Cleaning rosin off bow?

Cleaning rosin off bow?

Beginner fiddler here. I have been wiping, gently, my fiddle strings and under the bridge after playing with a soft old handkerchief. But I haven’t ever wiped/cleaned my bow hairs. Do people here recommend also cleaning rosin off their bows? If so, what do you use and how often do you do it? If not, why not? Thanks!

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Hello! Nope, cleaning the hair is not necessary. On the contrary, you’ve got to make sure there’s enough rosin every time you play, so cleaning it to put rosin back on it is useless.

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

You can clean off the underside of the stick if that bothers you, but do not touch the hair of your bow with anything but rosin or fiddle strings. Certainly not with cloth, oil, solvents, skin (oil again,) beer, water, etc.

Congratulations on your new beginning!

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

welcome to the session and the wonderfull world of fiddling

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

After a while rosin become caked on the hair. Most people use too much rosin. I have washed my bow hair with denatured alcohol, dried the hair carefully, and then re-rosined. But you should read about the process before doing it.
This might not be the best site to get specific information on such a thing as cleaning bow hair. Lots of punters, lots of ideas, lots of misinformation. You would do better on a violin-specific site. Maestronet.com is much better than this site for such a specific question: http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/322632-cleaning-bow-hair-with-denatured-alcohol/

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Clean the stick with the dry cloth when you clean the fiddle (a yellow duster is better than a handkerchief). If there is too much rosin on the hair, just keep playing until there isn’t too much.

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Mark M: What is a "yellow duster"?

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Uneven rosin distribution on the bow hair is inevitable (unless you use all the bow on every note, which I hope you don’t) so I always use an old tooth brush to clean the hair prior to applying new rosin, and the aforementioned yellow duster for the stick and the belly of the fiddle.

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

I use a long-bristle paintbrush to remove the rosin from the belly. I found that using a duster sometimes rubbed in rosin dust, as well as removing it.

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Thanks, all!

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Since you are soliciting opinions, here is another one: don’t worry about cleaning the hair until you need to. How do you know you need to? This comes with experience/time - for instance, the hair at the frog gets blackened, you start finding applying more and more rosin doesn’t help with a slipping bow etc. Rosins are different and mixing different ones can result in them binding together creating more of a slick surface! You don’t want that. So, not mixing different kinds of rosin on your bow can prolong the time until you need to clean it.

But at some point, the hair will have picked up enough grease and "stuff" that it really does need to be cleaned. Many people re-hair their bow unnecessarily - often it just needs a good cleaning. All that said, you should do exactly what you’ve done here with people IRL who know about cleaning bows. I use 100% alcohol and I was trained by a bow maker how to clean a bow. Don’t just look it up on the web and do it yourself!! Ask a teacher, ask a violin dealer, ask a repair person. They should physically show you how it is done because alcohol products can be really bad if you get it on your violin (it wrecks varnish).

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Chancedancer, from what you say about cleaning, is it theoretically possible never to need to have a bow rehaired? Assuming there were no broken hairs, and the hair was properly cleaned, and same rosin used all the time?

In other words, does the hair never wear?

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Also curious about Jim’s question. I rehaired once after over a decade of use, and didn’t like the new hair even as much as the really old stuff i had before. (Obviously, I’m not in the rehair the bow yearly camp.) If keeping the old hair would’ve worked as well, I would’ve done that.

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Hi Jim and Alex,

Total disclosure, I am not a classical player or in the camp of "rehair yearly". But I am a full-on, play every day fiddler. In my experience, you can really prolong the life of bow hair by cleaning rosin off (I mean the full clean with alcohol, not what the original posting was referring to). Eventually the little scales on the hair strand, which is what grips the rosin, do wear away and the sure fire sign of that is cleaning a bow and rosin still not doing its grippy job. It’s definitely time for a rehair. The other thing that can happen with hair is that it ages and starts to break quite often. So unfortunately, we can’t indefinitely hang on to a really good rehairing job that we loved!

I think it took me about five years to get through the hair on my last bow. I would say that the there is so much variability in the quality of hair that you should aim to get a reputable bow rehairing person who deals in the high quality stuff. That might be easier said than done and you probably did go to a good person. Personally, I’ve had a hard time finding a reliable bow rehairing person that consistently deals in high quality bow hair (and I live in a major city). My opinion is that a good rehair should definitely feel and respond better than the old hair (at least by the worn out stage).

Hope that is helpful in any way! I do wish it were possible to keep great bow hair going forever. At least we can do some small things to make it last as long as possible ๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Chancedancer, thanks for the info. Much appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

I’m sure I knew a fiddler who used to SHAMPOO his bow-hair, infrequently !
Then he would wait until it was dry, then re-rosin.
After all, rosin is a fatty substance, you all know what it is like to have greasy hair ( those of us who still have any ), it makes some sense to me.
Probably not a good idea to do this too often.

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

I am a beginner too and I used too much rosin and got myself in a bit of a pickle with a bow completely gunked up with rosin. I was scared to do the alcohol thing so I vacuumed the bow - gently - with a soft brush attachment, picking up and repositioning the vacuum nozzle rather than sliding up and down the bow. Worked a treat.

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

Shampooing bow hair? Yes, I’ve done that - and it works a treat. I find that rosin builds up at the frog and the tip. (On the up stroke, rosin gets pushed to the frog and on the down stroke to the tip.) You can get rid of some of the detritus by slackening the hair and rubbing the offending area between finger and thumb - that usually flakes off a fair bit - but eventually there is nothing for it but a full clean. Shampoo is designed for hair, and bow hair is, well, hair, so it should work. I remove the frog by taking out the adjusting screw, apply a thin layer of shampoo to the hair and then dunk and rub it in a basin of warm water; taking care, of course, not to dunk the frog or the bow tip. When the dunking is finished I use a fine tooth comb (of the type Bill Bailey got thrown out with) to ensure the hairs aren’t tangled and leave it hanging out to dry. Et Voila!

More on this matter of roisin: I find it strange that so many folk fiddlers never feel the need to clean their instrument. Why do they just let the rosin build up like guano on the belly and the end of the finger board?

Michael

Re: Cleaning rosin off bow?

[*Why do they just let the rosin build up like guano on the belly and the end of the finger board? *]

Good question. Maybe because they simply don’t care, and don’t see any good reason to clean it off?