4 big questions to ask when choosing the right Rosin for your violin, viola, cello or bass.
- Do you consider yourself a beginner, an intermediate, a professional or a virtuoso?
- What type of sound do you really want? Strident with greater attack or a more subtle, mellow tone?
- Do you want ease of playing, or more advanced control?
- Is your climate generally very hot or very cold?
Firstly, it’s worth stating that anyone can use any level or variant of rosin to decent effect. Much like any level of musician can play an original Stradivari violin. The difference is whether you can get the best out of it.
Of course, an absolute beginner can make the finest instrument sound scratchy, and a seasoned pro can make the cheapest fiddle sound beautiful. But this is where the law of diminishing returns rears its head. As an example, travelling first class on an airplane may offer you 3 x the seat width and legroom than travelling in economy, but it costs far more than three times the price. Likewise, improving your sound by 10% is much more than 10% more difficult.
Likening this to rosin – as this is where we’re going here – anyone can use any rosin and make a sound on their instrument. However, a more skilled player will be able to take advantage of the enhanced musical control offered by the deluxe and premium rosins. Another way of thinking of it, is in terms of unlocking potential dynamic levels. A harder, light rosin is great for maintaining a consistent sound, but allows fewer dynamic ‘levels’ to be reached when compared to the slightly softer, deluxe and premium rosins. These rosins unlock a greater number of dynamic levels from the outset, and therefore more care is required to maintain a truly consistent sound.
Which rosin is best for a beginner violinist or cellist?
The key for beginners is usually ease-of-playing. Therefore, you would require as predictable a level of grip as possible from the outset. Your time will be spent learning the basic techniques relating to your instrument and your bow, and for that you need consistency with as few variations as possible.
The top 3 rosins recommended for beginner Violin and Cello players are:
It’s worth noting that Hidersine light rosins, such as those above, are suitable for just about any application. They will perform just as well for a beginner as for a seasoned professional. As you progress along your musical pathway however, you will find that other rosins offer you a little more variation and control.
Which rosins are suitable for intermediate stringed instrument players?
You’ll know well, that as you become more and more proficient with your instrument, your need and desire for nuance and subtlety increases, plus the music that you’re playing will require a broader and more varied palette of sound types.
Imagine sitting on the front desk scanning the music, noticing staccato passages swiftly followed by sustained periods of a much softer style. You’ll need the confidence and ability to ‘dig in’ sufficiently for the staccato passages yet retain the control necessary to quickly switch to playing a pianissimo legato section.
Using a slightly softer rosin, such as the Deluxe or Hidersine Reserve21 Rosins, this type of transition can be much more easily achievable and accurate. However, you as the player need to exert a little more control in the process.
The Top 3 Rosins recommended for Intermediate String Players – Violin / Cello
Hidersine ‘AB’ 2062 (violin or cello) – a medium sized dark rosin with a well-respected recipe devised by educator Amy Birch in the early 20th century
Which rosins are best for professional players?
Finding just the right violin or cello rosin for you and your instrument is a personal journey of course, but as a very proficient player or teacher, you seek to get the very best from your instrument and bow on every occasion. The need to communicate the composer’s deepest intention is of utmost importance.
You already have your beautiful instrument strung with just the right combination of strings, paired with a wonderfully balanced bow. All that remains to find is the last ingredient. The creative substance that imparts grip and feel to the bow, and in turn, causes the strings to resonate through historic tonewoods. Using a rosin that grants as much freedom as possible is key to true musical expression. The appropriate softer rosin blends – which are often, although not always, darker in colour too – are the obvious choice.
The Top 3 Rosins for Advanced or Professional Violin players
Hidersine Reserve21 (Violin) - A large cake of medium-softness, premium rosin enriched with British Beeswax for the very smoothest playing experience. Extremely expressive.
W. E. Hill & Sons’ Premium Rosin (Violin) – Presented in a Maplewood holder, Hill Premium is a unique, medium rosin that allows remarkable note articulation.
Hidersine 6VM (Violin) – A large cake of slightly soft, dark rosin for good levels of control.
The Top 3 Rosins for Advanced or Professional Cellists
Hidersine Reserve21 (Cello) - A large cake of medium-softness, premium rosin enriched with British Beeswax for the very smoothest playing experience. Slightly softer than the violin version, designed specifically for expressive playing on the thicker strings of a cello.
