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Cleaning

 
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1946DudeBoy
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Joined: 07 Jul 2011
Posts: 5
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:47 pm    Post subject: Cleaning Reply with quote

I have only been playing seriously on steel strings (at least one jam session/week and 10 min-1hr. practice) for 7 months. Between sessions I wipe my strings with an alcohol pad (wrapping my fingerboard with a rag or piece of trash bag) and use the same type of pad to remove rosin buildup on my fibreglass stick (using a similar barrier for the hair).

Yesterday my A string winding started to go. I am upgrading to Helicores ($38/set) with a wound E. I found out to replace strings one at a time, starting on the outside.

When I re-string a guitar, I usually clean the entire body and fingerboard with a damp cloth. I know to use almost no moisture on my secret formula varnish, but will a damp cloth damage my ebony fingerboard?
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FiddleDoug
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Joined: 08 Sep 2007
Posts: 226
Location: Hilton, NY

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that you're going a little far with your string cleaning. A wine bottle cork cut lengthwise is great for cleaning excess rosin off the strings. A soft, dry rag is all you need to wipe the instrument and bow after sessions. I would never recommend frequent use of alcohol on either the instrument or bow. A slightly damp cloth shouldn't harm either the instrument or fingerboard. A wet rag may raise the grain on the fingerboard.
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Michael Darnton
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1136
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Doug says, unless you use tons of rosin (which you shouldn't--you only need just enough for the bow to work, none more, and I bet you're using too much) you shouldn't need to clean very often. Hit the tip of your bow on your arm lightly, and if a cloud of rosin comes off into the air, you've got a lot more than you need.

Alcohol is fine for the strings AND the board, which shouldn't have any finish on it except for the dirt and oil from your fingers (which you can clean off), but as you're already thinking, don't get even a drop on the varnish. A damp (not dripping) paper towel is fine for varnish, as long as you dry up well with another towel right away. Some very few varnishes may be water soluble, but those are very rare.
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1946DudeBoy
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Joined: 07 Jul 2011
Posts: 5
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are most likely quite correct that I am using too much rosin, especially at first being entirely new to bows and the challenge of getting rosin on brand new hair.

What I think most of you non-desert dwellers fail to understand are the challenges of instrumental maintenance in a dry climate. In Michigan, I easily got away with tuning my piano twice a year. In New Mexico, if I tune it less than every other month, it is unplayable.

When I play one of my twelve strings I usually have to re-tune during a performance and sometimes DURING a song (the joke about twelve-string players is that we spend half of our time tuning, and the other half playing out of tune). I thought I had a houseful of junk until I went to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops, here in town. All three of them are fiddlers and they take turns on fiddle.

Rather than keeping three fiddles tuned, they took to passing around a single instrument, rather than spending 1 1/2 hours tuning, leaving no time for music. I have two guitars and a mandolin which may be warped beyond repair, even though they each have as many humidification devices as I can fit into the cases and keep them flat on the floor under the bed. I typically play my violin 3-5 times a day and it is highly unusual to NOT have to re-tune at least one string. Thank goodness for fine tuners and clip-on quartz devices.

If I attempt to apply dry rosin to dry hair (in this DRY desert) I just create a dust cloud which settles on everything EXCEPT my bow hairs. When I am playing with dry-applied rosin I often suffer inflammation of my eyes, nose and upper respiratory tract from the dust cloud (it's hard to read music through a face shield!) My damp-application method uses much less rosin and puts it only where I need it and it powders off (into my nose and eyes and everywhere else) much less.
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Dave Chandler
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Joined: 31 Oct 2007
Posts: 691
Location: Mt Mitchell in North Carolina

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:58 pm    Post subject: Bow rosin Reply with quote

Las Cruces!! Great little town, we pass through there every fall and again in spring on our way to Southern CA for the winter.

If the rosin doesn't stick to the hairs without being wetted, they perhaps you need to look at having the bow rehaired. Maybe it just needs a wash to restore its ability to hold the rosin.

I've washed the hair on my bow to remove oils from my thumb that build up, and the performance of the hair is improved. You just need to be attentive to not let the frog flip around through the hair while you do this, and let it dry well before re-tightening.
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