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German or French better for Tone?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by bdengler, Nov 18, 2004.

  1. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Does German bow generally generate better tone than French bow? I may need to switch teachers (relocation issues) and I may be going back to a teacher who submits his emphasis is french bowing and believes he's not as qualified to teach German. I have played with both bows over the past 5 years. My teenage daughter listened to me play German and French the other night (my best bow is French) and said I sounded better with German. I asked why. She said it sounded better "because it was louder." Does Volume equal good tone? Is German bowing inherently a better bow to use to get good tone? I like French bowing because I feel I have more control over the bow, the sound, and it's a heck of a lot easier to do retakes. I don't want to switch back if I'm going to serious compromise in sound, although there are a lot of principal bassists out there in major orchestras (e.g., Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia) who play French. Thanks for your comments, Brian
  2. IME German bow tends to have a more powerful and defined sound but French bows are easier to control (for me), but soundwise i have to say i prefer German
  3. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Uh-oh here we go again.

    there's been many threads on this subject, you should search the archives.

    In the end of the day, it's about preference, it's not what's better, it's what works for you. I sure can't tell what bows an orchestra is using on the radio.
  4. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Oh, I was trying to avoid the "this bow is better than that" bow issue; I know some folks treat it as religion. My question was focused on whether there was a fundamental advantage of the tonal quality. My personal experience is that I can get a "bigger" sound out of my German bows but that I have a lot more control with the French (esp. retakes).

    Regards, Brian
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    French bows do way too much arguing over what way they should be held, what finger(s) control the bow, their balance and camber, the type of hair, the amount of rosin, and so forth. It takes years of hard work and physical suffering to get a French bow to cooperate.

    German bows, however, do not complain. They are happy to be held in just about any manner, are easily balanced in the hand, generate quality bass tone quickly, and are engineered for ergonomic perfection. German bows are, in short, "what works".
  6. There is alteast one long thread on this on which I've already posted on. In short, I'ved played both, and I prefer and play german even though I submit that french has more control in difficult passages. (on fast, but easy passages german is king, though). And that is the argument in a nutshell, german is louder and can get a slightly better tone (almost all of it depends upon the player) but cannot play some bowings.
  7. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Daniel, "Johnny", Thanks. Fortunately, my teacher is not leaving town (he studied under Levinson) so I get to stick with German. I agree; I found the German bow can deliver despite "user error", you don't get the cramping in the right hand like French, etc. The only problem I seem to have is with bow crossing; I feel I exagerate the angles as I move from one string to another.