Rosining new bow hair

February 3, 2021, 2:19 PM · I can imagine three basic ways to rosin new bow hair: -

a) slather it in dark rosin then apply your preferred rosin afterwards
b) slather it in pale rosin then apply your preferred rosin afterwards
c) slather it in your preferred rosin from the start

Are there any currents of thought on this?

Replies (18)

February 3, 2021, 3:22 PM · Option c) for me.
February 3, 2021, 3:57 PM · Option (c) for me too - but I have found one or two decent rosins that apply better if I use a sharp knife to gently crosshatch the rosin cake first. However I have not had to do that with the rosins I prefer and actually use on a regular basis.

Mixing 2 rosins on the bow hair can sometimes provide the best qualities of both. I never tried to mix more than 2, but then I've never actually asked any bow just what secrets are embedded in its hair.

February 3, 2021, 4:41 PM · Of course not. You need to ask the horse. ;-)
Edited: February 5, 2021, 12:19 PM · David, actually sometimes the horse's secrets are right there in the hair already.

Some 21 years ago I visited Frank Passa at his house in Santa Rosa and he had a large "hank" of horse hair hanging over his kitchen counter. He referred to it as "mare's hair." I asked how he knew, he said you can tell by the yellow stain on one side of the hank, he said they called it "urinated hair." I think I got the impression that hair was rougher than the other kind (stallion hair). I had him rehair one of my cello bows - I think it was from that hank of hair.

Anyhow, so much for asking the horse!

February 3, 2021, 6:17 PM · There's an option (d). Reach into your Rosin Drawer for all 25 different rosins that you bought over the last several years, every time a new one came out that purported to be better than the others. Do five swipes with each one. From then forward, your bow hair will be "compatible" with your rosin, regardless which one you apply. And if you change your strings then you have to start over.
Edited: February 3, 2021, 8:13 PM · Andrew, You can specify stallion or "mixed mare" in rehairing a bow. I thought once I needed more stickiness from the hair so I ordered mixed mare, bad idea, it had a very harsh sound with my playing and instrument. The stallion hair has scales that are somewhat smoother.

Probably people with high end bows don't get a choice because stallion is best for them. Maybe, I've never had a high end bow.

February 3, 2021, 8:15 PM · Greetings,
if we named rosins after horsehair I might buy Black Beauty and Silver but I draw the line at Mr Ed,
Too many neigh sayers on this site in my opinion.
February 3, 2021, 8:39 PM · It's definitely worth being a bit more aggressive than usual the first few times. Recently I've had a few rehair jobs and was convinced that somehow they'd ruined the bow. It took a fair amount of rosin buildup before it felt normal again. Not sure if that can be replicated by using dark/soft/nasty stuff at the beginning, or just being persistent with the normal variety.
February 3, 2021, 8:40 PM · I have some pretty decent bows but nearly dead ears - so "mixed mare hair" might be just what I need.
February 4, 2021, 12:03 AM · I was told by an old "bow guy" to use your usual rosin, but ground to a powder, and rub the powder into the new hair.
February 4, 2021, 9:29 AM · Michael, That's pretty much what you get by crosshatching the face of a rosin cake - and you still have the cake.
February 4, 2021, 10:44 AM · a)--sort of. It has been a while since I have had new bow hair. But for my most recent bow purchase I started with a "base layer" of cello grade rosin, then added normal violin rosin (Melos, Bernardel, Guillaume) on top of that. I also like to rosin the bow last, after practicing, before putting it away for the night.
February 7, 2021, 4:54 PM · Yes, I wondered about a sort of undercoat/topcoat idea, but in reverse (undercoats are thin, top coats are fat).
The reason is because my Col Legno originally had dark rosin, then I switched to dark amber, and my Coda GX only ever had Guillaume on it, and I didn't like the sound of it for a long time, so I've been putting Hill Dark on it now for months.
So I wondered if it was worth impregnating the hair with sticky rosin to help the lighter rosin stick on top.
February 8, 2021, 7:15 AM · Though it seems counter-intuitive, moving the hair very slowly over the rosin is more effective at transferring rosin to the hair than moving it faster.
February 8, 2021, 7:42 AM · David - interesting, haven't heard that before. Good to know!
Edited: February 8, 2021, 12:45 PM · David disappoints me. I thought surely he would be the one to advocate chocking your bow up into a Sawzall to rosin it. LOL

But he raises an interesting question, so I'll bite. What's better, two swipes at 1 meter/second or one swipe at 0.5 meter/second? Same contact time.

February 8, 2021, 5:56 PM · In my experience, .1 meter per second works better than either of the above. I suspect that this has to do with the heated hair surface remaining in contact with the rosin longer, facilitating greater rosin transfer than if the heated portion of the hair is whisked away too soon.
February 11, 2021, 4:56 PM · That's why David doesn't use the Sawzall - it moves too fast.

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