If you’re like me, you probably haven’t given much thought to the rosin you use. The conventiuonal wisdom has been that folks who play on steel strings tend to gravitate to darker, softer, rosins, while synthetic-core string users seem to like lighter-colored rosin. We probably all have a favorite type, but I had kind of assumed that “rosin is rosin” until I was recently sent samples of two remarkable hand-made rosins from T.C. Baker. This gentleman has been hand-tapping colophony (resin) from living trees in Florida. He taps his trees only during the hottest months of the year, when the resin particles are smaller. He then adds barks, sugars, element metals and beeswax to the colophony in accordance with old recipes dating back to the days of Vuillaume and Paganini. Brewed in either copper kettles (Original Rosin) or distilled in earthen vessels (Vuillaume Rosin), the rosin is then sun-dried. Mr. Baker’s research has shown him that rosin, an organic substance, deteriorates with time. Therefore, rather than wholesaling it to stores where it may sit on a shelf for months or years, he sells his rosin by mail-order directly to his customers to ensure freshness. He also seals each cake in a metal tin to protect it from air. To quote Mr. Baker, “To make rosin this old-world way has to be a labor of love rather than a quest for profit. Like art, that's just the way it is.” My wife Claudia Anastasio has been using the Baker's Vuillaume Citron rosin. Here’s her review: Like the finest old-recipe distilled liquor, this artisan-made rosin has layers of quality ‘tastes’ that you discover joyfully with every bowstroke. What I love most is that it has incredible grip without being sticky or scratchy—great for articulating fast, bouncy, rhythm-centric old-time tunes. I use Prims, and this rosin draws a really big sound over and over, warming up the edginess of the steel strings, while you rosin your bow less and less. Highly recommended! After a few days with the Vuillaume rosin, I switched over to the Original formulation. Mr. Baker says that this formula is a little darker than the Vuillaume, and indeed it seemed more similar to the dark rosins I had been using previously. I use Jargar forte-gauge steel strings, and the Original rosin really grabbed the strings without being scratchy. The more I played with the rosin, the more I liked it. I could play for hours, then wipe off just a dusting of rosin from the top of the fiddle. As Mr. Baker says, “You hear the violin, not the rosin.” Baker’s rosins currently sell for $14.95, a real bargain considering the labor-intensive methods with which they are made. I ordered several of each style, as both Claudia and I are convinced that these are the best rosins we’ve ever tried. Baker’s Rosin’s Web page is: www.bakersrosin.com. There you can find fascinating information about the rosin-making process, testimonials and information on ordering the rosin. An interesting footnote: Mr. Baker has recently been experimenting with some new formulations, and has kindly sent me some samples. I have just begun to test them, but they are excellent as well.