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Hi there. I've just picked up the violin after decades of not playing. My question is how do I know how much rosin to put on the bow? There are times when playing sounds "scratchy" and don't know that I'm putting enough rosin on. Or is it my lack of playing skills producing that? Thanks for any input you all can give me.
This sounds like as good a place as any to ask:
I've seen a lot of fuss and furor on other forums about things like the brand or type of rosin being a really big deal. Said forums seem to have a great deal of drama and people extremely passionate about trivia, so I'm taking what's been said with several grains of salt.
So first, has anyone found that a particular type (or brand) of rosin makes a huge difference?
And second, WHAT difference? What does a poor rosin deprive you of, and what does a really good one give you extra? So far, I've used a couple or three different kinds and I can't hear or feel a difference.
When using the very cheapest rosin, I had clumping at the end of the bow stroke. I noticed a real difference when I switched to Jade, but then noticed a slight grainy sound. I have Andrea and find it is very silky smooth, so much so that my bow is wandering. I now use Hildersine.
On cello, Jade is used first and then one swipe of a cheap bass rosin.
Lately I get the impression, the grab is not right there when I start to play. Which was the reason why I used more rosin as I do now. After warming up a couple minutes, the grab is getting better. So I wait before I really take more rosin. I also used Jade with Dominant strings, but right now I have Obligato and since Jade didn't do well anymore. I bought the Pirastro rosin meant for Obligato strings then, assuming, if they make good strings I'm supposed to trust their rosin. I heard a lot of good things about Andrea and maybe one day I will try that too.
Any experienced player and all the violin teachers are like, "Throw cheap rosin into the garbage can!" So why shouldn't I trust that advice? And why should I waste time on even pondering it any longer? Good strings are expensive, good rosin not really.
I am now waiting as long as possible with taking rosin. Today it must be over a week ago when I touched my rosin. I'm not going to teach, but having watched myself developing, I would tend to allow a beginner to take more rosin than I consider necessary. But I would certainly explain, that less is not just possible, but also better for the sound. It did help me though, to take more during the past months, because it's easier to find the right notes on the fingerboard if the grip is always there, even if the bow handling is a bit incorrect. But now it's time to improve my bowing by taking away that superfluous rosin.
Fran, I'm no pro but amazingly, so far I haven't really ever "over-rosined" my bow as far as the playing sound goes. Now granted, sometimes it looks like it's snowing on my violin, 😀 but my violin teacher advised me to overestimate how much I'd need rather than underestimate, so I'm erring on that side and so far it's working out well as far as my sound goes.
Oh! Also, I'm well aware of the Rosin Wars, LOL. My go-to is The Original Berandel. It just works wonderfully for me. I know different rosins can work in different environments...here it's hot and dry...I have NO clue whether that makes a difference and this is for sure not an expensive rosin, but it just works perfectly for me.
Just my two cents on the topic...
As @Fiddlerman said, one of the most important aspects of the rosin issue, is its being fresh. Plus, it smells way better 🙂
I cannot tell there is some extraordinary difference between brands and models, or something that dramatic that would put some rosins to a whole new universe or something. As long as they come from a descent manufacturer and they are fresh, the can get the job done...
We could stress the issue of dark, and light rosin. But since there are so many recipes out there, one may find something that they really like. Generally I would believe that a dark rosin would be stickier than a white. And then I tried the Evah Pirazzi Gold rosin which is not at all dark, and a I was stunned by it's stickiness...the exception to the rule maybe?
A friend, a double bassist mentioned that in the summer when it's super humid, he uses lighter rosin...I didn't feel the need to change however since most places are now air conditioned...
For the record I have settled with the Pirastro Eudoxa rosin...Honey colored, sticky and it smells great...I always loved dark rosins however, in my childhood I used the Hidersine 6V (black, almost green...) then I moved to the Oliv-Evah and now to the Eudoxa...
@Demoiselle Sometimes I notice the same think...I think this happens because rosin sometimes need a little time to warm up too...I guess when it's warmer it gets stickier...
@Hermes "I think this happens because rosin sometimes need a little time to warm up too...I guess when it's warmer it gets stickier..."
This morning it was very obvious, because there was almost no response when I took my violin out and started to play. My new method to make it respond faster than the way I had struggled for months worked very soon: playing repeated sixteenth like FFFF EEEE AAAA BBAA.... After about 2 minutes the respond is perfect, without taking more rosin. Before it had really been awful, usually starting with slow phrases, so it took almost half an hour until there was decent response. Which was responsible for me using too much rosin.
I also think, the rosin gets warm, but it seems this is not all. Because while practicing I pause a couple minutes now and then. After pausing a couple minutes the higher temperature should be gone, but it seems the rosin molecules have formed a certain structure while warming up and this must also be responsible for the better response. However, the response is still okay after pausing a couple minutes. Which seems to decay after a longer period of time, so I later have to warm up again.
@Demoiselle you're right I guess... besides the structure, I guess that playing the instrument a certain way, distributes the rosin in a matching pattern with the playing, so it helps...
I have experienced the leave-the-instrument-and-play-again-later leading to more comfortable playing many times. Maybe besides the rosin part, it's the wood itself, the instrument adjusting to the conditions of the room...
I like calling this process "waking up" the violin, I've heard that before...After all, it's wood. It was once alive.
Another way like the 16th notes you mentioned could be open strings, or scales -arpeggios, utilizing the whole length of the bow 🙂
Starting with the open D is standard anyway. So that D doesn't respond well and I do that rhythmical DDDD DDDD DDDD, like Handel's violins would accompany a solo instrument at times. It wakes up the D very soon and by the way wakes up me, for good rhythm takes away my own sleepiness. The rest is easy, playing these repeated notes over the whole range. After 3 minutes the violin will respond perfectly. I start this way since about a week and it makes my practice hour so much better. I'm sure it will lead to faster progress....
I start with open D because I consider it my basic home note, especially as D minor has been my favorite key since I was a teenager and now in my fifties I still feel at home in D minor. I use Obligato strings and all my response issues have been my personal issues, especially my silly G-phobia, which is solved now. It was nothing, just my silly fear. Before I accuse my violin or the strings, I will rather suspect myself and my gloomy ideas. LOL
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