How to look after your bow
Maintaining your bow is just as important as storing your violin safely. Your bow is what generates the sound after all. There is a lot of different advice across the internet on how to properly maintain your bow. So, we’ve put together our advice from nearly 20 years in the fine instruments industry, on how we would recommend caring for your bow to increase longevity and create the best sound possible.
Always loosen the bow when not in use.
Loosening the hairs of the bow when not playing ensures that it doesn’t lose its camber and prevents the bow from warping over time.
Rosin should only be used when deemed necessary.
By only using rosin when it is required, you will avoid a build-up of rosin across the hairs and the wooden section of the bow, which may need to be professionally cleaned. Excess rosin can also mean that more falls onto the violin itself when being played, meaning more cleaning for you.
Exaggerated amounts of rosin makes a more aggressive sound.
As rosin’s function is to create friction, too much will create an overly aggressive sound. Reducing the amount of rosin you use and how often you apply it will create a cleaner, more pleasing sound.
Do not pull broken hair, cut it as short as possible.
Although tempting, the best way to prevent further damage to the hairs is to cut broken hairs as short as possible and not to pull them out. Pulling may loosen other hairs or cause more to break.
Do not clean the hair with any product.
Over time, you may need to clean your violin bow. How often depends on how long you spend playing each day, but generally you will notice dirt gathering near the frog. At this point, take a clean, soft cloth and gently wipe the bow clean. Don’t use any products on the hairs as this can damage them and the bow stick.
When changing the type of rosin, the hair can be cleaned with a flannel.
Cleaning in between a change of rosin means you avoid any risk of damage if ingredients in the two rosins differ. It means you are minimising any potential reactions on the bow hairs, protecting them from damage. A good tip is to use a clean, dark cloth as this allows you to see with each wipe how much rosin is left on the hairs.
When to have your bow re-haired.
It is necessary to change the hair when: there is no grip on the strings, the sound is lacking in depth or the hair has blackened. By following our advice above, you should be able to go for the maximum time possible between re-hairs, but it will need doing eventually as bow hairs do not last forever.