How to select rosin?

July 3, 2011 at 04:03 AM ·

There's a plethora of rosins available for violinists out there. And I really have no idea what's really important in selecting rosin. I purchased a new bow three months ago and was given a sampler with one thin cake of red Andrea Solo rosin and one of green Andrea à Piacere. I've tried both on my new bow, but am unsure of the results. The red rosin worked nicely on my new bow, but the green rosin has been disappointing. But I recognize that I might not have given it a fair test, e.g. applied too much of it or too little? How could I know? Also, do I need different rosins for different situations, or should I choose just one and stick with it? [Pun most shamelessly intended!] What conditions might call for a different choice of rosin?

Replies (101)

July 3, 2011 at 04:02 PM ·

Where you live, humidity or lack of, cold or hot, steel or gut or wound gut strings, etc. The variables are endless. The best I have ever found is Baker's Rosin followed very closely with Melos from Greece. Both are pure rosin and not made from so-called by-products like most rosens nowadays. Google both rosins to learn about their purity.

July 3, 2011 at 08:29 PM ·

I second Daniel's questions about rosin! And if Ray is correct (as he no doubt is) in thinking that the type of string, the temperature, and the humidity influence what sorts of rosins might work best, I'd be delighted to hear what others have to say on this topic.  

July 3, 2011 at 09:00 PM ·

Here is a video from Shar:

August 16, 2011 at 06:45 AM ·

August 16, 2011 at 07:41 AM ·

Not to knock Baker's Rosin, I'm sure it's excellent, but this whole bit about their product being better because it's from a "living" tree and is "more fresh" isn't a unique attribute.

The basic ingredient in instrument rosins, the sap of a conifer, involves a tapping process very similar to that used on Sugar Maples for syrup. This is done on *living* trees year after year, and the timing depends on the season, temperature, plant health, etc. It makes no logistical or financial sense to chop down all those conifers and extract the sap from them, as most of them don't grow more than a couple feet each year.

The "magic" as it were is in the additional substances that are added to sap during the heating and treating process, which could include resin, beeswax, various metals (gold, silver, etc.), and who knows what else. A recipe dating back to Paganini's time sure sounds attractive, and Andrea Bang also had his recipe dating back to Tartini's time for good measure...but I'm willing to bet that the improvement in rosin products is thanks to the investment into chemical research that has yielded ways to control the density, stickiness, molecular structure, etc., as well as harvesting methods that better strain certain impurities out of the tree sap. It's a lot of technology!

I've used Hill Light for a very long time, but I'm currently trying out Liebenzeller Gold II, and it's working very well. I am quite sensitive to rosin dust and only use what is necessary to play. For the most part I rarely see any of it gathering on the violin top...

August 16, 2011 at 10:28 AM ·

 ONLY GET BAKERS ROSIN!!! TRULLY THE BEST THING ANYONE HAS EVER TRIED!!!!

August 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM ·

I've heard that they don't make Hill the way they used to anymore.

As for Liebenzeller.. I heard that it was popularish maybe ten, twenty years ago. Nowadays, I've only seen a couple people use it, but only for a couple days before giving up on it. I haven't tried it though. It might be good.

I'm still on the waiting list for Baker's; I've tried it a few times in the past, and I still remember the way it feels, it's truly unique.

And Gene, read this.

www.ultimateviolintools.com/rosin-what-you-dont-know-but-should.html

August 16, 2011 at 01:41 PM ·

 Too bad that rosin producers aren't required to list its ingredients the way food makers are.

My guess is the link in the post above is from Baker's Rosin, in spite of its disingenuous desire not to sell its family rosin--at least the initials (TC) are the same for that post and the post order on the Baker site.  I'm not saying that could lessen the value of the information, but it's a bit curious!

Wonder who else avoids Sylvaros in their production, and is there any way to discover.

August 16, 2011 at 01:58 PM ·

 I really don't know what the best rosin is, but some of my friends swear by Bakers, and claims that it is better than anything they ever used. I hope that I can try it myself one day.

August 16, 2011 at 02:29 PM ·

Anyone know what the various well-known soloists are using as their rosin of choice?   

August 17, 2011 at 02:16 AM ·

Brian, why would anyone select rosin based on things like its manner of production, or its popularity? Isn't the performance of the rosin itself in concert, rehearsal, and practice really the only determining factor?

Again, I'm not casting any aspersions on the quality of Baker's Rosin...it's great that players are so enthusiastic about their product. I'm only pointing out that their source of sap from "living trees" is an attribute that is not unique to them, and that the other additives that may be present in other products is not necessarily a bad thing. Some of those other substances may be a critical part of the consistency and feel of the product!

August 17, 2011 at 02:33 AM ·

Yeah it is... which is why Baker's is a cut above the rest. And no, it's not unique.. a couple other companies like Melos and Pirastro use the same process.

And Liebenzeller's use of various metals in their range of rosins... it just looks like alchemy to me.

August 19, 2011 at 10:17 PM ·

There are three kinds of rosin: tall oil rosin (a byproduct of paper production), wood rosin (solvent extracted from dead tree stumps), and gum rosin (from live tree sap).  All three rosin types a primarily comprised of abietic acid (~80%) with the rest a complex mixture of scores of other chemicals.  Abietic acid is the component that causes the allergic reaction in some people and it is present in all natural rosin products.

Sylvaros is simply the trade name for a whole series of tall oil rosins from Arizona Chemical (www.arizonachemical.com ).  Similar tall oil rosins are available from other suppliers such as MeadWestvaco (www.meadwestvaco.com).  There was an article in “Strings” magazine a few years ago about Sherman Rosins which are based on one of the Sylvaros rosins from Arizona Chemical and likely the source of the myth, perhaps promulgated by Baker, that everyone but Baker uses Sylvaros brand rosin.  The truth is Sherman is likely one of very few companies that base their bow rosin on Sylvaros.  Tall oil rosins contain a trace of sulfur and they have a distinctive odor compared to the menthol like odor of gum and wood rosin.  I’ve looked at a couple dozen commercial bow rosins and all of them have the distinctive gum and wood rosin odor.

