1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Rosin: how much is too much?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Scot, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I just bought one of (all hail) Bob Gullihur's German brazilwood bows a week ago. It was educational because I was able to experience for the first time what it's like to not have enough rosin on the bow. The bow just glides accross the stings and no sound is produced even though it seems like you should be hearing something. What I'm now wondering is what does it feel like when you get TOO MUCH rosin on the bow hairs? I think I may have overdid it a little with my Carlssons. The sound is scratchy and/or squeaky if the hairs don't quite grab the string enough. Is this because I have applied too much of the Carlssons? Last time I saw my teacher he said I had way too much rosin on the rental bow I have but I forgot to ask him how you can tell it's too much. Until I can get to my next lesson - I'm hoping to get some advice on how to tell how much is too much. Thanks.

    HaywardMills likes this.
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    The strings can make a lot of difference. I use less rosin (lots less) with Obligatos than I used to with Spirochores.

    I usually try to get away with the least amount of rosin possible. If I'm seeing a bunch of residue on the top of the bass, that's probably too much. Just a couple of swipes of the rosin cake does it for me. Bear in mind, I'm a jazz player, so I only bow a few times a night. An orchestral player will have to go back to the rosin more often, perhaps.
  3. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Thanks, Marcus. When I was using Pops it would leave a lot of residue on the strings but with Carlssons it hardly seems to leave any. I'm starting to wonder if I'm not a Pops guy after all but I don't want to mix rosins on my new freshly-haired bow.

  4. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I just want to bump this one up because I'm still searching to figure out how I can tell if there's too much rosin on. Now that I know what it feels like when there's not enough, I figure I'll be able to figure out what the correct amount is once I know how to hear/feel when there's too much on. Is it a scratchy sound? Thanks, guys. It looks like it's going to be a couple of weeks before I get back w/my teacher so I'm hoping to get some help from y'all.

  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    When you get the sound you want, you've got enough rosin. If you never have enough rosin, you've got other problems.

    There's no easy answer and "how much" is always determined by your ever-increasing experience with the bow as compared to yourself, your teacher and your arco heroes.
  6. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I'm thinking there must be some kind of an indicator that you (I) have too much on. Last time I saw my teacher he played my bow for about 3 seconds and said there was too much rosin on. So I guess the question I'm asking is how did he determine there was too much rosin on. Maybe I'll just have to wait and as him.

  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I dunno Scot. Glenn taught me that you only need about 3 strokes of Carlsson's every 3-4 days (after warming up the rosin of course). I found if I do too much more, it gets overly grippy and not very smooth. I know when it's too much cuz it feels like I'm rubbing pieces of velcro together. Not enough, and the bow just whizzes over the strings and doesn't sound that great.

    Never have I seen white rosin dust all over my bass. I hardly see anything really. I think you just gotta experiment and find the right balance. Don't re-rosin for a while and keep playing it. Maybe you'll get to a point where you can say "I like this, but I dont' like that". Once you're outta rosin, slowly rosin it up a little at a time and find where you liked it before.

    BTW: What strings are you using? I'm about to dump my spirochores... I don't have the patience to break them in for sounding good with a bow and iffy about the pizz sound.

    EDIT: One more thing, consulting with Glenn, he agreed that good bow technique should try to be effortless as in most things. So when I've been practicing arco, I try not to use much muscle and try to finesse the sound out of the bass. Like BIGGUS said, I try to use as little rosin as possible and don't try to force the sound out. When he first showed me, I even went as far as lifting his right arm up while he held the bow to see how much weight/strength there was. It was fairly heavy, but completely relaxed, so I try to mimic that feeling. I was quite happy with my noisemaking on the Corelli's and wasn't very scratchy at all til I switched strings.
  8. Fred W

    Fred W

    Feb 21, 2002
    Bronx, NY
    HI Scott. I believe your problem is a brand new bow. Virgin horsehair requires lots of priming. Keep applying and playing, repeat untill the bow grabs, THEN you should use as little as possible. When you get your bow rehaired the process starts over.
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Just had mine rehaired and it's good after 3 or 4 days of a lot of hours.
  10. Chrix


    Apr 9, 2004
    I got my bow rehaired in December and it's just now starting to sound like I want it to. And it took me rosining the heck out of my bow. But now, I'm able to use a lot less rosin a lot less of the time. Just a few strokes before I play. Plus warming up the rosin helps immensely.
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Let's see now, that's about 100 to 1 difference in our break-in experience. Pretty astounding. If I get mine done every 3 months, or 90 days, that would put you at about 9000 days, or about 24 years, until your next rehair.

    If things are linear.
  12. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Thanks again for all the responses, guys. It seems like the new bow is really starting to happen now. Just within the last week I feel like I'm finally starting to actually make music with the bow. :) I think I'm starting to find out what the right amount of rosin is.

