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Rosin best-by date?

David Rosales

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I was watching the Ray Chen video about choosing a violin bow and noticed that he apparently really likes his Pierre Guillaume rosin. I never heard of it before so I looked it up and now I'm thinking about buying a cake. I've been using the same cake of Liebenzeller for the past 20 years now. That got me thinking about whether rosin has a "best-by" date. I saw another youtube video by Thomastik on "how to refresh your rosin" and the person on that video said that rosin shouldn't be used for more than 8 months but didn't say why.


Does anyone know if rosin "goes bad" or declines in performance after some time, or why the Thomastik video advocates getting a new rosin cake after less than a year has passed (other than the obvious, that they want to sell more rosin)?

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I have not noticed rosin degradation sufficient to care about it over 20 years time although I do tend to use newer rosins if they are the ebst ones I have for what I am doing (violin, viola and cello player).

My record, however was with the cake of used Thomastik 2-sided cello rosin that came to me in the well-used cello I was given in 1949. I used it pretty much until the 1970s when I added some new rosins. That old cello that I received in 1949 came from someone's attic and had a luthier repair sticker in it dated 1929; there is every reason to believe that the rosin had been put into the cello bag at that time since it was not a brand likely to have been available in the town where I lived then.

When my younger granddaughter decided to try viola (in cello position, with a wooden endpin added on) in 2001 I included that old cake of rosin, which still seemed to work just fine. By that time I had worn one-side of that old rosin down to about 1/16th inch thickness. That rosin cake was lost before she returned the viola.

Edited by Andrew Victor
date correction
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Not knowing how manufacturers process their rosins, there is a bit of hesitation as to what occurs at the chemical level.

As much as it upsets me, people ( teachers ) scratch the surface of student rosins, with keys? Why do this?

This might occur because the outside surface is often too hard for the bow to grasp or grip the surface enough to create an acceptable starting point. There are varying qualities of hair for students bows. Despite the average quality might not being better than what I use, it should break the surface after a few ( warm ) strokes.

I am assuming that these student rosins, thrown in with rentals, are older. At the retailer or distributors or manufacturers? 

Some of the more collectible rosins I own, are kept in a wooden ( jewelry- type ) chest. I have rosins from many eras including the later owned perhaps by Stern, Milstein. But Bigot and LeCanu have refused to write papers for me. The other older cakes of the era are not technically usable at a basic skill level, most being too hard. It matters what the quality of rosin provides to players.

Aside from age, heat cycles appear to matter. Manufactured and marketed rosins do grow old, but to what degree does it compromise performance? A student borrowed an instrument for awhile and in it was a cake of Melos rosin, which I do like and will purchase from time to time. Borrowed for less than two years. It was remolded into a weird shape, in the corner of the case. I do not think that this particular sample ( no longer ) plays as well as some of the other Melos cakes I own ( which were likely purchased at the same time. )

My decades old Liebenzeller does work. The gold- II works like the old gold- I. The gold- IV is fine on violins and the Silver around here must be ok too. They appear to behave as harder rosins.

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19 hours ago, GoPractice said:

As much as it upsets me, people ( teachers ) scratch the surface of student rosins, with keys? Why do this?

I find that there are things that people do that upset me too.  Not the scratching rosin thing though.  How about all 4 fine tuners on the violin?  Especially on a nice violin!  

BUT - why should it upset you (and me) when people do things that they want to do, or are accustomed doing, when it doesn't really directly affect you (and me)?  Everyone has their reasons for doing things whether on misinformation or misconceptions.  I found out from a friend that she uses all four fine tuners on her violin because it dampens the volume of her violin--its really loud.  So I got upset about nothing.

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