The key thing to remember about rosin is that it is not a pure chemical.  It’s a natural product comprised of scores of chemicals and it varies from season to season and from location to location.  The manufacturing specifications of rosin are very broad, much broader probably than the differences between any of the types.  No one knows what properties of a rosin make it a good bow rosin, nor are there any tests to measure whatever these properties might be.  The challenge for a bow rosin manufacturer is to somehow purchase widely varying production lots of rosin and modify it in such a way to give the brand consistent properties.  A good analogy is the blending of grapes to produce a consistent brand of wine.  It’s not about chemical testing, but in the subjective taste of the makers.

My opinion is that the lot to lot differences within one brand are nearly as big as the differences between brands.  In other words, most rosins are nearly the same, and when you factor in the variables of ambient temperature and humidity, bow, violin, strings, and technique their properties are even less important.  The real difference among rosins is their packaging and marketing hype.  Gold specs anyone?  Devil’s Blood?  Three hundred year old recipe?

This isn’t to say that it would be very interesting to do some controlled studies of rosin properties on performance, but this would require a consistent rosin, or rosin-like, material and some test methods to characterize both the material rosin properties and performance properties.

August 31, 2011 at 05:19 PM ·

what rosin would you say is the best?

August 31, 2011 at 08:38 PM ·

People play successfully on a whole universe of rosins:

Bakers
Pirastro (dozens of kinds)
Hidersine
Hill Light/Dark
Melos
Tartini
Andrea
Jade L'Opera
Millant Deroux
Gold and Silver
Bernardel
Dominant
Thomastik-Infeld
D'Addario
Kaplan
Royal Oak
Salchow
Kolstein
Clarity
Motrya
Larsen
Guillame
Bogaro & Clemente
Liebenzeller
Larica

There are dozens more I can't recall at the moment...

When I was in college and earned some money at one gig, I went online and bought at least one cake of dozens of different rosins with friends. We all got clean bow rehairs, some alcohol to clean the bow hear in between changes, and spent weeks trying them all in solo, chamber, and orchestra situations. The results were so all-over-the-board we eventually concluded that really each player gravitated towards specific rosins based on their unique needs. Sometimes even the things we tried to generalize (darker = stickier) weren't always true depending on the bow/instrument combination. Violinists and violists also had widely varying preferences!

August 31, 2011 at 10:19 PM ·

How much is Baker's rosin? I didn't see a price on their website.

September 1, 2011 at 05:13 AM ·

 From Madi Phillips

 

Posted on August 31, 2011 at 05:19 PM

what rosin would you say is the best?

>>Madi - Baker's Violin Rosin is the best I have used.  It's made fresh, unlike some of the other rosins mentioned which might be sitting around in some warehouse for a long time.  In the past I did use the Pirastro Goldflex, Bernardel, Hill dark, and Light. 

 

 

From Randy Walton
Posted on August 31, 2011 at 10:19 PM

How much is Baker's rosin? I didn't see a price on their website.

 

>> Baker's rosin currently sells for $22.00 per unit and the shipping cost would vary I would imagine for certain locations.

 

 

 

September 1, 2011 at 09:24 AM ·

"Baker's rosin currently sells for $22.00 per unit and the shipping cost would vary I would imagine for certain locations."

That sounds expensive to me!! £14 in real money!! (Wink)

It's only a lump of rosin after all!!

 

September 2, 2011 at 12:38 AM ·

Thank you, Nate. 

November 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM · I have used before Melos rosin with titanium strings;The dark was better..

Now I have pirastro obligato with Zyex strings,it seems to me to suit together..

What are others using with d'Addario strings?

November 29, 2011 at 06:45 PM · Last week I bought a cake of Kaplan Light no. 6 rosin on impulse. Have other v.commers had experience of Kaplan rosin, and what were their opinions?

November 29, 2011 at 06:50 PM · my very favorite of all time is Kolophorin, and I try not to use it up any more than I absolutely have to, because I cannot find it anywhere anymore. It's an amber color, and it sounds the best out of all my other light and dark rosins, therefore, I only use it when I'm recording. PS: if any of you out there are familiar with this, and know where I can get some, please reply - thanks !!!!

November 30, 2011 at 03:45 AM · I use Salchow rosin and I love it. I've never had any build up or dust issues. I believe it's considered a medium grade so there were no light or dark issues for me either.

I maybe apply rosin once every other week and just run it down my bow once or twice. If you see tons of dust on your instrument or strings, you've put too much.

November 30, 2011 at 03:53 AM · I like my good old Hill Dark. It works well for me in the different and always changing weather up here in WI. I've tried lighter ones, but I don't like the sound and I'm constantly having to re-rosin.

November 30, 2011 at 04:11 AM · I once talked with one of the Salchow family about different types, colors of rosin, etc. His view was essentially that you could out-think the problem-- and that in response to a lot of experimenting, his firm settled on making just one kind. Being lazy and uninquisitive, I then chose to use that one.

It's very good. There might be better, and after reading all this I might try Baker's-- if I am in the mood to make my life more complicated.

December 1, 2011 at 01:19 AM · Someone Checked out the Larica? I don'T want a Discussion about Rudolf Steiner, just if someone knows if this is a good Rosin. Liebenzeller was good, so I think of trying this out... anyone experience with this expensive cake?

December 1, 2011 at 05:18 AM · The only thing I can say for sure about rosin is that you need to agonize over it for at least two weeks before you spend the $10 to try one.

December 1, 2011 at 10:17 AM · I can understand if a concert violinist prefers expensive rosin, but what I still use as a student of 3 years,is The A.B Rosin. made by Barnes and Mullins, London.

I don't know how this make is rated and would like some opinions if possible.

Thanks.

December 1, 2011 at 12:34 PM · I once had a secondary school violin teacher who recommended AB as the best rosin around, at least in England in the 1960s. I have a cake of AB dark.

December 1, 2011 at 02:31 PM · 1960s? Heifetz used Hill rosin ("sparingly") and you don't hear anyone touting that any more.

February 25, 2012 at 11:07 PM · I love Guillaume rosin. The only downside is that there is a bit more clean-up than other rosins. (More rosin dust on my violin after playing that with others.) It also happens to come in a BEAUTIFUL wooden case which protects it better than many other rosins.

February 27, 2012 at 04:23 PM · You should select rosin by smell. The really foul smelling ones (Pig ***t, dog ***t) are by far the best.

