Is expiring violin rosin

Rosin - what do I know about rosin?

We talk all over the blog about the beautiful tone and how it can be made on a string instrument. We stroke the strings, strive for the correct pull of the bow, for the right weighting of the arm. We strive for perfect intonation.

But we haven't talked about one essential thing at all. Something without which everything is nothing.

And what is it?

How do we treat our bow so that a sound comes out of the instrument at all?

Correct: the rosin

But what is it really?

Let’s briefly elaborate on something: Rosin is basically resin that is obtained from coniferous wood. In other words, it is the solid component of tree resin that remains when the turpentine oil is distilled out of it. Rosin is always transparent (or at least translucent) and from yellowish-brown to very dark in color.

It got its name from the ancient city of Kolofon (in today's Turkey), which is said to have been a famous transshipment point for this product.

Rosin is a very solid, and depending on its nature more or less sticky resin, that quite for different purposes is used.

For example, it is used as a flux when soldering.

Ballet dancers also use it to make their dance floor non-slip. (Quite a sticky affair - rosin dust on the floor. Every string player will experience the same thing as a dancer if he accidentally drops a good piece of rosin. It breaks into many thousands of pieces)

I learned another use in art class. If you dissolve rosin in turpentine, you can spray it with a blowpipe on a fresh charcoal drawing, which is then fixed with it. It covers the whole drawing like a fine, solidifying film and the charcoal remains immovable on the sheet of paper forever.

In addition, rosin was used in the so-called aquatint process. Printing plates of etchings are made rough with rosin dust, which allows a gray shade on the corresponding surfaces. Without this method, there would only be black and white areas in etchings.

And - we don't want to forget:

It is the means used to make the hair of a bow sticky and tacky enough that it is able to bow a string and bring out a good tone on it.

Have you ever tried to pull a brand new bow, or at least one that just got fresh hair, over the strings of your instrument?

Well what did you hear?

Exactly! Nothing at all.

Hair on its own is a bit rough when viewed under the microscope. They have scales, as you can see there.
But they are never in a position to move the strings of an instrument on their own.

The bow hairs need to be made grippy, sticky, so that they take the string with them. Rosin is brushed onto the hair. And in the process it pulverizes and settles on the hair.

When painting a string, friction temperatures of 70 to 90 degrees Celsius occur in the microscopic range, so that the rosin melts briefly while playing and bonds with the bow hair. This creates a unit of bow hair and rosin, with which the bow can stroke a string very precisely.

Let us come to the differentiation of different types of rosin.

The hardness of the rosin can be influenced during production. And so there are harder and softer types.

Just imagine the weight of a violin string in relation to a cello or even a double bass string. Can you now imagine that the rosin for the large bass instruments has to be much softer and stickier than that for the small violins? Larger strings have a lot more inertia than small violin strings.

And for this reason, a harder rosin will be used for violins.

Cello rosin, on the other hand, is much more sticky. And if you look at it for double basses, it is so soft that with some varieties you can even press an impression into it with your fingernail.

The thicker the string that has to be vibrated, the softer the rosin has to be.

But how do you use the rosin correctly? Just have a look at this little film.

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Let's summarize briefly:

  • Use the rosin as often as possible. Of the many students I have looked after so far, 90% of the time I have experienced that they did not have enough rosin on their bow. Very few achieve the opposite. My recommendation: use it before every practice!
  • Rub the tip and frog of the bow first, and then rub the rosin several times over the entire length of the bow.
  • In time you will find out exactly whether you have applied enough rosin to your bow. I can feel it by the way the rosin is tough to stroke over the hair. It's all a matter of experience!
  • If your bow has brand new hair, you will need to apply a lot of rosin first. The bow will then need some time to strike very precisely and make really good contact with the string. This is the break-in phase of the bow. Now I have to "melt" the rosin into my hair first.
  • Then comes a phase in which you need relatively little rosin. Nevertheless, paint in the bow every day, but just carefully.
  • If you will find out after a few months that you need more and more rosin to even get the bow to paint, the time has come when your bow needs new bow hair.
  • But the rosin is not only used up. It becomes more and more brittle over time as the moist, sticky components evaporate over time. I myself never use a piece of rosin for more than a year.

A list of some types of rosin that I like to use or have tested can be found in the free member area, in which you can register on the BogenBalance home page.


Rosin is an often underestimated means of getting a good tone response with the string instrument.

Many players wonder about their lack of tone, but at the same time neglect to correctly rosin their bow. It would be so easy.

Rosin should not be older than a year. It becomes more brittle over time and therefore does its job worse and worse.


Felix Seiffert

And Now a request to you: Be so good and tell us about your experiences with rosin. Which varieties do you use? How do you handle your rosin? How do you cope with it?

And... if you liked the article, use one of the social media buttons below and ensure that this little essay is distributed. I would be very grateful.

Oh, I still have one more thing:

I recently received a message from a very nice friend. They found a dish on a menu in Turkey and asked me if that wasn't exactly the right dessert for cellists. On the menu there was a "rice pudding with rosin".

Well, I wish you good appetite!

Keywords bow, bow hair, viola, cello, violin, rosin, double bass, viola, violin, cello