All About Rosin

all about rosinEven beginning violinists know how important it is to apply just the right amount of rosin to your bow. Use too little, and you won’t be able to produce a sound. Use too much, and your violin will sound raspy, scratchy, or just plain terrible!

Though you know rosin is important, how much do you actually know about where it comes from or how it’s made? Check out these intriguing facts about rosin from Violin Notes to learn more about your violin bow’s helper!

What is it made of?

Rosin as we know it is a tree resin in

solid form. It is obtained from pine trees and other conifer plants. This raw material is then heated to vaporize the harmful element of it, the liquid terpene. This new purified form of rosin is then left to solidify and shaped into ‘cakes’ so they can be sold. When sold it is a golden yellow/brown color usually but can range from very light yellow to very dark brown/black. At room temperature it is very brittle and can smash when dropped but it does melt at very high temperatures.

Types of Rosin

Another facts that many violinists do not know is that rosin comes in two different versions for two different seasons. The lighter coloured rosins are more suited to summer and the darker rosins are more suited to winter. The darker rosins are softer and this means that they become sticky in the summer heat, making them unsuitable for use in the summertime. Lighter rosin is more suitable for the winter months and also more suitable for violins and violas, lower instruments like cellos and double basses need a darker rosin.

How it is used on a violin bow?

The rosin cake is rubbed along the hairs of the bow, as this action happens the rosin will come away onto the hairs of the bow in powder form. Violinists put rosin on their bows to lubricate it so that the bow hairs slide across the strings with ease.

Other uses for rosin.

  • Rosin is a component in printing inks and can also be found in photocopying ink and laser printing paper.
  • Gymnasts rub it on their hands to improve their grip
  • Bull riders also use it for grip on their hands
  • Ballet dancers sometimes rub rosin onto their shoes before performing to avoid slipping.

Check out the full post on Violin Notes to learn even more about Rosin!


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Photo by Paul Li