Musical instruments normally last for a long time depending on the material, brand, and ownership care. Though these musical instruments do not last eternally, there are several ways to extend its longevity. In the case of cello bows, some of the several ways to prolong its use is through cleaning, storage, maintenance, and consultations with professionals.
What makes a cello bow break?
We all know that bows, whether it’s for cellos, violas, or violins, are very sensitive. No matter how expensive or high-quality it is, it’s still susceptible to breaking if not handled with utmost care.
Temperature changes is probably the top reason why a cello bow breaks. Dry and humid conditions can shrunk the bow hair making it difficult to adjust and loosen. Other common problems could be leaving excess rosin on the bow, improper storage of the instrument and its accessories, or accidentally dropping or chipping the bow. The good thing is, these things can be easily avoided with proper handling. To know more about the different ways to help extend the lifespan of your bow, read down below.
Different ways to extend the lifespan of your bow
- Clean the stick after each practice session
You might not be aware of this but you should clean your bow stick after every use. The suggested cleaning method is by using a soft fiber cloth to remove rosin dust, moisture, and dirt. Why? The more you prolong these things, the higher are the chances that it will stick to the bow and be much harder to remove, this might also cause your bow stick to break and tarnish. One way to think of is when a coffee is spilled on your jeans, you try your best to wash it immediately since it will be difficult to wash off if it leaves a stain.
Besides a soft fiber cloth, there are available special cloths you can easily purchase online. They are intended for the cleaning maintenance of bows. Also, avoid cleaning your bow stick with general household cleaning materials since this is specifically made for harsh and strong environments. You can also opt for a professional cleaning, although you do it on your own, the outcome is still different when it is done by professionals.
- Never touch the bow hairs with your bare hands
It is not evident but our hands contain the most moisture and oils since it touches and lands on different things especially for people with oily and acidic skin. Bow hairs, like the cello bow itself, are delicate and sensitive non-living things. Exposure to a foreign material may damage them internally and externally — this is why we need to be mindful of how we handle our cello bows.
Never touch your bow hairs directly with your bare hands, may it be clean or dirty. The oils in our hands can sink in the hairs and make it sticky, fade its color, absorb the dirt, and overall, damage its playability. If you don’t practice this way, cello bow hair can easily break and you might need a re-hair soon.
- Place it inside a case when not in use
Similar to mobile phones, cello bows need storage as it is a delicate instrument. Often when buying a cello bow, casing and storage are inclusive upon purchase. Cello bows are vulnerable to its surroundings especially if out with many people, they are also sensitive to sunlight and temperature, it can easily break when it is in direct sunlight. One may accidentally hit, bump, or in worst case scenarios, break your bow
Having a protective material against harmful risks has a lot of benefits and it may increase the longevity of your bow. It will not just prevent you from breaking the instrument, it can also help to keep your cello clean and free from scratches. Another beneficial thing about casings is that you have instant storage when travelling or bringing your cello bow outside and there are a lot of available and budget friendly cases you can find online.
- Loosen the bow’s tension after practice or performance
Although finding the perfect balance of a cello bow’s tension might be hard, you should still decrease its tightness after every practice or performance. By doing this, you are giving your musical instrument a room to breathe. Think of it as when wearing jeans, you unzip your jeans when you get home since it gives comfort and more room for breathing. It is the same thing for cello bows after being in a tight position every playtime.
- When in doubt, consult a professional
No one knows a musical instrument more than a professional. They are called these names for a reason and it is these specialized people that know cello bows historically, inside and outside. If you do not trust your gut, then consult a professional. There will surely be handling or professional fees but it is what you are paying them for especially when there is an immediate crack or loosening in your instrument. You must avoid having cracks in your instrument at all times, a professional might help you restore it and can make it look good as new but it will definitely decrease your instrument’s monetary value. Eventually, if you have developed your skills in playing the cello, you can look for a new set of cello and cello bow that fit your expertise. You can also check out your local music shop to personally try and test cello bows for your instrument. In looking for a cello bow, make sure that it matches your instrument and examine the materials and know the guide on how to care for it.
Cello bows are like newborn babies. They need utmost care, love, patience, bills, and security to ensure their proper growth and development. It is no different with cello bows as these musical instruments need the proper and right amount of care and maintenance to last a long time. Though a user or a musician should not see this as a hindrance but a responsibility. Cello bows are an investment that may last a lifetime when taken care of the right way. Keeping your instrument safe and treating it gently is the best way to avoid such problems.