Bows are designed to sustain strain during playing, but they are delicate objects and sensitive to shocks. Valuable bows should be serviced only by well trained professionals: small repairs and typical maintenance such as rehairing are often complex to execute in a bow.
Your good care of the bow will preserve it from much harm and increase his life time.
For instructions on packaging your bow, download: Packaging your bow
(Article published by Benoît Rolland in 2008 and reproduced here with the kind authorization of The Strad)
WHAT YOU CAN DO YOURSELF:
Before you first play with a newly haired bow, thoroughly apply rosin. The rough pores of the hair capture and hold the rosin: this prevents the hair from prematurely wearing through. Vary the rubbing pattern on the rosin block because repeated bowing inside a groove heats up the rosin and melts it, degrading its quality. If you do not change the rubbing pattern, the hair will soon carve such a groove into the rosin block. Do not over-rosin the hair.
Moderately tighten your bow and always release the tension of the hair after a playing session.
Rolland bows are designed to be played with moderate tension: this will allow their best performance.
Cleaning the stick:
1- Regularly wipe the whole length of the stick with a soft dry cloth to keep the varnish shiny and untainted. The sharp facets of octagonal sticks are beautiful but delicate. Wipe them gently before any accumulation of rosin occurs.
2- Often wipe the area of the bow grip with a soft dry cloth.
3- In a new bow, a sticky paste between the stick and the frog may appear after several hours of intense use. This is due to perspiration mingling with some softened varnish. When this happens, the frog does not slide smoothly anymore, and/or moves “staccato,” making the bow harder to loosen. To solve this small yet unpleasant problem, remove the frog, wipe and dry the stick, as well as the metallic slide of the frog using a soft cloth. Make sure that no paste remains on either the stick or the frog. Then gently rub a small amount of talc on the stick, and replace the frog.
Choosing a case:
Shocks are the worse enemy to bows. The best place for resting your bow is in your instrument case, but if you need to use a separate bow case choose a long model. It should offer enough space at each end to place a thick piece of soft foam at both the tip of the bow and at the end of the stick. The head of the bow should never travel or bounce against a hard material, even if it covered with velvet and looks soft.
Weather and travel:
A bow is sensitive to differences in temperature and humidity. Atmospheric conditions are stressful for bows. You should know that the head may crack or even break if you apply tension to a bow shortly after walking from cold to warm or from a humid to a dry place, or vice-versa. Be particularly careful with ancient bows.
As a rule, when you go from one place to another, you should let your bow rest for a while before tightening or playing it, and even before applying rosin. Open the case and let it stand for some time.
Also see tips for packing your bow securely while traveling.
In the orchestra:
Avoid shocks incured by setting the bow carelessly on a table, or applauding a conductor by rapping the music stand.
WHERE YOU NEED A PROFESSIONAL:
First year check up for Rolland bows:
Benoît Rolland likes to check himself each new bow that he makes after the first year of playing: please remember to bring it back to the Studio. There will be no charge for this checking.
Musicians know how important rehairing is. This is a technically difficult and complex operation that needs to be done by a professional. A bow can be severely damaged during a bad procedure. For fine bows, ask for the highest quality of horse hair available. A lesser quality will not last and, more importantly will not allow the best sound and performance of your bow.