If you are a bass player, or have watched many orchestral bassists, you may have noticed that there are two different styles of bows: The French Bow and The German Bow.French Bass Bow
The French Bow looks similar to bows used for the violin, viola, and cello. It also has the same overhand hold like that of a cello. In general, French Bows are typically easier for a beginner to accomplish more technically difficult bowing patterns and strings crossings; however, it does so with some loss of sound and power.German Bass Bow
The German Bow uses an underhand bow hold and has a larger frog to accommodate for the handshape created by this hold. For a beginning student, this type of bow has the opposite pros and cons of the French bow---delivering more sound and power but requiring more work to achieve the same technical skill of a beginner. If a student has shorter arms, the German bow would probably not be a good fit due to how the underhand hold would make it harder for them to comfortably keep the bow in the best range on the strings for a good sound.
Beginning bassists typically start with whatever their teacher plays or whatever bow is available at their school and may change for a variety of reasons. Some professional bassists will learn both the French bow and the German bow and then pick what feels best to them or pick a bow to match the needs of the performance.
While each bow type has its own pros and cons, a good musician can get a good sound and develop advanced technical skills on any style of bow and bow hold!
Rosin Considerations. If you missed Part 1 or 2 in this series see How To Choose Rosin Series - Part 1 - How Rosin Works and How To Choose Rosin Series - Part 2 - Color. Another consideration when choosing rosin is the climate you live in. This can affect the way the [...]
Color indicates type of rosin. So now that we know how the bow makes sound on the string, and how rosin works (see How To Choose Rosin Series - Part 1 - How Rosin Works). What is the difference between all the different types of rosin on the market, and how do [...]
Diagram of "The Hemholtz Motion" How Rosin Works A lot of people have misconceptions when it comes to how the bow creates sound on a stringed instrument. Many people have the impression that the bow hair has scales on it that grab the string to make it vibrate, which is [...]
There are a few important points to consider when rosin shopping: Light vs. Dark Light rosin is hard and less sticky. Dark rosin is soft and stickier. Light rosin works best in warm, humid weather. Dark rosin works best in colder, drier weather. Violin and viola tend to use light rosin while cello tends to use dark rosin, but [...]
When the winter months arrive, it’s important to make sure your instrument is safe from the damages that may be caused by cold, dry weather. Wood loses its moisture when exposed to dry air, causing it to contract and possibly crack. Avoid costly and elaborate repairs by purchasing an inexpensive in-instrument humidifier, such as a [...]
When it comes to selecting a shoulder rest for your violin or viola, there is no single make or model that is universally most comfortable. Popular brands include Kun, Everest, Bonmusica, and Wolf. Thanks to the internet, the modern consumer is able to access countless online reviews which attest to the comfort level of each [...]
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