Of course there are those ones that act as an aphrodisiac and they are great because they make you play with passion. You need to put a lot on the bow and inhale like mad.

April 7, 2012 at 04:53 AM · Interesting thread. I always have been partial to Hill Dark. Most light rosins I have tried (Hill, Hidersine, Goldflex) feel less grippy -- harder -- to me. I use gut strings and think the Hill and Salchow are both v. good. I do not agree with whoever said Salchow leaves little powder. It leaves quite a bit for me! As for Baker, it will be a cold day in h... when I spend 22 bucks for a cake of rosin.

April 7, 2012 at 05:36 AM · I have just played two one hour sets on the Andrea A Piacera Green Rosin that was delivered earlier today to me. My take on it is that it is everything I liked about Hill Dark but better. It stays on the hair better has great bite when I need it but the bite is easily controlled. I was able to pull a fuller richer tone as well. It is like an ideal combination of Andrea Solo and Hill Dark. I really like it and will be buying more. I have tried many kinds of rosin in my 40+ yrs. of playing and Hill dark was a long time favorite

and more recently in the last few years Andrea Solo with a couple of swipes of Hill dark. With the Andrea A Piacere Green it is the best of both in one cake of rosin. YMMV

David Blackmon

May 31, 2012 at 03:47 AM · A friend let me try his Baker's Original rosin (Thanks Albert! :) ), and all I can say is WOW!!! I have been on the waiting list since last August. How long did you have to wait? Thanks!

May 31, 2012 at 03:55 AM · I think the waiting list is just a ruse to make you want the product even more. How long can it really take to make violin rosin? That whole "waiting list" business doesn't pass the smell test.

May 31, 2012 at 03:56 AM · I had to wait five or six months.. one of my teachers had to wait a couple years..

May 31, 2012 at 01:28 PM · The 'waiting list' thing for Baker's Rosin, is entirely because of the season that it is made in. The sap is collected during October and November and the rosin is produced in batches as they go through the season. They make as much as they need to supply if the season allows, meaning, how many people they have on this list, which recently was around 2000 people.

I applied for my first order in April 2011, and received it in early December the same year. Because I didn't know when their season was, I emailed after a few months wondering if I'd missed out, and received a response from Tom Baker himself, who apparently tries to respond in person to all the emails. He assured me that I would not miss out and would send an email when ready to take my order, which he did. I ordered both the original and citron cakes, and have decided that the citron suits me best for now. They are slightly smaller than most other rosin cakes, but are priced similarly to the way Pirastro or Bernadel are for instance, here in Oz, anyway. I seriously do believe that Bakers is worth every penny to get it halfway round the world to me!

June 1, 2012 at 11:47 AM · You'd think if they had people on a waiting list LAST year that maybe they'd increase their production THIS year to anticipate demand so that it doesn't keep happening.

June 1, 2012 at 05:29 PM · That's the whole point, isn't it?

Create a product in limited quantity, limit the distribution in a way that you can maintain quality control, keep the price where the company covers all of its costs and makes some profit...and as long as the demand exceeds the supply (initially), things are good.

Ever wonder how iPhones seem to sell for so much every time Apple launches a new version? ;)

June 2, 2012 at 12:19 AM · It's not that Bakers try to create a limited product. They actually have 80 acres of trees growing to try to meet demand. The problem is that it began as a small family owned business, which it still is, but demand is outstripping their ability to supply. Seasons and the age of the trees also dictate how much sap they can tap at one season. The best way to get onto their waiting list is to indicate early in the year by sending an email. Last time I ordered and received two cakes, but was made aware that sometimes they can only supply one cake at a time, due to demand. If you have any concerns at all, simply email, and if you don't get a reply I'll eat my left shoe. They really do seem to try to service every request.

June 2, 2012 at 01:46 AM · Millie, I emailed TC a couple days ago. Let's hope you don't have to eat your left shoe. :)

One more question: in another thread, someone said that TC Baker believes that rosin deteriorates over time, and should be replaced annually. Has anyone detected any deterioration in Baker's rosin after using it for a while?

June 2, 2012 at 04:29 AM · > It's not that Bakers try to create

> a limited product.

Well, inherently, they do. If all they wanted to do was crank out their product, they could sell out to some huge conglomerate with the resources to buy thousands of square miles of already living trees, employ thousands of workers to handle the processing, and link up with tons of distributors to get their product to every end of the planet.

However, somewhere in all of that rigmarole, it's definitely possible that some quality, some of desire-able qualities of the product that are a result of its manufacture in small batches in a traditional setting, can be lost.

At least in a niche market like this, having your demand exceed your supply is not a bad thing at all.

June 2, 2012 at 08:04 PM · Maybe it's only an impression but I think rosin does tend to dry out a bit over time. There probably are some volatile oils or other chemicals in there that evaporate and the rosin get's more brittle. My Baker's rosin was a bit more sticky 6 months ago. So I have been keeping it in a double zipped plastic bag but don't know if that will make a difference.

It still works very well.

June 3, 2012 at 01:03 AM · I agree with Gene that it would seem a relatively small problem to find more trees to tap on other people's land.

June 3, 2012 at 01:17 AM · The quality of the hair on your bow matters as well (as does the bow-obviously). If you aren't sure of the quality of the bow/when the last re-hair was, chances are a good rosin isn't going to do much for you. Bernadel is a good choice for most that live in the northeast. In the winter one might try switching to a little bit darker rosin (for violin) to compensate for the dryness, and then back again for the spring, summer and fall seasons.

June 3, 2012 at 05:14 AM · Joyce, I'm sure they'll respond soon. If not the right shoe'll go too....

For those who have further queries about Baker's Rosin, here are some emails I received after being a thorough pest asking to be put on the list and later, when it was coming. As you can see it was no bother to them. No, I'm not in any way associated with their 'business' which seems to be more of a non profit entity than anything. I was just pleased with their service and product.

Sent: Sunday, 27 February 2011 9:03 AM

To: Millie

Subject: Re: Rosin order

Hi Millie,

Thank you for your interest in Baker's Rosin.

I've added your contact information to our member list...welcome to the

family:)

We're currently between seasons, but with Florida's short winters I expect

to be back to work in just a couple of months.

