You can’t play without your trusted violin bow. When it becomes damaged or breaks, it can send you into a flurry of panic — especially if you have an upcoming performance. What do you do? Is there an easy, quick fix? Do you need to find and get comfortable with a replacement?

Take a deep breath and assess the situation. We’ll cover violin bow damage, including what can cause a bow to break and the next steps you should take depending on the type of damage. 

How Long Do Violin Bows Last?

A violin bow’s lifespan varies depending on factors like material, quality, and care. A carbon fiber violin bow may last you longer than a traditional wood, and a high-quality professional bow will last longer than a student bow. A quality, well-cared-for violin bow can be faithfully by your side for decades.  

What Can Damage a Violin Bow?

A few different factors can damage or break a bow — some within your control and some not. Most often, it comes down to improper handling, accidents, or natural degradation of materials. 

Environmental Factors

If you play with a wooden bow, you need to be mindful of heat and humidity. Extreme changes in temperature and humidity can warp or crack your bow. Wood expands and contracts with humidity, and sudden changes can weaken it over time. 

Physical Impact

Accidentally dropping or hitting your bow can break it, especially at the tip or handle. While they’re meant to last for years or decades, violin bow sticks can be fragile. However, damage from physical impact is often more of a concern with wooden bows than carbon fiber bows

high quality carbon fiber bows

Excessive Tightening

When tightening your violin bow’s hair, you need to ensure it’s at the right level of tightness. You should be able to just fit a pencil between the hair and the stick at the center of the bow. Overtightening the bow can put too much pressure on a wooden stick and potentially cause it to snap.  

Age and Wear

Depending on your bow’s age, condition, and quality, it might simply succumb to wear and tear. Over time, the constant stress of playing and tension adjustment can weaken the bow, making it more vulnerable to breakage. 

Common Types of Violin Damage

What type of damage or breakage your bow has determines whether you can repair it or need to replace your bow. Here are a few common types of damage to help you determine next steps. 

Loose/Broken Bow Hair

Possibly the most common (and easiest to fix) bow problem involves broken or loose hair. The friction between the hairs and your violin strings causes the hairs to break down over time, leading to loosening or breakage. So, if you’re wondering how to fix a violin bow that won’t tighten, the answer is usually with a rehair service. 

Violin hair that’s broken or loose is something you’ll have to deal with multiple times throughout your musical career. On average, violin bows should be rehaired about every 6 to 12 months

Bow Warping

Warping is generally something you only need to worry about with wooden bows. Over time, the wood can warp due to improper storage, overtightening, and exposure to heat and humidity. But can you fix a warped violin bow? It depends. Slight warping can sometimes be repaired by an experienced professional, while severe bending or twisting will require you to move on to a new bow. 

Frog Damage

Your bow’s frog attaches the hair to your bow and allows you to adjust its tension. The frog can suffer from cracks, chips, or failures in components like the screw and eyelet. A broken frog or its parts can usually be repaired or replaced. Keep in mind that you’ll need to rehair your bow when replacing the frog. 

Tip Damage

The tip is one of the most delicate parts of a violin bow. You may damage or snap the tip if the bow is dropped or knocked. If you’re dealing with minor chips or cracks, you may be able to fix the violin bow tip. But if the tip is severely broken or missing a chunk, a repair might not be possible. You risk being unable to restore the original balance and weight distribution.

Cracking and Splitting

Large cracks or splits along the bow stick likely aren’t repairable — especially if they compromise the bow’s structural integrity. Such damage can negatively impact your bow’s strength and flexibility. A replacement bow will probably be the best solution. 

What to Do With a Broken or Damaged Violin Bow

Your bow has incurred damage, and now you want to know how to fix a broken violin bow. Using the information above, determine if your bow can be fixed in the first place. If it has repairable damage, the work is best left to professionals. Take your bow to a trusted luthier for violin bow repair. 

If you have a CodaBow, you can request services like rehairing and frog, winding, or grip replacement. You can opt into the Exploratory Service Program and receive three CodaBow models to use while we work on your bow. 

Tips for Extending the Life of Your Violin Bow

Want to help you bow last as long as possible? You can do two main things: properly care for your bow and purchase a carbon fiber bow. 

Follow Best Practices for Violin Bow Care

Some damage may be unavoidable, but properly caring for your bow can help you prolong its life. Best practices to follow include: 

  • Avoid dropping or hitting your bow
  • Carefully store your bow in a case when not in use
  • Regularly rosin your bow hair
  • Regularly clean your bow
  • Don’t overtighten your bow
  • Cut loose hairs with scissors — never pull them
  • Use a durable case when traveling with your bow

Switch to a Carbon Fiber Bow

If you’ve been using wooden bows and find them cracking, breaking, or warping, consider switching to a carbon fiber bow. Carbon fiber violin bows are more durable than their wooden counterparts and less susceptible to damage from temperature, humidity, and physical impacts. 

Find a Durable Replacement Bow at CodaBow

Not all bow damage can be fixed. When it’s time to purchase a replacement, trust CodaBow. We offer durable, high-quality carbon fiber violin bows for players of all levels and walks of life. Browse our collection online and confirm you found the perfect match with an at-home trial.