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Dark horsehair bows?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (19 votes) 
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stringy
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January 10, 2024 - 3:00 pm
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You can buy Mongolian black horse hair for about ten quid, when you have your bow repaired. It's supposed to last longer than white hair and gives a stronger tone. Don't know if I would dye normal bow hair it may affect the uptake of rosin, who knows.

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ABitRusty
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January 10, 2024 - 3:58 pm
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thanks @stringy !

I wonder if the colored hair bows use fiberglass. maybe?  or some other type synthetic

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ELCBK
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January 10, 2024 - 4:50 pm
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Horse hair naturally occurs in a myriad of colors & a range of textures - thick to thin & straight to wavy!  One horse can even have a blend/mix of different color strands in mane & tail hair.  I'm sure the 'white' hair thing came about historically more because of fashion (white wigs?) & visual consistency.  

From what I've read, black hair is supposed to be more coarse - but jeez, maybe I should take a photo of the GIANT range of hair size on some of my WHITE hair bows! 

When folks speak of a heavier, thicker, 'coat' of hair on an animal - they are speaking 'amount' of hair.  What climate a horse lives in has more to do with the amount of hair produced, not quality.  QUALITY comes from genetics, health and nutrition!  I think consistency in thickness, from end-to-end & strand-to-strand, is what I would look for. 

I found a site (not naming) that carries SIX different qualities/colors of horse bow hair - 2 are mixed color, one is a coarse light color (they recommend for Cellists)!  I LOVE BLACK HAIR, but they claim coarser hair produces more bow 'noise'.  🤔... when I first started playing, I remember thinking "how do I get rid of THAT?"  BUT, when recording, I soon learned that any bow noise 'I' hear is NOT picked up by my phone. 

Anyway, I've read Bass players love black bow hair, but I'm sure ANY 'coarse' hair would hold up well against those large strings.  Bass players want to look cool, too!

The silk & wool (animal protein fiber) dying industry has a VERY long history of research/development & info available.  Some colorants 'coat' & some create a molecular 'bond' (like reactive dyes). 

I used to notice my own hair (on my head) did feel thicker after I dyed it.  Of course we've also been made to believe that oils & conditioners are needed for healthy looking/feeling hair - which would be disastrous on bow hair!!!

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stringy
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January 10, 2024 - 4:59 pm
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One of the horses my missus had would have made a nice coloured bow hair, it was part Arab and the tail was a golden browny colour, very attractive.

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ELCBK
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January 10, 2024 - 5:58 pm
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I think more natural colors should be accepted/offered! 

The beautiful range of sorrel to brown & darker grey, maybe a blend - would ALL look fabulous being played on wood instruments!  Hard to believe other colors are unusable.  I'd MUCH rather have a blend of color strands, especially if it means I could have better overall consistency in thickness & quality. 

...off white or light grey shades can appear dirty. 

b1cbeac6e093b19590eaf74e01314925.jpgImage Enlarger🤔... kinda funny.  True 'white' horses are rare, so how many 'kinda white' herds are there in Mongolia & Siberia?  Siberian Yakut horses (photo) have a mix of light & dark manes & tails.  I just find it odd I hardly ever see any white horses in photos of Mongolian herds.  Be nice to actually see some herds that bow hair comes from.

Btw, EIGHT specific breeds are bred for WHITE color, even though some are dark at birth: Lipizzan, Shagya Arabian, Boulonnais, Camargue, Connemara.  Percheron, are known for being dapple-grey, but many have white mane/tail & their coats can get white with age.  Doubt any would want to part with their horse's beautiful hair... unless it's fashion or for work, like how some draft & coach horses sport very short braided buns'. 🤣 

My point - think there's MUCH more potentially great DARKER hair than white!  

Some breeds are known for exceptionally luxuriant long manes & tails... what I'd give to have my bow rehaired with black Friesian or Andalusian tail hair! 

38bef0ab306f470307712c9a11b4b73e.gif

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ELCBK
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January 28, 2024 - 12:20 am
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@Fiddlerman -

Geez, 🤭 seems like it's only been a couple weeks since I was talking about wanting to try black bow hair!

 

WOO HOO!  YOU LISTEN & DELIVER!!!  

 

New at Fiddlershop!  

Fiddlerman 'Noir' Carbon Fiber Violin Bow 

 

I can't wait to try one!

...very exciting - you are THE BEST! 
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Strabo
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January 28, 2024 - 7:08 am
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Hair color for cosmetic purposes doesn’t mean much to me, but I am interested in the potentially different paying properties of light vs dark hair. I have two identical carbon fiber bows so I could have simple A vs B comparison.