When rosin is again available, Karen (wife) will send you our, "Invitation

to Order" email.

It's important that you reply to that because when we receive your reply,

the program we use recognizes it and will automatically place your member

entry on the receiever's list and we'll then know to get an order out to

you.

Thank you again for your interest in our family rosins.

Thank you so much more though for being a musician! What you bring to our

world is beyond measured value.

At your service,

-TC Baker

www.bakersrosin.com

------------------------------------------

Sent: Friday, 9 September 2011 5:28 AM

To: Millie

Subject: Re: Rosin order

Hi Millie!

How have you been? I hope everything is great on your end and that good heath and happiness are abundant.

We are in full production for this season, but please understand that because we guarantee the delivery of freshly made rosin, we can't mass-produce and stockpile product like other makers do.

Instead we have to make each member order fresh, one at a time and we now have well over 2000 members.

We're also the only makers left on earth still making rosin from the sap of living trees and that adds a great deal of time and complexity to our process.

We will absolutely get to everyone on the list this year, but newer members, because they're added to the end of the list wont be gotten to until towards the very end of the season.

The public can't order Baker's out right. It's not available any way but directly from us and so we haven't been very keen on updating the website, but will when some time shows up.

Right now we're all working 17 and 18 hour days and the whole family is a bunch of walking zombies.

It takes 16 hours to distill each batch and there just are no short cuts. We've been distilling everyday, but it doesn't leave much time for sleep.

I promise we'll get rosin to you, but it will be a couple of weeks yet I'm sure.

Now, if you're at a critical point in your supply, I'll work this Sunday and make a batch just for you...just let me know:)

-Tom

www.bakersrosin.com

----------------------------

Sent: Saturday, 10 September 2011 5:45 AM

To: Millie

Subject: Re: Rosin order

Hi Millie,

Thank you for you patience. It's so appreciated.

Getting back to people quickly - When I write a company for information I don't like waiting for a reply. I figure we're all the same that way, so I do check the email everytime I walk past this thing lol.

Plus, our members are our friends. We think of them as extended family and you make time for family, it's that simple.

Fortunately, the rosin doesn't have to be stared at for 16 hours, so there are moments between pH and temperture testing that allow for me to sit at the computer.

I admit it was a lot easier in the beginning. I could talk with every member in a relaxed chat sort of way. We'd exchange stories and interests and that was a big pay-off or reward for me. Fringe benefit you might say.

As the membership grows it become increasingly difficult to "know" our members and that's depressing for sure.

We're not interesting in being an impersonal company...even a successful impersonal company because we're not business people.

We're musicians and we'll always be musicians, so the real goal for us is just to bring rosins back to the high standard they used to be at.

We don't have to make money with the rosin, as long as we're not losing it. The cost of production to make rosin this way is high and it's really time-consuming, but it's the only way to make proper rosin and our art deserves proper rosin.

I don't know what people were thinking when they decided to switch from trees to hardened resin, but there's no two ways about it, mother nature is best.

Back to it I go! I hope you have a wonderful day!

-Tom

---------------------------------

Sent: Thursday, 3 November 2011 10:50 AM

To: Millie

Subject: Re: Rosin order

Hi Millie!

No, you didn't miss anything from us, but I just took a look at the list and you're only 20 or so members away.

You will probably be getting your invitation to order in a week, maybe a little more.

Because we guarantee the delivery of freshly made rosin, we can't mass produce and stockpile product like other makers do.

Instead we make each member order fresh, one at a time and we have over 2000 members, so it takes us the entire season just to work our way through the list and take care of everyone waiting.

The draw back of making rosin from the sap of living trees is that mother nature is in charge of how much you make and even with 80 acres of trees we struggle to meet demand.

That's probably why we're apparently the only makers left on the whole planet who still make rosin from the sap of living trees, but we believe it's the only way to make proper rosin, so we're not going to change.

At your service,

-TC Baker

-------------------------------

A bit lengthy but there you are. A great effort service-wise to somebody completely unknown to them, 12,000 km's away and in all likelihood will only purchase one cake, or two. If they truly do run this at very minimal profit, they are to be commended.

BTW, at this stage the rosin is still working fine and doesn't show any signs of needing replacing.

Cheers,

Yip yap Millie

June 3, 2012 at 07:07 AM · Bernardel and Laubach Gold rosin are what I recommend for people who don't have Baker's.. haven't tried Melos, but I heard that's great too.

June 3, 2012 at 08:26 AM · Its best to buy a rosin that tastes good so you can grate it and sprinkle on salads this time of year.

On the fiddle you need a rosin that plays the best on whichever string you use most, so select a rosin for the e string if that's where you mostly are, or another grade if you play a lot on the g string. (No naughty jokes about the g string now ...)

June 4, 2012 at 04:12 PM · I am relatively new at this but I have found Leto 8010 to work well. I get it on e-bay, cheap ($2.50) for a large block. Never given me any trouble....

June 6, 2012 at 10:12 AM · The quality of a rosin depends on the resin used. Too oily or too dry, it's not good for the play. We studied these problems with musicians to create our own rosin.

June 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM · There is certainly plenty of hype about bakers (never heard of it). What's so good about it? Is it grippier? I guess I must not be good enough. Frankly, I can't really tell the difference between different rosins. If the bow is not gripping the strings, I put on more rosin. That's the extent of my rosin preference.

June 6, 2012 at 01:33 PM · I wanted a little more bite so I asked for bow hair with more bite. Easier and more consistent than trying a different rosin. Sticking with Bernardel (the cake that I dropped on the floor, melted back together, and re-molded).

June 6, 2012 at 01:54 PM · As someone who has owned and used EVERY rosin in Gene Wie's list (except for Clarity and Larica) for my purposes the original Tartini and Andrea (same stuff) Symphony grade rosin has served my purposes best. It is long acting, grips just right, and will let me get through a long orchestra or chamber music session (on violin, viola, or cello) without needing to consider re-rosining.

Baker's gave me some nice "coloring" choices, but more dust and no staying power for consistent sound production.

Before Tartini was available I found the original Liebenzeller Gold or Pyrite were best for me (appropriate hardness grade for the instrument) good, but without as much staying power as Tartini.

But that's just me, I guess.

