I,m NOT losing my hair !

I,m NOT losing my hair !

I see loads of very good fiddle players with the ends of their bows looking like a hair factory, but I have NEVER ever had a hair break while playing ! That,s been for about 35 yrs. Also never had a banjo string break while playing, and that,s been over 50 yrs. Now in late 70,s and wondering if I,m doing something wrong :(

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

What? Never? Surely all bow hair must break eventually? I currently have about 3 hairs left on my favourite bow (*slight* exaggeration) but that’s because I hate to go without it while it gets operated on. Also I really work my bow hard. It’s a long time since I’ve had a string snap while I was playing (on any instrument), but then I change them regularly. They are most prone to snapping when you put them on and they are new, not when you are playing.

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Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

You’re obviously not being rough enough with your bow! 🙂 I’ll break like 1 or 2 hairs, usually because I manage to catch them on either the "Swiss button" bow holder in the case, or on a corner of the fiddle. I still have my heavy old student bow with its’ original hair from 30+ years ago. I rarely need to rehair—maybe because I have 7 or 8 bows and I switch them out a lot?. I’ve seen bluegrassers who manage to saw through a bow in a week—dunno how they do it. Maybe they nick the hair with a razor blade, so it’ll look impressive when they play "Orange Blossom" and half the hairs break. The local "pro shop" guys around here charge upwards of $60 to do a rehair, and I can think of better ways to spend that money. Full disclosure: I am capable of doing my own rehairs, just a bit out of practice. 🙂

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

I mainly lose bow hairs when I catch the bow on something, like one of the fine tuners or the bow holder in my fiddle case - or when another player uses my bow.

My taking up the fiddle corresponded roughly with when I developed a significant bald patch on my head. It’s good to have something that can be re-haired.

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

Have had loads of hairs break off my fiddle. Have v thick head hair and tend to feel the odd "hair loss" is not significant. (I think problem with bow may be that I do not loosen it after playing - which I know you are supposed to do).

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

@Susan K: I don’t know that leaving your bow tensioned will necessarily increase the likelihood of breaking hairs. But it will cause the hair to become permanently stretched, so that you need to keep adding more tension at the frog to get the hair up to playing tension; eventually, the frog will reach the end of its travel and you won’t be able to get enough tension on the hair. This happens with normal use over time anyway, but if you slacken off the bow, it allows the hair to shrink back towards its unstretched length, prolonging the useful life of the hair.

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

Some years ago, while visiting my brother in Connecticut, I spied an erhu among his massive clutter of oddball instruments - all of which he had learned to play at one time or another. He was studying pipa with a teacher in Queens, New York at the time. He suggested I keep the erhu, as he had another. I was studying violin with a teacher in northeastern New Jersey at the time.

I tried applying the instrument to ITM but soon decided I might never play it will enough to keep it from sounding odd in session. I set it aside.

About a half year later, I pulled it out of the corner of my music room where I had propped it, and the bow hair had all detached from one end of the bow.

Dermestids were the culprit. They must have come with the bow, I suspect, as we never had a similar problem with two violin bows in the house.

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

I broke a hair every time I played until I sprayed my case with permethrin and vacuumed every nook and cranny.

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

@Barry Morse: It’s more likely that they came from your carpet. They wouldn’t live on a bow in daylight. Bow/carpet mites live in dark places and hate daylight. Bows only normally get eaten if they are left in an unopened case for long periods. They are never a problem if you take your bow out and play regularly, and the cure for an infested case is simply to leave it open in daylight for a couple of days.

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

Just a hint got recently from an 80 year old fiddler in fact re cleaning the fiddle. Rub it with half a brazil nut. I mention this in case folk are enjoying mixed nuts at Xmas.

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

Susan, do you mean the actual fiddle or the strings? I wouldn’t be rubbing a Brazil ‘seed’ on my fiddle body. Sometimes I run a cork along my strings to keep take the rosin off.

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Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

Well Mr John Smith (NZ/Unst) rubbed half brazil nut on the body of his violin. He sad the nut oil was good for the wood - he’d an 18th C German fiddle.

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

I don’t really have anything to add to this thread since I’ve never broken a string either, except to say Manitas de Merde is my new favorite nom de guerre on this web page. Hilarious!

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

I tried the brazil nut thing, couldn’t get a decent tone. I’ve gone back to using a bow.
I lost my hair decades ago.

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Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

I’ve read that Brazil seed oil is/was commonly used as a lubricant in clockworks. However, I am certain it would be highly filtered to remove those parts of the oil that could cause a particulate buildup or harden with age. I’m just trying to think through the idea from engineering first principles. I cannot imagine why the varnished body of a violin would need lubrication. I can, however, imagine oil compromising and eventually worsening any existing separation in a glue seam and reducing the effectiveness of repair. I can imagine how rubbing oil on the surface might do a mediocre job of cleaning skin cells and oils and other dirt and grime from the varnish finish, and then make it glisten to mask whatever might be left behind. I can also imagine the impure oil eventually becoming rancid and giving off an unpleasant odor. I wouldn’t, personally, want my instrument case smelling of rancid oil.

And I wouldn’t touch my bow or the strings after handling either the nut or my oiled violin.

My opinion: oil would be a bad idea.

There are dozens of carefully crafted, commercially available violin cleaning compounds that will not leave your instrument in worse shape than when you started.

Re: I,m NOT losing my hair !

Mark M, regarding the source of the bow bugs: Thanks, but no carpets here - just shiny, new wood floors. My first post mentioned the "massive clutter of oddball instruments" from whence I plucked the erhu. I meant that literally. My brother was an instrument "gatherer" who bought many of his instruments at rural antique barn shops and yard sales.