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Lubricating the Bow?


tchaikovsgay
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Hi. Two of my bows (beginner quality) have a stuck frog. It's so annoying as sometimes the screw will eject when I practice. I always loosen the hair on a bow before putting it away, therefore the stick has not loosen flexibility yet.

One day. I saw online that Hilary Hahn has a bow lubricant in her violin case:
https://www.thestrad.com/what-do-violinists-sarah-chang-and-hilary-hahn-keep-in-their-instrument-cases/6544.article

"I also carry a wash cloth, a metronome, bow lubricant, business cards, lip balm, tictacs... the list goes on!"—Hilary Hahn

Then I found out (and asked my teacher) most violinists never lube their bows. Everyone says it can mess up the bow. But to me, a stuck frog sounds like a stuck peg (I use the peg compound W.E. Hill HILL-ZW-97), if it is the case, what type of lubricant do you recommend? Liquid? Solid?

Saw these online:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Rodney-D-Mohr-violin-viola-cello-bow-screw-eyelet-fine-tuner-adjusters-lubricant/163354168021?hash=item2608aacad5:g:9CsAAOSwzThb3pT-

https://guitarpartsandmore.com/Product.php?Lubricant-for-Violin-Bow-Screws-1663

Thank you

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I suppose you need to determine why the screw is stuck - is it due to dirt, humidity, poor fit, before deciding if a lubricant is necessary.

If it is, use tiny amounts only when absolutely needed to avoid gumming everything up.

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I use hard, dry soap, https://www.amazon.com/Fels-Naptha-Laundry-Stain-Remover/dp/B0063KXEIG.

I have found tubes that look like chapstick with the Salchow name on them that look like petroleum jelly, but I was always taught to avoid contaminating the wood with something like that since it would make later attempts at repair, if needed, difficult.

Much like peg dope, which only helps if the pegs actually fit, and people slather on in hopes of making their ill-fitting peg function better, these things will only help if the bow is already set-up correctly and working well. A visit to your local bow maker/luthier is probably in order.

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3 hours ago, tchaikovsgay said:

Hi. Two of my bows (beginner quality) have a stuck frog. It's so annoying as sometimes the screw will eject when I practice.

Your bows could require more than lubrication.  It sounds like the eyelets might be screwed too far into the frogs, or the screw holes in the sticks might be mis-aligned.  If you really want to find out what's wrong, take them to a bow technician.

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8 hours ago, Rue said:

I suppose you need to determine why the screw is stuck - is it due to dirt, humidity, poor fit, before deciding if a lubricant is necessary.

If it is, use tiny amounts only when absolutely needed to avoid gumming everything up.

Thanks, I'll try determining what causes it first

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8 hours ago, duane88 said:

I use hard, dry soap, https://www.amazon.com/Fels-Naptha-Laundry-Stain-Remover/dp/B0063KXEIG.

I have found tubes that look like chapstick with the Salchow name on them that look like petroleum jelly, but I was always taught to avoid contaminating the wood with something like that since it would make later attempts at repair, if needed, difficult.

Much like peg dope, which only helps if the pegs actually fit, and people slather on in hopes of making their ill-fitting peg function better, these things will only help if the bow is already set-up correctly and working well. A visit to your local bow maker/luthier is probably in order.

Thanks, so the lubricant cannot fix an ill setup

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5 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Your bows could require more than lubrication.  It sounds like the eyelets might be screwed too far into the frogs, or the screw holes in the sticks might be mis-aligned.  If you really want to find out what's wrong, take them to a bow technician.

Thanks, I never thought about the eyelet

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15 hours ago, tchaikovsgay said:

Hi. Two of my bows (beginner quality) have a stuck frog. It's so annoying as sometimes the screw will eject when I practice. I always loosen the hair on a bow before putting it away, therefore the stick has not loosen flexibility yet.

One day. I saw online that Hilary Hahn has a bow lubricant in her violin case:
https://www.thestrad.com/what-do-violinists-sarah-chang-and-hilary-hahn-keep-in-their-instrument-cases/6544.article

"I also carry a wash cloth, a metronome, bow lubricant, business cards, lip balm, tictacs... the list goes on!"—Hilary Hahn

Then I found out (and asked my teacher) most violinists never lube their bows. Everyone says it can mess up the bow. But to me, a stuck frog sounds like a stuck peg (I use the peg compound W.E. Hill HILL-ZW-97), if it is the case, what type of lubricant do you recommend? Liquid? Solid?

