Care and Maintenance of the Cello Bow

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 33,697
    Diana from the International School of Music demonstrates how to care for and maintain a cello bow.
    My name is Diana and I am here at the International School of Music in Bethesda Maryland. In this clip, we will be covering basics such as care and maintenance of the instrument as well as selection of the instrument.

    So if in the event that you don't already have a cello and are looking to buy one or rent one, probably the easiest thing is to go to a music store and have them size you for an instrument.

    Most adults will play on a full sized instrument such as this, however children depending on their height, their age and their finger length or hand size might have either a 3/4th sized instrument or half size or even in younger cases, a quarter-sized instrument.

    Towards some of the basics with the bow, it will be probably, the hair on the bow will be loose. So if you notice, it's almost touching the stick. So you will want to tighten the bow, this screw at the end, you want to -- if you're facing the bow you want to turn it clockwise, until there is more space between the hair of the bow and the stick.

    You never want the stick to be completely straight, because it needs to have some flexibility in the stick itself. So find something that looks like there is still a curve, but still gives some tension in the bow hair.

    In order to help bow speak better on the strings, you want to apply rosin. It's basically sap or resin and comes in a variety of different shapes or kinds. So you take out the rosin cake and apply it to the hair of the bow.

    So starting at the frog you can just move it along the rosin, back and forth. You don't need that much, but enough so that it will speak on the string clearly. After that, when you are done with the bow as I mentioned before, you want to loosen it and put it back in the case.

    One of the things about rosin is it will leave residue on the strings and the instrument. So, after each use you want to clean off the instrument with any sort of lint-free cloth or rag, just wiping the strings down as well as the fingerboard and then the body of the instrument.

    As for basic maintenance that you can do at home, if the string breaks, you can probably replace that on your own. You'd want to unwind the large peg at the top, apply the new string, the appropriate one. It fixes in here at the bottom, goes across the bridge and then you wind it into the whole on the peg at the top tightening it again away from you.

    As far as, if you noticed that the bridge is furcate or if it gets pumped for any reason, that's something that you would want to either have your teacher adjust or take into a shop for them to adjust.

    The last thing that you want to do, actually two things that you want to think about doing somewhat regularly, one will be a re-hair of the bow, that's where they replace the hair. For students you know you could probably get away with doing it once a year, once every two years.

    However, if the hair just really isn't sticking or gripping the string, you can develop a lot of bad habits as a result of it sliding and skating around and trying to apply a pressure in order to counteract that. So it's good to get a bow re-hair every one -- I'd say every year.

    As for a string replacement, again the same thing goes. Professional musicians replace their strings much more frequently than amateurs or students, but, you might for once a year where you replace all of the strings in addition to periodically, if a string should break on its own.

    And this you can just buy a set again at the music store or take it in and they'll often replace all of them for you. If you are doing that, you never want to replace all the strings, don't take them all off at once and then try to put them back on because you will probably realize that the bridge would come off the instrument. So you want to replace one string at a time. Take the old one off, put the new one on.

    So I hope these video clips have been helpful for you to get started, learning the cello and there is a wealth of resources, both books and teachers out there to help you along the way and it should be an enjoyable and fun process.