Bow varnish and - you guessed it - sweat!

August 16, 2018, 8:42 AM · On all my bows, there's a dark splotch under the place where my hand sits above the frog. How they got there isn't exactly a mystery.
Regardless, my sweat seems to mature the varnish on my bows without making it look crusty. Keeps the chatoyance but made my favourite bow go from slightly-old-orange-peel to vintage chestnut, and I quite like the colour. I just wish the entire bow was the same.
This got me thinking about darkening varnishes without glazes. Perhaps a dilute solution of lemon juice and saltwater? But it would surely go all splotchy. And it may not even work on other types of varnish.
(I'm not about to try this on my main bow. It took me a month to pay it off...)


Replies (8)

Edited: August 16, 2018, 8:59 AM · Cotton, are you related to Darlene Roth? Just wondering.

How many bows do you have? Why do violin beginners feel the need to go out and buy three or four violins and half a dozen bows? Just rent the equipment until you reach a reasonable playing level such that you can, in consultation with your teacher, select one violin and one bow that will meet your needs for the next few years.

"It took me a month to pay off." From what, your allowance? Babysitting money? Wait till you have a 30-year mortgage.

Please don't go anywhere near your equipment with "lemon juice and salt water." As a chemist, I'm advising you that these kinds of mixtures can be surprisingly corrosive. The various materials of the typical frog may be irreversibly damaged thereby.

August 16, 2018, 9:40 AM · A month of stapling shingles, actually.
I have two bows and a brazilwood stick I got many years ago with my first rental, and I'm no beginner. Eh, but there's no need to argue on the internet.

August 16, 2018, 7:45 PM · Maybe you can mix some urea in too ;)
August 16, 2018, 8:08 PM · Are there three types of finishes? Oil and spirit varnish and French polish?
August 16, 2018, 9:13 PM · If there is a finish on the bow, usually just shellac, nothing will really have an effect or look splotchy where it has worn away. Bow makers use various chemicals and UV to alter the color of the stick, we stay away from violin type varnishes. What is happening is a natural part of the bows wear and on fine bows is cleaned, sealed, and restored to original appearance. But like a violin, if you wear out some varnish by naturally handling it, and say you like the way it looks underneath, doesn't' mean you should purposefully deface and devalue the rest of the instrument. Doesn't matter the value of the bow, its generally not recommend and isn't looked kindly on.
August 16, 2018, 9:29 PM · Ok sorry if I said you're a beginner. Its just that your profile doesnt offer any description, and I've not known intermediate or advanced players to ask about salting their bows.
August 16, 2018, 9:31 PM · Just get a carbon fiber bow. Problem solved. :)
August 17, 2018, 12:50 PM · I have had a leather put on my valuable bows that goes over the brand and protects it from wear and perspiration.

Carbon fiber would solve the whole issue, I agree.

When one asks for people's thoughts, one gives up all control over exactly which thoughts may be shared. :-) My thoughts were very similar to Paul's except that I'm not a chemist and therefore not equipped to offer as much in the way of science to back up my alarm at the thought of lemon juice or salt water anywhere near my bow.

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