You may have the experience of picking up a brand new violin bow while in your local violin shop, and attempt to bow the string instrument. Well, you will find that the new bow does not produce any sound at all. Why would this be?
The reason is that all bows are made with horse hair. In its pure form, it is not able to produce any sound when you bow the violin. What you need to do is to rosin the bow. By doing so, you create friction which allows the bow to properly grip the strings and produce sound. Without rosin, the bow can not grip the strings properly and slides over it like an ice skater skating over ice.
Here, I will guide you on how to apply rosin to your violin bow properly. The way you rosin your bow should be different in different circumstances.
First scenario – when the bow has just been re-haired
If you sent your bow to your local luthier to be re-haired, it may be rosin before it is returned to you. Some shops do not rosin the bow after it has to be re-haired, so you should know how to apply rosin in this scenario. In this case, you will need to use short, targeted strokes to apply the rosin to your newly re-haired bow. Start from one end of the bow and finish at the other end. You may take some time to complete applying rosin on your bow this way.
Second scenario – newly re-haired bow that has been rosined
If you have received your bow from your local luthier and find that it has been rosined, then obviously you will not need to rosin your bow immediately. After playing for a while, you may then rosin your bow the regular way. This is to swipe the entire length of your bow against the rosin couple of times.
Third scenario – when specific sections of your bow do not play evenly
In the situation where you find that certain sections of your bow do not play evenly, even though you have rosined your bow properly, it is certain that that section of your bow has been in contact with oil or dirt. This may be caused by how you hold the bow, it could be that you gripped the center of the bow with your palms so transferring oil onto the horsehair of your bow. In this case, you will need to bring your bow back to your local violin shop to be re-haired.
Finally, do take note not to over rosin your bow. If this happens, you will find that there is excess white powder accumulating on your violin strings and especially around the area of the bridge. As such, ensure that you use a soft cloth to wipe off the rosin dust from your violin after each play.