    One of the things that was driving me nuts was that I was (am) getting a scratchy sound, particularly with string crossings and even more particularly when crossing two strings. I believe the problem is that I don't quite have the string stopped when starting the bow and this is what's causing the scratchiness. Now that I've discovered this I've been really focusing on isolating the parts of some of the Simandl exercises that have string crossings and paying extra attention to my left hand stopping. This really seems to be paying off. I kind of figured it was a technique thing all along but I just couldn't stop myself from trying to "rosin" the probelm away.

    hddidy - thanks for the advice! The bass I'm renting has Helicore Orchestra Medium strings. Do you know anything about these strings? Which rosin are you using? I kind of recall that you're using Carlssons too and I think that's what Glenn prefers. I started off using Pops and noticed that it left a lot of white power all over the strings and bass. I hardly get any residue with Carlssons, although I did have to clean off some brown residue from the fingerboard awhile back when I was using the old bow. I'm pretty sure I had too much Carlssons on at that time. :)

  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Scot, no I don't know anything about the D'Addario's. You should look in the Strings forum for more opinions. Other's comments have kinda put them in a negative view for me, since the pizz sound apparently isn't that great. I wouldn't know.

    Yeah, I'm using Carlsson's too upon Glenn's suggestion. Technique-wise I think i'm starting to get the hang of the Spiro's. I'm not making that much scratching anymore after I started concentrating more on making the strings move and less on applying muscle. Feels like I can float on the strings and have a nice sound without exerting myself. But yeah, I noticed that it's easier to bow if the string stops moving and get a little scratchy now and then if I didn't make the crossing right and don't apply enough LH pressure.

    The Spiro's still sound a little nasal and weird to me tho they've settled alot. It's a little too much growl for me too. I'm waiting til those Kolstein's come in. Hopefully they'll give me more of a warm and smooth tone.
  14. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    You're right, man...these strings seem to suck for pizz. Very lifeless sounding. Kind of a thud and no blossoming, if that makes any sense. Maybe it's also the bass but I would be curious to try some other strings on it although that's prolly not gonna happen as I want to buy a better bass and get in the mode of picking out strings for it. I guess I should start getting up to speed on strings, though.

    I'm going to see Glenn again next weekend. If I get any info from him that's applicable to this thread I'll post again.

  15. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    When I bought my Bass it was fitted with Helicore Orchestral Mediums, and the pizz sound was horrible, not only dull and thumpy, but it sounded completely different on the D & G strings than the E & A strings.

    I changed them ASAP to Corelli Fortes, and it was a world of difference - still as easy to bow (or just as difficult, if you know what I mean), but with even tone across the strings and the pizz sound is so much better. The tension is much easier on my newbie hands too.

    I'd like to try the Obligatos, since there's so much fuss about them in the strings forum, but I understand that Corellis last well, so it may be some time :scowl: ;)

    Thanks for asking (and answering) these questions by the way...I'm struggling with the same problems trying to control the Stick o' Pain.
  16. Helicore Orchestra Strings are made mostly for bowing, in fact they are quite easy to bow well on. The lower strings are pretty easy to get moving and don't require much pressure.

    Like most strings that are meant mostly for bowing, they don't have much sustain and they are somewhat thumpy. However they are not nearly as thumpy as some of the more traditional orchestral only strings.

    When mine were new, I too was disturbed by the change in charcter of the sound between the top two and the lower two strings. I think this has become less noticable over time, and is less noticable when bowing.

    My daughter and I have identical basses, except her's is all ply and mine is a hybrid (carved top). Both bases have the same Helicore Orch. strings, and on her ply the pizz sound does boom out more than on mine. (Though I would never trade the focused, woody sound of mine.)

    We both use Kolstiens All Weather rosin, and I would say that there are two things to look out for. When you get too much rosin on it can start to make articulation, especially quick, delicate passages a bit harder to play. Also I feel that too much rosin starts to effect the sound quality. The sound starts to get fuzzy and dull.
  17. janetreno


    Nov 11, 2004
    As a beginner and not knowing any better, I used to slather Pops on my bow, creating a nice gargling grating noise.

    Using as little as possible is the way to go, not only to create a decent tone, but to minimize the time you'll spend scraping that crap off the strings and wherever else it accumulates.
  18. Juat a note to my last post:

    While it is true that the Helicore Orchestra Mediums may not be as sustaining as a true pizz string, I have been paying more attention lately, to how they sound pizz. (I am an orchestra player, so don't pizz much.)

    I have noted on each string at least 3 seconds of strong sound, with a another 2 or 3 seconds of quickly weakening sound thereafter, on my bass (Shen hybrid).

    To me, this doesn't really qualify as thumpy at all.