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German V.S. French bows

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Joe Taylor, Feb 29, 2004.

  1. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I am not stumping for either one. The one you like is the right one for you.

    There are four of us in our bass section two women and two of us men. The women both play with a german bow and both of us males play with french bows. The ladys both say that the german bow is less hard on thier sholders and that is why they play with it. They also say that women in general do better with a german bow.

    Any thoughts on this line of thought?

  2. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Madison, WI
    I play German, and think that it's easier to "dig in" with it. Both have their pros and cons. Some things are easier with German, some with French. String crossings are harder with German and it tends to bounce more. But French is harder on your wrist and harder to dig in. German bows also need bigger cases... It's just preference. German just seemed to work better for me.

    As far as the woman thing I'd say coincidence. Maybe, like i said, its the ease of "digging in", easier to get power out of a German. But, I know female French players.

    Travis Burleson
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    I have had a few good conversations about French v. German hold with my teacher.

    His thought was that the German technique tends to naturally shorten your arm as opposed to the French and may be the ideal bow for someone with longer arms in proportion to their torso and legs. The opposite situation of course applies to the opposite body type.
  4. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC

    I remember hearing somewhere that women's arms are proportionately different than men's, evolved that way to make it easier to hold a baby (any scientist-types around here to confirm this?).

    Maybe that would explain it a more natural propensity toward a certain kind of bow.
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I would assert that men also do better in general with a German bow.

    I have had the chance to play a very fine French bow a little while ago, a nicely balanced bow that seemed to pull the string as if by magic. Still, German is my favorite and doesn't require such fussiness.
  6. JSCHRO7376

    JSCHRO7376 Commercial User

    Feb 23, 2004
    Los Angeles County, CA
    Owner, Schroeder Cabinets
    Since I grew up in Germany (former West Germany), it was during my time mandatory to play/study with a German bow. No orchestra in Germany would even auditioned you if you'd been playing with a French bow. Times might have changed there but I seriously doubt it. I (naturally I am now biased) tried after a few years playing with a French bow, but never felt comfortable enough. I enjoyed using my Fretschner the most.
  7. I dont' know anything about german bow being easier for women... I know for myself personally, I like german bow better for digging into the strings, for string crossings, and for the grip (my hand and wrist never get tired anymore). it has it's down sides as well though... I can't articulate things like I could on french, like jump bow technique... for instance, I'm playing Stravinsky's Firebird suite with my university orchestra, and there are "trilled" parts that would be so much easier if I could perform an articulate (and fast) jump bow, but with german, it just doesn't work the same.

    I think it's funny that you said that women do better w/ german and men to do better with french-- there's a joke among my bassist freinds that french bow is a "girl bow, " and that German bow is more manly.
  8. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I did not say it, I was quoting one of my female section mates.

    I heard the jokes about guy's that play with a French bow missing a few vital parts.


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