Knowing how to rosin a bow is an important part of playing the violin. Yet it is often overlooked by those first learning to play. Most students use the violin rosin that comes in their student kit, without considering other options.
Today you’ll find out that there are advantages of considering other options and learning more about one of thebefore starting to play the violin: rosin a bow properly. Without further ado, let’s dive into it!
What is Bow Rosin?
Rosin is a form of resin coming from pine trees, conifers, and other plants. The sap is boiled and filtered. Manufacturers use this base and add their own special ingredients to produce rosin. These secret formulas include
Types of Rosin
In general, there are two types of rosin:
Lighter shades of rosin which are harder,They also hold up well in a warmer and humid climate.
Darker shades tend to be sticky andThe darker rosin can become too sticky if it is very hot and humid out.
How to decide what rosin to use
As a beginner violinist, the rosin that you use does not make a huge difference in your playing. Your violin technique does!
That is why for most amateur players I recommend to get any good rosin and spend your time on practicing. That will have a bigger effect than finding the perfect rosin.
However, if you are using a very cheap rosin it can affect the sound negatively. Some of my students had a pretty bad rosin that came with a cheap student kit. In that case, it is normally worth the few extra dollars to upgrade your rosin.
I personally use and enjoy the Pirastro Goldflex Rosin and recommend it to most of my students, because it works in any climate and sounds good on most violins. But in my experience, almost any rosins that costs 6 dollars or more is good enough.
The only exception is if you have allergies – in that case you might like to go for a hypo-allergenic rosin such as the Clarity instead.
However, there may come a time in which you would like to create a more specific sound with your violin.
If you truly want to find the very best rosin for your violin, trial and error is the way to go. It depends on your specific violin , bow and personal preferences which rosin sounds best.
Try out different rosins that get recommended by violinists and listen to the tone they make on your violin. You can listen and decide which rosin you like most!
Go for a lighter shade of rosin to if you love brighter sounds, or choose a darker shade if you would like your violin to sound warmer.
Here are a few rosin options that many more advanced players might like to try out:
Pirastro Goldflex Rosin
D’Addario Kaplan Dark Rosin
Super Sensitive Clarity Hypo-allergenic Rosin
Why a Bow Needs Rosin?
A violin bow needs rosin. But why? 🤔
A bow, or actually the bow hair, needs rosin to create friction between the hair and the strings. If there is friction, the bow hair grips the strings and makes them vibrate, which results in the sound we hear.
Think of your violin as a speaker box; when you release the string, it vibrates. These vibrations travel from the string to the soundpost and out the f-holes. That is the tone you hear. The rosin adds friction to your bow hair so that it can grip the strings. To put it simply, your bow needs rosin to produce sound.
How to Apply Rosin to a Bow
If you go to my YouTube channel, you will see that I have a video about rosining the bow (remember to subscribe to get notifications about the new videos! 🙂 ). In this video I show you a new piece of rosin, how to apply it to the bow and answer the most asked questions about it:
Using the correct Rosin
- Use one of the rosins recommended above.
- If you have allergies, find one that is hypoallergenic.
- Some violin bows use synthetic hair. There is special rosin made specifically for synthetic hair for you to use.
- Otherwise, use the one available in your student kit.
Rough up the surface of the violin rosin
- A new cake of rosin is nice and smooth. Rough it up a bit with a nail file or score it with a knife. You want to see some white dust on your cake of rosin. It will be easier to apply the rosin to your bow hair this way. This is especially important when getting a complete violin kit, with a new bow and new rosin. If no sound comes from the violin when bowing, you probably skipped this step.
How to apply rosin to your violin bow
Adjust how much rosin you apply to your bow based on the two categories below:
Best way to rosin a regular violin bow
Hold the rosin in one hand and the bow in the other. Draw the bow with gentle pressure across the rosin from the frog to the tip. Do this back and forth twice, or 3 to 4 strokes.
How to rosin a new violin bow
If you have a new bow that was not pre rosined, you will need to apply much more rosin than usual, about 5 to 6 strokes.
How to remove rosin from your bow stick and violin
Use a microfiber cloth or lint-free cotton to wipe the rosin off your bow stick and violin after every practice. Make sure to get under the strings and the tailpiece. Rosin can build up and stick to the varnish of your violin.
✨ Extra points if you have a separate cloth to wipe the rosin off your bow hair.
If you’d like to read more about cleaning your violin, click here!
How often do you apply rosin?
You should apply rosin to your bow after about 3 hours of practice. If you are wiping the rosin off your bow as recommended above, you should apply it before every practice.
How does the Amount of Rosin Affect the Tone?
Listen to the examples below to find out how the amount of rosin affects the sound of the violin:
- No rosin on your bow sounds dull and flat. You can hardly hear any sound at all.
Too little rosin
- If you apply too little rosin, you will hear a little sound but your bow will feel like there is some resistance in places. It won’t feel smooth.
Too much rosin
- If you apply too much rosin, you will be able to tell visually. You can see it clinging on your bow hair and there will be dust all over your violin. It will even be visible on strings. The coating of rosin on your strings will make bowing very difficult. Also, the tone will sound awful!
The right amount of rosin
- When you have reached the sweet spot of applying the correct amount of rosin on your bow, you can both feel and hear it.
- Your bow will glide across the strings without resistance.
- And you will be able to hear warm, rich tones. Your violin will sing!
To conclude, knowing how and when to apply rosin to your violin bow is a basic part of violin playing, because bow rosin plays an important part in the tone you will produce when playing your instrument. When you have an understanding of how different varieties of rosin affect this tone, you can perfectly match your rosin to your playing style.