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How to know how much Rosin to put
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bunify
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May 2, 2020 - 4:56 am
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how do you determine how much rosin to put on your bow or when you have to? 
If my violin has rosin dust does that mean I put too much rosin? 

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BillyG
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May 2, 2020 - 7:21 am
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@bunify - it's not an easy question to answer directly, for all sorts of reasons.  But, to address your second question first - the answer is no, you have not necessarily put on too much rosin. Rosin dust is normally shed from the bow, it is natural, and most folks (or those who cherish their instruments !) will usually dust off the rosin dust after playing.  If not cleaned off, then over time, yes, it can cake-up on the surface, and apart from being aesthetically unpleasing, if it gets THAT bad, you may have trouble removing it!  So, yes, it's normal, and just dust it down.

The first question is problematic (to answer and describe) - because it will depend on how much you play between rosining, what type of rosin you are using, and indeed, the nature of your actual playing.  But, in general, I'd suggest there are two "extremes" between which too much and too little lie.  I suggest these two extremes are  - (1)  "over rosined" - where this can affect the sound by making the bow hair over-sticky, and also by rosin build-up on the strings themselves, as well as a rapid build-up of shed-rosin on the instrument (and possibly accompanied by apparently standing in a cloud of dust whilst playing - OK, that was my poor sense of humour!)

(2) Under-rosined (or needing a refresh) - to my ear, and "touch", this occurs naturally again, as over time, yup, rosin gets shed from the bow - as evidenced by the naturally occurring build up on the instrument body.  What I find is that I become aware of the bow being "less sticky" and perhaps requiring a heavier touch to draw the sound I expect out of the instrument.  The bow also then (for me, and how I sense it) will like to slide somewhat over the strings, demanding increased attention on my part to keep it in the bowing-lane I want.  This is happening since, over time, more and more rosin is getting shed from the bow hair, and less of the sticky-stuff remains to interact with the strings.

There are many other answers I have read regarding this, and it makes no sense (to me) to read the concise and apparently simple answers like "You need to rosin your bow after every x hours of playing" - that is - to my mind - simply not an answer - rosins are different, bow hair is different, strings are different, playing action is different - it's just something you have to come-to-terms with as your experience of playing increases....

Personally, for me, when I determine I need to re-apply rosin the "how much do I apply" is (and it is personal habit, determined from experience, and what suits me best) 10 full end to end strokes over the rosin cake with what I would describe as a "moderate pressure" - it works for me and the rosin I currently use - it may well be different for you and others......

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Gordon Shumway
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May 3, 2020 - 6:57 am
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I'm not sure if I know the answer - so I'll theorise (and perhaps also abuse the time on my hands!).

To many such questions, the answer for a beginner is different from the answer for a pro.

I think it's probably ultimately a matter of taste, and inexperienced violinists will find their tastes change constantly.

You will see experienced violinists saying "little and often", but you will also meet experienced violinists who like quite a lot (I think that's true of @Fiddlerman?). The main need of an inexperienced violinist is to learn how to make a good sound, and for that too much rosin is probably better than too little.

As your left hand takes on more complex tasks, your brain can lose control of your right hand, and the bow can skid over the surface and sound like there's too little rosin. If you attempt a pro's "little and often", you'll make matters worse, so I suspect that it's best for a beginner to use too much. It might sound pretty scratchy for a while, but your ears learn to ignore that - someone 10 feet away can't hear it anyway - only you can. Then with more experience, you learn to hear the scratching again and play through it and shape it and not let it be a problem.

My current state of play is that I'm slathering on a lot of dark rosin and happy manipulating the sound it makes. Unfortunately each string is different, and so mostly I'm trying to get good things out of my A string and from high positions on my D string.

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
May 7, 2020 - 1:24 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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My simple answer is, if it's too little rosin the bow will glide over the strings rather than pull them. 

If it's too much you'll make more of a mess on your fiddle.

For me, it's better to have too much and wipe the strings than to put too little and have the instrument not sound when you try to play very softly.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Gordon Shumway
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May 8, 2020 - 7:31 am
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Fiddlerman said
My simple answer is, if it's too little rosin the bow will glide over the strings rather than pull them. 

If it's too much you'll make more of a mess on your fiddle.

