How to Rosin Your Bow

Have you ever grabbed a violin and bow off a sales counter, did your best Paganini impression, and found that you couldn’t make any sound? What was up with that?

That bow needed some rosin.

What is rosin?

Rosin is resin in solid form. When applied to the hairs of a bow, it gives the bow texture so that the bow can grab, or stick to, the strings and make them vibrate.

The darker the rosin, the stickier it is. Many players use light colored rosin for the tiny, delicate strings of a violin. However, darker, almost black rosin is used for the thicker, robust strings of a bass.

Ultimately, the color and stickiness of the rosin used is a personal preference.

Prepare your rosin

The solid-form rosin isn’t what sticks to your bow; the excess powder on the rosin is what sticks. Generally, you will need to scratch your rosin so that the powder is visible and can be applied to the bow. Some luthiers rub sandpaper on their rosin before sending it out.

Remember, not all rosins are made equal. Neither are all bows. Check with your instructor or director to see how they prefer you prepare your rosin.

Rosin your bow

  1. Hold rosin in your dominant hand, bow in the other with the bow hair facing you.
  2. Rest your thumb on the bottom of the frog (the metal piece at the end of the bow that you hold). This will keep you from scrubbing the metal with rosin.
  3. Rub rosin on the bow, gliding it across the hair a few times, until rosin covers all of the hair. The rosin will make the bow look a little discolored when enough is on. The bottom and top of the bow will need a bit more rosin, give it a couple more run-overs.
  4. Rosin every time you play, or once a day if you play more than once.
The larger the instrument, the more rosin it will need.

Need more rosin? Visit our stores in Champaign, Normal, and Springfield to stock up on all of your band and orchestra accessories!