Old rosin need to be removed when using new rosin

July 27, 2019, 6:49 AM · Do you need to remove the old rosin on the bow bakes before using new rosin? If so, how do you remove the rosin on the bow?

Replies (13)

Edited: July 27, 2019, 7:30 AM · You do not NEED to remove old rosin. However, if you want to assess the efficacy of the new rosin more accurately removing the old rosin will help.

How do you remove the old rosin?
1. Wiping off as much as possible with a microfiber cloth is probably sufficient.

2. Dissolving or washing old rosin off the bow hair either with detergent and water or with alcohol is possible.

2.a. Water/detergent washing can be risky because care must be taken to avoid any water getting into the tip or frog where the hair is held in place with wooden wedges.

2.b. I have cleaned old rosin off bow hair for at least the past 20 years with no problems. I use the alcohol dampened pads sold in drug stores for wiping injection sites on skin because the do not drip alcohol that might mess things up. I use both sides of each pad, grasping the hair ribbon between the folded pad and moving the pad along the hair once from frog to tip and IMMEDIATELY wiping the dissolved rosin off the hair with a clean, dry cotton cloth. Then I repeat the process with the same pad folded over the other way - and dry again. I do this with 4 pads - thus 8 swipes of the bow hair. That has always seemed to be sufficient so that by the final wipes the yellow of the dissolved rosin no longer appears on the pad or the drying cloth. This does not remove all the old rosin but it does remove enough rosin that the hair must be re-rosined for proper function. Be certain the hair is completely dry before re-rosining - check the hair temperature by touching it to the back of your hand - when it no longer feels cold it is safe to re-rosin.

Some people who claim to know better have said alcohol dries the hair. But the hair seems to disagree.

July 27, 2019, 9:01 AM · I think I should just play with my bow until the old rosin is used up?
July 27, 2019, 9:47 AM · Just put the new stuff on it and don't bother with cleaning the hair or similar shenanigans.

It's tree sap.

July 27, 2019, 10:40 AM · I'm trying to figure out what "the bow bakes" means.
Edited: July 27, 2019, 10:45 AM · I'm of the view that if it's the same price, it's the same rosin. Consequently, my bow has about 5 different rosins on it. I'm veering from dark to amber.
If I wanted to switch to Leatherwood, I'd wait for a rehair.
July 27, 2019, 11:55 AM · You can switch to your new fiendishly expensive rosin now. It will gradually displace the rosin already on your bow, or you can clean your bow hair in the manner that Andrew has described.
July 27, 2019, 12:19 PM · If you do choose to use alcohol, be sure to use enough. Insufficient cleaning with alcohol may result in a glaze of melted rosin that I believe is a source of unwanted bow noise (hissing sound) and loss of good tone. Better cleaning, or a rehair if necessary, is the way to resolve this. From my experience, I would say that cleaning with alcohol is a stopgap on the way to a rehair.
July 27, 2019, 1:09 PM · I like what you say, Charles. Indeed my teacher has said that when she was a student, washing the bowhair with soap and water was a stop-gap on the way to a rehair.
July 27, 2019, 2:11 PM · "How do you remove the old rosin?"

Coincidentally, I just got off the phone with the owner of a shop who suggested to take a clean but dark-colored washcloth, and "bow the washcloth" until you no longer see rosin deposited on the washcloth. Although this does not remove all your old rosin was told it should do enough that you can notice the effect of different rosin.

Edited: July 27, 2019, 6:09 PM · The nature of the rosin on bow hair changes as the bow continues to be used. Through repeat cycles of static and and sliding friction the microscopic rosin particles can approach and even endure melting.

The first time I used alcohol to clean my bow hair I figured I had nothing to lose since it was an alternative to re-hairing and now that I had moved to the Bay Area a rehair was only 30 minutes away. Cleaning the hair as I have described and re-rosining restored to 'golden sound' I was missing.

Rosin sticks to rosin so every time we rosin our bows we are adding more rosin mass to the hair, but the flexibility and strain (stretching) of the hair remain the same - now having to fight greater inertia. Rosin also builds up on the strings, affecting the sound (vibrations), as we are all aware.

Edited: July 27, 2019, 11:17 PM · Rosin also sloughs off. Just look at your violin after you've played for an hour. I think eventually you reach kind of a steady state in terms of the total mass of rosin on the hair. The problem is that it also attracts dirt and other crap because of its intrinsic stickiness and it's oleophilic character.
July 28, 2019, 5:39 PM · Some bass players use stiff toothbrushes, I like mani/pedicure brushes that are a hair bigger, but small enough to fit in a case without the long handle. That and a cotton handkerchief are enough for most instances.
August 6, 2019, 7:04 PM · I used a cloth to switch from Bernardel to my Leatherwood (it's amazing, by the way, but I don't get the same result on my viola as I do for the violin, but I expected that) and I noticed a difference right away between the two! I'll use the Bernardel if my violin is in the double case, since I usually forget to switch it over!

I think a cloth is all you really need.


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