For me, it's better to have too much and wipe the strings than to put too little and have the instrument not sound when you try to play very softly.

Yes, this is basically what I was trying to say, but I made it too complicated.

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
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May 19, 2020 - 12:12 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Gordon Shumway said

Fiddlerman said My simple answer is, if it's too little rosin the bow will glide over the strings rather than pull them. 

If it's too much you'll make more of a mess on your fiddle.

For me, it's better to have too much and wipe the strings than to put too little and have the instrument not sound when you try to play very softly.

Yes, this is basically what I was trying to say, but I made it too complicated.

😁
Sometimes, I'm guilty of skimming these posts so fast that I miss stuff. Sorry if I repeated what you had written.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Gordon Shumway
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May 19, 2020 - 12:31 pm
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Fiddlerman said

Sometimes, I'm guilty of skimming these posts so fast that I miss stuff. Sorry if I repeated what you had written.  

No, in this case I was really too long-winded, and you put it much better than I did.

I also am guilty of Skimming. There's a nice joke about speed-reading in Family Guy.

Stewie: "What are you doing?"

Brian: "Speed-reading this book"

Stewie: "What's it about?"

Brian: "I have absolutely no idea"

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
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May 19, 2020 - 1:55 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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LOL. That's totally me!

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Gordon Shumway
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June 13, 2020 - 11:56 am
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Gordon Shumway said
each string is different, and so mostly I'm trying to get good things out of my A string and from high positions on my D string.

I think I've had a sort of breakthrough. My D string has been sounding good for a long time, but my A string has always given me grief. But now I think I know why - I had been seeing the bow skate over the A string, and so I had been putting on a lot of rosin, not noticing any ill-effects from too much of the stuff, and increasing the pressure to stop the skating, but that results in an over-loud, over-harsh sound.

But then I realised in order to get a good sound, the bow really needs to move more slowly on the A string than on the D string, then I don't need as much pressure and the sound becomes mellower. 

I think I got into the bad habit because when I was a beginner I was very timid (that beginners' Corelli sarabande on the A and E strings!), so my teacher made me bow more confidently. But recently I've been playing BWV1043 and realising I've been playing it fortissimo, so I've been trying to tone it down. It's also easier to play the détaché with shorter bow movements.

But what is it about the A string? One possibility is that the windings are finer than on the D string and therefore more slippery? Otoh, I've always been happy with my plain steel E string.

You once agreed with me about A strings sometimes being tricky, @Fiddlerman, but you didn't offer any advice. Do you think I might be right, or are other things happening?

Andrew

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ELCB
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June 14, 2020 - 6:57 am
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Oooh, "A" string issues hit home (think that will be another thread for me)!

Hi, bunify!

When I 1st got my violin/bow (carbon composite) I slathered up my bow with rosin, set my bow tension to barely tight enough to pass a pencil, then proceeded to teach my body how to play.  I almost choked on the dust (that can't be healthy)!

5-6 months later I'm thinking I've started to get a handle on bowing - I don't see violinists (in orchestras) with a ton of rosin powder all over.  Did I really need that much rosin just to play Cooley's Reel?  I also couldn't get rid of the excess grittiness I was hearing - no matter how lightly, fast or slow I tried to bow. 

That's when I decided it was time to experiment and rule out what was "me" and what was my violin/bow contributing to the problems!

I tried several light & dark rosins, heavily applied - then scant and had a "eureka" moment with one specific dark rosin!  BTW, I also use the flat surface of my thumb nail to flick the backside of the bow hair - 1st step to remove excess rosin.

I tried another bow (all the time still working on "me") but there was no difference for me.  It was tightening the bow tension a little that made a huge difference in "my" getting closer to the sound I wanted to hear!

Finally, even though I diligently cleaned my strings - I knew they could sound more like I envisioned.  So, I did a lot of research, tried different combinations of strings until I found what I wanted to hear.

After all this, I still have watch closely that I don't have too much or not enough rosin. I wasn't so aware until I realized I was pressing and lifting my little finger in the video I submitted for the GOT project.  I found I needed a little more rosin, then I didn't feel the need to press! 

Probably way too much info, but I think these issues all work together and are personal.  Now, I like how my violin sounds playing Cooley's Reel "and" A Daisy in December (and I'm not choking on dust) - good luck!

- Emily

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