If you try to play with a brand new bow with brand new horse hair on a brand new string nothing will happen. No sound whatsoever. Often a luthier will when the hair has been properly a fixed to the bow use prepowdered rosin and work it in thoroughly coating every hair, as besides supplying traction where it meets the string it also acts as weather proofing and preservative, it was part of the mummification process used by the Egyptians. For a normal getting ready to play rosining hold the bow by the wood in one place and move the rosin back and forth. As you do try to keep moving the rosin so as not to wear a groove in it especially when using an expensive rosin. A cheap ($3.00 or under) or broken piece of rosin may leave you with no option but to notch in which case notch away, you try to be as careful as you can but you will probably will drop and break your rosin long before you'll wear it out. Take a small piece between two fingers and crush it. It will fine powder instantly, pretty neat trick, use this rosin on any skipping spots on your horse hair from getting grease or wax on it. Occasionally rosin the back side of the horse hair for the reasons given above. Try not to touch your horse hair with your fingers any more than necessary and before you do wash your hands with dish washing soap to be as degreased as possible. If someone does touch your horse hair with their fingers try not to throw a fit. I like to encourage people to touch the extra hair where it sticks out to their hearts content while I tell them about horse hair and rosin. If you were to look at horse hair up close you would see sort of herring bone structure, this is what grabs the rosin and holds on to it but only in one direction, and like any natural hair its thicker at one end and gets thinner as it goes along. If you were to take the horse hair right off the horse and put it on a bow as you rosined it you would feel it grab one way and slip easier the other way, and the rosin wouldn't last as  long that direction. One of the knots would look smaller then the one on the other end. For these reasons the horse hair must be divided in half, one half turned around and put back against the other, a different direction selected, pulled apart, turned around etc. over and over again making sure enough is traveling both directions before even beginning to prepare it for a specific bow. The highest quality synthetic horse hair has some form of ridging both directions but none hold rosin as well as real horse hair. Violinists prefer white horse hair for a variety of reasons but black horse horse is thicker, sturdier, and grabs the rosin and the string harder and is preferred by Cellos, Basses, and Viols. Be sure to check out "Rosin" on Wikipedia to see its many uses. I hope this is helpful, Keep on Psalting!

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Comment by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on August 29, 2015 at 10:28am

Hi, Bob. Please check my blog on rosin here on my page.

Comment by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on May 5, 2015 at 10:20am
Thought I would bring this back up since we have been discussing horse hair again lately.
Comment by Gregg E. Schneeman & Jean Gaffey on July 30, 2014 at 7:49am

 Hi Ruth, rosin a little bit before you start playing. After rosining you might flick your index finger nail against the wood to knock off extra rosin. Too much rosin flies off your horse hair and gets all over your instrument. Violin rosins are harder than cello rosin and some double bass rosins run like honey on a hot day. Rosins can be very expensive, I prefer Hidersine at around $10.00 its a good round cake with cloth to hold on to it while rosining in a sturdy metal can. If you accidentally get chicken grease all over your hair or break to many hairs, you will have to be rehaired but if it isn't broke don't fix it. I have bows with 30 year old horse hair still working fine. Violin or cello rosin both fine on a Bowed Psaltery.

Comment by Ruth Lawrence on July 29, 2014 at 9:54pm

Yes, thanks for this info, interesting stuff. I have a few newb questions: are you supposed to rosin your bow before each time you play or is say, once every few play sessions enough? What kind of rosin is best for psaltery bows? I have noticed rosin sold as different types for cellos, violins etc. What is the difference?  Lastly, how do you know when to restring your bow? Thx.

Comment by Richard Blumberg on July 29, 2014 at 12:36pm

Excellent description.  I really like the discussion about the different directions horsehair goes and how rosin affects it.

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