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Removing rosin from bow hair?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Mike Goodbar, Mar 31, 2003.

  1. I hope you guys don't mind if I stray ever-so-slightly from the main topic of this board.

    My 8-year-old has played violin for about three years and loves it except for the fact that the rosin makes her nose and eyes itch.

    I just discovered and ordered some hypo-allergenic violin rosin from Shar (they offer it for bass, too). I wonder if I need to remove all the old rosin from the bow hair for this to be useful, and if so, how the hell do I do it without ruining the bow hair?
  2. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Your good friend Al K. Hall will take the rosin off as well as the finish on you bow.

    Take the frog loose off the stick put some AL K. Hall in a bowl and take a tooth brush to the hair and protect the bow stick. Then let the hair dry for several hours before reattaching the from to the stick.

    Or, get the bow rehaired and tell the bow hair guy not to rosin the bow for you. The $50 it will cost for a rehair is cheaper that a bow stick refinish plus a rehair.

  3. Letting the hair dry (even with the short time it takes for alcohol to dry) without tension is an invitation to having a tangled, uneven hair ribbon. Use denatured alcohol - it will normally dry in about an hour at room temperature. Don't use common drugstore rubbing alcohol - it is mostly water.

    A relatively safe method for cleaning bow hair is to tighten the bow a little tighter than for playing, cover the wood parts with Saran (plastic) wrap or aluminum foil and then, with a folded paper towel wet (but not dripping) with Denatured Alcohol, remove the rosin and dirt by running the towel back and forth while squeezing the hair between the folds of the towel using your thumb and first finger. Periodically, refold the towel for a clean area (adding more alcohol if needed), and repeat rubbing the hair from end to end until all or most the dirt and rosin are removed. Before setting the bow aside to dry, run a dry fine tooth comb or a tooth brush thru the hair from the frog to the tip to straighten the individual hairs. Check the tension of the bow after a few minutes. If it is visibly tighter, loosen it till it is about as tight as you normally tighten it for playing. In a hour or so, you can take the protective wrapping off of the wood part and loosen the bow.
  4. You dont need to do that much...put rubbing alchohol on a cloth and whipe it off!
  5. Prankster...When a pro takes his time to tell people on this forum the best way to do stuff like this, I think it's a good thing to check it out. This thread is about someone with a possible allergy to rosin, so the more you can get out, the better...IMHO
  6. My bad...I only read the other guy who had a long way to do it...i was only responding to him....
  7. That's cool. I was always looking for the fastest way to do something when I was 17 too. In this case, the fastest way isn't the best way.
  8. I tried denatured alcohol a few years ago on some really nasty old black hair; it helped a little but I wasn't very impressed. If the hair isn't too bad, it'll probably work fine but I'd say just go ahead and get the bow rehaired. It probably needs it anyway, and I'm sure a violin bow can't cost much to have done...
  9. kwd


    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I recently tried to remove rosin using alcohol with disastrous results. I used the simple technique of rubbing alcohol onto the hair with a piece of cloth. While it did remove most of the rosin, it ended up leaving a hard trough of rosin down the middle of the bow. This made my arco sound like I was using a hacksaw on the strings. My teacher said that alcohol can react with the rosin to transform it into a varnish. Perhaps I could have avoided this by adhering to one of the more laborious procedures identified in this thread. I just wanted others to be aware it.

    Since the rosin had become so hard I was able to remove the remainder by scraping it gently with a knife but not before I broke a few hairs.

    (I did use plain, drugstore rubbing alcohol, I'm not sure the results would have been different w/denatured alcohol.)
  10. I AM!
  11. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    How to get hard rosin off.
    solvent = my good amigo Al K. Hall

    loosen the frog all the way off
    wrap you bow stick is something the solvent wont eat through I like AL foil

    pour solvent in a bowl about half full

    get as much hair in the bowl as you can and let it soak for several mins

    then start running the hair through the solvent by keeping a small arc of hair in the solvent

    wipe the hair often with a dry rag as you go.

    the old rosin will come off/out the parts of the hair close to the frog and tip you have to use a tooth brush dipped in solvent and scrub away
  12. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Any one ever use Ever Clear to clean rosin off?

    No you can't drink it afterwards!

  13. EverClear? Isn't that just high grade grain alcohol?

    FWIW - Joe's method will definately work but when he says his friend Al K. Hall, I'm sure he is referring to an alcohol Solvent (such as hardware store/paint store denatured alcohol) not drug store rubbing alcohol which has a high percentage of water in it.
  14. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Yes, EverClear is 180 or 190 proof grain alcohol. (90% to 95% alcohol.) You can get !00% alcohol but it is tainted with acatone, the acatone is the drier that gets the last little bit of water out of the alcohol. You can get stuff real clean using the 100% pure stuff. Glass lens so clean you can't see the lens.

    Diffrent types of alcohol react diffrently, a lot of alcohol is a pertol distialte now-a-days. I was wonder if a natural grain alcohol might disolve rosin better.

    I first noted the difference while fooling with alcohol lamps. You get radical diffrent flames with different juices.

    Since, I don't drink I don't want to fork out $10 for a pint of EverClear I can't use execpt in a lamp.

  15. Since denatured alcohol has work just fine for me for 40 years, and it's cost is less than $10 for a US gallon, I think I will forgo trying EverClear to clean bows even if it were a little better solvent.
  16. rkybtmn

    rkybtmn Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    I've always heated the string by rubbing it a few times with a towel or piece of cloth, then drawn the bow over the heated string which draws the rosin out of the hair. After a few times, most of the rosin is out. Don't go overboard.
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yeah, I try to use my strings to scrape the rosin off.

    Mostly on ballads.
  18. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Everclear -- extremely high proof ethyl alcohol -- can indeed be imbibed. I used to drink it with orange juice. I say USED to. I was 17 (don't tell my Dad) and used to enjoy getting completely and utterly smashed on my friend's Dad's lab supplies. Long long time ago. Be extremely careful smoking anything near that stuff.

    Methyl alcohol is naturally a poison that can easily kill or maim you. Denatured alcohol is ethyl that's had a bunch of nasty stuff added to it to make it smell like lacquer thinner. I'ml sure it would do a real bad number to you too if'n you tried to drink it.

    I've used naptha to clean rosin off my Spirocores. Works OK. Not sure what it would do to hair, though.
  19. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I was refering to after it was used for rosin removal. Disolved rosin would not make a good mixer.

    Kids in the dorm used to mix Everclear and Gator Aid, called it a hairey alligator.

    They also mixed Everclear and Grape juice but I can't remember what that was called.


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