Leatherwood bespoke rosin

January 13, 2022, 2:35 AM · Hello there!

I've decided to treat myself, andjust ordered a supple and a crisp rosin from leatherwood bespoke.

Does anybody have any experience with this particular brand of rosin? What are your thoughts about it?


Replies (33)

Edited: January 13, 2022, 7:59 AM · I've used these rosins since before they were sold in the US and had to be shipped to me directly from Australia. They were for sale at half price when I bought them so I ordered a pair (supple/crisp) for each of my instruments (violin, viola & cello).

They are still my preferred rosins even though I have broken my "vow" to stop trying new rosins a number of times since I bought them.

They are not really "bespoke" (check the definition on Google) but you can make them thus if you mix the two on your bow. My ancient ears usually prefer the crisp variety!

Edited: January 13, 2022, 8:25 AM · I haven't tried it but it seems awfully expensive. I use Bernardel and I like it.

Darren if your performing career doesn't work out financially, I suggest you start a new business selling violin rosin. Instead of blending TWO different rosins in "bespoke" fashion (guffaw!) you could blend THREE of them together. Think of the graphs you could draw -- like those ternary phase diagrams that metallurgists use. Remember that your whole business model would be to have a marketing scheme that is even more pretentious than Leatherwood's. Your R&D infrastructure would consist of a few cheap off-the-shelf rosins including Pop's Bass Rosin, a centigram scale, and your kitchen stove.

January 13, 2022, 10:55 AM · I too shouldn't talk, as I've never bought Leatherwood, but, like Andrew and Paul, I wonder what bespoke means. I combine Hill dark and Hill light. That's bespoke enough for me.
January 13, 2022, 12:25 PM · The word "bespoke" is applied to items made to order for a specific client or use. I never heard it before its application to this rosin - but you can find it all over BBC shows (even as they are replayed on PBS).

Leatherwood also sells blends that I think are comprised of different percentages of their "supple" and "crisp" rosins - but they may blend in a different way.

January 13, 2022, 12:36 PM · I'm still using on my violin bows a cake of Kaplan "Art" dark cello rosin that I bought some 35 years ago in my cellist days. I think it was only the second or third cake of rosin I had ever purchased. It's still intact but now getting rather thin, so I have in reserve for when the inevitable happens, as it surely will, a cake of Pirastro Gold which I expect will last for another 35 years.
January 13, 2022, 2:19 PM · Good enough, although I hate the leather wrapper. Like Andrew, I find that crisp is usually better for my taste. Baker's, Deja Rosin, and the Tartini Solo are also just fine for my use, and I've had luck with others as well.
January 13, 2022, 7:51 PM · "Bespoke" in this case implies that they make the 25-75, 50-50, and 75-25 blends to order. Perhaps those are ordered so infrequently that they can't manage their inventory any other way, although my feeling is that rosin should have a pretty good shelf life. It's definitely not "bespoke" in the same way as pair of Carreducker shoes ($3600).
January 13, 2022, 9:42 PM · Wow, and I thought it was a big deal that I have decided on summer and winter rosins. I better get with it.
January 14, 2022, 6:24 AM · The "bespoke" aspect of Leatherwood may be that you can specifically request a custom blend other than their standard blends. Granted, I'm not sure how often they receive such requests or fulfill them, since it would be much easier for both them and the buyer to just pick one of their existing stocks and avoid the Baker's waiting list.

I've tried the Supple blend several times off samples from my luthier, I have nothing to complain about the grip and clarity. On the other hand I can't really justify its price over my usual Melos Dark, it's good to play with but not good enough to warrant four times the cost to me.

I know it sounds silly since a block of rosin can last me for years, but I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of becoming a rosin collector yet.

January 14, 2022, 7:40 AM · Back in middle school I took up the trombone so that I would not have to take "home economics." The boy who led our section had played already for a couple of years and I was eager to catch up to him. I remember that we debated different "slide oil" brands at great length, and that he had five or six different brands of slide oil. Not to be outdone, pretty soon I had a few, too. Whenever I entered a music store I would immediately go to the band-instruments section to see if they had a brand of slide oil that this other boy didn't have.
January 14, 2022, 7:58 AM · I wonder if any of the slide-oil or valve-oil manufacturers have researched the properties of their lubricants as thoroughly as companies like General Motors or Mobil? Or do they just repackage lubricants designed for other purposes?

Anyway, if one is playing outdoors in the cold at a US presidential inauguration, I would recommend the 0-5 weight motor oil as a slide or valve oil over the 15-50. ;-)

Edited: January 14, 2022, 8:34 AM · LOL David. At the time the best slide oils were the kind where you spread some cream on the slide and then spray it with water. It's all just nonsense of course. Mobil 1 would probably be just fine. Eventually it all winds up on the floor when you blow out your spit valve.
January 14, 2022, 9:03 AM · I am currently using the 100% crisp (VNC) and 75% supple (VNSBE). I like them and they do what they are specified to do. They generate very little dust and require very little for each application (compared to other rosin I use previously). The straight wooden casing makes application really easy and the leather wrap gives a touch of luxury, although I think the wrap can do with a better way of securing the rosin to the wrap. They are pricy yes, but in a grand scheme of all things violin, I cannot complain.

Previously, I was using Pirastro Oliv, Jade and Andrea sanctus.

January 14, 2022, 9:54 AM · Paul - I'm not sure you want to inhale the anti-knock compounds (etc) in Mobil. How about a nice extra-virgin, first cold-pressed Italian olive oil? You could have the bespoke Greek option too...
January 14, 2022, 11:46 AM · Well - as long as this thread has opened up into the rosin world this much I will now unload a couple of things I have learned as an unashamed "rosin collector."

Another really good, recently released rosin is "Cecilia Signature Formula" - a worthy competitor to Leatherwood.

And the latest release, "featured product" in the Jan, 2022 STRAD magazine - I can't tell if it's a paid ad or not - is HIDERSINE RESERVE 21. It comes in 30 gram VIOLIN and CELLO cakes. It is a UK product with only limited release in the US so far. I bought 2 cakes - one Vln and one Vcl from Southwest Strings for $20 each. They arrived yesterday afternoon and I just tried them this morning. I have to admit that this is probably the first Hidersine rosin I have bought since I was a teenager and could afford little else. Advertised at roughly 20 BP this rosin costs 3 to 4 times more than other Hidersine rosins. So considering the current exchange rate, the $20 I paid (delivered cost) was a bargain.

Hidersine claims they use Brazilian resin and British beeswax. Although the company website (https://www.hidersine.com/reserve21) does not say this, the STRAD blurb does: "The beeswax acts as a substitute for the harmful petrochemicals sometimes used in other types of rosin and gives the rosin its 'slipping' quality. The 'grip' side of the equation, says Alex Mew (Hidersine marketing director), was determined by the amount of resin used. To find the ideal balance between the two, Hidersine's employees experimented with various beesway-to-tosin ratios."

For some years I have believed that a perfect rosin would have a high static (i.e., sticking) friction coefficient and zero dynamic (i.e., slipping or sliding) friction coefficient. I bought this stuff because the blurb induced me to think this might possibly be a rosin that came close.

I have not played much with it today - just some of the Dancla Airs on one violin with 3 different bows. And the prelude to the 1st Bach Suite on on cello with 2 different bows. I also played with 2 of the violin bows with Leatherwood Supple. I wiped the bow hairs with a microfiber cloth between rosinings. I also played the violin in cello position to be sure the sound came out well - not under the chin - and up the G and E strings - it did!

My conclusion is limited and this: If I were going to have to perform either the Dancla or the Bach for an audience, I would choose to rosin my bows with HIDERSINE RESERVE 21. Only the future will be able to inform me of its use in ensemble playing.

Edited: January 14, 2022, 12:55 PM · If I'd had the foresight to package some sort of rosin in a brassiere-shaped container, I would have been rich by now.

I'm thinking of changing the description of my varnish to, "made from unobtainium, with golden and platinum highlights, incorporating highly musky and sexual overtones."

An eight-page application will be required to determine if a potential purchaser is worthy. LOL

January 14, 2022, 12:52 PM · David,
Have you checked the prices of brassiere's lately?
You would have to sell them empty to compete with rosins.
Edited: January 14, 2022, 1:01 PM · The concept of "Hidersine Reserve" makes me think of a $400 bottle of wine offered by Gallo or Black Box. Now someone will show me a link where such things exist.
Edited: January 14, 2022, 1:18 PM · "David, Have you checked the prices of brassiere's lately?"

Uh, no. ;-)

But I did once work as a diesel-fitter.

My job in the women's underwear department was to carefully examine the client, select a garment, and proclaim, "Dees 'l fit 'er". ;-)

January 14, 2022, 1:53 PM · I prefer the 75/25 blends to the 100% crisp or supple.

