First Bow

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by tsolo, Nov 17, 2002.

  1. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I'm learning a Christmas tune, O, Holy Night. Learning arco. I have a cheap french bow that's not too bad. Pulls pretty good but makes my muscles just above my wrist sore. I've practiced enough to learn that I can play arco and think i need to invest in a good bow. I have three questions

    1) Is the soreness in my wrist from the bow or just from being new at this.

    2) How much do i need to budget to purchase my first real bow - any suggestions on what to buy.

    3) Can anyone recommend a good bass shop in my area of the world?

    I know y'all love to spend other peoples money...
  2. The soreness could be from use of muscles you haven't used before, BUT it could be the French hold itself. I suffered constant cramping, although my teacher (no slouch) said my hold was perfect.
    I switched to German and never looked back.
    Before buying a more costly bow, get some experience with the German so you can make an informed decision.
  3. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I have a german bow but I have more control over the french bow and get a better sound. I get too much bounce out of the german bow and it feels awkward. Think I'll keep working before I invest though. But I will have to invest at some point.

  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Heh, one works so hard to stop bouncing that darn bow on the strings just to find out one must eventually go back and learn to bounce that darn bow on the strings all over again!

    Maybe that's what I get for favoring the German bow, but even if you prefer the French bow you can still catch my lift.

    Sorry, I just couldn't resist doing this...
  5. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Use the weight of the bow to draw the sound out. Some of the soreness you are feeling may be the result of pressing too hard into the string.
  6. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    From my experience the soreness is most definately from a bad bow grip.

    I had the same problems. When I started studying with a new teacher, he fixed my grip, and it's been smooth sailing ever since

    good luck in your endevors
  7. #1 The soreness comes from doing something new, but may be complicated by your choice of bow. Starting on French bow may not be such a good idea; French bow requires more of a "grip" so that the hand gets tired just holding the bow up, much less playing with it. You would minimize soreness and maximize progress by learning first on German bow, which requires more of a "cradle" than a grip. With German bow you can focus more on how to use the right arm and its weight to make a sound - which is critical to French bow too, but VERY hard to make happen as a beginner on French bow.
    I usually start beginners on German, then suggest they learn French too, no matter which style they prefer. Learning the intricasies of both bow styles will help you solve many bowing problems in the future, and teaches you a lot about tone production that transferes to any style of music you want to play in, bow or no bow.
    FYI, I play both styles in The Orchestra, and teach both styles, though I think German bow serves the bass better for most orchestral functions. I switch bows according to the music on the program.

    #2 What matters most in bows:
    A) Quality Materials
    B) Workmanship; balancing of weight
    You can buy a decently balanced bow from Southwest Strings for about $100; check out the Mueller bows. Not "great" materials, but the bow will handle very well and make a reasonably good sound, unlike the super-cheap fiberglass bows out there.
    You can buy a Very Good bow made by Ary, in France, for about $275. The "Ary 400" model sold at is well balanced and made from good materials. The "Ary 500" is made from excellent materials, and is just as well crafted. Some "Ary 500"s have played and sounded just as well as $4,000 bows! I use Ary 400 French bows in the L.O., and the sound they pull is great, and they handle very well. Both 400 and 500 level Arys are available in either French or German models frm Lemur Music.

    #3 For a bass luthier in your area, check out
    My favorite place is the Cincinnati Bass Cellar.
  8. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    Thanks for the info, gents. I seeked (soaked?) professional help and learned that although my grip was OK, I held my instrument too erect. I'm using my wrist muscles to hold the tip of the bow up and the bow against the strings. I'm doing all the work and not the bow. Man, teachers sure can see alot in just a few minutes. Arthritis in my wrist doesn't help either.
  9. The word you're looking for is sought.
  10. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    That's it - sought. thanks
  11. Gabe


    Jan 21, 2003
    Just a quick note on the soreness- Possibly you are being to tense. Keep the end-pin low enough so that you can comfortably put the bow between the bridge and the finger board without tensing the arm and wrist.

    It's probably just new muscles. Just as a better safe than sorry suggestion take it easy. Overdoing it can cause nasty things like tennis elbow and tendinitus. Double Bassist Magzine had an excellent article on bassist health and warmup excercises.

    Happy Bassing:)