This is lesson DB-19 How to Rosin New Bow Hair, and is a continuation of my journal of things I have learned as an adult double bass student. See the video for a few pointers.
Watch The Video Lesson
Here is what I know about how to rosin a bow. First of all, I use Kolstein “Ultra Bass Rosin”, soft grade. I have tried several other types of rosin, and so far Kolstein is my favorite. I comes in a nice silicone case inside the outer cardboard case which keeps it fresh. I have my rosin for over a year and I haven’t noticed any degradation yet. Before you rosin your bow, if the rosin is new, you can rough up the surface first with some sandpaper.
I just got my bass bow re-haired. It is a Brazilian Pernambuco wood bow that I purchased from my bass teacher and I like it a lot. It is definitely better than the beginner bow that came with my bass! I think it is at least 20 years old, but it is in excellent shape.
Before you start to rosin your bow, first tighten the nut on the bow to about the tension you use when you play. Don’t over tighten it. Also be careful to not put your fingers or hands on the bow hair since the oil from your skin will get on the hair. All you want on the hair is rosin.
Now, hold the bow with the hair side up and put your thumb over the metal piece on the frog where the hair attaches. That will prevent the rosin cake from getting cracked when you apply the rosin.
Begin apply the rosin to the bow hair in short strokes about 3 inches long. I work one area at a time until I can feel the rosin begin to stick. I also work side to side to be sure the whole surface of the hair gets covered with rosin. Once the first area feels thoroughly covered, move on to the next 3 inch section and repeat the process. You might be able to see the rosin on the hair, but I can’t. I just go by feel. Once you are done with each section, go over the whole bow with rosin a few times. If you pull the rosin slowly from frog to the tip and feel some spots where it feels slippery, add some more rosin to those spots.
If you play your instrument and the bow seems to just slide over the strings and/or not give you much sound, you need more rosin. If on the other hand you see all kind of rosin dust falling off onto your instrument that means you have way too much rosin on the hair. If you have too much rosin, you can try wiping the hair down with a clean cloth. Again, don’t use your bare hands on the hair.
Don’t forget to loosen the nut on your bow after you are done playing to take the tension off the hair and protect your bow from damage.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments!