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Easier for beg. students

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Rob Sleeper, Oct 21, 2006.

  1. Rob Sleeper

    Rob Sleeper

    Oct 13, 2005
    Hey everyone,

    I just have a quick question. For a beginning student that is just starting out on bass which bow is easier to learn and why? (french or german) It seems like every school is making students learn french bow and not german.

  2. sibass89


    Jan 29, 2006
    Cincinnati, OH
    Both are very difficult to learn. French has its pluses and so does German and I can give you my opinions and than somebody else will give theirs and they will all contradict but either way both are very hard to learn to play right.

    Many schools are using French bows to teach their students because they feel that they can teach just one bow grip and not have to teach a different bow grip to bassists. Little do most of them know that the bow grip is very different anyway. But that is their reasoning.
  3. I play both and neither is easier. Nor is either very difficult... :rolleyes: I'd say that German is probably slightly more common among orchestra pros, at least from what I've seen, so that might be an advantage when the student goes to study at a highschool/university level. Personally, I prefer German, but that's subjective I guess. I just feel it's more versitile, and also, more forgiving on the grip. I think a French grip done improperly is much more likely to cause discomfort or even injury.
  4. filrich


    Oct 14, 2006
    I agree. Difficult should not exist in any musicians vocabulary. I was trained as a French bow (overhand) player, because that was what was around. However, I have spent some time on and off with the German bow and I find that both have great qualities. I would say it is not hard to learn either. It is just like everything else it takes time. There are strong traditions with both and each little corner of the world has its own traditions.
    I would just say roll with what you got, change with the times and be where you are. If you get a chance to go to Germany, Czech Republic or any Eastern European counrty for that matter you will see a great variety of German bow playing.

    For everyone of us there is a bow hold or two.
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    This may be a decision based on what's natural for your hand so I would say French is easier if German is not for you or either way. The proper way to hold the Bow is more important. Living in USA rather than Eastern Europe you will see more French than German Bow in the Orchestras. If you go with French, do NOT hold it like a violin or cello. This is the Italian grip used in the Philly Orch and NY Phil;


    Do not take up the German bow for just the difficulty of the french or forgivness of the german. After you 'hold' the bow, you will have to 'PLAY' with it as well and that's the most important factor!
  6. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    That's the best piece of advice I have seen in a long time.

    Just remember that with a good teacher either bow is easy to learn. Stay relaxed by not trying to play very loud at first. Use good sticky rosin (Carlsson or Nymans).
  7. I've seen many young students started on German becuase its easier on young hands. For some reason it seems harder for younger students to hold the french grip and keep the tip up. Of course, there are exceptions to this and I think bass players should be exposed to both. In some Universities, I have heard, students must spend a semster with the other bow type (University of Minnesota is one of them I think).
  8. My opinion is that German bow is better to start with.
    The "correct" German hold is a little more intuitive to completely untrained hands/arms.

    Later on, it seems to be way easier to switch to French than to start on French and try to move to German. Flexibility is the key, in this case.

    In either case, sooner or later it will be clear which bow works best for you, and you should go with that, no matter what others may say.
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I started with French Bow over 40 years ago. The only thing that made me play better was 1) a better Bow and 2) a better teacher. The best teachers are those in the Symphony. Only they know what it is like to need good technique and a good bow because their life and their job depends on it. I learned this about 35 years ago and still believe it to be true.
  10. Ludwig


    Aug 17, 2006
    The choice of bow hold (french or german) can sometimes correlate with the way you hold the bass. Using the french grip, you have a little more space with your arm and can turn the bass a little more in the direction of your body. If I sit, I prefere the german grip (bass front more in line with the body front, more space for the arm). If I play standing, I have difficulties holding the bass that way, it is turned more to my body. I this case I prefere the french hold, at least with the lowest string.
  11. My first teacher and second teacher both wanted me to start with German. So I did and it was pretty painless on the right hand. I think I would have had more trouble with French with hand fatigue. But I think it is good to try both and see what feels more natural. If one just feels better, go with that one for the starter.

    Also, if you are just starting, it is more important that you get a decent wooden bow with real horsehair and some good rosin and have strings on your bass that play well arco. If you get those things covered, the French / German hold question is really just personal preference.
  12. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jan 17, 2021

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