Everything You Need to Know About Rosin
In this video Andrea answers some commonly asked questions about rosin:
1. What is rosin?
2. How is rosin made?
3. What is the difference between light and dark rosins?
4. What if i am allergic to rosin?
She also goes through a few of our favourite rosins :)
What is rosin?
Rosin is something that string players apply to the horsehair of their bows in order to create friction between the bow and the strings. If rosin is not applied to your bow your instrument will not produce any sound because it will just be two smooth surfaces rubbing against each other. Rosin comes as a solid block or ‘cake’, but when applied to the bow becomes a fine white powder.
What is rosin made of?
Rosin is made from the resin (sap) from pine and conifer trees. The sap of the tree is tapped, heated and purified. Different manufacturers then add various substances such as beeswax, gold etc, which is why there are so many different varieties of rosins.
Each rosin (depending on how it is made and which type of tree it has come from) will possess a different level of grip (friction), tone colour (dark or bright tone) and volume.
What is the difference between light and dark rosin?
Rosin varies in colour from light, amber to dark. Dark rosin is a softer grade, and is generally stickier and better suited to cooler climates. It offers more grip and contact with the strings compared to lighter rosins and usually produces a darker tone.
Light rosins are a harder grade of rosin, and are better suited for hot and humid climate conditions. They usually offer a lighter grip than darker rosins and produce a brighter, clearer tone.
Amber rosins, offer a balance of both dark and light rosins. However, every rosin has its differences depending on the sound the manufacturer is aiming for.
How do you apply rosin to your bow?
It is important to evenly coat your bow with rosin from the frog to the tip in a slow up-down motion, back and fourth. The friction between the bow and rosin will produce a fine powder needed for firm contact with the string.
How much rosin should I apply?
The amount of rosin you apply will depend on the amount of playing that you do, but the key is to give the bow an even coat of rosin. Applying too little will cause the bow to slide off the strings, in this case apply slightly more. Applying too much will cause the rosin powder to build up on your strings and your instrument and produce a ‘gritty’ or ‘scratchy’ sound. If you are a beginner we recommend rosining your bow about once a week, a few times up and down should do the trick.
It is very important to wipe down the strings and violin with a dry soft cloth after every time you play. Rosin dust is very easy to wipe off if it’s fresh, but very difficult to get off if it has been left for a long period of time. We recommend using an instrument cleaner to clean your instrument every 6 months or so, or simply pop in for a service!
What if I have an allergy to rosin?
If you find that you are getting itchy eyes or fingers when practicing it doesn't mean you are allergic to practice! Haha... nice try... but you may be allergic to your rosin. There are a few different types of hypoallergenic rosins available (which are made from synthetic materials) but the one we recommend is Giepel violin or cello rosin.