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Bow Technique Trouble

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by timidbassist, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. Ok guys, so I now have another problem. I went back Saturday for only my second lesson and he told me I had been practicing the wrong bow technique. He keeps showing me and explaing that my thumb can't be pressured and my fingers just "support" it not hold it but I just CAN'T do it yet. Does anybody know of any websites or pages that have any more information on this technique or anything? Anybody have any advice for me? Basically I want a more detailed picture and explanation of this hold. I didn't want to KEEP asking him more and more about it.......although if I have to I will again next week.

    Any help would be awesome! Thanks!
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I agree with your teacher. No matter how your fingers are positioned on the bow you should not hold the bow any more tightly than if it were an egg. My recommendations to acheive this are:
    1. Use a sticky rosin such as Carlsson or Nymans
    2. Let the bow sit on the string using only it's weight as you bow.
    3. Play quietly for now. Whatever volume comes out fom using the weight of the bow is sufficient.
    4. Play closer to the fingerboard.
    5. Stay near the frog.
    6. Draw the bow slowly.

    Stay with these until you can consistently play with a relaxed bow hold. Good luck.
  3. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    I take it you are playing with a French bow grip. Try rolling a pencil between your fingertips and thumb to get the muscles used to holding the stick and to loosen up your hand.
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    When you hold the bow without touching the strings, it will lay loosely in your hand. When the bow is on the strings you don't hold the bow up at all, but the weight of your arm and hand against the string (through the bow) keeps it off the floor. Just keep trying and you'll get it eventually. It's a very unnatural thing to do, but feels natural once you get it.
  5. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski

    May 13, 2005
    My teacher put it to me and it clicked instantly. My paraphrase...

    "When you hold the bow in your hand it should be like you're holding a dove. You want to hold onto the dove. If you hold onto the dove too strongly, you will kill it. If you hold it too loosely it will fly away. Hold it just tight enough so that is stay in your hand, still purring"
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    I can't find if you are using French or German Bow but heres the two styles I know of holding the French Bow. Thumb into the Frok it=s the stronger Italian style grip and on the stick just forward of the Frog is the French/Cello method.


    These pics were shot for a Bow I was selling before and not for instruction purposes. I hope this helps you in some way.
  7. tenorbass


    May 8, 2005
    I had a problem like this around 3 mths ago. The guy that got me started on string bass more or less showed me a Voilen bow hold. My bass teacher had me just hold my bow the right way for a long time. Not even playing on a string. I think worked scales very slow so I could watch what my bow was doing on every string in every position. A fun thing to do when you got all this done is try to Wave "Hi" to people with your bow hold. :p
  8. Thanks for the reply Ken!

    It appears from those photos that I am doing more of an Italian hold (from as much as I can tell from that photo anyway) but it is starting to click a little better for me now. Just like my instructor said "It will just start to feel right." It does now seem to feel right and he says my grip is great, and time to start working on the proper arm technique!

    Thanks again everyone for your help so far on this fun journey and I am sure I will have more posts!

    Take care!
  9. Hey Mike.

    Thanks a lot for that link! That is exactly what I was looking for. Really a lot of help. That should be a link in a sticky for newbies like me somewhere!

    Thanks again man!
  10. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    I understand why you would feel this way, but he is your teacher. That's what he's there for. Ask him anything as often as you need to learn.
  11. E.O.M.


    Dec 7, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI

    I think a good teacher would be thrilled to have the student ask so many questions about the same thing. If I were the teacher, it would make me feel like my student was actually wanting/trying to learn the concept.
  12. anthem274


    Jul 19, 2003
    Arlington, TX
    Remember arm weight. Back muscles. When you have your hold right, this "dead weight" will eliminate the need to "grab" the bow.
  13. PJEBassist


    Aug 3, 2004
    Paducah, KY
    Just sit around play alot. Start with where your teacher showed you how it should be for THEIR HAND. Everyone's different so if your bow hold's a little bit different don't have a problem with it. As long as all your fingers curve in the right direction and your thumb placement is correct then go for it. But if it looks goofy your teacher will say something. Hold every word your teacher speaks as golden. If I had my teacher on a weekly basis without a 2 1/2 hour drive once every two weeks I would be in heaven, but maybe lazier.

    I play both, started on French and converted to the German bow. I don't have a problem with French or German people but I love the german. If your teacher is a French player or a german player try the other bow, even if it's behind their back. I had been raised in a French Bow world but had German so deep inside of me. German Bow just clicked with me and my bass playing has progressed so much and I can play both bows now, but German's much easier for me.

    Je deteste l'arc de francais! Je prefere beaucoup mon arc de allemande!

    I speak a little french, don't get me wrong, but germans are so much better. Beer and hot dogs? Who doesn't like that?


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