Taking care of your violin bow

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

So you have a new bow. With good care, it can be used for many years of enjoyable violin playing

First. What is it made out of? The bow is made up of several parts, mainly the bow stick and the bow hair.

The stick of a good quality older bow will be made out of wood - either Pernambuco wood, or Brazilwood. These woods are hardy and resilient and give the right amount of elasticity and strength to the violin bow. However, a student bow, and many more recently-made bows, are manufactured from fibreglass or carbon fibre. This is particularly good for a young student, as the material is strong and less easily broken.

The bow hair of a good-quality older bow is made of horse hair. There are usually 160 to 180 individual hairs attached together at either end of the bow. All student bows, and some modern bows have hair made of fibreglass or carbon fibre. If you have bought a student violin, it will NOT have real horse hair in the bow.

The most important point to remember with your care of the bow is that when it is resting the hair is loose. When you are playing, the hair is tightened. If the bow is packed away with the hair still tight, this will cause the hairs to start to break and will cause damage to the bow stick as well. There is a screw in the end bit of the bow, known as the frog. You turn the screw away from you to tighten it and towards you to loosen it.

To get the bow ready to play, you will need to put ROSIN on the bow. This normally comes with a student violin - you will find it in the pocket in the case. It is wrapped up in its own box. Be careful with it, it is very breakable and must always be packed away after use. If you drop it, it can smash into hundreds of pieces! The rosin needs to be wiped along the hair of the bow several times - this makes the hair sticky. It also helps the hair to stick to the strings and produce the sound of the violin.

When you put the bow away, be gentle with it. Place the pointed end (the point) in first and into the narrower part of the case. Then the bigger end (the heel), is clipped or fastened into place. Make sure it is secure before closing the case. And don't forget to loosen off the hair before you put it away.

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