How Do You Use Violin Rosin?

When it comes to playing bowed instruments, rosin is essential. Without it, your bow will not be able to produce beautiful sounds properly or at all. There are many types of violin rosin on the market, but how exactly do you use it?

How do you use violin rosin? There are a few steps to take to use violin rosin properly. First, prepare the bow and rosin. Then, apply the rosin directly onto the bow hairs. Starting at the base, gently rub the rosin to the top of the bow. Then, glide it back down from top to bottom. Repeat this three to five times.

In this article, we will look at how to properly use rosin, what it is, if you need to scratch new rosin and the different types.

Table Of Contents

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What Is Rosin And Why Use It?

Rosin is made of tree resin that is heated up until it turns into a solid form. It is typically made from different types of pine trees though sometimes other conifer tree resin is used.

Using rosin is an essential part of playing any bowed instrument. The purpose of rosin is to grip the hairs of the bow with its sticky residue. In turn, allowing the bow to easily glide along the strings to produce sound. Without rosin, the bow will not be able to create enough friction to produce the proper sound or any sound at all.

When choosing rosin, it is important to consider the temperature and humidity of where you live. Rosin responds to the climate it is in, and therefore, the type you use should be suitable for your environment.

Do You Need To Scratch New Rosin?

Its recommended to gently scratch the surface of a new rosin cake to remove the top layer of gloss for better adhesion. Roughing up the surface of the new rosin will help it rub off onto the bow hairs. This is especially important if the bow is also brand new.

To rough up the surface, you can use a fork, knife or even a pen. Lightly score the surface, but avoid going too hard or it could break and chip the rosin. Once the top looks dull, it is time to rosin your bow.

How To Use Violin Rosin

Now it is time to rosin your bow. There are a few steps to take to ensure you do not use too much or damage the hairs on the bow.

  1. Prepare the bow by tightening the hairs. Applying to loose hairs can lead to damage.
  2. Prepare the rosin if it is new (as discussed above).
  3. Start at the base of the bow and gently rub the rosin along from the bottom to the top. Then, go from the top back down to the bottom. Repeat this step 3-5 times. It is important not to do this too quickly or with force to prevent friction from heating up and softening the rosin.
  4. Avoid touching the bow hairs with your fingers, as the oil from your fingers can transfer onto it.
  5. After playing, be sure to wipe off any excess rosin dust that transfers to your violin using a soft cloth.

The frequency of rosin application depends on how often you play your instrument. On average, it should be reapplied every four to six hours.

If you are using a brand new bow and a new rosin cake, you may need to use more rosin than you normally would, as it can take longer to adhere to the new bow hairs.

How To Tell If You Have Used Too Much Rosin

If you use too much rosin on your bow, you will notice a dust “cloud” over your instrument as your play. This is the access rosin coming off your bow. You may also find that your bow feels sticky to play or sounds harsh. This can cause problems over time as the rosin dust can damage the instrument's varnish.

If you find that you have used too much rosin, continue to play the violin and allow the access rosin to fall off and wait a few days before applying any additional rosin. It is essential to wipe off all the excess rosin dust that falls onto your instrument after playing.

Different Types Of Rosin

There are three different types of bow rosin for stringed instruments that serve different purposes. Bow rosin comes in light, amber and dark. The colour, density and textural property vary based on the time of year it is collected.

Light Rosin

Light rosin is ideal for violins as it is harder and less sticky than amber or dark rosin. Since the gauge of violin strings is relatively small, they do not require as much grip or rosin. This type of rosin is also better suited in hot and humid climates. Kaplan Premium Light Rosin (link to check the price on Amazon) is an example of popular light violin rosin.

Amber And Dark Rosin

Amber and dark rosins tend to be better for stringed instruments with heavy gauges such as the cello or double bass. These rosins tend to be much softer and stickier, which is why they are not typically used on violins. However, there are some situations where you may want to use these rosins on your violin. For example, softer rosin such as Super Sensitive Dark Rosin (link to check the price on Amazon) is a good choice for people who live in cold and dry climates.

To learn more about violin rosin, if it goes bad and what factors dry it out, check out my article Does Violin Rosin Go Bad Or Dry Out?

This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.


Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and the author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement ( or producing music. For more info, please check out his YouTube channel and his music.

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