When is the right time to upgrade from basic student rosin?

May 26, 2018, 11:28 PM · Do you wait for it to break or do you use the block to the point where you can't use it anymore? Or is there a specific way to find out that student rosin isn't enough for you anymore?
Also when did you upgrade from student rosin?

Replies (29)

Edited: May 26, 2018, 11:49 PM · Upgrade ASAP. Rosin is cheap compared to anything else you use on a violin, and it takes years to go through a rosin cake.
May 27, 2018, 4:01 AM · Hope your violin top is doing OK Violetta.

Rosin brands do differ slightly and I have three favorites which I switch between depending on the weather and humidity changes. Google Warchal Strings rosin test and you will find interesting information on a large sampling of peoples preferred choice of rosin.

Edited: May 27, 2018, 4:15 AM · Any time is the best time to get an appropiate rosin which fulfills your needs. I don´t like the concept of "student rosin". There is cheap crap usually made from the leavings of paper production that should be avoided at all, instead of being sold as student rosin. The rest can be classified as softer / stickier and harder, with a wide spectrum. And then there are several speciality rosins in the higher price ranges (up to $40 and above) you really don´t have to care about. A proper rosin that works for you can be found well below $10.
There are "normal" rosins and those made from larch, for people with rosin allergies. In both categories you can find different types and prices. Only thing: never mix larch with ordinary rosins! (Makes you need rehair and new strings immediately…)

The contact zone between bow hair and strings is crucial, and it´s only the rosin that makes interaction with the strings possible. With the wrong rosin, learning certain bowing techniques is almost impossible. But it´s not rocket science. As a rule in general you can say, the lower the string tension and the softer and more flexible the bow, the softer and stickier the rosin should be.

I play with a rather flexible bow on not very high tension strings (Obligato GDA, Kaplan spiral gold E). With the dry and dusty Bernadel rosin I needed much bow pressure, for example martele strokes or Spiccato was tricky, and in slow piano passages the bow tended to bounce. The E sounded harsh, no matter which string I tried. When I changed to a stickier rosin all these problems were gone immediately.
I´m very happy with L´Opera Jade now, but also planning to give it a try with Pirastro Obligato, both below €10, and there are many more great rosins out there in this price range. So don´t be shy with experimentation.
BTW, if you consider Pirastro rosins, they have a very useful diagramm on their homepage where they rank their rosins from hard to soft. But this doesn´t automatically mean that a certain rosin is the optimal choice for the string set with the same name - the bow also plays an important role. And if you are going the path of experimentation, don´t look too much for sound but for playability. For sound, there are so many other components much more important than the rosin, including the instrument, bow, climate and last but not least yourself, mood, coffee, … So don´t go nuts about it. Just find one that works for you.

May 27, 2018, 6:35 AM · Rosin is so cheap there's no reason to ever use "student" rosin. You can get a cake of Jade or other Millant-Deroux rosins off Amazon for about $10. Ditto many other high-quality rosins.
May 27, 2018, 6:57 AM · Bernardel is good rosin.
May 27, 2018, 7:09 AM · Salchow rosin is IMHO a great all-purpose rosin that is far better than the stuff that comes welded to a block of wood. It used to be what I call "cheap" at $6; it's probably doubled in price ($10-12) the past few years. If you are not playing on a VSO, you should probably upgrade to Salchow.

After about 5 years of playing and upgrading to the $50+ strings and getting a pickier teacher, she still plays with Salchow during summer but upgraded to a $24 "softer" rosin (Liebenzeller Gold) for winter. Sorry, I don't consider that cheap. As my rule of thumb, the rosin shouldn't cost more than the 1/2 the price of the strings.

Rosin does get old. When the cake starts to crumble, it is getting too old and will start to perform like the junk welded to the piece of wood. If you want to revive it, you can steam it. The end product is never as good as the fresh original rosin, but it's still better than "student" rosin.

May 27, 2018, 8:26 AM · @ Paul: Bernadel is a great rosin! But just not for my combo...

Didn't mean to talk bad about Bernadel. It was only meant as an example for "wrong" rosin..

May 27, 2018, 10:36 AM · The short answer would be: yesterday!
May 28, 2018, 10:14 AM · I use inexpensive Cello-grade Hidersine rosin on my violin and viola bows. I am suspicious about all those different versions of Pirastro rosin that match all of their different brands of strings. Is this a marketing ploy? Ideally, we would use a different grade of rosin for each string (E--G), which is impossible.
Edited: May 28, 2018, 7:57 PM · My favorite is the Peter Infield violin rosin. (The one that comes in a silver pouch.) It is expensive considering the size of it, but you don't need to use a lot and it goes a long way. The sound is warm, and it doesn't leave a sticky residue. Most importantly, I love it, because it gives a really nice calming smell of natural wood. It adds that much more to my practice everyday.
May 29, 2018, 7:39 AM · Thank you everyone so much for the information. ^.^
@Jeff Etson it's doing great. The dent that i mentioned has reduced greatly every since i put a humidifier in the case. Thanks for asking. :D
May 29, 2018, 10:20 AM · I really like mixing Vienna's Best and Andrea Solo (per Warchal's suggestion). A little pricey up front, but as long as you don't drop the cakes then you'll have enough rosin for a decade at least.
June 2, 2018, 11:48 AM · On a related note, is there any particular rosin that is better suited to gut strings? I've recently bought a Baroque violin, and my rosin is pretty old and cheap anyway, so I'd like something that would be good for my gut strung Baroque as well as my Dominant-strung modern violin.
June 2, 2018, 12:07 PM · I tried the Vienna's Best / Andrea Solo combination, since I was mostly using Warchal strings, and really liked the Vienna's Best but found a better combo with Baker's regular.

