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bad bowing technique...

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by superbassman2000, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. hello folks in the DB section!

    this is my first post in the DB section, so please, be easy on me!

    anyways, i really want to join my university's jazz band, so in preparation, i am taking DB lessons. anyways, on to my question, my teacher is having me start with the bow, and i don't know what i am doing wrong, but my thumb really hurts after about ten minutes of bowing...is this normal or am i doing something wrong?
    also, i am having a heck of a time trying to bow without pushing the bow down hard on the strings...does anybody have any bowing tips?
  2. Back when I first started playing bass my thumb always hurt. What I learned back then is to loosed up your grip. Ask some one one knows how to play near you (a teacher) to show you what your doing wrong since we can't see you. And, another factor could be muscle memory. Your not used to it and your struggling to hold it causing you to over grip it. By the way are you using a French or German bow?
  3. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Try to use the weight of your bowing arm rather than muscle. Try this: Stand at the bass with your bow in hand. Hold the bow with just enough strength to keep if from falling out of your hand. Raise your bow arm until it is in front of you, just above eye level. Feel gravity pulling your arm down and let it fall until the bow rests on the string. Keep that weight on the string and move the bow across the string. If you did it right you should have produced a good, solid tone, without using power other than the weight of your arm and the minimal effort required to hold onto the bow.

    As far as the thumb hurting, what kind of pain is it? Does it feel like you're going to have a blister? I think that is fairly normal, and you will build a caulas (sp?). Anything like sharp pain is a bad thing, and it is most likely a result of having a death grip on the bow.

    I'm sure there's probably tons of other good tips if you do a search or check out the newbie stickies, good luck!

    *edit* Also, practice playing only open strings, long bow strokes, trying to get the same volume and tone from each string. You'll notice that the G string requires less weight and more speed, whereas the E requires more weight and less speed.
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    German or French?
  5. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Use a sticky rosin like Carlsson or Nymans
    Stay near the frog
    Bow closer to the fingerboard
    Let the weight of the bow sit on the string
    These will help you to learn to relax your bow grip regardless of whether you play German or French.
  6. Since you didn't mention what kind of bow you're using, it's difficult to adress the problem completely. My advice is just to relax your hand when you play. Also, don't keep the bow hair too loose or too tight. And you may be interrested in some extremely sticky rosin; Pops will help you get a strong sound with minimal pressure. And if you're experiencing pain of any sort, talk to your teacher about it, and find out how it can be remedied.
  7. sorry guys, i am using a french bow...actually Kam, you're trick is the same one that my instructor told me to do!
    anyways, i think my problem is that i keep a tight grip on the bow, because the way that my teacher tells me to hold (which is the correct way, the same as you guys say) the bow, it always feels like it is going to fall out of my hand!
    it sounds like it is because i am just a beginner at bowing, and i will get used to it...is that right?
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Just keep working on it, knowing that it's easy once you figure out how to do it. Practice in front of a mirror, do your long tones, short tones, articulations, etc.

    Another thing that is good to do, if you have access, is to check out as many bass players as possible. See who does what, seems comfortable and otherwise, who gets what sort of sound, seems nimble or powerful, etc.

    Also, when you're not playing, fantasize in your mind what it must feel like to have it together. What it must stound like, feel like, etc. Make it your first thought/wish in the morning and the last at night. THis may sound funny -- but it works!
  9. thanks for the tips ray!
  10. You may also want to check out Rabbath's Video,
    "The Art of the Bow" It's a good look at the mechanics of bowing, and hand and arm technique.