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!

4 comments:

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. :-)