I am not an expert when it comes to rosin. I have tried all sorts from Nymans to Pops and Gaston Brohan Old Oak and also Bernadel ( this last one after watching a vid by a gary karr youtube vid). Still not really sold on any one of them and my search continues - probably a lot of the issues I have had are more related to my technique as I am learning an orchestral repertoire and on a vertical learning curve ( but loving every step )!
However here the question , when it comes to people making recommendations I cant help but wonder about the variables in the mix and think that maybe all we can ever say is that 'X' rosin works for me? Here I am thinking about variations in climate, humidity, the type of strings on the bass, the quality of bow hair and coarseness ( I have a student grade bow with probably not that great hair which I imagine the rosin would be very different if I had best grade mares hair, and whether it was black, salt n pepper or white unbleached ). The other big variables would be bow tension, technical ability and knowledge as to when to apply and when not to apply rosin.
Is it possible to ever recommend a rosin or is it trial and error to find a match ? Any words of wisdom would be welcome here!
Don't forget the importance of the state of the bow hair too.
Edit - Just read the 2nd paragraph in the OP's post. It sounds like you could use a re-hair. Ask around (even here on TB.. I know there's a few users from the UK) for recommendations of who to go to for the best bow hair and re-hair job. The bow itself makes a big difference too but a good re-hair with quality horse hair can go a long way.
I have been producing surprisingly good results with my "student" bow but it is ready for a rehair as over the past couple of years the hairs have thinned .
I get a slight delay before bite (sometimes but not always) and thats when I reach for the rosin. I imagine that new hairs will make a huge difference as will my continued improvement in technique and the right rosin.
Your "couple of years" comment makes me think you are definitely overdue for a rehair. Most players get a rehair once a year. Some as many as three a year or more, and on the other end of the spectrum, two years is pushing it.
As for rosin recommendations, they are an educated guess. Although some people keep drinking the Kool-aid, I don't believe that Pops, Oak soft, or whatever is the current trendy rosin is THE BEST/ONLY rosin to use. I have my own favourites which I am deciding not to disclose. Just like not everyone likes sushi pizza, not everyone will love the same rosin you do. I have heard that Pops from bassrosin.com is amazing. I had a colleague at UofT "discover" Oak Soft and he didn't leave the practice room for two weeks straight. Most of us can universally agree that sushi pizza is a bad idea though.
As you mentioned climate is a huge factor. There are places where hard rosins perform the same as soft ones in other places; there are places where Pops acts like really thick honey that you can spoon onto your bow. (Not recommended) Likewise, some people prefer different rosins for different styles of music. Some soloists use rosin intended for cello because they think it "sings" more, and they don't want the "grit and grab" that some orchestra players can't live without.
Your comment about different bows, strings, and different grades of hair is also very relevant. I'm not going to go into bows, but I am sure that plain gut strings respond very differently to rosin than steel strings do. The agreed upon "best"/finest hair in the trade is white live stallion hair. Some people prefer coarser hair, and there are many different grades of white, silver/salt and pepper, amber/chestnuts, and darker/black hair. As you can imagine the individual horses, the climate they are raised in, their diet, age etc. all play a factor in the hair. A lot of this hair is making its way to bow makers through several levels of processing and distribution, with varying levels of quality control along the way too.
Typically, the best results on here come from the best questions. If you are asking "what is the best bass rosin?" then you are going to get and overwhelming response of personal preferences. If you find yourself asking "I am a jazz player who mostly uses the bow for the last notes of ballads. Pops is a little too gooey for my preferences because I live in a very hot and humid climate. I have tried Carlsson and find it to be excessively gritty sounding, And the Super-Sensitive Summer rosin is too powdery, what would you suggest?" then you are much more likely to find someone who says "I am also a last note ballad jazz player who lives in a similar climate and this really works well for me."
It isn't uncommon to find players that use different rosins in different seasons, or touring bassists to keep a couple different ones in the bag. See if you find any recommendations you think might help you out, and then experiment a bit. Get a fresh rehair, and try to find some rosin coming from as close to the source as you can get it. You might find you fall in love with bassrosin.com and order a new cake every three weeks. You might find someone who has a lump of it that they've had since the 80's and it's the best thing since sliced bread. Rosin is one of the cheapest things we can experiment with as bassists, and your bow technique could improve as an unexpected side effect of all the extra attention it is getting.
I agree with Mike, rosin is cheap, and it depends on humidity, temperature, the music, and even your mood - :) Expanding the tool chest is always a good idea. I must recommend either a Salzman #9 or 10 though, and maybe a #7 or #8 for solo work. I do love sushi, but sushi pizza does not sound good to me either - lol
( There are always some people that will never try sushi, and stay comfortable with just hamburgers, and that can be ok also. )
Thanks Mike . It does seem to be all about trial and error and experimenting with the variables. Any guide as to how can you tell when its time to rehair a bow? ( perhaps I should read some of the other threads in the DB Forum - sure this will have been covered before)!
Most players get a rehair once a year, some much more frequently, others slightly less so. It has been covered a couple of times on here, but that's basically what it boils down to.
As for knowing when it is needed here are a couple of things to look for:
Your bow has lost a noticeable amount of hair on the playing side, or hair frequently breaks with normal playing.
It doesn't grab the string like it used to even with more rosin.
The hair is stretched (when loosened all the way the hair dangles way off the stick)
It is very discoloured by your thumb. (On French bows the hair often goes black/green here from the oils in your hand)
It has been longer than two years.
Welcome to talkbass, and best of luck with your journey.
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