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Is there any ways to determine what grip would be better for you?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Blacksheep, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. Blacksheep

    Blacksheep Destroyobot

    Sep 7, 2006
    Manitoba, Canada
    Before you experiment with bows?

    Are there any tendencies to French or German players that having nothing to do with actually bowing? Any mouvements that can be found more comfortable? I often get pain and swelling in my right hand when I play drums with a standard kit grip, or write for a long time, is that a tell to what kind of grip I would be more comfortable with?

    I ask because I am ordering a bow with my UB Hybrid, and I need to pick a style, but the teacher I have lined up teaches both. Though he said most people picked German, so I figured he teaches German more, so that may be better for both of us if I played German.

    Any help or advice appreciated.
  2. CPike


    May 28, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    I don't know of any predisposition to either that would influence your choice ahead of time. If the teacher favors one over the other, then I would suggest going with that. Sometimes, problems can result in the future if you use a bow that your teacher isn't altogether familiar with. Many of us have played both, switching because of a new instructor's expertise. Of course, there lots of teachers who favor one over the other when performing, but are equally skilled in teaching both.

  3. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    Seems like many jazzers who bow, prefer German...but that is just my observation, and I'm sure it could be argued either way.

    Personally, I watched people play both styles and decided upon French because the people I saw playing German were not very attractive to watch. lol.
    I hate to say it, but what they were doing just looked ugly to me, while the French looked like a more natural body position and I thought it beautiful to watch.
    Although, I'm sure this is not the case with everyone who plays German. Just the people I was around 5 years ago when I started arco.

    Also, I'm told that French bows naturally have a more articulate sound with more nuance...if you can believe that.
    Not that you cannot achieve the same with a German, but I've heard it's more work.

    Sorry about my speculative thread that is of no help at all.
    I'm not even proficient with the bow, so what the hell do I know? lol
  4. A lot of people start on French bow but then switch over because of tendinitis/RSI issues. While both bows use a very natural finger position (the position your fingers take when you drop your arm at your side, completely relaxed), the German bow holds the two arm bones in more of a neutral position while the French holds them a little more twisted. This is why a lot of people get injuries from using computer mice with the palm down, and is the reason for ergonomic mice that are turned at more of an angle. I think a lot of it may have to do with the fact that by the nature of the German bow, it is partially supported on the top of your hand, and so your grip can be initially a lot looser. French bow, on the other hand, being held completely from above, has more of a tendency for grabbing and really tense bow holds for people new to using a bow. That said, whatever bow hold your teacher uses the most is probably the one you should choose. Maybe later you will have a teacher that holds the other way, and then you can switch over. I think it is important to learn both at some time.

    By the way, I am a French player, but I would love to eventually learn German as well.
  5. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    A lot of people start on French cuz it comes with their
    instrument, they never get trained properly, and WOW they
    then have issues :)

    The only thing natural about French bow is its naturally
    easy to hold it wrong. When trained properly I believe
    the French is more elegant, but thats just because it
    shares its style with the rest of the string family.

    I don't believe there is any physical 'clue' as to why
    one would be better. The critical issue is whichever
    one you decide on get a master teacher on that bow, take
    lessons for as long as you can afford it. I took weekly
    lessons on French for a solid year, and its been well
    worth it. Not that I am 'done', but now I know how to
    work on it myself.

    Watch pro bass players on each bow, and then go with
    what appeals to you, would be my advise.

  6. CPike


    May 28, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    Agreed, back in my teaching days I had SO many kids with bad French grips. I quickly discovered it was much easier to switch them to German than to fix a bad French grip. The bad French grip was primarily due to the orchestra teacher's ignorance - so many of them were violinists or violists. They just taught the bass players (and cellists) the exact same grip as the violin and viola, which works great when the bow is pointed up in the air, but is terrible when the bow is parallel to the floor. Fingers get all curled up and the forearm is rotated inward severely... yuck.

  7. I have mostly used french. When I try german, I find that I can't get the articulation that I can with the french, but I assume that's due to my unfamiliarity with the german. I ahve heard that the frech is more articulate, but I know several german players would can out articulate me easily. I think you have to of try them them both and see what fit's you.

    One part of the german technique has that I have adopted into my french is the moving from arco to pizz. I drop my bow, let the tip face the floor and hold it with my ring ringer instead of grasping the bow with the point facing up. Does that make sense? For me that's easier.
  8. Ray Parker used to say to stand with arms hanging relaxed and see which way your right hand naturally turns. If it tends to face palm forward, German, palm back, French. Both of my teachers told me to learn German first. One of them has always played German, the other plays both ways and teaches both.
  9. bassplayer57


    Aug 15, 2006
    Toledo, Ohio
    I SO agree!
    I have seen bass students just grab around the bow, and it took the teacher 3 quarters to notice!
  10. Poirot15


    Sep 17, 2007
    I started playing German because that was the only bow my school had for me to play. I tried to switch to French in high school, but I gave it up because my little finger would lock and become very painful. I do have slightly double jointed fingers, though, so that might not be an issue for most people.

    I would suggest that, as with French bows, you should get a teacher to help you with the grip on a German bow. I was effectively self-taught the first three years I played because the elementary school didn't have a bass teacher. As a result, I developed some nasty habits (most notably, wrapping my ring finger around the frog while bowing) that took years to break.
  11. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004
    I played cello for a time about 20 years back. When I started playing around with the DB in 2004, I bought a German bow and started using that because I thought it felt better in my hand with respect to the bass.

    Last month, I decided to get serious and start with a teacher. At our first lesson, he had me try both bows. While he has no preference as to which style I play, his opinion, after hearing me play, is that I should use a French bow. Why? Because I sound better with it. In truth, I have to agree with him. I don't know why this is the case - maybe my hand remains "programmed" from my cello days??? In any event, I think you need to use what works best for you AND for the people who have to listen to you.

    I suppose this just reinforces the TB mantra:

    Get a teacher!!
  12. I see no reason not to learn both. I mean, it can only help, right? And maybe someday you'll have to borrow a bow for some reason. (ever had the plug at the tip pop out at a gig?) I think each grip has its merits and is perfectly valid, and you may end up using both for different applications.
  13. SevenReasons


    Nov 18, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall Guitars, Ashdown Amps
    I don't mean you should learn both at the same time, but if your teacher teaches both its very likely he will let you try them both out to see which is more comfortable for you. Take a lesson first and that should help you make a more educated decision. I started french and the second i tried a german it felt instantly more comfortable, you'll probably be able to tell right away out of pure comfort. The more comfortable you are the more you'll want to play, and thats really what its all about right??? It can't hurt to ask him. Good luck.
  14. BEEF


    Apr 16, 2007
    Naperville, Illinois
    Try dangling a pin:

    A pin or needle affixed to a piece off thread is dangled over the prospective bassist's wrist. If the pin swings back & forth, it's a French bow. If it twirls in circles, it's a German bow. Some suggest using a nail instead of a pin. Some say the pin or nail should dangle over the prospective bassist's stomach instead of his or her wrist.
  15. The type of bow doesent matter. What matters is the way it is used. Because of that Its better to only play one type. Choose the one you think lookes and sounds best in the hands of an experiensed player. And then learn to play it properly. Just always remember to be relaxed. If it feals good and natural it is good. Though your teacher teaches both styles ask him what he plays whith.

    good luck!;)

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