But I wonder: How does one judge the quality of hair when re-hairing a bow? I certainly do not have the technical expertise to assess hair, nor do I have the necessary skills top re-hair a bow myself. So I must rely on the guidance of the person or shop who re-hairs my bow.

How can I approach this as a knowledgeable consumer?

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ELCBK
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January 30, 2024 - 11:34 pm
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@Strabo -

I, of course have absolutely no expertise, so I can only surmise that consistency, from one hair to the next AND from one end of a hair to the other end, would be a good thing - no matter what color the hair is.  

In the new Fiddlerman 'Noir' Carbon Fiber Violin Bow description: 

The Noir edition of the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Bow features premium black Siberian horse hair, offering a coarser texture for enhanced grip and articulation. 

The photo provided at Fiddlershop looks good & I like Fiddlerman CF bows, so I was going to wait to try one the next time I place an order.  For the price, it's a good idea for me to try out black hair this way, before I think of getting my good (expensive) bow rehaired. 

...think I'll just go order now. 🤗

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Strabo
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Yes, I find that I am quite incompetent when it comes to rehairing a bow. This thread has been quite helpful in expanding my knowledge about bow hair. But I still have no idea of how to get my bows rehaired in ways that will best help my fiddling.

I do believe that I have gained some competence is selecting a violin or a bow. It has taken numerous attempts and trials, but I’m happy with what I have. Crappy equipment can get in the way of learning and making progress so it’s important to have good stuff. I do have two bows that I like very much.

Rehairing is apparently not something that is easy to experiment with -- nor is it needed very frequently -- so I won’t worry about this too much. I guess maybe I’ll just focus on... practicing and playing!

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Fiddlerman
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February 1, 2024 - 12:56 pm
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ELCBK said
@Fiddlerman -

Geez, 🤭 seems like it's only been a couple weeks since I was talking about wanting to try black bow hair!

WOO HOO!  YOU LISTEN & DELIVER!!!  

New at Fiddlershop!  

Fiddlerman 'Noir' Carbon Fiber Violin Bow 

I can't wait to try one!

...very exciting - you are THE BEST! 

Honestly, I LOVE playing with black horse hair. I used to have it even when I was a concertmaster in Gavleborg Symfoniorkester and a short while during my 16 years as a section leader in Malmö Symfoniorkester.

Don't know why I even stopped but the grab is so nice.
About 3 months ago I had our logistics manager order FM bows with black hair and when we tested them we had huge smiles on our faces.
Not to mention it looks real bad a$$.....

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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ELCBK
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Oh man, my bow arrived this evening! 

It was so beautiful shiny BLACK hair & I had to go mess it up with rosin. 

...took me a while to get it to room temp, but jeez I forgot how long it takes to rosin a brand new, bare naked bow!  Even my Arcus had rosin on it when I got it. 

Don't know if the rosin will end up working thru all the hair, but for right now the hair is still shiny black on the stick side! 😁

Okay, I know my Arcus needs a rehair, but dang. 

🤔... finding I'm playing a little differently

- this is REALLY INTERESTING!!! 

I LIKE IT!!! 

 

I need to add a little tape to thicken the edge of the thumb pad near the frog (like I do all my bows), but all in all I think I'm going to have A LOT OF FUN with this bow!  ...haven't tried it with my amp & fx yet, but it definitely feels ALIVE!

Think I'll clean up one of my other Fiddlerman bows & apply the same rosin, so I can do a good comparison. 

7a9d7f33b1c4122fa302a997f2fa91bd.png

 

I think this new Fiddlerman bow growled at me! 

WOO HOO!

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Strabo
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February 3, 2024 - 6:03 am
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OK, I’ll give it a try!

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ELCBK
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giphy.gif

I got some extremely satisfying practice in last night with the new Fiddlerman Noir Black Hair Bow

The more I play with it, the more I'm impressed!  

A few more thoughts...

I was afraid it might make too much bow noise... and I think it can, depending on how 'you' use your bow.  BUT, I have found it IS possible to get some really fabulous sound WITH NO NOISE from this bow! 

I would definitely recommend this bow to anyone who wants to improve their bowing!  The Black Hair DOES make a big difference!

This bow allows some amazing response with an extremely light touch - EVEN ON MY LOW F STRING!  Things have been hectic, but I'm going to have to make a recording with this bow.  Think I forgot to mention the 'Noir' definitely feels a little lighter than my other Fiddlerman bows... maybe I just got lucky (haven't weighed it yet).