W. E. Hill & Sons’ Premium Rosin (Cello) – Presented in a Maplewood holder, Hill Premium Cello Rosin is a unique recipe, medium rosin developed specifically for the thicker strings of a cello.
Hidersine 6CM (Cello) - A large cake of slightly soft, dark rosin for good levels of control across the board. Again, a little softer than the violin variant, designed for thicker strings.
Is there specific rosin for Viola?
Although it has been quite common historically for Viola players to use Violin Rosin, there are now a couple of specially created options. As the strings on a bowed instrument get thicker, the necessary rosin tends to become a tiny bit softer: as you may remember, a ‘hard’ cello rosin is actually softer than a ‘hard’ violin rosin. Happily, both Hidersine and W. E. Hill & Sons have an offering now specifically for Violists, with a recipe that carefully bridges the gap between violin and cello, designed to get the very best from a Viola’s slightly thicker overall string diameter.
The Top 3 Rosins for Viola Players
W. E. Hill & Sons’ Premium Rosin (Viola) – Presented in a Maplewood holder, Hill Premium for Viola is a newly-created, medium rosin formulation designed to enhance the natural warmth of the instrument’s tone.
Hidersine Reserve21 (Violin) – Although designed for Violin initially, Hidersine Reserve21 rosin is unique in its use of Beeswax. The resulting smoothness suits Viola very well, helping deliver a deep and mellow tone.
Hidersine 1VAM (Viola) – Based on the world-famous Hidersine 1V for violin, Hidersine has taken tried and tested recipe and tweaked it just enough to bring out the very best from the Viola’s string profile.
What’s the best Double Bass Rosin?
As discussed elsewhere in our rosin information, the general rule is, the thicker the string, the softer the rosin needs to be. Of course, within that, there are parameters that can be adjusted that bring about a different sound and playing experience too.
So, Double Bass or Upright Bass rosins are frequently much softer than violin or viola rosins, and somewhat softer than cello rosins too. In fact, when choosing some rosins such as Hidersine’s DB1 and DB2, players need to be aware of their comparatively low softening temperature. That is why 3 different variants are offered in the DB range of rosins: Cold Weather, Temperate, and warm weather.
As these Double Bass rosins use a much higher concentration of waxes and oils than rosins for smaller instruments, their softening temperature is much lower. As there is also an optimum consistency for rosins to perform at their best on bass, the mixture is varied depending upon the likely environment in which the rosin will be used.
Which Double Bass Rosin should I choose?
DB1 ‘Cold Climate’ bass rosin is the softest of the three, as a consistently colder ambient temperature will keep the rosin somewhat harder overall, so the mix needs to be a little softer to keep the rosin at the necessary playable consistency.
DB3 ‘Warm Climate’ bass rosin is the hardest of the three options as a continually warm temperature will make the rosin naturally softer. Therefore, a slightly harder mixture in a warmer environment will result in the ideal rosin consistency.
DB2 ‘Temperate’ bass rosin is positioned in-between the two extremes and is the choice suitable for most non-extreme localities.
Are there any harder Double Bass Rosins, and do they perform as well as softer versions?
Yes, there are some slightly harder rosins designed for upright bass. Sometimes the need for consistency trumps the desire for all out expressionistic possibility, and that’s generally where harder rosins perform best. In the world of bass rosins, this still applies, although W. E. Hill & Sons Premium Bass Rosin is somewhat of an anomaly in this regard. Thanks to its truly unique recipe, the Hill Premium Rosin manages to be a little harder than many others yet still deliver wonderful bow control.
Which of the two harder Double Bass Rosins should you choose?
W. E. Hill & Sons Premium Double Bass Rosin
Presented in a Maplewood holder, Hill Premium Bass Rosin is a newly created, medium-soft rosin formulation. With a unique recipe as well as visually darker ingredients, Hill Premium is made a little harder than some other Bass Rosins but has been designed with musical expression at the forefront. W. E. Hill & Sons rosins have always used a different set of ingredients to Hidersine (and all others too) and have set themselves apart in this regard with a set of arguably the world’s foremost premium rosins.
Hidersine 6B Deluxe Double Bass Rosin
Based upon the historic recipes of Francis Hider – a professional bass player himself – 6B is already a firm favourite amongst bass players. Positioned as a medium hardness rosin, based upon the core Hidersine 6V / 6C Violin or Cello recipes, 6B takes a winning formula, makes it a little softer and more malleable and delights bass players of all standards with a reliably strident tone.