However, I'm starting to wonder if the most important thing about a cake of rosin is its freshness, in which case a yearly Baker's Rosin replenishment might be both economical and pleasant.

Edited: January 14, 2022, 7:42 PM · Crisp makes a big difference on my violin. (As opposed to a middle ground rosin.) While the voice on my violin carries well, it's not that big of a sound. Crisp rosin gives it the extra oomph that it needs. Great rosin for me.
January 14, 2022, 8:46 PM · I tried the 100% supple and felt that it was a little too much like bowing with molasses on my bow. If I got another cake I’d probably try one of the 75/25 blends or even the 50/50 blends but they are definitely expensive. Of course your mileage may vary but that’s just my experience. I’ve been using Cecilia signature lately and have been liking it quite a bit. I’ve even been using that rosin spreader that the maker of the rosin started selling with his cakes. I think it basically does the same thing as a toothbrush to help settle the rosin in the hair and reduce bow noise.
Edited: January 15, 2022, 2:15 AM · Stephen reckons crisp is better for his taste, but how does it smell? I'm thinking Sauvage.
Edited: January 15, 2022, 3:02 PM · I have never used Leatherwood, or any other expensive rosin, more than $20. I suspect that finding the perfect rosin would be an expensive, impossible project. The 4 strings have very different composition and flexibility. On another article Mr. Burgess suggested that rosin adheres better on Aluminum (actually aluminum oxide) wrapped strings than on Silver (Silver sulfide). Much of the real world at a fundamental level is electro-chemical reactions. I remember from junior high science that if an amber rod (dried, aged, rosin) is rubbed with a silk cloth it picks up a high static electric charge. The strings can be made or coated with: Aluminum, carbon steel, chrome steel, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Tin, or even plain gut. Perhaps just find an affordable rosin that works well on the E string? I use the cheap Hidersine Cello-grade rosin.
January 16, 2022, 3:04 PM · I've only read the legends that they are the bee's knees :)
Edited: January 16, 2022, 7:00 PM · Is it that much better than Melos and Cecilia? What gives it that 'next' level?

I always felt Melos was consistent and pretty fresh at a modest price. Freshness matters from what bow makers and string manufacturers have told me regarding their effectiveness, i.e. grip.

Melos seems to pairs nicely with Dominant strings and Thomastik products in my opinion. Their dark formula grips evenly and really irons out the metallic edge. I found the same true of Cecilia 'A Piacere' and 'Signature' rosins but double the price for a product that seems only slightly smoother; perhaps a bit less powdery.

David, you gave me a good laugh! We have to wonder if we're paying for a status symbol over functional improvements, if at all detectable...

January 16, 2022, 6:46 PM · Nothing beats baker's, in my opinion. Never tried Leatherwood, as I didn't want to be disappointed.

David, I liked your joke. Took me a second to pronounce the punch-phrase and get it :P

January 17, 2022, 1:17 AM · I’ve never tried Bakers. Maybe I’ll get on the list so I can get some in 10 years.

Seriously though, Leatherwood can be very nice. Especially if you take advantage of the consultation with the maker so he can fine tune the blend to your liking. I have a friend who did that and she loves her leatherwood viola rosin. I might give the custom blend a try once I use my Cecilia cakes up.

January 17, 2022, 2:38 AM · I'll bet the consultation made her feel much more "validated" than had she just bought some rosin off the shelf. Powerful stuff! :-)
Edited: January 19, 2022, 7:42 AM · Ha ha, I love the trombone slide oil anecdote. Very instructive. You can also try sewing machine oil and hair clipper oil. (P.S. I love sackbuts, HATE trombones!)
January 19, 2022, 12:44 PM · I've never been able to justify the price. Leatherwood might feel different from a player's perspective but I doubt that a blindfolded listener could tell the difference between Leatherwood and any other decent rosin.

Rather than being lured in with curiosity to see what such a high price can deliver, I like to experiment with how cheap I can go to realize good results. Quite satisfied with my moderately priced Hill Light and Guillaume. Saving my money for other things. I might treat myself to some Deja rosin someday.

January 19, 2022, 2:08 PM · Consultation?? Really? Will tarot cards be involved?
January 20, 2022, 12:19 AM · The consultation is just so you can tell the maker what kind of blend you want. It’s different ratios of the supple and crisp blends. For example you could end up with a 35 supple 65 crisp blend or a 20 crisp 80 supple blend. It’s just more customization.

At least in my opinion rosin is more about how it makes the bow feel when it grips the strings. This lets you customize that so you get something you like.

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