Understanding that not all rosin is the same is the first step in choosing the best rosin. Most brands actually outsource the rosin that they sell under their brand.
Rosin is very important when it comes to getting just the right tone so learning as much as you can about what rosin works for you is important.
We put together this list of the 7 best violin rosin brands to help you to make an informed choice when purchasing rosin.
Most intermediate and every professional player has developed a relationship with rosin so they are typically more committed to one brand than another but most beginners, students do not pay enough attention to the choice that they make.
One of the only ways to decide which brand is right for you is to try it out.
Of course currently there are over 40 different brands on the market so it could be a challenge to do it on your own, which is why we took the liberty to come up with the 7 best brands and review them for you so you would be able to narrow down your test range and find the perfect brand for your playing style, skill level and that works best toward pleasing your ear.
What is Rosin?
Before we get started with the reviews let’s address what rosin is and what it is not. The basic ingredient is sap from Fir trees but that is only the basic ingredient.
The difference in what is added into the sap is where manufacturers differ and where the difference is made in the rosin.
In all cases the sap is tapped from a tree, boiled down, cooled and that is when the conversation ends for most manufacturers because there are “secret” ingredients that are added to the mix.
In some cases the “add-in” is beeswax, in other cases the “add-in” is far more exotic like gold, silver and other flecks of metal. In other cases resin from different trees are used.
Manufacturers typically keep the details secret to protect their products.
In the end all rosin is poured into a mold after the bubbles have been worked out and formed into the familiar cakes that we buy.
The differences in the rosin are apparent. You can tell a lot about rosin by its color. Typically the darker the cake the softer the rosin. The lighter the rosin the harder it is. Both types offer different results.
When you use a rosin on your bow that is softer you get a sticker bow, when you use one that is harder you get a grittier sound.
You will use rosin through-out the lifetime of your violin playing and over time you will get to know the sound of when you need to drag some across your bow.
How Do You Best Use Rosin?
The best way to use rosin is to use it the way it works for you. Most bow manufacturer’s recommend long slow strokes down the hairs in one direction. As far as how often you should apply that is something you will learn as you go.
Most violinists will use rosin each time before they play as more of a mental preparation than as a needed activity.
Running the rosin over your bow 8-10 strokes before you play each time will help you to get mentally prepared to play and know that your bow is nicely coated.
Of course when it is over coated you will know that as well because you will have powdery residue everywhere.
Before you use your rosin for the first time you have to rough up the surface, you can use a pocket knife to cross hatch score it or a fine grain sand paper.
There is some superstition about using the screw from your violin to score the rosin to form a metaphysical bond between the rosin and the violin.
Ultimately it does not matter what you use as long as you can rough up that rosin before your first use.
We did a little test on quite a few brands to find the cakes that we thought affected the best sounds. Frankly, and this is a trade secret, you can mix rosins together to get a more unique sound but most manufacturers do not recommend this practice.
Of course if you want to sell more of your brand than you will suggest that you do not use another along side it.
We found that mixing often gave us the unique sound that we wanted.
In most all cases you can buy a cake for a very nominal fee so price point was never really a consideration during our testing.
We looked at grip, grit, smoothness and lightness as considerations to finding the 7 best rosins. We wanted to offer you a wide range of options that would fit with different playing styles to make it easy to make a choice you would be happy with.
*be careful when you buy “student” rosins they can be far too sticky then you need, there are better options that are very inexpensive as well.
Here are the 7 best brands that we found during our testing:
D’Addario Kaplan Artcraft Rosin, Dark
This is a great “student” rosin. It does not leave the gritty mess behind that you find with other student type of rosin. It is a good choice for the beginner.
It is easy to manage and can help prolong string life. It was a little gritty for our liking but that would likely not be very noticeable to a beginner.
Andrea Violin Solo
This cake is easily one of the most popular with advanced students and performers, it is also one of the more expensive options (but still very affordable).
This comes in two options, the solo and the orchestra. This rosin will help you to easily articulate the bow and get an amazing tone. If you love smooth and easy operation you will love this rosin.
Melos Violin Rosin Review
This rosin is often compared to the now discontinued Libenzellar Gold rosin that was very popular among violinist and luthiers.
This rosin is handmade and made fresh to order. It is offered in a dark for winter and a light for summer use.
Pirastro Goldflex Rosin For Violin Review
This rosin gives a very smooth finish thanks to the little flecks of gold that are incorporated into the rosin.
You get that warm tone and it is ideal for all types of strings from natural to synthetic.
String House SR040 Goldflex Clear Warm Sound Rosin
This is another brand that incorporates gold into the mix but it is a little less expensive. This brand uses gold powder instead of flecks. This is engineered to leave very little powder residue.
It is very inexpensive and offers a nice bright tone and excellent grip.
The Original Bernardel Rosin For Violin
This is the original French made rosin that has been preferred by many professional players. It is a light golden coloured rosin that affects a nice clean smooth tone.
Do be careful from who you buy because there are some counterfeits out there that are a serious disappointment.
Jade L’Opera JADE Rosin for Violin
This is also a fine rosin that is made for minimal dust application. It is engineered to ensure that it does not damage the finer finishes.
This rosin offers a nice smooth grip that is void of any grittiness. It is French made and highly sought after by professionals for the nice clear tone that it provides.
These 7 best options run the full range of price points and each delivers something a little different from the other.
In most cases the beginning student with the untrained ear will not immediately notice the difference between the tones that the different rosins bring but with some training the difference will be obvious.
The importance of choosing the right rosin even to the beginner is more than the sound that it affects.
Proper treatment of the bow hairs will prolong the life of the bow hairs and additional prolong the life of the strings on your instrument.
It is important that you use a bit of discretion when you choose which brand you will use.
As mentioned earlier you can mix two rosins to get a more unique or custom effect but do take care not to overdo the layer or you will wind up with a powdery mess. Gentle yet firm strokes work best.
As a violinist you and your rosin will become great friends over the years, those familiar cakes will be ever present in your life for as long as you play.
Having a good relationship with your rosin means that you will always be happy with the results that you get.
Of course like every other relationship if you are not getting what you need out of what was once your favourite cake feel free to look around for something that suits you better!