What Is Rosin?


Rosin is tree sap, used on string instruments to provide friction between the strings and the hairs of the bow. Without rosin, the hairs just slide silently against the strings. But which rosin is right for you? Why are there different colors of rosin, and is one better than the other? How often do you apply it, and should you clean it? In this article and the above video, we will answer all these questions and get you ready for the next time you need to buy some rosin.

What Are The Different Types Of Rosin?

Rosin quality can roughly be divided into two categories: student, and professional. Visually, the only difference is going to be the packaging and price tag. They look extremely similar, and you really only start to see (and hear!) the difference once you actually start using it. Student grade rosin can have a slight “buzz” to it, whereas professional grade rosin will sound much smoother and clean. Student grade rosin also has much more powder as it’s being used, making it build up faster on your instrument, while professional grade does not drop powder nearly as much.

Here’s a rosin for each grade we reccomend:



What Color Of Rosin Do I Need?

If you’ve done even a cursory search about rosin, you’ll notice they come in two colors: amber and dark brown/black. The difference is when the tree sap was collected. Light rosin was collected earlier in the season, while dark rosin was collected in the fall. Light rosin is softer, and it best used for people in humid climates. It helps the rosin stick better with all the water in the air, while dark rosin is better used in dry climates.

Application and Cleaning

When you first get a new pack of rosin, it will be shiny and smooth. Unfortunately, shiny and smooth rosin isn’t usable, so you need to scratch it up before applying it. Take a key or something similar and scratch up the rosin until you start to see white streaks cover the surface. Once you see the powder, it’s ready to apply!

To apply, take your bow and run the hairs up and down the rosin four or five times, top to bottom. Give it a test on your instrument, and if it slips or the sound hiccups, give it two or three more passes. That’s all you need to do!


Choosing and applying rosin is very simple, but can be complicated if you’re not sure where to start. Come back to this guide or video (or both!) anytime you need a refresher. Thanks for reading!

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