I love rosin, and lots of it, so you’ll have to excuse me if I get a little sappy here. But folks often have lots of questions about this topic: When should you rosin? How much is too much? What’s the point of rosin, anyway?
Never fear! I’m here to answer all your rosin-related questions and help you avoid any sticky situations. Oh, yeah: this is also just a great excuse for me to make lots of puns. I hope that resin-ates with you.
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What is rosin and what does it do? Let’s start with the basics: rosin is a sticky substance made from tree resin. It most commonly comes in cake form, although you’ll occasionally see it as a powder, and it’s the magic ingredient that makes the tone of the bow on the strings sound so good. When you draw the hair of the bow over the string, the rosin on the hair heats up and melts momentarily, allowing the bow to create more friction and thus more vibration with the string. And voila: sound comes out! Without rosin, your bow will sound quiet and won’t grip the strings. Because of this, rosin (and frequent applications of it!) is a must.
What kind of rosin is right for me? Rosin comes in light and dark varieties. The darkness of the rosin relates to how “grippy” it will feel on the bow. While many classical musicians prefer light rosin, fiddlers often gravitate toward darker rosin for the big, beefy tone it produces. It’s okay to experiment with different rosins until you find one you really like, but you can also find our rosin recommendations in the Fiddle Lounge.
How do I rosin? First, tighten your bow enough that the stick won’t rub the rosin when you apply pressure on the bow. Using a good, steady bow grip, hold your bow in your right hand and your rosin in the palm of your left hand. Start at the frog and use short, firm strokes to work your way up to the tip of the bow. Don’t be too ginger here: your bow can withstand some pressure and you’ll get a much better coat of rosin when you put some oomph into it. You can work up and down the bow with these short, firm strokes a couple times; then finish with a few smooth strokes along the entire bow. Ta-da! That’s all it takes.
How often should I rosin? Every day or every other day is a good rule of thumb. Most people don’t use enough rosin; don’t be one of them. And this brings us to our next question…
How much is too much rosin? If you have too much rosin on your bow, you might notice heavy rosin buildup on your fiddle and strings or a kind of gritty sound. If this is the case, no big deal: just wait a couple days and let the excess wear off with playing. No harm, no foul.
A well-rosined bow makes your playing easier and more enjoyable to listen to, so tree-t yourself to some good rosin! Last pun, I promise. After reading this, I hope you’re well on your way to becoming a rosin fanatic like I am. Now break out your fiddle, rosin up your bow, and get playing!