Rosin - less is more learning?

April 29, 2012 at 09:21 PM · Being a bit lazy, and because too much is way worse than too little with my rosin, I don't always apply it every time I play. Today I was pushing it - both with too little rosin and too much laziness.

However, what I found was that I had to be very careful with my bow speed and contact weight to get a good sound. Likewise for spiccato - it had to hit perfectly to not glide.

Obviously this is not a good idea for a performance but have I stumble on a bowing training method?

Replies (25)

April 29, 2012 at 09:35 PM · no


April 29, 2012 at 09:37 PM · Grated rosin is really nice on a salad, and it's also good for cheese on toast.

April 29, 2012 at 10:32 PM · ah well, seemed like a clever idea at the time..

[back to the drawing board...]

May 1, 2012 at 05:23 AM · I don't rosin up every time either, because I hate cleaning under the fingerboard after playing. What I have found is the different weight bows can be used effectively for producing a wide variety of sounds depending on the genre. I use a very heavy fiberglass viola bow when playing bluegrass and some country to produce a bright tone and can simply switch to a much lighter bow when going to a waltz or ballad. It actually sounds like two different instruments.

May 1, 2012 at 05:27 AM · Jim - you might want to try a few rosin varieties then - some of them leave virtually no dust while having terrifid grip. I use Andrea but the same is true of Bernadrel and a lot of others. Andrea gruadually builds up on the string itself, leading to squeaky playing but thats easily cured with a quick wipe.

May 1, 2012 at 10:25 AM · I've just been re-haired - the bow that is. I found it wasn't gripping so well so I put loads of rosin on and the other members of the quartet, all who have dark hair all left with white hair (on their heads that is ...)

Even the audience complained that it was getting up their noses - and the rosin as well ...

And there was me thinking it was frostbite because I was playing so high up. Now I know. (Maruana flavoured rosin is quite nice though, and it keeps everyone happy ...)

P S Electric shock is also a good bowing trainer - especially for those who are shy about playing off the string. I wouldn't go beyond 240 volts though as it tends to wake one up.

May 1, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Elise,

I used to rosin the bow every time after playing, and that got me much too much rosin: scratchy and slippery at the same time. Now I use rosin once every two or three weeks.

I would not use a rosin-less bow as a training device for fear of training myself to use too much force.

Bart -- just returned from the dentist, who uses rosin (resin?) for completely different purposes --

May 1, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Bart - thats exactly what I mean, a low-rosin bow, not a no-rosin one! The latter would only be good for silent movies or Millie Vanilli ;) (and just about every violin music video ...)

Out of curiousity, which kind of rosin do you use - is it a particularly good grip one? I can do this with Andrea but not Bernadrel.

May 1, 2012 at 02:59 PM · I am not sure of your invention. Generally, if the rosin is missing, one has to apply more pressure, even in piano passages. It is not very good training method.

You are right, Andrea dosen't need to be applied so often and intensive than the other ones. We tested 40 rosins thoroughly and the Andrea solo was on of the winners. Nevertheless, I recommend sparing, but rather often application.

May 1, 2012 at 05:52 PM · My violin teacher always asks whether I've rosined my bow before we start - although maybe she has many young students who don't bother.

If Milli Vanilli fell in the forest, would someone else make a sound?

May 1, 2012 at 06:25 PM · I only recently came to appreciate how far a little rosin goes.

If I had to guesstimate...I can get a good 28 hours of practice/playing time per bow rosining - on a seasoned bow, using good quality rosin.

Maybe more would be an interesting experiment if I could remember to actually write it all down...

May 1, 2012 at 10:12 PM · @Bohdan, if it's not too much trouble, is there any chance you could let us in on the result of your testing 40 rosins, or is it not for publication?

May 2, 2012 at 06:35 AM · The testing method is described quite in detail on our website. We also inform there, why we deiced to publish just the three winners at the end (since originally we intended to publish the complete results).

May 2, 2012 at 10:49 AM · You are of course correct, Bohdan; thank you very much.

May 2, 2012 at 02:29 PM · I agree with N.A.Mohr. I only rosin when I have to, i.e., when the sound is disappearing (of course, not taking chances, I also rosin before a performance). And indeed you would be surprised how long it lasts before you actually reach the point where you have to rosin.

May 2, 2012 at 02:32 PM · So I'm not so weird! But maybe we all use relatively high-grip rosin. What do you use Jean?

May 2, 2012 at 04:00 PM · It is very similar question like: "how long to play the string set". For example, synthetic core strings do have a short break-in period (when they can sound a bit harsh), then a few weeks of "maximum performance period" and than relatively long period of sufficient or "decent" sound, which becomes dull little by little.

Now, the question is, when to decide to change the strings.

I think it is the same with rosin. On a fresh hair the rosin can really last 28 hours or even more. However, if you do just two, or three stokes every other or third hour (preferably with quick strings cleaning), your tone will be better. You will not need to apply so much press, you will be able to come closer to the bridge e.t.c. Maybe I should add "in my opinion" of course :-)

May 2, 2012 at 07:24 PM · Greetings,

I second the above opinion. the limit rosin approach is on the wrong track.



May 3, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Elise, probably you *are* weird, and so am I :-)

I just use a standard brand, don't even remember the name, since I am using a larger piece of a cake that had broken in pieces. I do have a new cake still in its original packing, can't remember the brand, probably it is time I switch to it and start using it more regularly, as recommended by everyone else here. I do agree by the way with what is written, that with a recently rosined bow you can get closer to the bridge and that you better feel your bow on the strings. I guess I just am lazy and also don't like the dust on my violin. I am skeptical about the dust-free rosins by the way---I am sure it is true they give less visible dust, but probably the particles are simply less white so you don't see them.

May 3, 2012 at 01:05 PM · " I am skeptical about the dust-free rosins by the way---I am sure it is true they give less visible dus, but probably the particles are simply less white so you don't see them"

to use the word appropriated by Bury:


:D Some rosins leave your violin looking like snowfall on kilimanjaro; others simply don't leave the bow. From my limited experience the difference is mostly price! If you can afford it, for example try a cake of Andrea (but many are the same) if you don't believe me. The first time or two you play you may get a residue on the strings that must be removed but after thats been cleared you hardly see any rosin anywhere.

May 3, 2012 at 01:30 PM · I'm asthmatic. The dustier rosins are dustier. The dust-free rosins, while not entirely dust-free...are fine.

Trust me on

May 4, 2012 at 01:06 AM · I'm not too much in the less is more camp for rosin. I find that the sort of playing I'm mostly doing needs a good attack and after an hour of playing I feel the need to rosin up - just a few strokes. I don't apply too much but at about hour intervals. That's with Andrea Solo rosin.

May 4, 2012 at 03:02 PM · I stand corrected on the dust-free rosins! I'll certainly try one. I still conjecture though that they are "dust-free" because the particles that come off the cake and on the strings are smaller, and that may also be the reason they stay on the hair rather than fall on your violin. I would appreciate an expert explanation on "how dust-free rosin works".

May 4, 2012 at 04:03 PM · Well, that one is easy.

You see there is this microscopic guy with a teeny-tiny vaccum cleaner....

May 4, 2012 at 04:32 PM · ...anyone do any particle physics on the side?

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