Andy

June 6, 2012 at 04:45 PM · With Baker's, I rosin once or twice a week... same with Bernardel.

One of my teachers who uses Laubach Gold rosins once every two or three weeks (I don't know how he pulls it off).

June 8, 2012 at 04:18 AM · "One of my teachers who uses Laubach Gold rosins once every two or three weeks"

He "pulls it off" by SAYING that's what he does. There seems to be some contest to see how infrequently you can claim to be rosining your bow.

BS.

June 8, 2012 at 05:13 AM · Smiley, believe it or not - after only 4 swipes of Baker's rosin, all of a sudden I became a better player! My bowing was smoother, the bow tracked the strings much better and there was very little bow noise. The bow was easier to control, so I was able to play better and sound better. Unfortunately, the magic started to wane after two days... I thought maybe all it took was a stickier rosin, so I applied Jade (was using Goldflex before) - big mistake, I immediately sounded scratchy, and bowing became more laborious. I'm surprised that you don't feel differences between rosins. There are very discernible differences in playability and sound with each rosin I have tried.

Another question: which rosin is most similar to Baker's in terms of playing characteristics? Melos (Light or Dark)? Bernadel? Liebenzeller Gold (which number)?

June 15, 2012 at 03:27 AM · Besides the many different types of rosin, you need to consider the concentration of gold or silver (if it indeed is one of these types) and light vs dark. Generally, lighter rosins tend to help your tone to be more dolce without being overpowering while darker rosins will yield a more powerful sound. The higher the concentration of rosin, the stickier it will be, and the stronger your sound will be.

I have had great experiences with this website:

http://www.trebletobass.com/rosin

They will even find products not on the website if you request them.

June 23, 2012 at 03:37 PM · I received Tom Baker's response after a little more than 2 weeks since my inquiry:

______

Hi Joyce,

We’re tryin darlin.

We haven’t been getting the rainfall we need and so our trees are mad.

We are in production though and working our way through the list.

I give you my word we’re doing the best we can.

-Tom

www.bakersrosin.com

July 5, 2012 at 07:45 PM · I don't play any music but my son plays violin. So far, we had only tried Jade and Pirastro Gold. On Jade, I found it hard to apply and it had too much powder left on the violin. My son preferred to use the rosin came with the violin rental instead of Jade. Recently, he tried the Pirastro Gold, it is easier to apply and not much of powder left behind and my son said he likes it.

My son is currently working on correcting his bowing and trying to get rid of the scratchy sound. Based on what Lin said, Baker sounds like a good try but I want to hear more from someone who had tried both Pirastro Gold and Baker.

Here is another question: My son was renting a 1/8 from a local Houston store ($25/mo.) But his teacher said the violin doesn't "ring". Besides, my son grow very slow and he has been using the same size for more than a year now; so it would be better if we purchase his next violin. Any suggestions for a better 1/4 size violin? My son is currently on Suzuki book 4 level.

Thanks.

JC

July 5, 2012 at 08:09 PM · Julia, could you explain what "hard to apply" means? I have used Jade and it's a decent rosin. In my experience, it hardly produces any dust (Pirastro Goldflex produces a lot more). Also, it's one of the few rosins that is hypoallergenic. Pirastro Goldflex used to make me sneeze and my eyes watery and itchy until I became desensitized. Jade is a darker rosin. If your son prefers the rosin that comes with the rental (usually cheap light rosin in wooden holder), perhaps he just prefers a lighter rosin (or he applied too much Jade)?

Also, you should start a new thread for 1/4 size violin recommendation (or do a search to see if an old thread already exists), so you don't hijack this thread.

July 5, 2012 at 08:51 PM · Joyce,

When I rubbed the rosin to the bow hair, the rosin doesn't seem to stick to the hair. Then I read some comment said use a knife to scratch the rosin surface to make it easier to apply and that only help a little. But the rental rosin doesn't not have the problem, just a few rubbing will do the work.

Have you tried the Pirastro Gold? If yes, how's it in compare to Baker?

Thanks.

July 5, 2012 at 08:54 PM · Joyce,

The Pirastro Gold is the one my son uses. The box didn't say Goldflex.

Thanks.

July 5, 2012 at 10:00 PM · Julia, Pirastro Gold and Goldflex are two different rosins. I don't own a Gold, but have used it at my luthier's, and remember it to be pretty good. As far as I know, Gold is lighter than Goldflex, which is what my teacher (a former member of a major orchestra) uses - if it's good enough for her, then it's more than good enough for me. I got it originally for traveling to places with humid climate, but liked it enough to use daily.

A warning about any advice online - take it with a grain of salt. Rosins, like shoulder rests/strings/violins/bows, are very personal choices. Just because I like Baker's doesn't mean that your son will like it. I have heard that beginners tend to like light rosins, and professionals tend to like darker rosins for more power... Baker's did not transform me from a lousy player to a virtuoso all of a sudden - it just made everything a little easier, smoother, and nicer, therefore made playing more fun and enjoyable for ME.

July 6, 2012 at 09:25 PM · Melos is giving out free samples. So it's a good opportunity to try:

http://www.melosrosin.gr/home_en.htm

July 8, 2012 at 12:42 AM · Thanks Joyce for the information.

July 10, 2012 at 04:52 PM · I just bought some Hill rosin!!! Cost an arm and a leg!!

Got it fom the oldest violin shop in Britain, as they claim. Hope it's not the oldest rosin in Britain. can't tell any difference from what I've been using (15+ year old rosin).

Maybe I need to try it for a few days and put more on ... maybe it's over one hundred years old ... Maybe we should all be in the loony bin ...

July 13, 2012 at 12:15 AM · For those who fret about rosin price, you pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a violin, not to mention bow, not to mention lessons, and you can't stomach 22 bucks a year for rosin?

Thanks for the free sample reference, by the way ;)

July 14, 2012 at 10:42 PM · Can someone tell me how to e-mail the Bakers rosin folks. Their web site has g-mail and yahoo, neither of which I use. I have cox.net Would appreciate it. Charles Bott

July 14, 2012 at 11:25 PM · tbaker12 AT cfl DOT rr DOT com

Alternatively, from their Contact page, right-click the e-mail link, and copy the address, then you can paste it onto your e-mail program.

