Violin, Cello Bow Maintenance

Refrain from directly touching the bow hair.  Dirt and oils on the hands damage the playability of bow hair and increase the frequency at which your bow will need to be rehaired.  It is best to wash your hands before you play your instrument to avoid the transmission of oil and dirt from the hand of the player to the strings, instrument, and bow.

It is very important to loosen the hair of the bow when it is not in use.  Leaving the bow’s hair tight can warp or break the stick, and in some cases make the bow unrepairable.  It can also stretch the hair making it very difficult to tighten for normal playing conditions.

Bow Maintenance FAQs

– A friend told me I should wash my bow hair, is this true?

This is not a good idea. The horse-hair follicles naturally vary in diameter and density. The different hair strands would dry to different lengths and would not play properly after being exposed to water, let alone soap.

– How frequently should I put rosin on my bow?

Most people don’t need to rosin their bows more than once every playing session (up to 2 hours). Some people don’t rosin more than once a week, even though they play every day. If you NEED to rosin your bow a lot it’s probably time for fresh horsehair.

– How often should I change my strings and bow hair?

The standard is 120 playing hours or every six months for bow hair and violin and viola strings. Cello strings last about twice as long. Be sure to get your soundpost adjustment checked at the same time.

– My bow was rehaired earlier this year. Now it won’t tighten. What’s wrong?

Most likely, your bowhair has become stretched out during the warm, humid summer months. Loosen the screw and push the frog all the way toward the grip. If the hair hangs below the stick when you hold it level with the hair facing up, it needs replacing.