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Cleaning Rosin Off A Bow Revisited
This question was asked in a thread with a different rosin question. I really wanted to finally know, so I created a new thread with that question
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cid
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February 28, 2019 - 8:55 am
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Moonshadows asked this question in another thread that was about which rosin to use. I hope you don’t mind, I took the question and started a new thread.

MoonShadows said 

“Newbie question!

If you decide to try a new rosin, do you just begin applying it to your bow or do you some way need to "remove" as much of the present rosin you have been using from your bow? I am assuming you just start applying the new rosin to the bow.” 

 

I think it was discussed here not to long ago, but the answers were so confusing and involved removing the hairs and carefully cleaning them, there were some saying different chemicals. I just gave up. On other sites some info contradicted the thread here, some info matched.

What is the best way to remove the old, without removing the hair from the bow. I know I will twist it before reinserting.

A separate question would be what is the safest way to do a thorough cleaning with removing the hair? Step by step? Would probably be a more thorough process and be good for starting fresh, not just trying a new rosin.

CLEANING HAIR WHILE ON THE BOW QUESTIONS:

When you clean the hairs off, while still on the bow, are the hairs relaxed or tightened? I was told to use a clean toothbrush. It seems to snag the hairs. I was not told whether to do it with hairs loosened or taught. 

Would a very fine toothed comb work as good as a brush? 

Doesn’t the rosin just collect on the toothbrush or comb? I suspect, rosin being so sticky, removing it from the toothbrush or comb would be cumbersome, more-so with the toothbrush.  That being the case, after one swipe up or down the hairs, won’t it just put the rosin just removed from the hairs back onto the hairs the second swipe?

 

CLEANING BOW HAIRS BY REMOVING THE HAIRS FROM THE BOW QUESTIONS:

If you have to use chemicals, seriously, what is the safes way to do it? 

What is the mildest chemical to use? Not what you believe to be the case, but from experience. When people say, “I would think” or “I believe” to a process someone else says they actually do, that confuses me. Oh, I should not believe that process, it is questionable, even though someone is doing it without harm.

How do you do it step by step and not assuming someone knows part of the process? 

There are YouTube videos, and even they can contradict each other. Since I have been reading posts here and “know” you, as best you can on a forum, I would take any of your comments, suggestions, and experiences more seriously as people who truly love the instrument, than complete unknowns doing a YouTube.

 

Yea, I know, a long thread of a question, what’s new. But, I have a lot of bows that I really would like to clean. I have tried different rosins and really would like to start fresh with clean hairs. 

Thank you for that question Moonshadows, and thank you everyone for your answers.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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February 28, 2019 - 9:12 am
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My response on the other thread is "At the moment if I want to switch rosin, I clean my bow hair by wiping it on a microfibre cloth until I can't see any more coming off (it takes about 6 swipes). I don't know how well that works."

The only "chemical" I'd risk is baby shampoo. There's a third thread where I relate an anecdote about my teacher using something similar when a student in order to restring her bow less often. She may have used washing up liquid, but baby shampoo might be safer.

I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent but my parents wouldn't let me.

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MoonShadows
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February 28, 2019 - 10:05 am
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No problem with moving the question @cid

@Gordon Shumway I doubt if baby shampoo would do anything since rosin is not water soluble.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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cid
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February 28, 2019 - 10:42 am
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I have been wiping mine with a micro fiber cloth, too. But it never stops powdering up into the air. I think I must have a lot of old dried up rosin in my bows. I am concerned when I wipe the hairs too much with the micro fiber cloth, but my gentle wipes don’t seem to work. 

The toothbrush seems to be so ”grabby” and I am concernd about the hairs that way too. That is why I was wondering about a very fine comb that is not really wide. 

I just thought of something, wouldn’t a baby brush be gentler? Anyone use one of those as a way to cleaning the hairs without removing the hairs from the bow?

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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GregW
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February 28, 2019 - 10:48 am
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I find the ol' jean leg works great..leaves a cool rosin mark too.  Probably not recommended though. 🙂

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Gordon Shumway
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MoonShadows said
No problem with moving the question @cid

@Gordon Shumway I doubt if baby shampoo would do anything since rosin is not water soluble.  

No, I agree. The problem of cleaning a bow is not one I've faced yet. In addition to the rosin, there will probably be some dirt and dust sticking to it. That may or may not be washable.

I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent but my parents wouldn't let me.

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MoonShadows
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I Googled it, and as usual, there are as many opinions as there are violinists! However, the most common answers mentioned using denatured alcohol, not rubbing alcohol. (Rubbing alcohol has an oil in it that will remain on the hairs.) If you have an expensive bow and/or a wood bow, it's best to unscrew the frog to separate the hair from the stick. (Denatured alcohol will eat through the finish on the stick!) Some put the hair in a bowl and let it soak, some use tissues, some use paper towels, and some even use a toothbrush. Once cleaned, it is important to let the strings completely dry, even overnight, before applying the new rosin.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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cid
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February 28, 2019 - 3:27 pm
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Hmmm. I think I might experiment on an old wooden bow that is a little out of shape. It can’t be used. I have a couple that came with inexpensive violins. The bows have been replaced with better ones. Since they were used, they do have rosin on them. Can’t do it forca couple days. Will report back with what I did, and the result. I forgot about those bows.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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bocaholly
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February 28, 2019 - 4:19 pm
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MoonShadows said
... denatured alcohol... best to unscrew the frog to separate the hair from the stick. ... put the hair in a bowl and let it soak... some even use a toothbrush. 

That pretty much covers the method I once used on my good CF bow.

The bowl soaking is more akin to bowl dipping...
... 3-4 rounds of dipping with fresh alcohol for each round.

Give the cleaned bow hair a good shaking and the alcohol will have dried off in just a few minutes. (Again, I did this with a CF bow so no fear of splatters on the stick. I think if/when I do this on a bow with a varnished stick, I'd protect it from splatters with something.)

When done, the dry bow hair was a bit stiff, I'm guessing from dissolved rosin residue. That's where the very soft toothbrush came in.

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Fiddlerman
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February 28, 2019 - 4:43 pm
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The alcohol cleaning method is the only one I'm familiar with but I have personally in my 35 years of playing, have never cleaned the hairs on my bow. Of course when I played in full time professional orchestras, I had my bow re-haired far too often. LOL
Of course the orchestra in Sweden paid for that and other maintenance issues for our instruments.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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cid
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February 28, 2019 - 5:48 pm
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Since it is not necessary to clean the bow, I have a couple questions for those who do.

Why did you clean the bow hairs? What made you decide it needed it?

After you were done, it was dried and re-rosined, did you actually notice any difference?

How often do you do it? 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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