Friday, 16 November 2007

Rosin for use in Singapore's climate

What is rosin used for? To produce a sound from a string-instrument, a string-player would usually draw a bow across one of the strings of the instrument. In order to increase friction and make the bow-hair grip the string and produce a sound, a regular application of rosin is required.

Rosin is a solid form of resin obtained from various species of pine tree. The Contrabass Shoppe has a page that gives a very informative account about how rosin are made and a short account of why some double bass players prefer soft rosin wheras others prefer hard rosin. Here's the URL:

In this post, I shall attempt to share my personal experiences of using various kinds of rosin in the Singapore's climate. Singapore's climate can be described as being humid in general. According to one source, the mean daily temperature is 26.8°C.

The Contrabass Shoppe has featured three different kinds of rosin and described them in fair detail. I shall attempt to share my personal experiences with two of the rosins mentioned on The Contrabasso Shoppe.

Nyman Rosin
Nyman rosin
Photo credit:

Nyman rosin is quite a great rosin to use in the Singapore's climate. Firstly, it is not too sticky in our climate, and as such, it will not be prone to melting itself away under the hot tropical climate. A bow with Nyman rosin feels fairly easy to control and has a fairly rounded tone. I think it works very well when playing music from the Classical period, especially works composed by Mozart.

The only thing to be careful is try to store it in places where it is not prone to falls. Bad falls can break a piece of Nyman rosin to unsightly pieces.

Pops Rosin
Photo credit:

I initially did not like the sticky feel of Pops rosin. It would demand a bit more deliberate bow control to achieve a delicate and smooth tone on the bow that is rubbed with Pops rosin. However, this is one rosin that makes the double bass sound clear and bright. I find that it works particularly well when I play symphonies by Beethoven.

My main word of caution is that please keep the Pops rosin in its red container, and keep the container preferably in an upright position. Otherwise, Pops rosin is likely to melt under the hot weather and gets distorted in its shape, and you may find yourself in a sticky mess. In addition, as compared to when I was using Nyman rosin, I find myself rehairing my bow more regularly when I use Pops rosin.

Thanks to P., I have the pleasure to use Petz No. 2 rosin. Petz No. 2 rosin helps in the production of a beautiful and warm tone when I used it in United Kingdom in a dry and fairly cool climate. However, Petz No. 2 rosin feels very soft and tends to be prone to shape-distortion in the Singapore's climate.

Carlsson Swedish Bass Rosin
I personally find Carlsson Swedish Bass Rosin to have similar properties to Nyman Rosin. Maybe this arise because I could not differentiate the subtle differences between the two? I particularly like the design of its container because I know that it will be difficult for me to lose the lid.

L'Opera's Jade, Double Bass Solo rosin
My personal experience with this rosin is pretty mixed. A bow rubbed with this rosin produces a fairly delicate and soft sound. I find that there is less "noise" and it feels more smooth playing the first movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor when using Jade rosin as compared to Pops rosin. However, this rosin does not seem to provide enough grip in the Singapore's climate. I felt the rosin was lacking in grip especially when playing fast passages.

Meantime, if you have personal experiences to share about the use of rosin in the Singapore's climate, please add your views to the comments-section.

Most of the above-mentioned rosins can be purchased from the following places (Note: this list is not exhaustive):

Synwin Enterprises
845 Geylang Rd, #03-01 Tg Katong Complex, Singapore 400845
Tel: 6743 7865
Fax: 6743 4862

Frank Brothers Violins
1 Esplanade Drive, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, #02-08 Esplanade Mall, Singapore 038981
Tel: 6883 2581



Joe Lewis said...

I always find myself going back to Pop's. Nyman rosin is not bad, but I find Pop's better for my playing. It does get kind of gooey in the heat, but I try to use it in small amounts. Too much makes my playing sound compressed and things don't pull right.

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Joe Lewis, thank you for sharing your experience using Pops.

Anonymous said...

i've both rosins but we always go back to pops, wich seen to work quite nicely with north spain weather, however it really melts down in the summer.