Meet the founder and Rosin Maker
Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin's founder, Andrew Baker, has always been excited by the colours, textures and aromas of the violin-making tradition.
From the grain patterns of timber to the quality of varnishes, Andrew is passionate about the 'texture' of the string-playing world. Andrew has valued the relationships between performers and their artisan violin and bow makers; the journey of construction and maintenance, and the high appreciation of stunningly beautiful natural materials being as significant as energies spent in the practice room or on stage.
Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin evolved out of this passion, offering string players a means to directly inform and shape their rosin experience. Andrew believes the relationship between client and maker is just as relevant for rosin as for instruments and bows. With over 20 years experience as a performing violinist, pedagogue, researcher and manager, Andrew wishes to continue contributing to the experiences of string players through a product that enhances their playing and indulges their senses.
Andrew began playing the violin at 8 years of age. After receiving numerous awards and prizes during his school years, including the A.Mus.A and L.Mus.A, he graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a Bachelor of Music (honours). He then studied solo performance, chamber music and baroque music period practice for three years in Amsterdam with teachers such as Berent Korfker, Florian Donderer and undertook masterclasses with numerous specialists including Zakhar Bron and Nava Milo, and with various internationally acclaimed chamber ensembles including the Brodsky Quartet and the Kalichstein Laredo Robinson trio.
Upon his return to Australia, Andrew has worked for ten years as Head of Strings or Director in regional conservatoriums, as concert master and soloist with a number of orchestras in regional Australia, and has since been awarded a Master of Philosophy (string pedagogy) from the Australian National University where he continues to work as a research associate in music education.
While contributing to the string-playing world through Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin, Andrew founded and leads Colour City Chamber Orchestra.
Leatherwood bespoke Rosin acknowledges the performers, teachers, artists, designers, and the local and international primary producers whose knowledge and input play a significant role in creating this product.
Why was Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin created?
As much as we rely upon rosin as a vital ingredient in sound and response enhancement, it is hard to decipher exactly how, or in what way, a generic rosin recipe enhances your sound. Some rosin brands offer no description whatsoever on their sound and response characteristics, and for those that do, the messages are often general, generic and all encompassing. More importantly, the experience of a rosin is very subjective. Two players will find their experience with one rosin vastly different because, for example, of differing types of bow, strings, bridge, instrument qualities, and even differences intheir technique or playing style.
The main sound and response characteristics rosin can affect are:
- Attack (the strength of the initial grab on the string)
- Traction (the amount of grip in sustained bowing)
- Texture (the feel of the rosin on the string)
- Clarity (the clarity of articulation in spiccato and sautille for example)
Varying these characteristics in your rosin can affect brightness and projection, the amount of surface noise (the clarity of the traction), the depth / warmth or richness of sound, and the overall effectiveness of advanced techniques such as triple stopping, sautille, spiccato and sostenuto.
If you need a rosin with a stronger initial, attack, a smoother feel, a brighter sound or less surface noise, how do you go about finding one that does specifically that? Which do you buy?
Differences in playing qualities of rosin depend almost entirely upon the species of the tree, environmental and climatic conditions of where it is grown, but more so on the method of extraction from the tree and how the rosin is distilled. Rosin can be extracted in two ways. It can be ‘tapped’ from a cut in the trunk (this is called Gum Rosin), or chemically extracted from tree stump pulp using a chemical-based method (called Wood Rosin). Very generally, gum rosin tends to be more brittle and powdery, and wood rosin more tacky. Rosin can then be distilled to varying degrees resulting in the different colours from clear to dark brown / black.
Raw resin ingredients vary to a such great degree that a rosin maker has a wide choice of ingredients, all of which feel and sound different. As rosin is the interface of bow and string, the stickiness and texture of the rosin will significantly affect the vibration of the string. So when choosing a rosin, the player must consider carefully what sound and response characteristics they wish to enhance, rather than simply looking for something that might just be a welcome change from their current rosin.
For the first time in rosin history, string players can enhance their sound and response to suite their instrument, style and playing contexts.
Your bespoke rosin, as you desire it.