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I am an advanced (post grade-8) violin student and I have had my bow for about 3 years. I've been playing intense pieces and although I have lost some hair, the density of the bow is still really good. My problem is that it seems to be getting slippery. No matter how much rosin I put on it, it doesn't 'bite' like it used to, making it hard to play ricochet etc.. Could this be a sign that I need to replace it?

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It might be. They do wear out in different ways. The wood could get worn out and leave it impossible to get the bow tension right. In this case it sounds like your bow hair is worn out. If your bow is expensive then you can get it re-haired. That isn’t an operation you want to do yourself but any luthier should be able to do it. You can check a music shop or your teacher for a reference to one in your area. If you have a really cheap bow then you can probably just replace it. After grade 8 it might be time to invest in the sort of bow you would re-hair rather than replace.

  • The wood is very unlikely to be "worn out" in a bow three years old. – Scott Wallace Dec 26 '17 at 18:38
  • I didn’t mean that his bow wood would be worn out. I meant that is a way in which a violin bow could wear out. – xerotolerant Dec 27 '17 at 0:41
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    Well, actually, unless the wood is worn away, for instance at the mortice for the frog eyelet, or from the thumb, bow wood doesn't "wear out". It does lose its camber, but that can be restored. I've worked on a number of original Baroque bows that were at least as good as any modern copies after being recambered. – Scott Wallace Dec 27 '17 at 17:16
  • Cool. I was thinking about my young students who constantly forget to loosen their bow after playing, their bows lose springyness. Is that what camber means? – xerotolerant Dec 27 '17 at 19:14
  • Bows do lose their bend eventually, due to being under tension (whether when being played or just lying around still tight). But the wood doesn't lose its springiness: it's just as stiff, just not as bent. Bows can be rebent, though. – Scott Wallace Dec 28 '17 at 15:57

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