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A simple way to avoid bow breakage for new players

by Bows for Strings on

Breaking a bow can be a surprising and traumatic event, particularly for new young players. Unfortunately breaking a bow is most common for new players as they haven't developed the habit of proper bow care.

Whilst there can be a number of reasons a bow can break, early on this is typically from over tightening a bow (and then not loosening it after practice).

Bow basics:

  • Tension on the bow is adjusted by turning the screw on the bow. Turning the screw right tightens the hair, and turning it left loosens the hair.
  • It is often not known that as the screw is tightened/loosened, the frog of the bow actually moves up and down the stick to pull the hair tighter or to loosen it.
  • A basic guide to finding the correct playing tension is ensuring you can fit a pencil between the middle of the stick and the hair of your bow (see photo below). This will give you the right amount of control when drawing your bow along the strings (remember not to press down too much).
  • You want to avoid tightening a bow so much that the curve of the bow starts to straighten out, and you certainly want to avoid it going convex. 
  • Most importantly for the longevity of your bow is remembering to loosen the bow off after every use before putting it away (just like us, bows like to wind down before going to bed too). A few turns to the left so you can start to see some loose hairs is sufficient (you don't want to loosen your bow all the way, and you definitely don't want to loosen it so far that the screw comes out).

A simple way to show correct tension and help prevent bow breakage:

Whilst a pencil between the hair and the middle of the stick is a good measure for finding the right tension, sometimes this can be easy to forget.

A simple way to help new players avoid over-tightening their bow is to mark a line or put a dot on the butt end of the stick behind the frog when the bow is at the correct tension. A new player can be told not to wind the frog past the dot, otherwise their bow has been wound up too far! This mark can be made using a white pencil or with tape (ask us in store and we can do it for you).

Below is a photo of a bow wound to this 'correct tension' mark. If it had been wound beyond this mark then the bow would be too tight. 

It's important to note that as the hair settles in on a new bow it is worthwhile checking the tension using the pencil width measure against your physical mark from time to time as it may change (a teacher or one of our showroom team can check this for you).

Hopefully this small tip can save an unpleasant experience particularly for the young learner.

As always, if you have any questions don't hesitate to give us a call on (03) 8802 7905, or send us an email.

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