September 8, 2012 at 03:04 PM · I use LVS Rosin which i get from lisle, but i've also used d'addario rosin which i've liked a lot. I works well well on my violin which you can also get from lisle. Check out the site it's www.violins.com. They have nice violins, bows, and cases as well as some other stuff. Hope this helps.

September 8, 2012 at 06:46 PM · That Bakers rosin is so good you can't even buy it!

I live in the Northeast and in the summer and spring I use Pirastro Goldflex, in the winter I use Hill Dark.

I'm tempted to try other rosins but with so many choices I don't want to obsess over it, I use Dominant strings too, I'm kinda boring.

September 9, 2012 at 01:08 AM · I bought a 1/2 size cake of Andrea and also Pierre Guillaume. I think Andrea is more versatile for different strings than the Guillaume. However, with Evahs (regular), Guillaume has this smoother feel and brings out the tone better.

September 9, 2012 at 08:05 PM · I'm on the short list to get some bakers, only about 1 million people ahead of me, or roughly the population of Rhode Island. I'm expecting to get it on or near my 106th birthday. I've been eating healthy and exercising regularly to make sure I'm still alive when it arrives -- can't wait.

September 9, 2012 at 08:28 PM · Been using Baker's for a few years now. Absolutely the best. Gives the bow a nice bite without the scratch. Improves the tone also.

September 9, 2012 at 08:37 PM · I like Melos. Have used AB with success, but Melos is more pleasing in feel and sound.

January 4, 2013 at 11:07 PM · Your argument seems to go back to lots of technical details about your production, and I think you're missing the point here. No one is claiming that the results of your natural process and everything else out there is the same. Furthermore, no one is disputing that many rosins are manufactured using a variety of substances to increase their volume, reduce the cost of production, and extend their shelf life.

It's fantastic that you have a naturally-sourced product that works well, and I'm glad to hear that demand for it is high and supports your ongoing pursuit of the craft.

The attribute that us players care about is how well it *functions*. With the diversity of rosins available on the market and the wide range of players who use them, it would appear that the process by which rosin is made is not the only concern of the players who use the product, nor is it the only factor that dictates how well it works.

January 6, 2013 at 12:36 AM · With all due respect, Mr. Baker, you are wrong about all commercial rosin coming from paper manufacture byproduct, i.e. "tall oil rosin". It's true that in the United States the major suppliers (Arizona Chemical, Westvaco, etc.) use tall oil as their source for their rosin products, but plenty of live tree sap derived rosin (gum rosin) is still harvested elsewhere, particularly in China. There are several distributors in the US and Europe that are eager to sell truck loads of gum rosin in many different grades.

It's not hard to distinguish tall oil rosin from gum rosin. Both have a distinctive odor when molten with tall oil rosin having a sour odor due to its sulfur content and gum rosin being sweet and more menthol-like. I've looked at many brands of violin bow rosin over the years and with the exception of Sherman's Rosin (which is based on Arizona Chemical's Sylvaros brand tall oil rosin as described in a Strings Magazine article several years ago) nearly all of them are based on gum rosin - just like yours.

There is a third kind of rosin, derived from an extraction process using dead pine tree stumps called "wood rosin". I know of one new bow rosin on the market based on wood rosin that is becoming quite popular.

Now little of this has anything to due with how playable the bow rosin is, there are bigger variables at play here than the rosin source. Ultimately it's a matter of player choice and I"m sure that every bow rosin on the market has its defenders and detractors regardless of which rosin source it was derived from.

January 6, 2013 at 12:50 AM · I must also put in a positive word for Baker's rosin - it is absolutely the best, in my opinion, and I've tried all the most popular rosins on the market at one point or another. I gave a cake of Baker's to my primary teacher, a famous NY-based concertmaster and soloist, who has tried literally every single rosin released from 1960 onwards (always going back to Bernardel), he said that Baker's was definitely his favorite above everything else he'd ever tried.

January 7, 2013 at 07:41 PM · I just sent my email for Baker's rosin. I just hope you will get it Mr. Baker. I would love to give you my business like the others here. Here in Wyoming I come across allot of "Green Sap" gooey, sticky, light amber to almost white. I can only imagine the time you spend waiting for this product to make string rosin. I am sure it is quite the art! :o)

While I wait for a cake of Baker's I just started using Thomastick-Infeld's Dominant, violin rosin. So far it is the best I have come across with Millant-Dark, and AB-Dark. The Dominant wears off rather quickly so I have to apply a bit more often than usual.

January 12, 2013 at 07:07 PM · Mr. Baker, I don't think it's appropriate to speculate on the composition of specific bow rosins.

In case anyone is interested, I ran across this 2011 market report on rosin production. It estimates the production of gum rosin, from the sap of living trees, to be 870,000 metric tons/year. This is about 68% of all rosin production.

Rosin Market Report

January 12, 2013 at 07:21 PM · Interesting presentation but I was unable to find any direct reference to rosin's use for stringed instruments in the presentation.

My assumption / guess would be that use by string players is a small part of the world market for rosin products so I do not think we can gain any information from this report directly related to those little cakes we love / hate so much.

Please correct me if I am way off base here, but I would assume that our use should fall under "DIRECT USE" on the "Rosin Resins Uses" page, but I am pretty sure it is not technically a "TACKIFIER" as much as that sounds right.

TTFN

Pat T

January 12, 2013 at 08:32 PM · Patrick, tackifier is a term used interchangeably with resin in this context, and rosin is just one of many resinous materials from many sources, natural and synthetic, that share common properties and uses. They are generally low molecular weight materials, non-cyrstalline, and glassy.

The main reason I write these posts is a compulsion I have to dispel all the myths about bow rosin, and there are many. In this case, it's the myth that Baker's rosin is uniquely based on gum rosin from live tree sap, and all the others are based on tall oil rosin from the kraft paper process. Gum rosin is very common and the dominate resin used for bow rosin by far. Baker's rosin may be the best bow rosin in the world, but it is hardly unique in its use of gum rosin.

Any search for "gum rosin" on the internet will find numerous distributors who sell rosin by the truck load, typically in 500# drums. The cost is about 80 cents/lb in large quantities.

