance between the nut and the leather when it was at a tension I found acceptable. After a rehair, that distance was considerably shortened and made the hairs feel stiffer, especially for bouncing type strokes. I lessened the tension a bit and the feel returned to the bow.

Since I place my thumb completely on the leather, the distance between the nut and leather is meaningless to me. But for players who learned to play with their thumb over the edge of the leather, it  might be a big deal.

From a physics perspective, it is unlikely that a change in plug shape would affect the bow playing characteristics, unless there was a significant change in the mass of the plug, like from balsa wood to a lead sinker.

 

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10 hours ago, Casey Jefferson said:

I'm trying to improve as a better violinist and I'm having some very frustrating moments with finding the right bow at the moment. I came close to that but the bow lost its playing characteristic after some work done on it.

I'm sure I can work with luthier closely but that's where the problem usually make things stuck. I felt like I'm the weirdest musician in the industry, for e.g., asking lutheir to copy exactly what the maker done with it originally. Particularly the head plug was a weird one and doesn't match the standard measurement. I expressed that just copy everything but ended up with a standard plug installed (which was a wonderful job regardless) and the playing characteristic was lost. The point here is that whenever I further express my request I'll usually receive some counter comments and sometimes some lectures. Frankly, that was intimidating to me. It makes me feel like I'm the very weird one just because I'm making requests different than normal. Maybe I am!

Without much choices and travel restrictions, I try my luck with dealers who accommodate international customers. I admit I'm pretty anxious about it, but I gotten a feeling that I was being brushed off as a joker or not a serious customer. I can't help but to feel that, I don't deserve to buy a good instrument or bow if I don't have credentials. It just further make me feel like I just don't belong in this field.

I gave up. I should just stop being a better musician altogether. 

Sorry for such a negative post. Not trying to name names (and not going to respond privately either). But I just need to express somewhere.

I enjoy reading mnet from time to time and it was very fruitful and wealth of information. Thanks to everyone who helped me in the past.

Don't let a bad experience with a luthier dissuade you from practicing and attempting to upgrade your equipment.  There are so many lovely shops.

But, also, make sure you're affording your luthier the proper amount of respect. I know more about luthierie than your average player, but I would never think to tell my luthier how to do his job.  But, then, the guy I see is an expert and I would have to have a lot of nerve to challenge his judgement.

And one further thought when selecting a dealer: the ability to judge good instruments and bows is separate from the ability to provide good customer service.

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You have to have confidence in yourself, but at the same time make sure you're reasonable.  Myself, I don't see how the plug shape would make any difference as long as it kept the hair in, and that was probably his thinking too.  But it sounds like he wasn't very diplomatic with you about it.  You can't let anything anyone says affect you negatively.  Turn it into a lesson or something, or ignore it depending on your judgement.  But like I said make sure you are reasonable.  Music-wise you can't please everybody; not everybody likes even Heifetz...

Could be the ribbon has too much hair, or not enough, or hairs are crossing over, or the shape isn't right, or not enough rosin yet, or it could be perfectly fine, dunno.  The plug isn't any concern unless the shape caused something concrete and physical to happen with the bow or hair that you can put your finger on, and then you could present a reasonable argument to someone that the plug should have that shape, but not before then.

I had a teacher who was foremost a super musician.  He sounded like himself no matter what tools he was using, not so much sound but his musicianship.  It was the farthest you can get from having anything balanced on the edge of a razor.  Not that it was imparted to me, but I have it as an example.  There are also plenty of people who can hold the bow by the tip, upside down, and sound exactly the same...and those wacky baroque bows make me think that anything is basically passable as a bow if you get used to it...

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4 hours ago, ctanzio said:

Small changes in hair length can have a noticeable effect on the playing characteristics. Sometimes the workaround is to adjust the tension from what you were using before the repair.

