1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
     
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Bowing question...

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by sbeth, Dec 23, 2017.


Tags:
  1. sbeth

    sbeth

    Nov 22, 2017
    Olympia, Washington
    Weird question. I have returned to bass playing after a LONG break and notice a lot of shortcomings in my playing I don't even remember having as a total beginner! Anyway, one thing that I tried today was really magical, but obviously not a good solution long term, so I'm hoping someone A. won't laugh at me and B. can suggest something that gets the same result but isn't a sock.

    Here's the deal: I discovered that my bow grip was really bad - again, I don't remember this being a problem before but perhaps my memory is selective. I found a way to work on that and had about 80% improvement in my bowing. But I was still frustrated by the fact that my thumb joint caves in - I have very hypermobile hands. So I tried putting a balled up sock in my hand, sort of behind the bow. Magic! All of the sudden my bowing sounded great! But of course I cannot always play while holding a sock...the very thought makes me laugh. Thoughts?
     
  2. mtto

    mtto Supporting Member

    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    French or German?
     
  3. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    A. Not laughing, but given it is Xmas, a sock may not be out place..
    B. German or French bow hold?
     
  4. sbeth

    sbeth

    Nov 22, 2017
    Olympia, Washington
    French. I feel like I probably should have originally learned German, but at this point I'm not up for learning new tricks :)
     
  5. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Apart from the balled up sock? ;) Anyway, can you post a picture, intrigued by how this has helped you...
     
  6. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    There's no reason you couldn't use the sock as a part-time aid in positioning your thumb. Rubber bow-hand positioning devices are made for cello and violin. Never seen one for bass. Eventually you should be able to train your muscles to hold the thumb where you want it. You just need to pay attention to it all the time while you play.
     
    Lee Moses likes this.
  7. sbeth

    sbeth

    Nov 22, 2017
    Olympia, Washington
    Thanks! I will try to figure out a way to take a photo. I think I may have come up with one additional fix to my bow grip that may help. But the sock still seems to get me the best sound with the least tension!
     
  8. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    I switched to German after playing French for 25 years. It's not impossible.
     
    s van order likes this.
  9. sbeth

    sbeth

    Nov 22, 2017
    Olympia, Washington
    Salcott, what made you decide to make the switch? Did you work with a teacher on that? I have access to a German bow, but not to a teacher right now.
     
  10. the_Ryan

    the_Ryan

    Jul 10, 2015
    Ithaca/Seattle
    It sounds like you may be gripping with the thumb. Ideally you want to use as little force holding the bow as possible; the string is what's keeping the bow from falling out of your hands and your thumb is there for support and control, not the actual hold.

    The term bow grip is a misnomer because we should never be gripping the bow.
     
  11. Mrlen613

    Mrlen613 Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2008
    Clinton,NJ
  12. Only off the top of my head (never tried) would be a short strip of folded plastic or metal to go inside the curve of your thumb and held in place by two narrow velcro straps. This could hold your hyper mobile thumb in a good shape and maintain a cupped hand for relaxed muscles? See my pictures in the above thread by dankdave.
     
  13. JNbass

    JNbass

    Aug 28, 2016
    near Chicago
    You could try experimenting with the contact point on the tip of the thumb, and also maybe the bow is too high up in the fingers. Try having the bow stick on the second knuckle from the top, and pronate into the string, leading with the 1st finger.

    The 1st finger is the point of contact that gets the pressure into the string when pronating, and the thumb helps the lever type action, it is almost like a pinching sensation between the thumb, 1st finger and contact point of bow on string, along with feeling the arm weight into the string.

    Also, if your point of contact on the thumb is too close to the middle of the tip, the thumb will naturally want to collapse, but if you go 45 degrees off center there is really no way for the thumb joint to buckle because the force is going across the joint in a way that the thumb can’t bend.

    If you have your palm facing up, bring the thumb into the palm and bend the thumb so it is parallel with knuckle line, and try putting pressure in the middle of the tip and then off center on the side closest to the fingers. If you are pushing the thumb across the joint, I don’t think it will bend.

    My thumb is about 45 degrees inside the palm when I actually hold the bow and on the very tip, almost on the nail, my nail even bends and wears away if they are too long.

    Everybody is different and these are things that happen to work for me. It is hard to tell what could be a solution without seeing what you are doing. I guess try experimenting with angles to situate the thumb in a way that it doesn’t want to bend.
     
  14. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    For the first time in my life, I understand the meaning of "put a sock in it."
     
  15. sbeth

    sbeth

    Nov 22, 2017
    Olympia, Washington
    Thanks, all! I should have been more clear; it's the base of the thumb that gives me an issue, not the middle knuckle, which I realize is a more common problem. I have definitely found that experimenting with where the thumb contacts the bow is key to this issue for me. I am making progress!
     
  16. Have you thought about seeing a physio for advice about strengthening exercises for your thumb? I googled for these and saw exercises for specific muscle groups and their actions but hesitate to recommend anything beyond squeezing a soft rubber "stress ball". Wrap your spread fingers and thumb around it and squeeze all towards a central point. If you simulate the action without the ball in your hand your palm goes from flat with fingers and thumb outstretched to palm cupped with thumb tip meeting the finger tips of the curved second and third fingers. The long spread curve of the thumb and the cupped hand are what I aim for in my bow hold.

    Best wishes for a good solution.
     
  17. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    I played French bow improperly for years, and after a run of a musical where there was no amp and an idiot MD constantly demanding "more bass", I developed tendinitis in my right elbow. A friend gave me a German bow and showed me how to hold it, and that's the story. I started lessons with a real teacher a couple years ago, and she said I was doing pretty well for self-taught. I think German is more forgiving than French simply because it starts with the way the arm hangs naturally. I'll poke around on YouTube and see if there's a tutorial that uses my teacher's approach.
     
  18. sbeth

    sbeth

    Nov 22, 2017
    Olympia, Washington
    Thanks to both of you for these suggestions!
     
  19. sbeth

    sbeth

    Nov 22, 2017
    Olympia, Washington
    That would be good - it just occurs to me that there is a (not very great) German bow in the instrument storage closet at work that I could experiment with...
     

Share This Page