I rarely do reviews of things outside strings themselves but something intrigued me about Leatherwood Bespoke rosin. One was that it is just a rosin company. It is not a string company that also has a rosin line but a company dedicated to rosin. The second thing that intrigued me was that you can have a personal consultation as well as a rosin blend specially blended for you. If you don't like the rosin you can also return it for a different one at a heavily discounted price. The third reason I wanted to check was what surprised me the most, the price. This is not a simple ten dollar block of rosin. A new block is currently $88 AUS (About $65 U.S. Dollars). This is about double the cost as the most expensive rosin some at many shops. I know people who are shocked at $30 rosin and this might just seem ridiculous to them but I wanted to see what it was all about. I reached out and receive a couple samples. One is their "supple" blend which is quoted as:
A warm and softer sound, consistent traction that feels velvety and rich;
The other block was labeled "crisp" and the website states:
A decisive attack, firm traction and crisp sautille;
I tested the supple out first. I used a couple new bows and also on my own which had some older rosin left on it from before (Andrea). It might be that I was listening much more intently than before but there was one big difference that I noticed. The balance of grip and tone was what I will call even. There are two parts to the sound, the initial snap of the string and the tone of the pull. I have felt with rosin in the past that the there is a connection between the two. As you increase the snap from a softer rosin the tone will increase in "grit." Often I find this from people over rosining a bow and finding the right balance of the amount of rosin is key but this changes very fast since as you play the amount of rosin both on your bow and on the string changes.
That blur between the snap and pull felt much less obvious. I was able to play for much longer time periods without fighting to find the balance of too much or too little rosin. Even on my personal bow that had a little rosin left from before I could tell a difference. E-sting spiccato passages were easier to play cleanly while transitions into the low end still had a true tone. I immediately jumped into Csardas to test out what the rosin could do.
After a week I started testing the "crisp" rosin. This had a very similar quality. The spiccato passages were nice and clear but I wished for a bit more on the low end. Now this has to do with my violin, strings, bow, climate, and playing style. I also use the same bow for my violin and viola (Arcus M4 violin) so transitioning between the two is essential.
Before I dive into the my final thoughts on it I will say that rosin can be a controversial topic. Not which is "best" but how much of a difference there is at all. I have met many experienced players who claim that there is no difference between rosins while others go to great lengths to find that perfect block. It was not until my Freshman year of college, about a decade into playing when I had a moment where I could actually tell the difference between one rosin and another. I had switched to a different block and for the first time I could tell the change tone and projection on my instrument.
The big question, "would I recommend this?"
Yes.... for some people.
Cost is most likely the biggest concern in the decision to try this. The major thing that should be noted is that there is no cost for the personal consolation that you can have for the personal blend that could be made. The rosin is made from Australian pine resin and are made from a by-product of sustainable timber milling in Australia.
For my students that have only played a few years I would not push them to invest in a rosin that might not even give an obvious difference to them. For those who have played for many years and have a very discerning ear it is definitely something to look into. Rosin being one of the key factors in a string players sound it is something that should be given a bit more weight. A good block of rosin may be the way to fix tonal issues that initially was thought to only be fixed by changing strings. Will this for sure be better for you than you current block I cannot say. It is a great rosin from a company that seems passionate about it's products. I highly recommend checking them out at their website at www.leatherwoodrosin.com.au. Of all of the rosin I have tried and tested throughout the years the violin supple blend will be staying in my case.
Previous Spotlight Reviews
Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin
Standard vs. Harp Tailpiece
Electric Violin Comparison
NEW Fiddlerman Strings
Vision Strings (Thomastic-Infeld)
Kaplan Viola Amo/Vivo/Forza
Amber Viola (Warchal)
Evah Pirazzi Gold (Pirastro)
Capriccio Soloist (Dogal)
Avantgarde A (Warchal)
Russian Style A (Warchal)
Kaplan Amo & Vivo (D'Addario)
Red Label Pearl (Super-Sensitive)
Amber - Full Set (Warchal)
Amber - Forte E (Warchal)