For example, I had a bow that had considerable distance between the nut and the leather when it was at a tension I found acceptable. After a rehair, that distance was considerably shortened and made the hairs feel stiffer, especially for bouncing type strokes. I lessened the tension a bit and the feel returned to the bow.

Since I place my thumb completely on the leather, the distance between the nut and leather is meaningless to me. But for players who learned to play with their thumb over the edge of the leather, it  might be a big deal.

From a physics perspective, it is unlikely that a change in plug shape would affect the bow playing characteristics, unless there was a significant change in the mass of the plug, like from balsa wood to a lead sinker.

 

 

1 hour ago, Bill Merkel said:

You have to have confidence in yourself, but at the same time make sure you're reasonable.  Myself, I don't see how the plug shape would make any difference as long as it kept the hair in, and that was probably his thinking too.  But it sounds like he wasn't very diplomatic with you about it.

 

To me, both of the above seem like good responses.

One does occasionally get some "nut-job" players. When I was working in the Weisshaar shop, these tended to be "Las Vegas show" musicians. How could one get much further from reality than by living and working in a Las Vegas tourist hotel/casino?

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

How could one get much further from reality than by living and working in a Las Vegas tourist hotel/casino?

In at least one place I can think of.  Las Vegas is a monument to certain mathematical and psychological realities well known to the locals, and shows a profit.  Living and working in and around Deecee, however..............  :ph34r:  :lol:

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6 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

In at least one place I can think of.  Las Vegas is a monument to certain mathematical and psychological realities well known to the locals, and shows a profit.

Granted, the Las Vegas Strip area is probably pulling in a lot more money than Roswell. ;)

The last time I drove down the Las Vegas strip (on my way to attend the Spring Mountain racing school a little west of there), some good looking and extraordinarily scantily-clad women waved to me from a street corner.  Las Vegas does have some really friendly people. ;)

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Thank you everyone, some very good points there. Very encouraging which is a refreshing conversation.

I do recall a lot of past experiences with my instrument being serviced and I don't share them most here unless I was really stucked. Interesting to say that similar case happened more than I wanted and I did worked it out, maybe more like adjusting my mentality and accept the result than work on it to satisfy me.

Let's just say I was pretty much dealing with a talented luthier with a rather artistic personality. He's by no means a mean person, but maybe adhering a little too much to own concept, or I'm not high enough of a status to convince him. An example would be, my violin that undergone 2 bridge replacements which cut by him, he would apply new concept to the setup, but each time I was caught by surprise and couldn't exactly get him to adjust to play comfortably, but I don't know how to express my feelings. I ended up getting use to the new setup and frankly, it was not easy. He seem to worked hard and gave it all into the work he did, and that, creates a barrier between the conversation.

I'll take a chill pill, and just out my instruments away for a while...

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On 9/16/2020 at 12:02 AM, Casey Jefferson said:

When this guy said the bow didn't work where the bow maker didn't copy the original "mistake" just because the maker didn't believed it, the maker then make the amendment and proceed with the "mistake".

Should I say I'm just a nobody and don't deserve it? Maybe I am. I don't know. I shall admit it, it seem.

What VdA said. :-)

Also, this is Dave Wilson, who at one time (about 10 - 15 years ago?), was likely considered to have made the best loudspeakers. Most reviewers had/have a set of his speakers.  Now, the audiophile field is much more competitive, and Dave Wilson passed in 2018. However, Wilson Audio is still going strong, and Wilson Audio still makes fine, if very expensive speakers.  His speakers are still one of the most demo'd by dealers at audio shows, certainly amongst the top 3 brands. 

Thank you for posting this; I hadn't seen it. 

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On 9/16/2020 at 9:02 AM, Casey Jefferson said:

When this guy said the bow didn't work where the bow maker didn't copy the original "mistake" just because the maker didn't believed it, the maker then make the amendment and proceed with the "mistake".

Should I say I'm just a nobody and don't deserve it? Maybe I am. I don't know. I shall admit it, it seem.

