I tried playing my child’s violin and it doesn’t work! What’s wrong with it?

I tried playing my child’s violin and it doesn’t work! What’s wrong with it?

More than likely, there may be two possible reasons why the violin is not “working:”

  • The bow doesn’t have any tension and/or
  • There’s no rosin on the bow

Before the bow is stored in the case, it is common practice to release the tension from the stick and the bow hairs by gently turning the screw counterclockwise until the hairs look loose. (Do not touch the bow hair with fingers to determine if the tension is correct. This contaminates the bow hairs). Releasing the tension preserves the life of the stick and tension mechanisms in the bow.

When you take the bow out to play, you should tighten the hairs by turning the screw clockwise until there is a distance of approximately 5-6 mm from the middle of the stick and the tense hair. A slight concave curve should remain in the stick. Again, you should not check the tension of the hair by touching the hair with your fingers, which is a good segue into reason number two.

Before you attempt to play with the bow (especially if it is new), after it has been tightened, you should apply liberally, and vigorously, a solid yet sticky substance that is usually included in the case with your violin in one of the inside compartments. It may be a little cardboard box, or a little plastic covered square.

This item that you may find is called rosin, Rosin comes in different sizes, shapes, colors, densities and qualities; however, they all serve the same purpose: they make the bow hairs sticky to encourage friction between the bow and the strings, which will ultimately produce a tone.

Since the powder or “dust” that is produced by rosin is sticky, again, it is not a good idea to touch the bow hair with the fingers. The rosin mixes with the oil or perspiration from the skin and causes the bow hair to get dirty. If the bow isn’t new and the hairs look yellowish, old or really dirty, it’s time to get the bow hairs replace. This should be done by a professional luthier, and is relatively inexpensive. For more information about instrument care, click here.

I hope this was sufficient information to answer your question. If not, please feel free to contact me.

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