Rosin

Rosin

I didn’t want to hijack Vechey’s question. Hopefully I’ll learn something about what makes a good bow a good bow. It led me to one of my own. As someone who is as close to a non-fiddler as you can get I’d like to know … how much does the choice and application of rosin influence the sound?

Re: Rosin

Imho, hugely. Rosin gives grip and therefore response, not to mention a fuller tone. A good rosin can help compensate for a poor or follically challenged bow.

Re: Rosin

If there is NO ROSIN AT ALL on your bow you won’t get any sound from your fiddle. It is that important, and a lump of rosin is rather easy to mislay…

Re: Rosin

Get a good sticky one. Hidersine’s Dark is one I use a lot, but any dark one would do the job. Take an old emery board (nail file) or some 100-grit sandpaper and scratch up the surface a bit before you first use it.

Re: Rosin

Choice of rosin doesn’t really change the sound of the fiddle, but it does change the playing characteristics. Using the same bow speed and pressure a stickier rosin will give more volume, and a faster response, but is harder to control at low volumes. So a sticky rosin is generally good for fast, loud stuff like dance music, however the added grip makes it harder to play slow, swelling notes in airs and slow legato pieces, and for that a hard rosin is usually better. So if you play a mixture of styles you have to try to find a compromise somewhere between the two extremes that works reasonably well for your whole repertoire. Temperature also plays a large part in the choice. Rosin gets stickier as it gets hotter, so if you regularly play under stage lights or in a very warm house you will probably settle on a harder rosin than if you lived in a freezing bedsit.

Following on from Mackeagan’s good advice about roughing up your rosin cake, I would add that assuming you have a round cake you should keep turning it in use, so that it doesn’t develop a channel across it. I hate seeing rosin get thrown away when it is only 1/4 used, just because the cake has been cut in half.

Re: Rosin

The rosin I have came with a really, really old fiddle case, made of wood, decades (at least) old, that someone gave me. I had to glue the top and bottom back on. It romantically fits my fiddle. The rosin sits in a wooden rectangle, open at top and sides, probably so old that the tree has long since died. Should I get something else. My fiddle still makes a noise (about the rest I am capable of so far). I’m just curious here. Does rosin have a useable life span?

Re: Rosin

It usually gets drier and dustier as it gets older. But it seems to refresh if you re-melt it and cast it into new blocks. I get a lot of very old rosin that comes with attic-find fiddles. I used to collect it all up and melt it into fresh blocks for my own use, but these days I’ve become a bit more particular about what I use.

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I’m a rosin whore! I’ve tried a wide range of brands, and I’ve settled on Baker’s rosin. A close second comes Pirastro cello rosin - really grippy!

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Having tried many different rosins over the years, I recently discovered Gustave Bernadel rosin, and I think I’ll be staying with it. Good grip and a smooth sound.

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Re: Rosin

I’m using Bernardel blond for years and it produces NO dust on the belly, yet it tracks well and pulls a good tone.
Still can’t figure that one.

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Re: Rosin

Susan K: “If there is NO ROSIN AT ALL on your bow you won’t get any sound from your fiddle…”

But that is an unlikely scenario unless it’s a brand new or newly rehaired bow. I knew a dear old singer and accordion player (God rest his soul) who liked to project his opinions in the same quasi-operatic tenor voice in which he sang. When expounding authoritatively on the differences between traditional fiddle and classical violin, he insisted that “Classical violinists don’t use any rosin.” We all tried to point out that Paganini, Mehuhin and Kennedy would not have got where they did had their fiddles been silent… but he was conveniently hard of hearing.