Monday, February 18, 2008

Bow hair cleaning

I have heard many different opinions about whether to clean your bow hair or just get it rehaired. I have always just gotten it rehaired, but the problem is not that I don't have enough hair, just that the hair is dirty, especially near the frog.

I have gradually become convinced that washing could be a better option. It's horsehair after all, a washable substance. My bow hair was looking particularly gunky this weekend, not only near the frog, but in a thin row of hair along the edge, the entire length of the hair. I decided to wash it, feeling I had nothing to loose--if it didn't work, I would just get it rehaired.

I didn't want to mess with alcohol, since everyone seemed to have a different opinion on what to use and how to use it, and whether it will dry out your bow hair.

So, feeling cautious, I started with just water, then added a touch of mild liquid hand soap. (I might have used shampoo, had I thought of it.) I scrubbed the hair with a new toothbrush to get the gunk off. I didn't wash all the hair, just the gunky stuff near the frog and along one length of the hair. I also protected the wood with a couple of layers of towel.

I dried the hair with a towel and let it air dry for a few hours. Then, I applied rosin, and tried it out. I was very happy with the results--the cello sounds so much better, and it just feels good, looking at that nice clean bow hair!


cellodonna said...

Wow. You're brave for trying this. Glad to know it worked out. Also nice to know in case I want to give that a try sometime.

I got a rehair last year because it was stretched out too much and would not tighten properly.

Laura said...

Geez, I would not have ever thought to do that with my bow. I MIGHT try it sometime. Kudos to you for your bravery (as cellodonna said), and also for sharing the idea. I'm sure it is a great feeling to have a clean bow and the sound to go with it!

My kitchen floor might benefit from the same treatment...

melissa said...

Ok, I have to admit my first thought was OMG! Is she crazy?

You are far braver than I...

Maricello said...

Well, it really wasn't so risky. A person I know rehairs bows said most bow rehairs aren't necessary. It just took me a while to act on this information. (and I do have a spare bow and easy access to a violin shop.)

This doesn't apply to stretched-out hair, of course, or to people who practice so much that they wear out the hair, just to those of us who have gunky build-up on otherwise good hair.

Gunk-removal on my kitchen floor would be helpful too, Laura. :-)