This is what I was thinking. I'm quite sure it doesn't have to do with the plug, but it probably has to do with the hair and the way it is tensioned. If the hair is longer, the bow will have more bounce because both the stick and the hair length add elasticity. If there is more or less hair than before, it will influence how the bow feels. If there is more hair on one side than on the other side (often a little more hair is put on the side which is tilted towards the string, because that hair tends to break and wear out faster, resulting in worst case of neglect in a permanently crooked stick), it will influence how it feels. The wideness of the hair ribbon influences how the bow feels. So that begs the questions: how to judge the quality of bows and what is a good rehair? A good rehair is one that looks and functions in a way that the repairman intended, and that is repeatable. A rehairer that cannot reproduce his own work, or alter it in a way that the costumer desires (if the demands are reasonable), is not in command of his craft yet. However, the costumer has to understand that if there is a shoddy piece of hair on the bow, the characteristics of that ribbon cannot be relieably reproduced, because you cannot measure everything and reproduce it faithfully, in such a case. The bow stick is easier to reproduce, as it is measurable to a much greater extent (although it is a costly thing to do!). 

A standard rehair should look something like this. A good ribbon is one that is as close as possible to uniformly wide from tip to bow. Mostly the hair should just about relax when the frog is a its "shortest possible" position, as most bows work better with a slightly shorter ribbon of hair. In most cases, a slight amount of extra hair on the playing side is preferential, but not so much that it would cause the bow to bend. The hair strands should run perfectly parallel and not cross other hairs. The hair strands should be as similar in length as possible, so that when the ribbon is relaxed all hair is similarly loose. Most of these can be somewhat changed according to the preference of the player and the particular bow. However some off standard factors cannot be reproduced faithfully. If a player prefers hair strands that do not run paralell, that would be one, for instance. Or of a player for some reason prefers uneven length of hair strands, that is also not reproduceable as it was before. Or if a strangely shaped plug was used, that is often not well reproducable.

Your rehairer wasn't instructed by you to make the hair ribbon less wide at the tip than at the frog, in fact, you specified that you would like it to be spread as widely as possible. The preference for the strange plug is not reproducable, so your rehairer cannot be blaimed for that. But the wide spread of the hair should be reproducable (especially as that is how a bow should be, standard. Look at the ribbon of hair in this video), and your rehairers ignoring this preference makes me suspect he is not a master of the craft yet. It makes no sense to talk to him about it, since complaining will not make him a better craftsman. Find someone else.

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15 hours ago, David Burgess said:

 

To me, both of the above seem like good responses.

One does occasionally get some "nut-job" players. When I was working in the Weisshaar shop, these tended to be "Las Vegas show" musicians. How could one get much further from reality than by living and working in a Las Vegas tourist hotel/casino?

I agree with David on most of this. You are in a very difficult situation where you live (SE Asia) in that most US or European dealers probably won't want to send bows out for approval, due to shipping, customs, and other issues. I'm also going to speculate that even with your favorite bow, you might be difficult to please when it come time to rehair the bow.  You should probably suck it up and learn to play better with the bow that you have, at least until you find a better bow to use, or a better archetier to work with.

I do know a really good violinist who was making a very good living doing shows with Lady Gaga in Las Vegas until this Covid thing hit.

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Many good points really and I agree wholeheartedly. It's always a two sided thing, on one hand luthier had to be competent and on the other, players need to know what's reasonable.

My luthier was a good person and he definitely has the chop to do his job. So with that in mind, I always be mindful not to cross his line. And he seem highly dedicated to his craft. So I compromised my part to stay in good relationship, for example, suck it up and get used to the new bridge and new setup (which my luthier expressed to me about his new concept, which other players of higher status preferred). I do use a backup cheap $30 student bow which I found played very well and free of nerve throughout the stick and it does well everything I throw at it. However it just doesn't have the sound purity, and that "hugging the string" feeling of a well made bow, and doesn't give me the tone color shadings that corresponds to different bowing techniques.

