Upright Bass Rosin
For anyone playing the upright bass (and uses a bow) it can get
really confusing when it comes to choosing a good bass rosin. There
are a few 'old mainstay' (et al, reliable) rosins that work and
there are all also a lot of different rosins out there that quickly
make a player crazy trying which to decide on.
Let's go through a few basic principles of rosin and more
directly, BASS rosin. What's the difference you ask?
Bass rosin tends to be made so that the rosin is stickier than it's
violin family relatives, like the violin, viola and cello. One
of the first elements in choosing the right rosin, is the climate.
A lot of the time, one brand of rosin may work well all year round.
Some climates that have super hot and humid summers and then
extremely cold and dry winters, may require a completely different
brand that will work according to the season. In other words, it's
ok to have and use two different brands of rosin depending on the
time of year or season.
We may try and dissuade a player ordering Soft Kolstein
bass rosin, during say, mid July, in Miami, Florida!!
(Same goes with the newer brand, Wiedoeft rosin.) In fact, maybe
we'd even keep this player away from the soft rosin entirely for
that climate and location. (All Weather is good then in the
summer.) Most that know about Pops rosin will quickly
admit it is pretty soft stuff. (Kolsteins Soft...is even
softer yet!) Still though some rosin recipes will actually
tolerate a bit of humidity and heat better than others. Nymans or
Carlsson tends to do ok in the summers as well. Other experienced
players, just know how it feels that day and whether to go on it
light or heavy. Putting too much bass rosin on can ruin hair
quickly. I would always advise to add rosin in small
increments. You can always add more, but it is hard to
undo too much rosin once it is the bow hair. Most of the
following bass rosins, come poured in some kind of peelable wax
paper cup or tin. (Hard rosins, say for a violin, rarely
need a cup and just come in cloth wrapping.)
Lastly, keep in mind the 'fresh' rosin is super
important for bass playing. A few years ago, one of the most
popular rosin brands decided to stamp a 'born on date' onto their
rosin. This way, (they thought) would be a great idea so that
customers walking into their town violin shop (or bass shop!) would
appreciate knowing that it was fresh. That turned out to be a
disaster for everyone because most shops do not sell a lot of bass
rosin and typically, it would just sit in their showcases for months
and months (even longer). The shops would didn't like that
date, because then their customers would know how old it actually
was (or wasn't!)
We here at String Emporium sell at such incredible volumes that
we never have to worry and in most all cases, we buy directly from
the maker(s) and not a distributor. Doing it this way we have
far better chances of getting the best, most recently produced.
'Fresh' is key!
Here is a quick link to our
Top professional, recommended brands for Bass
||Pros and cons
|Pops rosin is easily the best
selling and most popular bass rosin in the world. It comes
in the unmistakable red plastic container and is
consistently good, reliable rosin. It is popular because it
often works just about everywhere.
||This rosin works and after
you put it on, you're good almost for the whole session, if
not the whole day. It tends to stay consistent on your
bow. Cons: Be careful and don't over do it. Just a little
can go a long way. (Sometimes if you want more "pop" on the
isolated area where you are playing (like an orchestra kind
of spicatto) on the bow, it's ok just to put a little extra
on that area that it is being played on, rather than the
whole bow. This way, your hair won't collect (un-used)
rosin over time and will last longer. Also, sensitive
players think that sometimes the Pops will 'coat' or
interfere with the tone between the hair and string. (see
solo rosin) This is why some keep a bow strictly for
orchestra and one for solo work. What if you have new hair
and it gets 'glossed' over with too much rosin.
How to clean bass bow hair.
Wiedoeft rosin just came out
(in late spring, 2018) It's somewhat similar to
Kolsteins and Pops rosin. It comes in this rubber
latex type box.
Needed improvement: They should
This to us, is a softer
type rosin. Nothing like a Carlsson or Nymans. It falls in
between Pop's and Kolstein Soft, with it leaning a tad
closer to the K.Soft side and feel. It grabs like
crazy and will not 'cool off' like Kolstein might. By
cool off, we mean that somtimes the Kolstein's will
feel just great at first, but then 15 minutes later, that
super grab tends to dicipate a bit. With the Wiedoeft,
it stays far longer. Also, we find that
with Pop's rosin, it too stays more consistant, without too
much of a 'cool off'. While it is early on (just came out),
we would say this is not a rosin to use in the summers in
most parts of the USA. Also, with this rosin, the old
saying, "Less is More!" comes to mind. Especially this one,
use it sparingly
until you get a good feel
for how it works.