I've worked a lot on bow pressure changes and attack this past year, for expression & speed.  One problem I've had to watch for, while trying to play fast & clean (before I got this 'Noir' bow), is not 'catching' some quick notes well enough to fully sound - this new bow has pretty much eliminated this issue!

Fiddlerman bows are balanced to be a little heavier at the tip than my Arcus, but no more than Codabows I've tried - didn't take me long to get used to.

I would definitely suggest anyone playing a VIOLA, playing with a heavy Viola bow, consider this 'NOIR' VIOLIN bow!  It is a very different experience!  We are taught 'weight' is needed on low strings for good sound - but if lower strings are more easily activated, this may not be necessary (at least less weight). 

I'm now able to activate low strings just by more bow hair contact (not tilting the bow)!   ...well, at least MUCH less weight than I used to use.

My bowing arm, hand, wrist & fingers ALL LOVE this relief - and I don't have any feeling that I need to compensate for anything by over-pressing with my LH fingers on the fingerboard. 

24134de4a5bfdb25df4d9b011b691ef1.jpg

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Mouse
February 5, 2024 - 12:26 pm
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Interesting, I just typed up a reply and posted it, it did not post, even though it said it did. Oh well. Not going through it all again, but the Black Siberian Horse hair is coarser than the white, therefore, more grip. More often used for bass and cello bows because of that, but mostly bass bows.

The coarseness of the hair, supposedly, gives it a grittier sound. 

I saw a bow with half black and half the silkier white, salt and pepper ( I think). He tilts it back and forth when playing, depending on what the piece being played needs. It was neat. 

If it was a cello bow, I would get it, maybe. Not sure I want a grittier sound. I don't need the added volume or grip on my violin bow, so that is a no go for me.

🐭

The Bumblebee Flies!

Please ignore any typos. My typing ability on a real typewriter did not transfer to these device key pads.

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Mouse
February 5, 2024 - 3:05 pm
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Why?

The Bumblebee Flies!

Please ignore any typos. My typing ability on a real typewriter did not transfer to these device key pads.

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ELCBK
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I can only say I'm really glad I left myself open to possibilities.  The Fiddlerman 'Noir' with black hair is proving to be a combination I've been searching for. 

I believe the 'Noir' is great for someone who wants something 'MORE' from a lightweight bow - especially quicker response from lower strings & expanded range of tonal color.

No bow is perfect for everyone, but since I can get a soft, smooth, noiseless legato out of this bow - I have to believe anyone can... but there's more to bowing than just legato. 

Okay, I'm even more obsessed with this bow's amazing range of characteristics, today.  It's been very frustrating for me to attempt decent sounding chops with my other bows - this bow has come to my rescue!  Now, I feel it's finally worthwhile for me to pursue/practice these percussive effects. 🤗

I usually blow off reviews, but I'm impressed enough with this bow I just left one at Fiddlershop (may not show up for a couple days). 

 

Now, has anyone ever paid more for the 'extra good' grade of quality WHITE bow hair??? 

I'm curious about the difference vs a standard grade.  

...I'd like like more info before choosing new hair for my Arcus.

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ABitRusty
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February 6, 2024 - 5:15 pm
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I think if anyone is in the market for a new bow, this one is worth a look after your experiences have been posted.   how do you feel youre deciding on what bow to use?   Is there a particular type tune youd rather play on the arcus vs the noir?  

I wonder why the big bow makers...Arcus, Codabow, jean Paul..etc dont offer the black hair as an option.   My only guesses are supply and possibly perceptions.   idk.  have no idea

what rosin and type are you using with it?  dark seems like a cosmetic choice but then that may be overkill on bite.

 

Now, has anyone ever paid more for the 'extra good' grade of quality WHITE bow hair??? 

IDK.. I paid about 100.00 with tax for my last rehair.  All I know is it made a difference and the bow was new again.

Im going to send mine back to codabow next time though and not because of the following statement, just because its about the same price and Ive liked dealing with them.  Plus its a codabow so sending back to them to rehair and checkout seems logical.

  Ive heard HEARD as in gossip from a local player.. that maybe the better hair is in high demand short supply right now.  could be a local problem with the particular store and their supplier though.  maybe @fiddlerman has an answer for those questions.

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ELCBK
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February 6, 2024 - 10:36 pm
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@ABitRusty - 

I wonder how many students, even after playing for a few years, just want something easy/safe they can rely on in a bow - something VERY forgiving.  ...and besides, how many school orchestras would allow a odd colored violin or bow hair?  I think the Big Name Bow makers look to cover the greatest range of students, especially intermediate students & maybe more Orchestra professionals.  Do professional Fiddlers go more for handmade bows?  ...idk.

