discolored bow hair

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said: Jul 5, 2007
 18 posts

The hair on my child’s bow has turned a grayish color. We are very careful not to touch it, so I know that’s not the problem. Any ideas why this might happen? How to fix it?

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 5, 2007
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

how often do you rosin the bow? Rosin dust has a white hue and a recently well-rosined bow will look lighter than one which has little or no rosin on it.

Then again, it may be some other problem!

said: Jul 6, 2007
 18 posts

the color doesn’t seem to change much after rosining. The hair almost looks like someone colored it with a pencil.

said: Jul 6, 2007
 15 posts

Sounds to me like the hair is just old and needs replacing. After time, the hair collects dirt and particles just like your furniture collects dust. Rehairing the bow is common practice; professionals often get their bow rehaired every month. Here is a site I found about bow maintenance: http://www.zaretandsonsviolins.com/caringforbow.html Hope that helps!

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 6, 2007
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

Zada

Rehairing the bow is common practice; professionals often get their bow rehaired every month.

Every month??? You need to be doing a lot of daily nonstop hard playing to need a monthly rehair. I would say, like changing strings, that between 1 and 3 times a year is enough, no?

BTW, have you checked to see that your child (or a friend of your child) has not actually colored the bow hair? They might not admit it, but depending on age and, uh, initiative, I wouldn’t put it past some students.

Connie Sunday said: Jul 6, 2007
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

RaineJen

BTW, have you checked to see that your child (or a friend of your child) has not actually colored the bow hair? They might not admit it, but depending on age and, uh, initiative, I wouldn’t put it past some students.

That’s what I was thinking, too.

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:
http://beststudentviolins.com/library.html#handouts

said: Jul 7, 2007
 18 posts

I have an older child who is serious about music and is very protective of the instrument—so I don’t think there’s any chance the hair was colored. It was just the best way to describe the shade of gray.

The bow’s been used daily for 2-3 years, so I’ll check into the rehairing option. I didn’t know that rehairing was as common as changing strings. Thanks for all the help.

Connie Sunday said: Jul 8, 2007
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Oh, well, if it’s been used 2-3 years, it’s just dirty. That’s normal. Bows should probably be rehaired every year. The problem is that with the children’s violins, a bow rehair is $26.00 here (in rural Texas) and $35 and up in more expensive communities. Well, a brand new Glasser bow is not that much more costly; it’s cheaper to donate the bow to a public school (get a receipt for tax purposes), and just buy a new bow.

Alternatively, (as mentioned in a different, but similar thread), what you can do, if you’d like, is to carefully unscrew the bow (set the end screw aside and don’t lose it)—this releases the hair from the frog end of the stick, and then more carefully, wash the bow hair with bottled handwashing dish detergent.

If you’re careful and don’t get the wood of the stick wet, I understand it works beautfiully. When they’re dry, you have a new bow. Of course, make sure it’s completely dry before you rosin it up and start using it again! I’d let it sit (hang in the sun would be good), for at least a week. I’d try it if I needed to. I don’t have any little kids at home, but I think it might be a nice project.

I’m wondering about the dishwashing detergent. I’m going to ask around and see if that’s exactly what should be used. Don’t do anything until I get back to you?

Good luck!

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:
http://beststudentviolins.com/library.html#handouts

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 9, 2007
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

If you’re going to try and wash it yourself, this will help get the dirt off, but the miniscule ‘pockets’ (I don’t know what else to call them) that are on a new shank of hair still won’t be there if they’ve been worn off.

If you try washing it, try to get a soap that doesn’t have conditioners in it (that is, don’t use handsoap). I’ve been told that the brand name Borax is OK (but I’ve never tried it).

You probably shouldn’t use rubbing alcohol (which can be used to clean strings), even though it will melt the rosin gunk away. If a bit of alcohol/rosin solution happens to drip into the tip or the frog, it can dry and harden into a rosin-glue which could make rehairing nigh impossible. It also damages the varnish if it drips on the stick.

Washed hair will, I imagine, be more brittle and dry than before. Use this idea too many times and I’m sure the hair will begin to break off (if it hasn’t already).

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