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Too much surface noise when bowing

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by luisraulmunoz, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. Hi I'm a classical player so. I'm bowing most the time. I was recording myself recently and noticed more of the surface noise than ever....Not sure why.

    My strings are Flex deluxe G and the rest are Kaplans. Use mostly pops but lately also used Carlson during some hotter days here in humid Puerto Rico...

    Wonder if mixing those two might be the cause.

    My bow is a Coda Infinity Carbon fiber bow.

    Any suggestions? I don't normally mix rosins so perhaps thinking I should clean the hair and re rosin the bow. Don't recall getting so much sizzle before and I've been playing for a while.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. s van order

    s van order

    Oct 4, 2012
    Were you using an iPhone or something like that? I found in recording my cello that the iPhone-type arrangement seems to focus the highs and hi mids and so scratchiness is more present. I read they also compress the signal so dynamics get washed out. Also could be my technique too (of course!) so I try to learn from them. Using a usb mic with Garageband does sound much better, richness is more present. I am curious what others more experienced have to say.
    luisraulmunoz likes this.
  3. CF bows are sizzly under the best of conditions. Adding into the equation a buildup of rosin on the hair and bowing area of the string and mixing types of rosin, you're pretty much guaranteed to lose body in your sound and gain nasty screeching.

    When my strings (Bels) have noticeable rosin buildup I wipe it away with a paper towel wet with isopropyl alcohol. Do NOT drip alcohol on your varnish. Bow hair can be cleaned with a fine-toothed comb, or it can be washed by removing the frog, wetting the hair in warm water, lathering it with shampoo that does not include conditioners or excessive perfume, and carefully drying the hair. Your frog and stick are basically plastic, so you don't have to go crazy to avoid wetting them.

    Archetiers always gasp audibly when I mention that I clean my bow hair with acetone, but I've yet to have a problem, and it definitely eats rosin. I am not recommending that you do as I do.
    luisraulmunoz and Phil Rowan like this.
  4. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    My teacher once suggested using baby shampoo (he said it works wonders for reviving slightly older bow hair, but might be good in this case too?).
    luisraulmunoz likes this.
  5. I've recorded with my smartphone but using a high quality external microphone I got from The Sound professionals website. I should have mentioned that the surface noise is not just audible in recording but for anyone listening within a couple of feet of distance.
  6. I despise those and similar products. Some years ago a sewer main in London (?) clogged. They sent a guy down there, and he found a wad of wipes and kitchen grease the size of a city bus blocking the main. Waste adds up.
  7. First of all thanks to all for helpful comments.

    Its true that CF bows might be more prone but I've used several carbon fiber bows before over the years and never noticed so much of this surface noise, I wouldnt call it scratchy or screeching but from close distance its very audible, not just in the recordings...dont remember having this problem before to such a degree. The hair on my Infinity is relatively new also

    I think I'll use alcohol or acetone like you do to clean the hair and start over with the rosin, maybe I use either Carlsson or Kolstein soft, maybe this Pops cake I have is not in good condition or something...I love pops but it can be unpredictable in warm humid weather, melting easily if it gets a bit hot then combining with other rosin that might be leftover on the string, maybe better to just avoid mixing them altogether.
  8. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Try cleaning the strings with alcohol - I do this about every week, or so.
    luisraulmunoz likes this.
  9. s van order

    s van order

    Oct 4, 2012
    Thumbs up on the fine-toothed comb idea. I recently used that and fou d the bow surface noice was reduced.
    luisraulmunoz likes this.
  10. This makes sense, probably hairs sticking to others in groups would certainly not vibrate or grab properly but just create extraneous noise. This should be the first thing I will try before proceeding to cleaning with acetone, perhaps can be done with a toothbrush as well.
  11. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Very fine steel wool is also good to keep handy so as to wipe off each string soon after done playing.
  12. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I've never had that experience but YMMV.
  13. Really? Mine is like a laser compared to pernambuco.
  14. So I cleaned the hair with alcohol, letting it sit in a bowl for a while. Problem solved. No More hissing sound, using Kolstein soft in one bow and Carlson in another. No More pops for a while
  15. Thooom


    Apr 18, 2010
    How far away was your phone while recording? It's very possible that the surface noise isn't audible when you're a distance away from the bass. There's nothing wrong with that, either: your audience is out "there."
  16. Mic was about 7 feet away, good quality microphone. I was at the luthier's the day before and the people there noticed it also, it was way above normal.
  17. Most of the time when at home I wipe them with a cloth and alcohol after done playing.
  18. Thooom


    Apr 18, 2010
    OK, fair enough. In that case, put down the Pops for a while.

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