I'm supposed it's like buying a sports car, and need to be serviced by a person or workshop who know the sports car well, and tune it to keep it at optimum performance. But now the car drives drastically different than how it was new. And all I got was - this is how it supposed to be, I felt a great sense of "it's your problem" behind the words.

And my respond to this? I'll just sell it off and drive a sedan and be happy with it. Cheaper maintenance, not fiddly to service. Well, when I think about it, it's not all that bad. Not like I'm a great driver in demand and relying on high performance tool to earn a living. And it doesn't take a Schumacher to drive a sedan well.

I guess I'm in the "nut-job" camp of players. When I'll have to arrive to this conclusion, really I felt relieved. Then I know what I'm supposed to do and not supposed to do. :) I guess that's life. Don't play a game that frustrate our self.

PS: Then again, despite all the frustrations, I still have a lot of respect to my luthier. When his works resonate my requests, it was just wonderful. And outside of the workshop, he's actually my old friend that I know long before he became a luthier. I don't carry my emotion along in our friendship. So it's time for me to move on to something else.

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2 hours ago, baroquecello said:

This is what I was thinking. I'm quite sure it doesn't have to do with the plug, but it probably has to do with the hair and the way it is tensioned. If the hair is longer, the bow will have more bounce because both the stick and the hair length add elasticity. If there is more or less hair than before, it will influence how the bow feels. If there is more hair on one side than on the other side (often a little more hair is put on the side which is tilted towards the string, because that hair tends to break and wear out faster, resulting in worst case of neglect in a permanently crooked stick), it will influence how it feels. The wideness of the hair ribbon influences how the bow feels. So that begs the questions: how to judge the quality of bows and what is a good rehair? A good rehair is one that looks and functions in a way that the repairman intended, and that is repeatable. A rehairer that cannot reproduce his own work, or alter it in a way that the costumer desires (if the demands are reasonable), is not in command of his craft yet. However, the costumer has to understand that if there is a shoddy piece of hair on the bow, the characteristics of that ribbon cannot be relieably reproduced, because you cannot measure everything and reproduce it faithfully, in such a case. The bow stick is easier to reproduce, as it is measurable to a much greater extent (although it is a costly thing to do!). 

A standard rehair should look something like this. A good ribbon is one that is as close as possible to uniformly wide from tip to bow. Mostly the hair should just about relax when the frog is a its "shortest possible" position, as most bows work better with a slightly shorter ribbon of hair. In most cases, a slight amount of extra hair on the playing side is preferential, but not so much that it would cause the bow to bend. The hair strands should run perfectly parallel and not cross other hairs. The hair strands should be as similar in length as possible, so that when the ribbon is relaxed all hair is similarly loose. Most of these can be somewhat changed according to the preference of the player and the particular bow. However some off standard factors cannot be reproduced faithfully. If a player prefers hair strands that do not run paralell, that would be one, for instance. Or of a player for some reason prefers uneven length of hair strands, that is also not reproduceable as it was before. Or if a strangely shaped plug was used, that is often not well reproducable.

Your rehairer wasn't instructed by you to make the hair ribbon less wide at the tip than at the frog, in fact, you specified that you would like it to be spread as widely as possible. The preference for the strange plug is not reproducable, so your rehairer cannot be blaimed for that. But the wide spread of the hair should be reproducable (especially as that is how a bow should be, standard. Look at the ribbon of hair in this video), and your rehairers ignoring this preference makes me suspect he is not a master of the craft yet. It makes no sense to talk to him about it, since complaining will not make him a better craftsman. Find someone else.

Thought I'll reply to this in a separate post. The plug was still available for inspection when I handed the bow to my friend. And he was actually aware of the unique bow hair distribution which he actually contacted the maker.

He might has his own reasons. I'm tired of expressive my feelings. I decided to step out of this dilemma for a while and come back again somewhere in the future. Thanks again for sharing your experiences!

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