The Differences Between Dark and Amber RosinUpdate: 1/4/2013
Rosin, the ubiquitous accessory for any stringed-instrument player is actually a bit of a mystery to most musicians. Few know how it's made, how it works, and which types or grades are best for their instruments.
Standing in front of the accessory counter at your local violin shop and trying to pick out a cake or box of rosin is a bit like standing in front of the bar at your local pub: Do you choose dark or amber, winter or summer?
What Is Rosin Exactly?
These marks induce the flow of resin into the container (the cuts must be renewed every five days or so to ensure the continuous flow of tree resin).
This formula is then purified by straining and heating it in large vats until the resins are completely melted. Once cooked, the concoction is poured into molds.
After the mixture sets for about 30 minutes, the rosin is smoothed down and polished. Rosin is packed into a swath of cloth or fitted into a tight-sealing container.
As the seasons change to summer and fall, the color of the resin darkens and the consistency softens.
How Rosin Works
"It is the adhesion of the sticky rosin between the bow hair and the string that makes it work. The bow pulls the string in the direction of the bow motion until the adhesion breaks—you get to the point where it can't pull anymore. The string snaps back and vibrates at whatever frequency it's tuned to."
These barbs catch the string when the bow is drawn, creating vibrations. No matter which ideology you subscribe to, there is no disputing that rosin is a key ingredient in making music.
Choosing and Using Rosin
For some players, such as fiddlers, this is a plus. But classical players may find that the higher-priced professional-grade rosins better fit their needs. Professional-grade rosin is created from a purer resin and generally produces a smoother, more controlled tone.
Next, decide between light, or amber, and dark rosin–sometimes also defined as summer (light) and winter (dark) rosin. Dark rosin is softer and is usually too sticky for hot and humid weather—it is better suited to cool, dry climates.
Since light rosin is harder and not as sticky as its darker counterpart, it is also preferable for the higher strings. "[Any type of] rosin—except for bass rosin, which is much, much softer and would make a mess on a violin bow—pretty much works on any instrument," says Richard Ward of Ifshin Violins in Berkeley, California.
"Lighter rosins tend to be harder and more dense—a good fit for violin and viola. Darker, softer rosins are generally preferred by the lower strings."
Solo performers often find that gold rosin helps them produce a clearer, more defined tone.
Lead-silver rosin is well-suited for both the violin and viola and is a soft but nontacky rosin. It enhances warmth and clarity, producing a fresh playing tone.
Source: http://www.allthingsstrings.com - By Heather K. Scott