I've just replaced that with Leatherwood Supple and been really pleased, though. (Passiones + Warchal Amber E.)

June 4, 2018, 9:05 AM · It's very important to buy 10 - 20 rosins. They won't do anything for a long time, but over time, they season the violin, and then in a few years, magically, your violin is sounding way better.
June 4, 2018, 3:09 PM · OMG, Christian! Good to know. Now this is the secret behind old Italians - they just were not able to produce consistent quality rosin those days and just used what they could get... I guess nowadays the brand doesn't matter either, as long as they're all different rosins and rather on the pricey side? You really got me into shopping mode!
June 4, 2018, 3:32 PM · When is the right time?

Immediately upon opening the violin case for the first time, before reaching for the bow, before pulling out the violin, grab that block of rosin and pitch it in the can!

Life’s too short to bother with lousy rosin!


Edited: June 4, 2018, 7:07 PM · This is the review I posted at Amazon the other day when my search revealed they now sell Leatherwood rosins:

"I purchased Leatherwood rosin before Amazon began advertising it. I ordered it directly from Australia when it was offered one-time at a half-price sale. Because I play violin, viola, and cello I ordered the Supple and Crisp versions - a total of 6 cakes.

If this is not the very BEST rosin I have used in 80 years of music making, there certainly has been none better. My current collection of well-. semi- and hardly-used rosin that I can specifically recall acquiring since 1948 numbers into multiple dozens - but the Leatherwood family has become the one I use when I practice at home and before I leave home to play elsewhere. I do not take Leatherwood other places with me - it's just too valuable to me.

Leatherwood offers "bespoke" rosins that are "made-to-order" recipes of different proportions of their crisp and supple versions. If you have both versions, as I do, you can probably combine them on the bow to tailor its properties to your exact taste."

June 5, 2018, 10:56 AM · Andrew, that is some high praise=)

Lydia, I was using Baker's before I switched to the mix, and found it very similar to the mix as well. If I was only going to use one Rosin, I'd probably switch back to the Bakers. Of the three, though, I find the Vienna's best to be my favorite; occasionally, though, it's nice to have a little extra bite for certain pieces and the Andrea delivers that.

Edited: June 5, 2018, 1:25 PM · Hello, not directly related but I couldn't create a new discussion on this topic: I'm writing a work of fiction in which a violinist forgets his rosin and has to borrow the cellist's rosin. This takes place 200 years ago. Is there any difference whatsoever between the two rosins? Thanks!
Edited: June 6, 2018, 12:29 AM · Linda,

Cello rosin will be stickier (softer) - more grip on the strings and possibly more bow noise. I use a very soft rosin for viola, branded as 'Viola II/Cello I' meaning soft for viola, hard for cello. There is also 'Violin I, Violin II/Viola I', etc.

The precise effects will depend on which metals are mixed in and where the trees it's made from are located... sorry, rosin joke.

June 6, 2018, 12:29 AM · Linda, cello rosin would kind of work, but not well. No professional would do that unless there was literally no other option. Might be kind of a humorous conundrum though, especially if a violinist was forced to use bass rosin.
June 6, 2018, 12:30 AM · Erik, I was just thinking that - if she wanted the most extreme effects Bass rosin would be the go to.. I've seen stuff that's basically slime before.
Edited: June 6, 2018, 6:21 AM · Actually, I did some research and learned that cello rosin is softer than violin rosin. Case closed! :-) Thanks, Michael, just saw your reply, appreciate it!
June 6, 2018, 6:19 AM · Thanks, Erik, yes, it's a quasi-humorous scene involving a little boy making his performance debut. :-)
June 6, 2018, 6:34 AM · Upgrade as soon as you can, Rosins are not very expensive.

These are my recommendations of rosins:
1. Leatherwood bespoke rosin
2. melos rosins

These two rosins are the best on my opinion.

June 6, 2018, 10:25 AM · Nuuska, I can tell by your response that you also have studied the secrets of the ancient masters. I wonder if you know the secret handshake...
June 6, 2018, 12:28 PM · Honestly, I see no reason why a player on a budget ought to spend $70 on (Leatherwood) rosin, when there are vastly cheaper good rosins. (Melos, cited by the posted above, is about $15.)

Edited: June 6, 2018, 1:04 PM · Christian... I have to admit, obviously there are things in life I still have to learn about, even if there may not be many of these for a smart aleck like me. So, if you'd be willing to share your wisdom...?

Jade is an "allround" rosin for violin, viola and cello. For violin it's rather soft, for viola something in the middle. Exactly what I need. It may not suit everyone's specific needs, but for me it's great and also on the cheaper side.

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