When do you usually rosin your bow?

July 11, 2004 at 07:23 PM · When you really rosin your bow? Everyday before you play? Every other day? Never?!

I rosin my bow once a week maybe because it seems whenever I rosin it - it builds up on the string a lot. And I don't like the sound you get after I rosin my bow because it sounds so crunchy and scratchy! Plus my teacher told me - if you flick the horse hairs and rosin flys off - it means you have too much.. So only rosin it once or twice a week..

Does anyone else experience this issue with the scratchy sound and build up a lot?

I think it is because I am due to get a new re-hair soon.


Replies (22)

July 11, 2004 at 07:30 PM · I rosin my bow every time before I play...I'd say probably about once every 2-3 hours of playing I will re-rosin. The problem you are having is definitely NOT normal, and you should look into what make of rosin you are using!

PS If you rosin your bow once a day, but you never play, after a couple of weeks what you describe would occur ;)

July 11, 2004 at 09:08 PM · I personally rosin up at least once a day, if not twice, about once to every three hours of playing. :)

I would check and see what kind of rosin you are using and try experimenting with other rosins. Do you clean your strings off when you are done practicing? That could contribute to the problem. Also, do you put loads of rosin on? Try experimenting with the amounts of rosin you put on. I personally like just enough to grab the strings, but not create clouds of rosin dust everywhere.

July 11, 2004 at 09:49 PM · I have that problem, but not very often. My teacher tells me to rosin at least two or three times a week, depending on if I practice every day. Yet, the only time I've had the scratchy sound was when I loaded my bow with rosin, and it was flying everywhere, but I've never really had that problem since. I don't know, could be the type of rosin you have that could be doing it. If not, I would ask someone who knows a lot about it.


July 11, 2004 at 11:14 PM · I try to rosin "as little as possible", meaning only at the point where I can tell the bow's losing grip and tone or before an important event. That translates to about once every 7 to 10 days. (I play roughly 2 hours a day.)

As stated by others, too much rosin will cake up the hair on the bow and just cause extra dust on the violin, neither of which I find desirable.

Re: the scratchy sound -- yes, immediately after rosining the bow, it does seem a bit scratchy but the feeling gets worked out after 5 or 10 minutes of playing.

Regarding rehairing bows: About 6 months ago, I ran across an internet document that talked about the theory of how horse hair works on a bow. Popular opinion is that horse hair has barbs on it that serve to grab the string. After some time, these barbs get worn off, resulting in the need to rehair a bow. Anyways, the document I mention argued against this notion and instead said that basically:

1. rosin is held on horse hair by electro-static interaction between the horse hair and rosin.

2. that there are _no_ barbs on horse hair (or at least none that have any effect in playing a violin)

3. that it's the rosin "stuck" on the hair that grabs the string.

4. since barbs aren't required to grab the string, there's nothing to "wear out" on individual hairs.

His suggestion was to rehair a bow when:

1. you've lost too many hairs on the bow

2. or the hair gets too gummed up with rosin and dirt/oil to permit new rosin to stick to the hair.

To that point, I was always trying to anticipate when my next (imminent) rehairing should be. Since that time, I've tried to keep the amount of rosin to a reasonable and practical minimum and keep my hands as clear of the hair as possible (except for the area right at the frog -- it's pretty gungy but not used anyways and I could always alcohol-wash that area if it gets too disgusting...). I've been using the same hair for about 2 1/2 years and, as far as I can tell, the grab is as good as it was when I got the bow. And, as mentioned above, I don't think I'm need to rosin the bow any more now than at first.

Sorry that I didn't record the link to the document. I've promised myself that I'll go looking for it again sometime but obviously haven't yet.

I'm done. Sorry...

July 12, 2004 at 01:43 AM · i rosin every day, before I play. It usually lasts me for the whole 3 hours that i practice. My bow also needs a rehair (don't know when i'll get it though, uni's about to go back and i kinda need it for that).

The way to stop rosin building up on the strings is to wipe it down after playing. Thomastik reccommend a microfibre cloth. Pirastro reccommend their String Cleaner (but carefull if it gets on your violin, can wreck the varnish). My old violin teacher used to carry some medical swabs that contained alcohol. You'd open one, use it on the strings then throw it away, fairly useful because the alcohol is already applied and it's not dripping wet.

Personally I just wipe my strings down with a cloth after playing. keeps the rosin off and doesn't build up as quickly, so it usually only gets a problem when it's time for me to swap the strings over.

July 12, 2004 at 03:30 AM · I only rosin my bow roughly once a week, someitmes longer for about an-hour play a day. When I do rosin it, it would be just once swipe. It appears fine.


July 12, 2004 at 03:50 AM · I've been consciously keeping tabs on how often I rosin and to what end...

...I sound the best when I rosin every 7-10 days...that includes anywhere from about 10-15 hours practice in total...

That artical on the bow hair also confirms what I've been reading...I think some bows get rehaired too often...

July 12, 2004 at 07:11 PM · you're probably putting too much rosin on the bow

July 12, 2004 at 09:43 PM · Yes - I might be rosining it too much. I use Piastro Olive/Evah rosin to go with my Olive strings. I am now going to do it very lightly from now on when I do.

