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German or French? grooove

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by mike_odonovan, May 26, 2003.

  1. I have been playing French for a little while (about 2.5 years) and play mainly pizz/jazz. I saw an east european bass player at a festival last night get a fantastic sound and particularly groooove using a german bow. Now before everyone says it was cause he was a wonderful player etc. - that's a given. but i am thinking what are the advantages to the german vs. the french bow? i got a french cause that is what my teacher uses. did i make a mistake not thinking about a german bow? also i love Slam Stewart (anyone?) and he used the German. any thoughts
  2. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Oh no! :bag:
    Here it comes again. . .

    German bow is the only way real bass players play! (There, I got the first salvo off!)

    German tends to be easier to get weight into the string, and easier to play really short articulations and accents. The downside is that if you aren't careful it can be scratchier sounding, and string crossing is a bit more difficult than French. French has a warmer, less penetrating sound. I like the powerful sound of German better. Gary Karr and Joel Quarrington play German. Edgar Meyer, Renaud Garcia-Fons and Thomas Martin play French.

    . . .And lots of other replies under "search".
  3. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    sounds in your head, pull them out

    play both?
  4. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    I've never liked french bows, they've always felt akward (sp?). German is much more natural and fluid to me. plus they sound better! :D
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Gary Karr seems to distinguish French and German bows only by what is comfortable to the player in relation to his or her arm length, not what can and can't be accomplished with them. I'm learning to use both the German and French bow now, and over time it becomes more difficult for me to perceive much difference between them.

    I'd say the only mistake you would have made was if you didn't have (and use) a bow at all.

    Now where do I find that icon where the smiley face peeks up above that fortress wall?
  6. If you can, play both. I think they both have their place, and I wish I had the $$ to own one of each because I'd probably use a french bow for solo work. And, if ever plan on teaching being able to play both would be a huge advantage.
  7. BassMan2000


    Sep 27, 2000
    I started of learning German, and made the move to French 5 months after. I've been playing Frenchbow for 4 years now and enjoy it alot more.

    German = :spit:
  8. damn frenchies. :ninja:
  9. My school system is Fascist and only owns 2 German bows in comparison to somewhere around 100 French! , (1 of the germans is nice though!)So as a result , no one is a true german player. Me bieng one of about 3 competent bass players in the high school system (3 HS's combine for orch concert) i have to decided to take on this herculian task. (always wanted to say that!) however , having played french for 7 years 4 of which studying seriously with a great technique person , my french technique is very comfortable.

    The issue i find myself struggling with on German bow , is that the weight of the bow seems to pull it downward causing tension in my hand , any remedies?
  10. HKBASS


    Mar 14, 2004
    I'm French bow player but I like German's sound.
  11. Congratulations; purists (and pedants) use a capital H.

    Well, they could be lousy bows. The more likely causes would be your bow hold (I deliberately did not say 'grip'.) and the fact that you're not paying attention to the bow line. Can you get to play in front of a mirror?
  12. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    I just saw the NC Symphony play. There were six bassists, 2 german and 4 french. The two german players were on the end and the 4 French were between them all in a row.

    I saw from the choir loft and they were all facing me. So I could see what it looked like pretty well. Being a German bow player and watching my teacher up there play French made think. (Teacher plays both).

    French looks easier from the loft. The german bow players make what look like circles with their elbow when you look at them straight from the front. They definitely have a wider range of motion, and since it's "Underhand", it's really pronounced. During the faster bowing passages, the French guys looked like they were expending a lot less effort.

    I asked my teacher if I should switch, he said "No, the first chair bassist plays german and the guest bassist with the german was the former chair".

    I think I'll stick with German for now, but I think French bow looks easier from the loft.

  13. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I did a master class with Ray Brown years ago and one of the many things that left a lasting impression was that he played both french and german bows with equal facility.

    For me moving from german to french recently I find that a swinging pizz-like spiccato is much easier with the french.
  14. Just a note about watching French vs. German bows, I've found that French looks easier, but being a French player, that's not always the case, especially starting out. I'm still having a devil of a time trying to get my hand that relaxed. I saw Edgar Meyer in comfort and his bowing was incredible, so fluid. When I get back to school, I'm going to rent both bows and try German out for real.
  15. PrezBass:
    Gary Karr encourages his students to learn both. A good, simple answer is that the "best" style of bow is that which allows you to reach your full potential. No one is entitled to dictate that to you.
  16. Deutsch ist besser!
  17. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    It's been a while, so here I go again! :eyebrow:

    The other point about "which bow" (besides German being so obviously superior in every way! :rolleyes: ) is that you will get more out of your teacher if you learn their bow hold. Your teacher will most likely be better at one style. There are lots of similarities, but the little idiosyncrasies of each bow hold take a while to master, and you may as well benefit from your teacher's years of experience.
  18. Which did Blanton play?
    Paul Chambers?
  19. I played frence for a coulple of years, then swiched to german about 5 years ago (mainly because my teacher played german). now i can play both pretty well. mabey its just the bows i've tried, but it seems like german bows have more unwanted bounce. and i find that it is easyer to play realy fast back and forth with french. however the reason i stick with german is because when you swich to pizz you can use 2 fingers, and if it is a really fast swich you only have to turn your hand and use one finger. also german is a whole lot louder!!!!!

    has anyone else tried comparing the unwanted bounce between german and french??