There are several cello sites on Facebook, and being a cello-nut, I tend to check them out.   The downside is that it takes a lot of time away from actually practicing.  The upside is that there are a lot of adult amateur cellists who have  a lot of great ideas about playing the cello.   From technique and books to instruments and products.  Everyone has an idea and opinion.

Which brings me to the latest one that really seemed to generate a lot of comments.  Rosin.  What kind do you use?  What works the best?  One writer did an entry about Andrea Solo Cello Rosin.   He was funny, saying how much the rosin improved his sound, but he was sincere as well.  There were many, many comments after his touting this brand of rosin.  Most were very favorable, saying how much the rosin improved their tone and how it helped with their bowing.

I’ve never noticed one rosin was any better or worse.  But that’s just me.  I’m certainly not an expert on rosin.   I’ve used Hill’s Dark Rosin, Magic Rosin (fun because it shines), Pirastro Cellisto Rosin, and Salchow Rosin (really cute in a heart shape).   But I was inspired by all the rave reviews.  Always grasping for that “magic” that changes my tone from struggling adult beginner to sultry du Pré.

So I made the leap and shelled out $32 for a cake of the Andrea rosin.  I was pretty excited when it finally arrived- 2 days thanks to Amazon.  I rushed to my cello, whipped out my bow, rosined it up, and turned on the Korg.  After being sure I was in tune, I pulled out something lovely and romantic- Shubert’s Standchen Serenade.  New, but I could play it.  I played and listened.  Recorded a few measures.  Listened carefully.  Played again and recorded again.

My analysis:  It’s just rosin.  No magic.  For me, there isn’t any substitute for playing, listening, and experimenting.   It’s just that simple.

7 thoughts on “A word on rosin

  1. Peter Wauters says:

    I agree. Rosin is rosin. The sound you produce on the cello is determined by hundreds of factors, but the most important are (imo): technique (achieved through practice, practice, and practice), the instrument and the bow (but again, learning to play a great instrument takes a lot of practice), strings can make a huge difference and the acoustics of the room (I once played in a church with an awful echo… and hated every note). I use the classic Pirastro Cello rosin. (I even have a cake left from when I stopped playing 32 years ago: “made in West Germany” – before the fall of the iron curtain) Personally, I wouldn’t bother experimenting with rosin.

    Finding the right strings… is quite a different story.

  2. Peter,
    I have a friend whose husband buys her a different set of strings every Christmas. She’s been playing for 20 years so I think she eventually found what works best for her cello!

    And I’m not sure which is worse: the echo or playing in a room with a low ceiling and carpet. I’ve done both and the low ceiling and carpet really kills the sound.

    • After 20 years one certainly would… I have limited experience experimenting with strings. Currently sticking to the Larsen’s originals (like the tension) because I’m still mainly working on technique. Trying to rebuild as much as possible after the long intermezzo. At a later stage, the experimentation can begin. Can be a very long and expensive process. Matching strings to both your taste and playing style as well as to your instrument… I must admit, I’ve briefly tried the fantasic Evah Pirazzi Gold’s, but decided it was too early for me to play on these strings. Struggling to keep everything together musically… But strings really do change the sound of your instrument in a big way.

      At the university where I work, we have a so-called “anechoic chamber”; the extreme version of your low ceiling carpeted room. A cello sounds like a cigar box stringed with elastic bands… (I volunteered to “try out” the room at the time… ) But that’s a very unnatural setting.

  3. David B Teague says:

    My studio is dead. Carpeted, with a sound absorbing ceiling. I have to remember how I sound elsewhere, but it makes me play much more carefully.

    I’m a bassist. I find that the kind of rosin I use makes a significant difference in how I sound. The details of my several kinds of rosin (Pops, which I like, Nyman Swedish, Clarity synthetic, nonallergenic) are not germane here.

  4. David B Teague says:

    Thanks Nancy, and thanks for the very kind words about my sound while we were at SCOR! That was an awesome session!
    I keep telling myself, “I have to be doing something right. They keep asking me back to play.”
    I used to say , “They don’t tell me to go away and stay.” But I feel much better about my playing now.

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