Shelf life for different rosins?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Bridgefinger, Mar 11, 2014.


  1. Bridgefinger

    Bridgefinger

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    Different rosin brands seem to have different shelf lives. Violinists sound fine with their years-old cakes, but we don't have that luxury.

    What are some approximate shelf life numbers for popular rosins? By this, I mean, the time from when you get it to when it loses its grip and sound. I'll start.

    Pops: 90 days
     
  2. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

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    Interested, as I had no idea rosin even had a shelf life. My teacher never mentioned anything about it.
     
  3. Bridgefinger

    Bridgefinger

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    Bass rosin's shelf life is the worst among rosins. Pops' life is notoriously short. You can use the stuff forever, but you'll sound bad using an old cake. Pros replace their cakes frequently, but beginners sometimes don't as much because beginners already sound bad to some degree. Kinda like bow rehairs and string changes. The distinction is that rosin needs to be replaced whether or not you use it. If you play bass once a month, you'll have to buy a new cake once every couple times you play it. It's kind of unfortunate for those who only play a little classical bass.
     
  4. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

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    Probably depends on the rosin and how well it's kept from the elements. I've had a cake of Kolstein Soft (in the silicone container) for a few years, and it still seems to work well.

    Maybe play more, so that you get more bang for your buck. Or split a cake with other occasional players. ;^]
     
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  6. Bridgefinger

    Bridgefinger

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    I think the biggest culprit is Pops; it just dies so fast. I play classical once or twice a week, and I use maybe 1/16th of a Pops cake before it's dead in a couple months.

    But that's a good idea, I should split a cake in 4 and sell the other pieces off for $3 each. I could do that once a month, save tons of money, and have super fresh rosin all the time.

    I got a cake of Carlsson recently because I think those last longer. Pops isn't so bright for thumb-position stuff, so it's nice for that.
     
  7. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    A lot of the harder rosins typically associated with upper strings have a much longer shelf life because they are already pretty hard. Those rosins are intended to be hard, and are usually made in a way that they can't get much dryer the way bass rosins do. Most players tend to go with the "I will use this until it runs out, I lose it, I break it, or I decide I want to try something different" method of replacement.

    For bass rosins, Pops is the one everyone points a finger at, but anything else with Soft in the name can be as much of a problem. I have heard of people getting Pops direct from bassrosin.com as frequently as once a month (or less!) because they think it's garbage after that. I would love to meet one of those people so I can get that "garbage" cake off of them when they are done with it, but I digress.

    I play Pops, Kolstein AW, and Salchow and Sons. I would agree that Pops likely has the shortest shelf life, followed by the Kolstein and then the Salchow. I'm not sure if I would put a set shelf life on any of them, because I have no way of guaranteeing the age of the cake when I purchased it. I know some bassists have been advocating that rosin makers put a manufacture date on them, but shops have shot that idea down. I generally replace the bass rosins once a year, and the Salchow maybe every other year. So far, that seems to work for me.
     
  8. Bridgefinger

    Bridgefinger

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    Year old Pops simply doesn't work for me. It doesn't grab unless you use so much that it is stuck to the string. Even then, it sounds like garbage. I have much better luck with other brands after a few months.

    Where's the cheapest, freshest place to get Pops? bassrosin.com has bad prices, I don't know about Amazon's freshness but they're $9. There's a big bass shop in Arizona or Texas that a lot of big shots around here (Cleveland) use for instrument repairs. I heard they sell Pops, maybe it's fresh and cheap too. Anyone know the name of that place?
     
  9. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

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    Is $14.75 really a problem? That's $3.69 for each of you.
     
  10. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    By the end of the year, my Pops isn't all that great either. I tend to get it near the end of the summer, so it gets me through fall and winter ok, and then I get back to the Kolstein for the summer anyway. There is a very good chance that throughout the year, it has melted and reformed at least once or twice if I underestimated the heat in my car or something like that. Although it is no substitute for a new cake, I find it does get a little better after an unplanned day in the sun.

    Again, I would like to think the retailers I get it through are reasonable, but I really have no idea how long they have had it in stock. There might be a chance I have never really experienced super fresh Pops, and if I did I might get hooked. Until then, I seem to be doing ok.
     
  11. Anonymatt

    Anonymatt

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    A thing of Kolstein Soft pooped out on me after about 8 months. The stuff that comes off it is dust immediately. I just lost it though. Otherwise I would have just kept using it. I don't play publicly.

    I play with the bow about an hour a day and I've used so little rosin in three years that it's impossible for me to forecast how long it would take to go through a single tub.

    Why don't they sell it in smaller quantities? Don't they have shortages periodically when the trees (or whatever I guess) are funny?
     
  12. korotkov

    korotkov

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    Kolstein soft and carlsson cakes sized ok. My year-old kolstein AW Just started to dry, and there's very little of it left. I wouldn't even notice it dry if it wasn't for my friends new cake I tried recently.

    Pops is not fresh in the shop already here in Russia so a lot of folks microwave it. Pretty much the same as if you left it in the car )
     
  13. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member

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    You can ask... Whether they tell you the truth or not, that's another thing. A smart retailer rotates stock of rosin, even if they go through a ton of it, so you never end up with cakes that have been on the shelf for very long.
     
  14. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

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    I always get Pop's from bassrosin.com. It might cost a couple bucks more (literally, two or three dollars more if you consider shipping), but it's the only place where you can be certain that you're getting rosin from the latest batch. I date the tub and keep it in a ziploc bag, the bag seems to buy me another couple of weeks. Robertson's is the big shop in Albuquerque that you're probably thinking of. They won't have it any fresher than bassrosin.com
     
  15. Bridgefinger

    Bridgefinger

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    I bet the cost isn't based on their cost; it's based on what the market would handle. The packaging and distribution costs so much, that if they sold you a smaller size, it would be maybe 50c cheaper.