I do clean off my strings everyday after I practice now.

I am also considering getting black horse hair at the end of the month because it is very coarse and rarely requires to rosin - maybe every 10 days.. So I am going to give that a try. Thank you for the comments and suggestions everyone!!!

Ryan Beauchamp

July 12, 2004 at 10:19 PM · i hate black hair but thats just me i guess

July 13, 2004 at 12:55 AM · I'm inclined to think that rosin is a matter of personal taste. Obviously either extreme - too much, where it's caking and producing a ton of dust, or too little, where you can't make a decent sound - is undesirable. But I rosin once a week, and have been told by a top teacher that I use too much. However, his equally reputable colleague tells me I use too little. The effect of your rosinning (?) depends not only on what brand and how often, but more on the pressure you use when you do rosin. My youngest students tend to have a very light touch, so they can rosin faithfully every day but nothing comes off on the bow. Whereas my more heavy-handed adults end up with clouds of the stuff. The checking system I use is this: tap your bowhair against dark clothing. You should see a slight white stripe. Sounds remarkably unprofessional I know, but this seems to be a happy medium. Any thoughts?

July 13, 2004 at 05:45 AM · i try to use the most rosin i can as long as i can still comfortably play smooth clean pianissimo, because you can get a longer more sustained powerful note with more rosin. That said, i still notice lots of amateurs use WAY too much rosin.

July 14, 2004 at 01:14 AM · I rosin at the beginning of each day, and usually practice 4 hrs/day...I don't put on that much rosin, however- only a few times up and down the bow. And I wipe off the strings several times a day.

Regarding rehairs- For someone practicing 3-4 hrs/day and playing orchestrally and teaching for another 1-3 hrs per day, how often should I expect to rehair? I absolutely decimated the hair on my bow after about 8 weeks..the hair was so weakened that I was breaking several per day by the end. Does this have to do with the quality of the hair, or is this normal? Should I re-hair before all the breakage begins to occur, so I have decent hair on the bow? haha.. sometimes it's kind of satisfying to really go at a passage and find a broken bowhair upon finishing it :)

July 14, 2004 at 02:11 AM · i apply the rosin whenever the sound seems to have worn its edge out.

Interestingly, is there anyone who mixes their rosin? Any qualitatively diffrent sounds? I have only been using Libenzeller..

July 14, 2004 at 02:14 AM · I'm a Liebenzeller convert! But then any rosin that costs that much is bound to sound better, if only through placebo effect. Do you use the gold? And does it sound 'brilliant'? My sound is getting 'warmer' with every application, honest;)

July 14, 2004 at 03:06 AM · I've gotten into using lots of rosin lately. About 8 swipes each time I play or more. I'm in the Punk Rock Orchestra and it just helps to grab at the string, dig in, and pound!

July 14, 2004 at 03:08 AM · The stickiness and fineness of rosin are important factors in sound production; the scratchiness and coarseness you're experiencing may be due to your rosin being too brittle, leaving coarse grains on your bowhair.

Try melting and re-forming your rosin! I discovered that this makes for a less brittle rosin that imparts a fine yet sticky enough powder that gives a rich sound without much residue.

What you do is put an old saucepan or clean tin can on the stove, then plunk in your rosin cake.

You can even put in old rosin scraps and chunks --regardless of brand or quality. Don't worry about the consistency and color; everything will even out when you're done.

Carefully wait until all the rosin has melted down, stirring if necessary. As soon as there are no more solid chunks, you should have a rich dark brown liquid with the consistency of soup (i.e., it should be more liquid than solid and should NOT be like caramel or taffy).

Immediately pour your chocolate -I mean, your rosin- into a foil mould. Allow it to cool for around 15 to 20 minutes before you use it on your bow.

I was frankly amazed at what re-forming did to boost the overall quality of the rosin, even on those cheap and brittle mass-manufactured China brands.

I hope this "home recipe" helps :-)

July 14, 2004 at 04:04 AM · Sue, the Gold 1 is nice, hard, and gives a different response on different strings that I have to use a differnt rosin when i test a bow and or strings... its broad personality, while great on a concert stage, doesn't help in trials. But yes, there isn't a rosin that is any better :)

July 14, 2004 at 01:25 PM · Hi,
WHOA, Timothy, you're literally playing with fire! I was a chemistry major in college and I'd be scared to stand next to you when you're doing your experiments. Rosin is highly flammable and its melting point and the temperature when it will start burning are very close together. Before anybody re-invents gun powder, please check this post dealing with the chemical process.
Take care,

July 14, 2004 at 09:23 PM · i also rip through hairs, when you play a lot like we do and when you play concerto repetoire as well this tends to happen, i wouldnt worry about it.

July 14, 2004 at 09:23 PM · hah when i was working on teh bruch third movement and the ysaye les furies i was killing my bow hairs in about 3-4 weeks.

July 15, 2004 at 05:13 AM · Thanks for warning me about the dangers of melting rosin, Jurgen!

Of course, as with anything flammable, I was careful to have some protective clothing and a fire extinguisher nearby. However, I didn't know just how flammable rosin actually is.

Fortunately, I won't be recasting rosin anytime soon but when I do I'll be doubly careful.

Thanks! :-)

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