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How to Use Rosin on a Violin Bow

Hey there! This is Joel Kennedy from Kennedy Violins. I've previously discussed the process of rosining a bow, but today, I wanted to give you an even more concise guide, focusing on some important key points. If you're someone looking for a quick and easy way to rosin your bow, you've come to the right place.

1. Prepare Your Bow

tighten your bow

Before you begin, ensure your bow is tight. A loose bow is not suitable for applying rosin. Tighten the screw of the bow by turning it clockwise until the hair is roughly a pinky's distance from the wood. Once set, you're good to go.

2. Prepping New Rosin

prepare your rosin with a fork

If you're working with a new rosin cake, you'll notice it's rather shiny and might not adhere to the bow hair well, especially if it's a new bow.

A neat trick I've learned is to take a fork (or similar object) and gently scratch the surface of the rosin in circular motions. It might sound like fingers on a chalkboard, but the results are worth it. This scratching creates a roughened surface that allows the rosin to adhere to the bow hair more effectively.

3. Applying the Rosin

applying rosin to a bow 

Once your rosin is prepared, it's time to rosin the bow. The process is simple, but there's a specific technique to ensure even application. Apply firm, constant pressure and move from one end of the bow to the other.

Here's a crucial point to remember: Avoid the tendency to move faster at the tip or the frog (ends) of the bow. This misconception stems from the belief that those areas need more rosin. In reality, moving quickly can cause the rosin to heat up, making it less likely to stick to the bow hair. Maintaining a consistent speed ensures even rosin distribution.

Many years ago, I was corrected on this by an internationally renowned bow expert. Since then, my technique has remained consistent, and I've never encountered issues with uneven rosin distribution.

4. Determining the Amount of Rosin Needed

You might be wondering, "How much rosin is too much?" Well, the amount of rosin affects the sound quality and playability. More rosin makes the bow hair stickier, helping produce a louder sound but also making it more prone to scratchiness. Over time, you'll find the right balance based on your playing style and the specific rosin and bow combination.

As a general guideline, for an hour's practice, if your bow is already rosined, about seven to ten strokes of rosin should suffice. For a new bow, you might need to apply rosin more generously.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this concise guide proves helpful for your violin journey. Remember, here at Kennedy Violins, our team comprises dedicated players and teachers, always eager to assist you. If you have questions or need guidance on any topic related to violins, don't hesitate to contact us.

Happy playing!