From Christian Smith
Posted August 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I use four bows in rotation at present. So, with me, it's every 6-9 months per bow. If I used any one of them day after day, week after week, I'd get it re-haired after about 3 months. I practice and play about 3 hours a day.
Worn bow hairs are just one possible culprit. Worn strings, besides degrading your overall tone and response, can reduce traction and compound the problem of slippage that you get with worn hairs.
Steps I use in hair care:
1. Use an old tooth brush to remove excess, melted-in rosin and separate individual hairs from each other. I first brush the hair from underneath (stick side), then from above. Re-rosin.
2. If that didn't work well enough, you can clean the hair with alcohol, this will remove most of the old rosin. BUT it is important to remove all the alcohol each time you apply it so as to remove the dissolved rosin. I use the alcohol pads sold in drug stores for about $2/100. They contain enough alcohol to do the job and not so much as to drip it anywhere. It takes me about 8 swipes of the alcohol pad (one from each side of a pad - so that's 4 pads I use (less than 10 cents worth). I grasp the hair ribbon with the pad (folded so it will do this) and move the entire length of the hair; then I wipe it drier with a clean cotton cloth, fold the pad the other way and repeat the alcohol cleaning. Let the hair dry thoroughly so it is not cool to the touch of the back of your hand before applying fresh rosin.
3. If that hasn't worked you can "shampoo" the hair with dish detergent - but be absolutely certain not to wet the wedges that hold the hair in the tip and frog. I wrap those ends of the bow in plastic wrap. I remove the frog from from the stick before starting to wash the hair carefully in a bowl of detergenty (soapy) water. Then rinse and let dry completely before re-rosining.
4. If you are still not happy with your bow, get it re-haired. But note that you have not lost anything by going through this do-it-yourself exercise - and you might just save $50 this year.
I use Isopropanol alcohol though, +90%. Rosin will adhere to bow hair and fingers, but it will not adhere to old dried up rosin. A build-up of old rosin will give you a harsh sound with a weak grip(slips).
Keep the violin in the case while you do this.
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