Not sure about the 'Noir' for early beginners, on the plus side - bow might not slip around so easily.  I'd like to think that starting with a bow like this might help beginners to not only become more aware of the bow & bowing, maybe help foster earlier progress.  

I like Fiddlerman bows - they're great for the price... and this 'Noir' with black hair is definitely not a one-trick-pony!  I kinda assumed there might only be a few types of music I'd want to use this bow for, but after these past few days of getting acquainted, I've used & liked it for all the different kinds of music I play!  Btw, I'm not even using my favorite strings on my new 6-string fiddle, yet!  ...I'm sure I'll be even happier with the sound when I get back to Rondos!

About my Arcus P5 - I searched quite a bit for a stick like my Arcus, it has the balance & wonderful subtleties I like, so I didn't waste my money, but I NEVER liked the hair that came on it. 

🤣 Even 'Dark' rosin turns up white as powder on the hair.  The rosin I've been using for a while now is "Lonesome Pine Original" - it's medium & I absolutely LOVE it!  ...helped my Arcus hair tremendously & I like it on the Noir, but when the humidity starts rising in a few months - I think I might be able to finally use the 'Light' version.  Got a great little mini sample set of those plus 'Dark' (never even needed the Dark for my Viola)... but yeah, the powdered rosin is working it's way up thru the hair, looking dark grey now - no more shiny black. 😔

  • I like that the Fiddlerman Noir & my Arcus P5 are both lively. 
  • They both took an effort on my part to learn to relax enough so they don't bounce, plus I explored to see what limits of sound & response I could get. 
  • The Noir stick is not as stiff as the Arcus - but I have more 'power', with MUCH less arm weight & less 'digging in', on the Noir. 
  • I prefer the balance of my Arcus (more toward the frog) and I think it is slightly lighter than the Noir.
  • I'd like to have a lighter hand on the Arcus without it being wispy and I'm now thinking black hair may make this possible.  
  • Different thinking between the 2 bows with different hair - the Arcus is 'where do I apply weight', the Noir is 'where do I lighten my hand'.  

Jeez, still trying to find out what qualities make 'the best' violin bow hair & it's worse than pulling teeth...it's like it's a secret - for freemasons or someone other than violinists/fiddlers!  

Here's a video I found about how horse hair is prepared for bows, but it's not really about Black hair.  Haven't seen it posted elsewhere on the forum.

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Strabo
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February 7, 2024 - 7:46 am
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I have found the purchasing process in the violin world to be challenging (also interesting). Violins and bows are best evaluated in person but violin shops are nowhere near as common as, say, guitar shops. Buying remotely is always something of a stop-start process, though most vendors offer reasonable return policies (Fiddlershop is excellent in this respect).

Rehairing seems to be a significantly more obscure process. Reading this thread makes me think that I am not alone in my general ignorance of violin hair and rehairing, i.e., I’m a poorly informed consumer. I do not have a very accurate or reliable method to determine when exactly my bow will need rehairing. (I did have a bow repaired last year, but that was after multiple cycles of cleaning and testing rosins to minimize allergic reactions. I figured that those poor bow hairs had suffered enough!)

On the vendor side, rehairing services are not marketed as clearly or vigorously as instrument and bow sales. Testing various grades of hair doesn’t seem to be prominently discussed. I did find one shop that offers various types of hair, and they have samples that one can try before buying. But they are located in Vermont and New Hampshire. My chances of getting there are zero, nil, nada -- ain’t gonna happen.

So I guess I just need to be a better consumer: When it’s rehairing time, talk to potential vendors, ask about different grades of hair, possibly test samples on my fiddle. Try to be as discriminating about the hair as I am about instruments, bows and strings.

And this is potentially important. It is the hair that contacts the string to produce the sound -- we all know how bad our instruments sound when the bow has insufficient rosin. So the hair is as important as the tires on your car: bad tires can easily produce terrible consequences. It makes obvious sense to have good hair on the bow.

And finally, perhaps I should view this positively: Rehairing is just one more unexpected and delightful complexity in the weird and wonderful world of the violin!

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Gordon Shumway
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In the UK rehairing costs the equivalent of about 100USD, so if your bow costs less than that, it isn't worth rehairing, financially - you just buy a new bow, although resource wastage is a different question. And some rehairers may have a minimum value of  bow that they will rehair, so it may be difficult to get black hair put on a cheap bow just for the fun of it. Obviously this doesn't affect those of you who have progressed onto Arcus etc. But none of my bows is anywhere near needing a rehair.

Andrew

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