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Rosin is an essential accessory for any string instrument. Unfortunately, there are so many variables to rosin — each of which materially impacts sound quality — that finding the best violin rosin is exhausting at best.
Rosin varies widely in form, color, and purity, and manufacturers are as secretive about their formulas as any winemaker could be. By the time they reach professional status, most seasoned violinists will have developed a certain amount of brand loyalty.
Made from resin extracted from pine trees, rosin provides the friction between the string and bow, which creates the instrument’s sound. Without it, you’re not going to have much luck eliciting actual music out of your strings. Apply too much, however, and you get nothing but a sticky mess.
What You Need to Know Before Buying Resin
With so many factors to consider, it’s essential to narrow it down to the most important points, or you’ll be scrolling through options and reviews all day.
Form: Rosin comes in two forms: cake or boxed. Boxed rosin is a universal rosin, so it can be used on all stringed instruments. It is also generally recommended for students using non-horsehair bows as it tends to stick to the bows better, and is more durable than cake rosin. By contrast, cake rosin is higher quality and more pure than boxed.
Color: Rosin comes in light and dark varieties, which can affect the instrument’s tone. While almost any type of rosin will work for any string, lighter rosins tend to suit high-string instruments like violins and violas. The color resin you use will also depend on the type of strings you’re working with.
Precious metal: The addition of precious metals like gold, silver, or copper to rosin formulas is pretty common because they also change the sound. Gold is said to produce a warm, clear tone (ideal for soloists), silver get you a brighter tone, and copper delivers an almost velvety quality.
Allergies: Some people find they’re having an allergic reaction to resin, which is a bummer for obvious reasons. Switching to an all-natural formula might help, as could having the instrument professionally cleaned.
Climate: Rosins can change consistency when exposed to different temperatures, thus also changing sound quality, so some musicians use different rosins for different seasons.
1. Pirastro Goldflex Rosin
Pirastro’s Goldflex Rosin is loved by students and experienced musicians alike, as it is high in quality but still easy to work with. It’s amazing the difference a quality rosin can make when it comes to sound, as evidenced by the bright, clear tone this particular rosin produces.
The gold flecks give it a good smooth grip and the quality of the formula means it has a long shelf life. Smooth like butter, not too dusty, and convenient to use, this one’s a winner.
Pros: Smooth grip and bright tone.
Cons: May not work as well for higher tones
2. Jade L’Opera JADE Rosin
For the skeptical, experienced string musicians will assure you that the quality of rosin makes a huge difference in the quality of the sound. For many skeptics, Jade is the rosin that sealed the deal and changed their minds. It has a smooth but firm grip, minimal dust, and doesn’t scratch surfaces.
Many people agree that it takes a lot fewer bow strokes to get it in good shape, which is a plus. There is some debate as to whether it will turn your bow strings green, but the major consensus seems to be that it doesn’t.
This rosin is great for the violin, but also for other members of the family, like cellos and violas.
Pros: Smooth application for improved sound quality.
Cons: There’s a chance it could eventually tinge your bow strings green.
3. Sound Harbor 2 Pack Rosin
For violin rosin, Sound Harbor is a pretty bankable choice. It uses a premium quality formula and reliably produces improved tone (fiddlers also seem to be particular fans of this brand). The product description emphasizes that it is low dust, minimizing unpleasant reactions with skin, as well as its suitability for all types of strings.
Rosin preference among string players may vary wildly, but pretty much everyone seems to give this one a thumbs up.
Pros: Reliable and convenient to use. Comes in a two-pack.
Cons: Professionals and experienced players may want something a little stickier.