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Cleaning bow hair on cheap Glasser bow

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I have a student who has a cheap Glasser fiberglass bow with synthetic hair on it. She has gotten skin oil on a lot of the hair. I have used alcohol on my bows' horsehair near the frog to get rid of SMALL amounts of oil. Can alcohol be used to clean synthetic hair, or will it dissolve the hair? Since it's such a cheap bow, rehairing isn't really an option, and I'd like to save her parents from having to replace it if they don't have to. [it has been explained to her that she should NOT touch the hair -- now she is seeing WHY she should have not touched the hair.]

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I would never recommend this with a good bow, but I don't believe there's a single thing on a Glasser, except maybe the brown paint on the stick, that could be harmed by alcohol, so if you customarily do that, go ahead, but watch out for the stick.

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Thanks for the advice! I'd read about the soap & water, but it sounded like more work than I wanted to get into (and needing to avoid getting the water near the plugs). Since I've used the alcohol (carefully, in small amounts, on a cotton ball), I know that so long as it doesn't eat the hair, it's doable. I will watch out for the stick!

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The Glasser bows don't really have plugs to worry about. The one on the tip of the bow is plastic, the ferule wedge is plastic and then the one inside the frog is missing. Instead they screw the hair onto the frog. Soap and water isn't going to hurt one of those bows.

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I don't see why rehairing is not an option. These bows are the easiest to rehair, and should be very cheap. They don't even cost much to replace. Either option is much better than using synthetic hair! A new bow (with real hair) or a rehair is roughly the price of a couple lessons or monthly rental, and equally important!

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I finally had enough trouble with some bow hair that I tried both soap & water washing and and alcohol cleanup. Both worked to clean the hair without negative effects.

For the soap & water wash, I filled small bowl with soapy water, covered the tip and the frog of the bow with plastic wrap to keep water out of the internal wedges and of course, off the bow), removed the frog and washed the hair - rinsed it - and then dried it off with a paper towel. When I rerosined it, it came out fine.

For the alcohol clean up (on a different bow) I bought some alcohol swabs at the drug store and grabbing the hair between a swap, cleaned it off, and then immediately removed any residual wet alcohol with a clean dry cotton cloth. Then I rerosined that bow.

I had no trouble with the results of either approach. But I think the alcohol cleanup ws more thorough and less trouble.

This was all done with real hair. Synthetic hair really should be no more soluble in alcohol.

The swabs can also be use to clean excess rosin off strings - BUT BE CAREFUL TO HOLD THE INSTRUMENT VERTICALLY AND DO ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN TO PREVENT ANY ALCOHOL FROM GETTING ON THE INSTRUMENT'S FINISH - and then dry the strings (top and bottom) immediately with a clean cloth. For most alcohol cleanups of strings one or two drops on a cloth will suffice and be uch less likely to drip solvent. I use an old eye-dropper bottle to hold and dispense alcohl for that purpose. (WARNING!! Never use any eye-cleaner bottles you find in my instrument cases in your eyes!!!)

Andy

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I have a strong view on this subject. I don’t think it is fair to a kid to make them try to play with plastic hair. Many years ago I bought one these because I needed a bow and it was the cheapest. I very quickly found out that they are almost unplayable with the plastic hair. Use more rosin, try more pressure etc., etc. I had it rehaired and it was OK.

I started to play again last year using the good old fiberglass bow with new hair. and used it until last Christmas. I don’t think they are too bad for a beginner if they have real hair in them. If you can get much sound out of a violin using the plastic hair you must be great or the plastic hair is greatly improved. I would use any excuse to change to real hair. Maybe getting the plastic dirty is a blessing.

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