By Jasmine Reese - Our bows, like the body of our instrument, need tender care and affection.
(>>>Click on the photo to the right to find out why FIddlerman is bending a Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Bow>>>)
People tend to neglect the bow, thinking it's not as important as the instrument itself. But the bow is an extension of your violin, viola, cello, and double bass -- like an arm. It requires the same care and sensitivity as the rest of the body.
In addition, the bow draws the sound out from our string instruments; the bow quality effects our tone and gives us each our unique character as string musicians.
If you have a bow that works well for you, then you never want it to break or become inoperable. Here are five ways to extend the life of your bow.
Clean the Stick
Like the body of your instrument, the wood on your bow has a varnish. It's important to keep it clean to avoid rosin build up. Dried up rosin on the wood will begin to lower the effectiveness of your bow. You should wipe the stick of the bow down after each practice session
However, do not clean the hair of the bow, and do not use water or solvents to clean the stick. A dry microfiber cloth is all it takes to keep a bow's stick looking sharp.
Do Not Touch the Hair
If you touch it, natural oils from your hands will get on the hair. This will create an uneven and slippery tone. It'll also become expensive as you'll have to take the bow in for constant rehairing.
Additionally, the bow hair will develop a dirty appearance.
Professional Rehairing and Cleaning
Never attempt to use solvents or other products on your bow stick or hair. When in doubt, it's best to take it to a professional! A luthier will know exactly what to do to restore both your bow and instrument's shiny or antique appearance.
Relieve Tension on the Bow
Always loosen your bow after each practice session. Leaving the bow hair and stick tight will cause it to warp and lose its nice curve over time and ability to bounce. This will affect your tone and technique, making it harder to execute bowing feats such as spiccato and sautillé.
Put It in the Case
"Same as the instruments, you want to keep the bow in a controlled temperature environment or its case," our Fiddlershop luthiers said.
To extend its life, place it in its case to keep it protected from moisture, extreme weather, being stepped on, or other issues that could arise from not being in its case.
Additional tip: use the same brand of rosin. If you do decide to change the rosin, make sure as little of the previous rosin is left on the bow as possible before applying the new one.