1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Newbie Question: Bow Care

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by hdiddy, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Hey guys,

    Just wondering about what I should do to care for the bow and maybe there are a few things I don't know. My brother (who plays violin) tells me to clean the hairs after every time I play, but I've never heard such a practice. I make it a habit to detension the bow after I play and to clean the strings after every playing session. Am I missing anything else?

  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Don't leave it lying around in compromising locations. A lot of 'em die this way. Other than that I do what you do.
  3. ;) I gotta ask! How does your brother "clean" the hair? I've never done that. I think he might be pullin' your gamba there.

    I think you are doing the right stuff. One person on another thread was talking about frog lubricants (for the screw) and liquid graphite seemed to be the answer, but I'd only do that if it got stiff.

    Tension should be adequate to keep the wood stick off the hair while playing with hard pressure.

    Ray is dead on. Bows are more delicate than they appear, so try not to knock it around at all. My fiberglass bow bit the dust (cracked plastic frog) when it fell off a music stand onto some hard tiles while under pretty tight tension.
  4. I don't think cleaning the hair is required; just keep your bow in a proper case and wipe it off every once in a while and you shoudn't have any problems. Oh, and get it rehaired every so often; it makes a big difference!
  5. A couple of downstrokes across a soft, clean cloth. One teacher occassionally runs a soft toothbrush from frog to tip. Nothing major.
  6. P.S.:
    The bowhair was once a living thing, and as such, it will decompose by itself, which is why a bow that is not even played will have to be rehaired, sooner than you might think.
  7. Isn't that what all the dead composers are doing now? :rolleyes:

    - Wil
  8. You are 100% correct. Anytime you see a bunch of hair that have broken on a bow that has been in a case or in darkness for some length of time, check where the hair has broken. If the hair has broken any place but at the ends, chances are you've got bow mites. If you find them, spray the inside of the case with moth spray in addition to leaving the case in sunlight. I'm not sure sunlight kills the mites. They may just run to another dark place.
  9. I don't recall the brand off hand, but it was nothing special at the time I bought it. It is just an aerosol moth spray that I bought years ago at the grocery store. It may not be that easy to buy today with all the environmental protection laws, but check your grocery or hardware store bug spray department. One can will probably do a hundred bow cases. I'm still on my first can and I rehair bows.
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Thanks for all the responses guys. I didn't think that things such as mites might be out to get my bow. My bro seems to keep his bows really clean, but I didn't ask how he did it. Prob just ran it through a cloth like Donosaur suggests. I'll prob do the toothbrush thing since I saw a couple rosin bits stuck in the hair near the frog. I don't have a mite problem cuz I don't have a case and the bow gets hung up on the hook on my Ingles stand.

    Anyways, all this stuff is good to know. Thanks again.
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Found this link to Bow Care:


    Some new things that haven't been mentioned in this thread:
    * A bow stick should be wiped clean after every use. A soft, non-abrasive, clean cloth (lint free) with no oils or chemicals of any kind, should be used... If the bow is wiped properly after every use, cleansers and polishes are pretty much unnecessary.
    * Never use any kind of commercial cleanser on a bow (or stringed instrument) and keep all chemicals, cleansers etc. away from the hair.
  12. The link in this old thread says to store the bow in a case. I have read in other threads to store it in the light to prevent mites. Which is preferred for a regularly used bow?

    If it is hung from a hook, do you hang it on the frog? I would have thought it was too fragile to hang.

    Also what is proper playing and loosening tension? The article mentions loosening until the hair touches the wood when not in use and tightening to 1/4 inch from the wood for use (for violin bows). What would rough dimensions be for a bass bow?

    One past teacher said to tighten the hair until the bow wood is a finger width from the hair for playing, loosen until the hair crinkles, then retighten just barely enough to keep the hair straight for storage. That is considerably tighter than the article recommends if I understand it correctly.Another teacher explained it quite differently. Is there a standard rule of thumb?
  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    From what I know, it's all from reading other threads here on TB and experimenting and what my teach tells me.

    Storage: Hang it. Hanging is fine, I see people hanging their's everywhere I go. For the mites. on the frog. Seems like it's no problem to me. When not using it, I just loosen it enough that the hair goes limp and swashes around. My Engles stand comes with a hook for this purpose presumably.

    Use: I'd probably go with what your teacher says but the amount of tension is up to you. I like mine tight, feels like I get the most control and easiest bows. I don't think there's a standard rule of thumb really. Seems like the technique/grips (at least with the German form) isn't standardized either. I've been told that some people play with index finger on top of the stick for German to get some extra power. I like to put my thumb way over the top of the stick myself.

    Seems like everything's fair game unless it creates creates tension in your form.