You could break off a chunk from a drum, rosin your bow, and it would work just fine. Or you could remelt it into a nice form, package it in a cute box, and market it as from an old world recipe just discovered in an Italian cave and people would rave about it.

To take this further, you could disperse some silver flecks, soften it with some exotic oil, add some dark coloring and market it as the best rosin for the winter ever made.

Regardless of how you make it some people will love it, and some will hate it. The important thing is to have some kind of story, attractive packaging, and good distribution.

In the end I don't think it really matters. Violinists are good because of hard work and talent. The rosin they use is almost irrelevant.

January 12, 2013 at 09:06 PM · Hate to agree with you Tom, but that’s probably because I just got off the exercise bike and I am sweetie, not make that sweaty.

I, as probably many others, am very confused and have just decided to bit the bullet, so to speak. My first good rosin was given to my son so I could try something supposedly better. I switched from that based on an internet recommendation.

The last rosin arrived with some crazing and with use showed areas which were harder than others. So I went back to the something supposedly better.

I am one of those who have become very adept at rotating my rosin as I apply it to the bow. But even with the upmost care I can give it, occasionally an edge would shear off, especially when reversing at the tip.

I have now switched to a different rosin which also claims to be made by tapping trees. Hopefully it will arrive soon. I can say switched and arrive soon because one of the things that convinced me of this rosin is they gave me a free sample and I could immediately tell a positive difference from the other definitely, not supposedly better, rosin.

Are all violin rosins so brittle? I haven’t flaked off any the new one, but I have to wonder.

January 13, 2013 at 01:41 AM · Dear violinist.com Agony Aunt

Am I weird?

I've only used one block of rosin for more than 10 years now: L'Opera, Jade 100M It has been used to play my Buthod and my Cuypers, using a baroque bow, various fairly cheap bows and my Tubbs and I've never felt any irresistible urge to experiment, change, replace or obsess over it.

I don't find it necessary to rosin my bow every time I take it out the case and always wonder about people who'll spend quite a few minutes rosining their bow when I find a few firm full bow strokes on my rosin cake is quite enough.

Should I see a violinist psychiatrist?

Yours

Rosalind

January 13, 2013 at 01:53 AM · I have seen no difference in the bow between moderate-priced and expensive rosin. I always buy Hill because it works.

January 13, 2013 at 08:46 AM · > Explain the other controllable factors

> which dictate how a rosin works please?

The addition/substitution of other substances or different manufacturing processes to modify the properties of the product. Unless you're somehow claiming that there's only "one way to do it?"

Off the top of my head, the factors being controlled include:

-hardness

-density

-particle size

-melting point

I have an orchestra student with severe allergies who has a difficult time with regular rosins up close, and tried dozens of brands without any success. She was able to find an acceptable-working synthetic substitute at a reasonable price, which allows her to continue playing without having the coughing/sneezing fits that disrupt her enjoyment of music. Her solution came about because somewhere, someone was able to figure out how to make a block of rosin work differently, in a manner consistent enough to manufacture the product reliably in large quantities.

January 13, 2013 at 04:57 PM · Different rosins should give a "better" sound then others. Everyonea ears are different to what they like or dislike. I thought the original question wasnt answered, or maybe I skimmed over it to quickly. The question of whether two or more rosins should or could be used to play. You could try to add more gold to your strings or lighten or darken your rosin mixture. Wiping it off might reverse any effects you have which could be good or bad. It would get more expensive with the purchase of each new rosin. And the manufacturers might or might not want to have their rosin mixed with another competitors brand. I am correct here or am I high ?

February 3, 2013 at 10:28 AM · This is pages full of exactly the same subjective specious arguments always seen from the "audiophile" guys.

They claim to hear the difference between pure silver wired single triodes or the difference between a sovietski EL34 and a Mullard one.

What they forget is,- they have to listen to recordings which people like myself make (!), but they claim their ears are better than mine (?)

In the days where not even a professional soloist can tell a strad from a modern instruments, I doubt very much in a proper blind test anyone could tell the difference between my 25yr old "student" rosin and a new block of the latest and greatest.

I'm waiting to be proved wrong of course, but there's nothing quite like a "name" a "secret" and an inflated price to sell a bit of worthless pine sap for fortunes.

After all the only big thing is the profit margin.

The other urban legend is how you now have to change it every year!

Great ideas to make money work this way, including restricting the amount made deliberately to keep the price articially high.

NB:-

As an aside.

I wonder what rosin Heifetz, Oistrakh, Milstein, Kreisler, Ysaye or Elman were using before Mr Baker came along.

They made great sound which I can recognise instantly.

I would struggle to do today with the modern anodine "all sound the same" generation making these great "projecting" high performance sounds, we keep hearing about.

February 3, 2013 at 02:47 PM · You've obviously never tried Baker's rosin. I use nothing but, and I find that for me, it loses some of its merit after six months, although it's still the best.

And Mr. Thomas, if you can find a way to make it so that the pine trees produce high-quality sap year-round, make it so and Mr. Baker will make high quality rosin year-round.

February 3, 2013 at 05:19 PM · I tend to agree with Gareth. My general principle for buying is that if one isn't careful one can only too easily be taken in by sales talk and snake-oil advertising in some, but obviously not all, instances.

But who am I to talk, when my limited experience of rosin is to the two cakes of Kaplan cello rosin, one light, one dark, that I have been using in my violin playing for the last ten years or so, and before that using the same cakes in my cello playing for possibly another ten years. And before then - I think it was a block of Pirastro cello rosin, but it got trodden on.

I don't use much rosin on my bows.

February 3, 2013 at 07:32 PM · SO what pray did Locatelli, Corelli, Vivaldi, do in the last maunder minimum, when Nicolo, Antonio and Joseph were making their great instruments?

Better think of a clever solution pretty darn fast, because the next little ice age is almost upon us and the Thames is likely to be freezing over again in winter by as early as 2030-2035.

February 4, 2013 at 01:09 AM · Nobody ever said that this rosin was a magic bullet - it's simply a very, very good rosin that everybody seems to like. If you take the time to email Mr. Baker, you'll see that he is a proper gentleman and no money-grubbing scoundrel; he does what he does because he loves doing it, and availability of his product is limited because he refuses to sell anything that he considers to not be his best work.

