Rosin for Desert Climate / Helicore Strings

February 7, 2019, 3:18 AM · Hate to do this to you as I'm sure you get a lot of rosin posts, but I'm hoping mine is specific enough to warrant some good responses.

I am a beginner violinist, but I'm catching on fast.

I have some basic dark rosin that came with the outfit (the kind in the wooden box) that I assume isn't very good.

I also got some Dominant rosin which is medium-light I believe because that's all I could afford of the non-student rosin at the time when I went to change out my chinrest at the luthier. This I assume is also not ideal because I live in the Mojave Desert of Las Vegas where it is very dry and while it has been cold and rainy here this winter, come summer it's going to be upwards of 110 degrees with humidity below 20%.

Right now the hygrometer in my case says its 58% humidity in my practice room which seems accurate. Outside humidity is around 40%, but like I said, it will get super hot and dry in a few months.

It should also be noted that I'm using D'Addario Helicore medium steel strings which are what came with my instrument, and I don't plan on changing them for at least a year unless one breaks or they start to sound dead.

I'm particularly interested in rosins that help beginners play more smoothly (I heard Liebenzeller Copper was good for beginners).

So to make a long story short, I guess I'm looking for rosin suggestions (probably dark) for a hot, dry climate on steel Helicore strings for a beginner violinist who is getting better every day. I'm going to keep using the rosin I have for the rest of this month since buying my violin wiped me out financially, but come the 1st of March I'll be ready for an upgrade.

Replies (7)

Edited: February 7, 2019, 4:06 AM · I use Larica rosin, which is basically the same as Liebenzeller. While I like it when it's gone it's gone - I don't intend to buy another cake in the future.

Don't buy into the fancy magic rosin metal flake stuff - there isn't really any evidence beside anecdotal evidence, which is unfortunately very common in the music world. My enjoyment of the Larica rosin is mostly from the fact that I use Larica III - or soft for viola/hard for cello.

Rosin is temperature sensitive, with darker rosins tending to be softer and more suitable to colder environments, and lighter rosins tending to be harder and more suitable to warmer climates. My Larica cake is actually a little deformed from a summer where we had several 30C+ days in a row.

I recommend getting a cake of amber rosin and seeing how that works for you - anything that's worth more than $5-10 will work perfectly fine, there is no need to drop $25+ on a cake of congealed pine sap.

Most importantly remember that rosin won't make you play better. It might make it marginally *easier* to play better, but that's mostly it.

February 7, 2019, 6:40 AM · At the recommendation of my luthier, I switched to Gustave Bernardel which is a medium light rosin, and it has quickly become my favorite. I live in Boise, which is considered high desert, and while not as extreme as Vegas, we are a very dry climate.
February 7, 2019, 7:24 AM · What have you noticed that your rosin doesn't provide for you? Depending on your violin and bow, there may be other more pertinent factors that are contributing to your issue. Regardless, I second the Bernardel suggestion for where you live.
Edited: February 7, 2019, 9:05 AM · I lived in the California Mojave high desert (with a climate identical to that of Las Vegas) for 33 years (I used to check the weather reports). It is not the climate outside that matters, it is that inside where you play. Only when involved in outdoor concerts (typically once annually, in September around dusk - still very hot and dry) was the ambient climate of concern.

In those days (that ended almost 24 years ago) I did not worry too much about what rosin I used, but I did use decent quality rosins. I think my instruments sounded fine in all environments I encountered and I never thought my rosins were lacking. I also played the cello and used different rosin for that.

Our whole house was humidified, by evaporative humidifier in winter and by evaporative cooler in summer (we only used our refrigerative AC when we had a houseful of guests). When I had weekly rehearsals in very, very dry air conditioned spaces at the local college, I found the thing to watch out in that dry AC was bow hair tightening - I have actually seen someone's bow break because the contracting hair was not attended to in time.

It was only subsequently, after moving to the SF Bay Area that I started to try different rosins (so many started to hit the market - and my consciousness). I have found the 3 MAGIC ROSIN varieties to be very good (for a moderate price). Other rosins I have used for extended time periods here have included various "softer" LIEBENSELLER rosins (I am the one who recommended Liebenzeller Copper for beginners because it is forgiving - it suppresses the "static" caused by the bow moving along the string rather than across it - but will not bring out all of an instrument's overtones). (Personally I could not get the LIEBENSELLER GOLD-I to work for me - too hard. The softer II and III versions did work, and even IV for cello.)
I used TARTINI (now called "ANDREA") rosins for a number of years - and still do sometimes. I currently prefer LEATHERWOOD rosins to all others - but they are EXPENSIVE by any criterion - unless you can find a discount.
Another rosin that you may find can bring out the best in sound from an instrument is Thomastik PETER INFELD - the one that comes in a silver-colored pouch - had a decent price for it when I last looked.

There are many time-honored brands in the rosin game, such as Ken's suggested BERNARDEL - also MELOS, MILLANT-DEROUX, SARTORY, KOLSTEIN, GUILLAUME,VIENNA'S BEST and others; for me, these have all seemed good and to resemble each other rather closely (for my playing) and not been as outstanding (for me) as those I mentioned earlier.

Many people swear by BAKER'S rosin, but I found the glorious timbres it produced right after the bow was rosined did not last for me during any extended session.

February 7, 2019, 9:32 AM · I think all the fuss over Baker's rosin is because it's made fresh. I've heard that it loses its sparkle after a few months, and the wait list is ridiculously long.
February 7, 2019, 12:47 PM · I read somewhere that Heifetz used Hidersine rosin (now considered inexpensive student-grade) Panel-is that true? I use Hidersine cello rosin for my violin and viola bows. Melos is good. Bernardel is very good, but makes extra powder, so I don't recommend it for irresponsible young students that don't clean their violin.
Edited: February 7, 2019, 10:53 PM · I have to admit I'm still in the fun "everything is new and exciting" phase of playing violin, so I'd like to experiment with different rosins. My teacher said I'm fine with what I have currently, but where's the fun in that?

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