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Casey Jefferson

Cleaning bow hair with denatured alcohol

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Hi all,

Very recently I cleaned my bow hair with denatured alcohol and the result was great.

However, I saw those alcohol running its way up to the end of the bow hairs both tip and frog when I was dipping the hairs into the alcohol. I quickly wipe excessive alcohol on both end, and I see the wood (plug?) at both end darken a little resulted from absorbing a little of the alcohol. I make sure they're dry before I tighten the bow hair again and seems to play fine.

Should this be totally avoided or it's ok as long as the alcohol isn't dripping into the wood at both end? The alcohol ran quickly across the bow hair and it's hard to control...

Please advice and thanks in advance!

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The main concern would be swelling the head plug so much that it splits the head. I would try very hard to avoid getting the head plug wet with water, but I don't know if alcohol swells wood enough to be a danger.

I occasionally use alcohol to clean bow hair with good results. I remove the frog from the stick, coil the hair in a coil about four inches in diameter, dip the coiled hair into a dish of alcohol and swish it around for a minute or so. The last two inches or so of hair at each end does not go in the alcohol. After removing the hair from the alcohol, I blot it to remove most of the alcohol then let it dry for a few minutes.

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I use an old toothbrush to clean it, so I don't have to dip the hair all the way to the ends. It's more effective and better controlled than just immersion. I've never had any problem with it. If alcohol is soaking into the plug, I would be concerned that you will also get it on the stick.

It works great. I can't remember when I last had a bow rehaired.

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Thanks guys,

I was very well aware of this problem before I try, my professional violinist friend told me he once wash his bow hair and the bow head exploded due to the water soaked into the plug. So I was being careful but it's hard to judge with eyes, it still went all the way up (and down). Plug looks ok, and hopefully it doesn't cause any problem as I love this bow a lot.

I do feel that cleaned bow hair doesn't hold rosin as well as new hairs, but still it retained quite a lot of smoothness when it was new, about 80% of the playability and sound. Meanwhile I don't think it need a rehair in the near future.

I had the bow hair wiped down with cloth soaked with a little alcohol (due to my violin's voice lost thingy), it works but it's not getting rid old rosin off the hair as effectively as dipping the hairs into the alcohol, some melted rosin residue still stuck on the hair so it actually played worse.

I'll try the old toothbrush method when the bow hair gets dirty again.

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I've found that you can wash horse hair and it will look clean but it will not hold rosin as well as new hair.

In my limited experience, that is true initially but after some amount of use the rosin-holding ability returns. In my case the rosin-holding had dropped off as the hair got dirty. After cleaning it was about the same for a while but gradually improved to about the new condition. I'm happy.

Lyle

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In my limited experience, that is true initially but after some amount of use the rosin-holding ability returns. In my case the rosin-holding had dropped off as the hair got dirty. After cleaning it was about the same for a while but gradually improved to about the new condition. I'm happy.

Lyle

And I hope it's true! It was just a few days ago when I cleaned the hair, hope it'll improve a little with time as what the new hair did, it took about 2 weeks of breaking in to get the hairs to full potential.

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