Help with the German bow

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by RobbieBass, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. RobbieBass


    Sep 8, 2012
    Hey Everyone,

    So I play standing ( I can sit fine, but standing is much more fun and easier to move around). Recently I switched to German bow over French because I find that it works better for my build. However, hitting the E-string while playing is rough. I have to pivot the bass to get a nice bow stroke. This isn't an issue with the French bow because of the top down grip.

    I can still play French bow, but I prefer German. Any suggestions? And please don't say sit down to play!
  2. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Sorry, but sitting really does help. The only other option for many people is shifting the instrument in front of the chest, ala Rabbath.

    Make sure your hand is relaxed, and use a motion of the arm as close as possible to how you use the French bow.
  3. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Most of us German players just lean over a bit. Sitting helps, but a stool is one more thing to bring, one more thing to worry if an overseas promoter actually provided, etc.
    If you do sit, make sure you can also stand!
  4. Tried leaving the bass pivoted? You'll find the G easier to reach round for.

    Or just pivot it, or equivalently step around the bass.

    Sitting does help.
  5. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Andrew's "pivot" is the key for me. I like to describe the motion as rotating around your body's vertical axis. To play the G string, turn at the hips to reach, and reverse for the E string. In actuality you'll be facing a different direction, slightly, for the extremes. Also, resist the temptation to try to play on the inside edge of the bow on the E. Let your wrist naturally orient with your forearm.
  6. I started on German and I had no problem with the E because I turned the bass out (Rabbath-like). I did find this stance a little uncomfortable. For the last 3 years or so I've only been playing French and I've noticed that when I try the German technique the E becomes a problem--I do little pivots with my body and the bass to accommodate.

    Mostly I'm just happy that the French bow works really well for me.

    There are some videos on Youtube of Henry Grimes playing German while standing up, and you can see how he handles the problem with a similar movement. (Not that I'm crazy about his arco work--he really needs to figure out how to get rid of all that scratchiness--maybe with different strings or pickup.)
  7. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    I sit while I play german, but one thing I've thought of is to stand more centrally behind the instrument, rather than having it far off to the left of your body. worth a try, maybe?

  8. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    The "original" HG played French with a beautiful sound..
  9. Use both, or maybe one with the pluses of the other...
  10. ubassman


    Jul 23, 2012
    I am a German player too and experimented with the French for a while to see if the E would be easier to reach with a French ...and of course it is. However , like you , I realised that because the 'underhand' grip on a German cradles the frog rather than being sat 'overhand' on the top of the stick, the hand is about 4/5 inches closer to the bass ...which is why the E feels difficult - the hand is at the edges of its range of movement but with a French bow theres that extra 4/5 inches to play with which makes the E invisible to reach.

    So, the solution is to do exactly what you and everyone has already pointed out and that is to rotate the body ( or bass) to grab back those extra inches ..and its much easier to do that standing up !