    Amazon sells Pops for $9 shipped vs bassrosin.com's $15. 60% of the price, that's big.
     
  16. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    That is a good point about cost. If you take the same amount of rosin but make the cakes half the size, you aren't going to end up with half the cost. While there are slight differences in the formulas used and the packaging costs etc. take a look at Pops and Kolstein for example. They are both made in America so shipping should be similar, I am assuming that the packaging costs are relatively similar, (as the plastic container for the Pops should pretty much even out the silicone casing on the Kolstein) but the Kolstein cake is about half the size of Pops, and usually just slightly less than twice the price.

    Sure, they have different recipes, and contents might cost more or less to source, but we're talking about a range of $7.50 being the cheapest I've seen Pops, to about $16 on the high end for Kolstein. You simply aren't going to find a way to get the cost of Pops much lower, and Kolstein isn't high enough that it's causing outrage and people are refusing to buy it.

    I think one of the big issues is distribution. If a shop carries 4 different rosin manufacturers: Pops, Kolstein's line, Carlsson and Pirastro lets say, they are sourcing rosin from 4 different companies, in 3 different countries, in 3 different currencies (I'm pretty sure that Sweden is still on the Krona). Pops and Carlsson only make bass rosin as far as I know, so it isn't even like the shop can order violin rosin from them at the same time. If you want it to be as fresh as possible, you would be ordering directly from the source and not a third party distributor. They might all be in one place, but they could all have sat in the distributor's warehouse for an undisclosed amount of time. You want to order a small enough stock with fast shipping to ensure freshness as you rotate through it quickly. All of that for I am guessing a dollar or two per cake. From the first hand accounts I've heard, making rosin is one of the worst jobs you can have in a bow making shop, and from the picture I'm painting, it sounds like one of the worst sales to make in a bass shop as well.

    I would hesitate to buy Pops from Amazon. Given that they're basically the internet's Walmart, I get the feeling that they are selling it at such a low cost because they are ordering it by the thousands. I could be wrong, but I doubt Amazon has any concept of the shelf life of rosin, so who knows how long they have had it kicking around. Bassrosin.com is going to intentionally set their prices higher so they aren't undercutting the shops they are selling it to, (the majority of their business) and because as the source they have the absolute freshest Pops possible, so they can charge a premium for it.
     
  17. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

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    Okay, six bucks cheaper. But I wouldn't get Pop's from Amazon for the same reasons that Mike mentioned. Saving six bucks only to get a useless cake of rosin isn't really such a great deal.
     
  18. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member

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    IMHO, I think the freshness thing is probably overplayed just a little bit. If you get a new cake, and start using it, and opening it and closing it, exposing it to air, etc. - I totally get that it will start to degrade. But if, pre-sale, the rosin is kept in a climate-controlled storage room, sealed in an airtight container, a few extra weeks or months shouldn't have a tangible effect*. We rotate our stock and order quite regularly, so nothing on the shelf is older than probably 2 months (max) at our shop.

    * Before you reply, you can say that it does, what proof have you have that your cake of Pops is the age you believe that it is?
     
  19. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    I completely agree, which is why I don't have a standing order of a "fresh" cake of Pops from bassrosin.com every 5 weeks. I know there are people out there that do. I feel like I should probably replace my rosins more often than I do, but I am surviving. I was just trying to illustrate what I assume to be one of those high cost-low return items in a typical shop.

    With that said, I am sure that a lot more bass rosin gets sold than $100 000 instruments in a typical shop, so it's a bit of a trade off. One of the problems I have discussed before about Canada (sorry Jake and the other guys who live "in Canada" somewhere, but I'm mostly talking about southern Ontario and Ottawa-Montreal because it's what I know) is that we really don't have the bass shops that can be found across America. We have a few much smaller string "family" shops, and bass usually feels like the brother who lives in the attic that we don't talk about at them. While the shops I frequent are great shops and have some very knowledgeable owners, makers, repair people etc. it seems like bass rosin doesn't rank as one of their top priorities.

    I also have horrible luck shipping things from the USA to Canada, and recently got hit with customs and a $10 "handling fee" on top of that. The box was about the same size as a VHS tape and had two items in it. If it costs USPS/Canada Post $10 to handle a single package, no wonder they're greatly reducing our services.
     
  20. robobass

    robobass

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    In Germany most orchestra players use Nyman or Pops. I don't know about Pops, but yes, Nyman does harden up after a half year or less. I only use maybe a fifth of a cake in that time, even when I'm doing two or three services a day. I find that hitting it with a hair dryer softens it up (wait a half hour before using it!!!), but it sucks considering what a cake costs in Europe. I wonder if anyone reading this has a chemistry background and could suggest storage options to prolong shelf life. Keeping it airtight and at room temperature doesn't seem to help, since that's what I try to do. Perhaps it needs to be kept in a warm and moist environment?
     
  21. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    I have heard people keep rosin in a plastic bag in the fridge, some people keep it in a cigar humidor at a warmer temperature like cigars, some people have a different trick. Some people re-melt it a few times, but regardless to what you do, it doesn't really extend the life of rosin all that much.

    Rosin makers are quite secretive about their formulas. I doubt they would be interested in disclosing it to chemists, and a lot of their business comes from people seeking freshness. I don't think I have met a bassist who has ever used a full cake, as most people replace it long before they get to the bottom.
     

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