This rosin won't transform a mediocre player into a major talent, but at least for me (and for players like Aaron Rosand), it makes playing just that much more intuitive and enjoyable; it's one fewer aspect of our equipment that's potentially holding us back.

We're still creating the same sounds from our instruments, but going to less effort and stress in order to do so.

May 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM · Just got new Baker's rosin for my daughter. She is using it for the second year now. Fantastic Rosins and produce very little dust compares to our previous rosins.

May 28, 2013 at 01:56 PM · A question for the experts out there:

Is the "low dust" really a sign of rosin quality?

What if a particular rosin grabs your strings and sounds quite well, yet produces a lot of dust? Does it get points taken off for excessive dust?

Just wondering, as I see the comment in reference to dust production in many descriptions of high end rosins.

May 28, 2013 at 05:01 PM · I had the basic stuff that comes with a violin outfit and didn't like it at all. I ordered some Melos rosin and dont think I need to switch anytime soon. I chose it, mostly, for being a natural tree sap product, not a byproduct that other rosins can be made from. It doesnt powder too much, but then again I usually put a little more than necessary to really work it in the hair and wipe the excess off with a cloth.

The sound it produces for both the light and dark is very nice. I have two bows and each one uses either light or dark. The dark grabs a lot better but during the warmer days it can grab a bit too much but then I use the light and grabs perfectly.

The only real reason to switch between rosins is usually during summer - low humidity/high temps and winter - high humidity/low temps. I think it mostly has to do with dark being softer and light being harder. During the warmer days the light [hard] rosin can "melt" easier when playing and if you were to use a softer [dark] rosin it would "melt" too much. [Thats just my thinking and school of thought that when playing rosin kinda turns into a plasma like state from all the friction and bowing speed.]

also the nice thing about rosin is that its the cheapest thing for a violin and can buy a bunch for not that much money!

May 28, 2013 at 08:02 PM · Seraphim, we also noticed a significant differences of dust production during our big rosin test (we have tested 40 rosins thoroughly http://www.warchal.com/the_big_rosin_test.html) Low dust production may not correlate with sound quality necessarily of course. However, low dust means at least, that the rosin dosen’t leave its “working place” too quickly and that it dosen’t need to be dosed too often. It is simply the same as a car with a big fuel tank (or even small fuel consumption). It is not only an economical advantage. Visiting a gas station twice a day would bother me for sure.

However, maybe it was a coincidence, but we noticed that the dust production of all good sounding rosins was always moderate or even very low.

May 28, 2013 at 10:33 PM · Heat is produced when the player is bowing on the strings and when more dust is produced means that the rosin is drying up too easily. My daughter is practising almost everyday and she only need to put some rosin (4 strokes of the whole length of the bow) every three days. It is also important to remove rosin dust off the string after every single practice.

May 28, 2013 at 11:18 PM · I've used many rosins over the years. I don't think that there is an objectively "best" rosin, any more than a "best" string - or indeed "best" fiddle and bow. Once we get a few steps up from the small cork-encased beginner's rosin that came with our first violin, bow and case, they all work pretty well. After that, discerning players will indeed feel and hear subtle differences, which will depend on their hearing, playing style, and how a particular rosin will go with a particular violin and bow combo. For example, some may prefer a rosin that supports more immediate bite and clarity; others may want to lead with warmth and fullness. And yes, minimum dust is a very positive attribute. The less you have to clean off your instrument, the better. I like a balance of focus, warmth, good contact and good quality. After we've settled (at least for a while) on instrument, set-up, strings and bow, even the rosin does play a role in sound and response. And in my experiments, it does make some difference in the overtones that are drawn out of the instrument.

My first good rosins were Hill and the similar AB. I later used Slachow, Pirastro "Goldflex", then Kolstein. I then experimented with combining the Goldflex and Kolstein with results that pleased me for a long time. (I found the "Goldflex" to be strong and substansive, but a bit bright and dry. The Kolstein was smoother and darker, but a little lacking in the degree of grip that I liked. What I tried and liked for a long time was to do a few swipes of "Goldflex" first, followed by a few of the Kolsdtein. So I got a bit of smoothness at the surface, backed up by a bit more grip. Trying rosin combos like that will do no harm, though only experimenting will reveal how much good, if any. - as long as they are both real rosins, and not some hypo-allerginec formulations.) A colleague turned me on to "Tartini" which was all the rage in some circles at the time, and I really liked it. But I came to try and prefer Motriya, which I still like. I also tried and liked Millant and Bernadel, which were also good.

The past few years I have particularly liked the Libenzeller "Gold 1". Intriuged by the fanatical following in some circles surrounding Baker's, I tried those - the regular and "Citron", too. I liked the regular Baker a lot - the "Citron" not so much. But physically, I find the small diameter annoying and more difficult in the application process.

Right now, the Libenzeller Gold 1" remains my overall favorite for its balance of adhesion, quality of sound, feel, and minimum dust - except for one problem: my old piece started to develop annoying ridges towards the outer perimeters. I'm NOT talking about the clear, deep gully or canyon that forms when people keep rosining in just one direction. I've always very often changed directions and have kept previous cakes wearing down very evenly over years to a very shallow depth. I tried to file down these ridges with limited success. A friend whom I turned on to this rosin said he does not have this problem at all. Was it just that cake? I recently bought another cake of Lebenzeler. (I did not discard the old cake. With many fiddles and cases, I keep a few rosins going.) It's only been a few weeks and so far, almost so good. The last few days I've noticed a bit of pitting developing in the middle. If it's no more than that, it's OK. I hope ridges won't develop again.

Has anyone else had this problem with this or any other brand of rosin?

As we're coming to the end of this thread feel free to contact me personally, or start anew thread, if you have an answer to my question. Thanks!

May 29, 2013 at 12:06 AM · Only thing I find annoying about the Baker's rosin is the packaging - the tin starts to stick to itself after a few months of usage. I still must maintain that Baker's original is by far the finest rosin I have used (to my personal taste) and makes it much easier to produce a more complex sound on my instruments. Out of everybody I've introduced Baker's rosin to, only one person has stopped using it, but that one person is still going through and trying all the other rosins on the market and has not yet found anything that satisfies him.

September 19, 2016 at 05:49 PM · [ darn it, out of space, have to start a new thread ]

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