How To Choose Rosin Series - Part 2 - Color
So now that we know how the bow makes sound on the string, and how rosin works (see How To Choose Rosin Series - Part 1 - How Rosin Works). What is the difference between all the different types of rosin on the market, and how do I know which one will be the best? There isn’t a steadfast rule or a brand that will always be the best for everyone, but here are a couple of guidelines and general variables to think about when choosing rosin.
The first thing you have probably noticed about rosins is that they come in various colors. This is intentional. Rosin can be categorized loosely on a spectrum of brightness and darkness, with each side of the spectrum offering different qualities. Brighter rosins (ex. Pirastro’s Gold or Goldflex Rosin) will be harder and more dense, and therefore will produce a smoother sound. Because of this, violinists tend to lean towards lighter rosins in order to get the best tone on their light and high pitched instruments. In contrast, darker rosins, (ex. Hidersine) are softer, and therefore much stickier. They produce a larger and grittier sound. This is why cellists tend to use darker rosins. The lower notes and thicker strings call for more resistance to make the notes resonate the way they need to in order to produce the deep, thick tone that cellists usually seek. There are also even rosins that sit in the middle between light and dark (ex. Jade) which can be a good kind of rosin to experiment with on your instrument. Bassists usually use their own category of rosin (ex. Pops) which are extra sticky and gritty, due to the instrument being so huge and the strings being so thick. These instrument generalizations are not hard rules that you have to follow. You can use any type of rosin on any instrument, but the results might end up not being as desirable depending on what instrument-rosin combination you decide to go with.
For more information on rosin, such as why color makes a difference and good considerations for choosing it, stay “tuned” part 3 of our series. Also see How To Choose Rosin Series - Part 1 - How Rosin Works).