Nymans or Carlssons
|Why did we put these two
brands in the same box? Because they are the same exact
recipe. If there is someone out there that can 'just tell'
the difference, I will would only point to a possible
freshness date or vat. Same company, same recipe, same
rosin! I like the Carlsson because if has the nicer plastic
canister with a snap on lid. (Like the Pops has.)
||These two rosins also do
really well through out the year and also reliable, popular
rosins. They are not as soft as the Pops and there is less
risk of hair glossing. Sometimes they can 'cool off' a bit
after a break and might take a little more playing to get
them going or a little more put on.
||We sell a lot of this stuff!
It's good rosin. Just about everyone in the world get's
cold, dry wintery weather at some point of the year and when
your Pops or Carlsson/Nymans won't get it done, perhaps the
Kolstein Soft will work. Be careful with this stuff, the
softer you go, the more risk to 'glossing' the hair.
||Again, in the cold, dry
winter, this rosin seems to really grab. We've noticed that
it's great to apply (on the stage) before you start playing.
I like to put it on just before I play the concert when I
know that I am going to be going for the next hour or so.Don't
use this in the summer and easy does it (even in winter)
especially with new bow hair. When it is only 10% humidity
and cold, this will work when no other rosin will.
|Kolstein All Weather
||Good Marketing! It's less
soft than their "Soft".
||The All Weather stuff is just
a harder rosin than Kolstein's Soft. So it is less risky to
use in hotter, more humid climates. Not so great when it is
cold and dry outside. We (players) here, like to use this
brand more the first few days after a re-hair because the
hair will have a better chance of NOT getting too waxy or
glossed over at first. Then later, after the hair is
more 'broken in', you can switch to a more softer brand if
What about age and freshness? Ok, here is where I give
our little spiel about freshness and not being a cheapskate! I can
remember when I was in (high school and college) I thought that as
long as I still had any rosin left, it was fine to use.
Because we are always trying out new bows here, I can wholeheartedly
attest that freshness is the most important key component of any of
the softer bass rosins.
Always order your new rosin from a bass specialist. Pops rosin
used to have a born date (when made) so that folks can see and know
how fresh it was. I think Pops was honest to do that, but
also, most shops didn't like that because they'd end up buying too
much or not selling it fast enough. People were checking those
dates!! The dates have now disappeared from them again.
Most of the soft (Pops, Carlsson, Nymans and Kolsteins) should be
replaced about once a year.
As a professional, I buy new rosin at least once a year.
One cake of rosin is way cheaper than a re-hair and so much easier.
You can really hear and feel the difference. For folks buying
new bows with us I will almost always insist on sending out some
kind of new and fresh rosin. Why put old, dry, scratchy rosin on a
new, good bow?
About hard rosins. You may have read (in the Pop's
Pros and Cons) about some players keeping a bow for orchestra and
another one, for strict solo playing. The orchestra bow using one of
the typical bass rosins and for the solo playing, using a harder
rosin. Violin or Cello rosins are made in a harder formula.
Anyone that has just gotten a new re-hair on their bow, can attest
that the tone is more apparent, more pure at first while the hair is
new and before a lot of the waxy bass rosin goes into the hair.
As orchestra players we want 'big', 'full' and loud. I also
want the bow to 'speak' (I want a nice 'machine gun' spicatto).
The trade off is less contact between hair and string, where the
rosin helps grab the string, it also covers the tone. For
strict solo playing, (like a Bach Cello suite), using the cello or
violin rosin, will allow the bow to be more even throughout the
whole stick. There are some definite differences between the two
types of rosins, but again, it is hard to notice if you already have
used bass rosin already on your bow and then trying out the
cello/violin rosin. Maybe the next time you get your bow
re-haired, it might be fun to try this experiment and use some cello
rosin the first couple of days. All the more reason to be
nicer to the 'upper string' people around you so that you can borrow
and try their rosin first!
Popular violin, viola and cello rosins: Bernadel
(cheap and it works), Hill light or dark, or the Larica
brand. Larica has different hardness formulas (starting with I
as the hardest), and end up at a formula V which comes in a tin.
Wit the tin, it tells us that the Larica company think that it is
soft enough to need that. Don't buy these hard rosins if you
are going to play or use your bow in an orchestra and only using one
bow. The harder rosins are not enough to make it work with the
real power that you'll need.
In general most people want and need that bass string to really
vibrate and for the bow to quickly grab the string. As with
anything, a little trial and error will help you decide which kinds
of rosin you like to use and why. While it is hard to use just
any one kind of rosin year 'round, it's fun to pick up a 2nd,
different bass rosin, for spikes in the weather seasons and whatever
the case may be or brand you choose, newer, fresher rosin will
always be better.