Saw these online:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Rodney-D-Mohr-violin-viola-cello-bow-screw-eyelet-fine-tuner-adjusters-lubricant/163354168021?hash=item2608aacad5:g:9CsAAOSwzThb3pT-

https://guitarpartsandmore.com/Product.php?Lubricant-for-Violin-Bow-Screws-1663

Thank you

Bee wax.

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I don't recommend that players lubricate anything on their bows themselves because it is so easy to contaminate the bow hair. The bow should be checked for an ill fitting, worn or misaligned eyelet and the bow screw cleaned whenever it is rehaired. Only then should a tiny amount of lubricant be put on the screw and the nipple. I use a wax lubricant which I believe is similar to Salchow's but don't ever leave the tube on the bench and wash my hands immediately after using it. Some lubricants can migrate pretty easily to places you don't want it and if the guy in the midwest who is slathering  lithium grease on bow screws reads this I'd like to have a word with you.

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8 minutes ago, nathan slobodkin said:

 and if the guy in the midwest who is slathering  lithium grease on bow screws reads this I'd like to have a word with you.

I’m here... What’s wrong with a little PB Lube?  Some for my car, some for my door hinge, some for my bow.

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2 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

I don't recommend that players lubricate anything on their bows themselves because it is so easy to contaminate the bow hair. The bow should be checked for an ill fitting, worn or misaligned eyelet and the bow screw cleaned whenever it is rehaired. Only then should a tiny amount of lubricant be put on the screw and the nipple. I use a wax lubricant which I believe is similar to Salchow's but don't ever leave the tube on the bench and wash my hands immediately after using it. Some lubricants can migrate pretty easily to places you don't want it and if the guy in the midwest who is slathering  lithium grease on bow screws reads this I'd like to have a word with you.

Bee wax doesn't migrate anywhere, unless it get's so hot that it melts. You have to be playing furiously before this happens.

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Paraffin? I don't know that there's anything "wrong" with it, but it wouldn't be my first choice. Too gummy?

Or did you mean tallow? That would go well with catgut. :ph34r:

I wonder if a tiny amount of WD40 would be an option?

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Sewing machine oil? I've used Remoil on geared guitar and double bass tuners, but it's too heavy and possibly gummy for bow screws. The brass eyelet's pretty slick to start with--adding more than a scintilla of a drop of anything would be too much. Beeswax seems like a good way to go.

I've cleaned bow screws with a drop of naphtha (one of those great words to spell--writing it feels like you've accomplished something difficult--like writing "cthonic," or "tmesis," or "phthisis"), a soft nylon brush, and a paper towel. Don't know how good an idea it is, though.

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I’m not a fan of oils or other liquid lubricants for bow screws, as I think they can cause dirt to build up more quickly and can contaminate too easily. WD-40 is a good cleaner for metal parts, but it’s not such a good lubricant.

I like solid lubricants better. I’ve tried a few and have been happiest with the kind that comes in a tube and works well on the stick and underslide as well as the screw and eyelet.

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On 5/11/2019 at 9:14 AM, tchaikovsgay said:

Hi. Two of my bows (beginner quality) have a stuck frog. It's so annoying as sometimes the screw will eject when I practice. I always loosen the hair on a bow before putting it away, therefore the stick has not loosen flexibility yet.

I may be misinterpreting what you're saying here, but it sounds like you had a problem with the screw "eject"-ing and now you have a problem with the frog sticking.

If the one followed the other I would suggest that the plug inside the frog may have partially failed necessitating tightening beyond the normal range.  This over-tightening may have caused the seizing you're experiences as the eyelet embeds in the wood of the mortise or the screw threads dig into, and imbed into the softer brass of the eyelet.

A few spots to observe:

The pearl slide: does it appear to bulging? 

The position of the frog: does the frog seem to be backed up further than normal when playing tension is achieved?

If either of these are observed a good rehair may solve the issue.

On the other hand, it could be a partially stripped eyelet.  The screw could function at certain points, but slip under the tension of use.  It may need a new eyelet, which shouldn't be a big deal for your bow service person to address.

A good lubricant for future use is Mohr's Screw Lubricant.  I think the Mohr's use mostly beeswax in their formula.

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16 hours ago, ClefLover said:

I suppose this is a real question... what’s wrong with Teflon Fluoropolymer?

Those I've seen have been Teflon powder in an oil or grease carrier. The oil can wick into the wood, making glue adhesion problematic should repairs be needed at some point.

16 hours ago, rudall said:

What’s wrong with candle wax?

Nothing that I know of. Ivory bar soap can be an even better lubricant, but can contribute to the screw rusting if a player perspires a lot.

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