Wednesday 22 July 2015
Resin? It's all the same isn't it?
It's the little box of glossy stuff they stick in with any bowed instrument; an afterthought for many people and a puzzle for most beginners. What is it? Why is it important? Most students have a vague idea of what to do with it, but a host of misconceptions about how best to use it and its importance. Resin is a small component in your armory as a player, but it's vital - use too much, too little or a bad type and you can sound like you are trying to strangle your instrument into submission. Use the right amount, of a good resin, and you can enhance both your technique and sound.
Resin isn't expensive generally speaking, so don't be tempted to go for a very cheap one. The cheapest types are very coarse, the powder or dust gives a harsh sound and you need to keep piling more on just to get a half decent grip. Often we see students who are frustrated that despite their efforts their bowing doesn't seem to be improving. In fact, when they try a better resin, a lot of the scraping and screeching disappears and they realise, they were improving but the resin was hindering them. Even our smallest beginners use a decent German student resin, costing about €2.50 AB resin and Royal Oak Profi is around €5,95 and excellent brands like Dominant, Kaplan dark, Nymans, Hills, Pirastro all cluster between €8.95 and €14.95
There are specialist resins, like Liebenzeller or Larsen that cost between €17.95 and €35 but they are the exception not the rule.
Once you have your decent resin, with a good grade of powder the next thing to remember is when to use it. As a rough rule of thumb if you are doing half an hour practice per day, use it once a week. If you are doing an hour a day use it once every 3-4 days. Applying it means to make 4-6 firm passes of the bow across the resin block, making sure that you don't skip a patch - go from tip to frog.
Then put it down, and step away from the resin!
If you feel or the teacher feels you need to add more, by all means do; these are guidelines not hard and fast rules. But by erring on the side of caution you will keep your strings sounding well, your bow hair responsive and clean and when you make an effort to master smooth bowing techniques you'll see an return on your hard work.