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BOWS: French and German Style
Recent News and Updates
An Easy Option for the Bassist on Your Gift List...
Can't figure out the right size/gauge/color... whatever? That's okay, you can get your favorite bassist a Gift Certificate instead! Certificates are emailed to you directly, so you can print them out without waiting for the mail to arrive - so even if you're pressed for a last minute gift, we've got your back. Available in several denominations, no fees or hidden charges.
Gift Ideas for the Bassist in Your Life
We've got lots of great (and affordable) stuff for the bass players on your gift list! Under $25 items include our popular clip-on electronic tuner, the clever Turbo-Tune string winder, and our "nation of bass" hot beverage travel mug. We also have videos and book sets, a great cleaning/care kit and more - all under $50! Most items don't require you to know specifics about their bass - most of them are delightfully universal!
Getting Gifts In Time!
Gollihur Music is well-known for our very quick shipments and well-stocked warehouse, and we always hustle to make sure your orders get to you as FAST as possible. Ordering a gift for a bassist in your life? Check out our handy guide for getting gifts in time!

Recently Added Products
Bow Clip for Music Stand
Bow Clip for Music Stand
Never just lay your bow on the lip of your music stand. I take several calls a month for people who need a new bow because theirs crashed to the floor during a rehearsal. This clip is simple, inexpensive, and effective...
Irving Sloane Deluxe Tuning Machines for Upright Bass (Tuners)
Irving Sloane Deluxe Tuning Machines for Upright Bass (Tuners)
These beautifully machined deluxe tuners will provide accurate tuning (their 50:1 tuning ratio makes tuning a breeze!) and offer adjustable tension - with a simple adjustment, you can loosen or tighten the "feel" of the tuner to match your needs and preferences...
NS Design Radius Bass Guitars
NS Design Radius Bass Guitars
The NS Radius bass is a revolution in comfort, playability, and design. Coming from the mind of Ned Steinberger, this is hardly a surprise. Available in WAV and custom models. Definitely awesome!
French or German Bow - Which should I choose?

Unlike the other stringed instruments, with bass you have a choice of bow styles. If you're new to the bow, how are you supposed to know which one to choose? Here's a quick overview to help you decide.

French Bow has a shorter frog, similar to cello and viola/violin bowsFrench
The French bow has a smaller frog (the part of the bow you hold) and looks more like the bows you'd use to play cello, viola or violin. It is also held in a similar fashion as with those instruments, with an "overhand" grip.
German Bow, with the taller frogGerman
The German bow (aka "Butler") has a taller frog and is held in an "underhand" grip. Generally speaking, the rest of the bow is virtually identical, using a similar stick, and is haired in the same way.

So what's that mean to you? Here are some additional thoughts:
  • There isn't one type of bow that is necessarily "better." It's sort of like asking, "what's better, vanilla or chocolate?"
  • Often, the primary reason that a player would choose one over the other is because "that's what my teacher played and that's what he/she taught me."
  • That said, many players feel that a French bow is better for "finesse" and a German bow is better for "power."
  • Accordingly, many orchestral players actually become competent with both bow styles and own bows of each style to suit specific performance needs.
  • ...And there are plenty of bassists who play French with power and/or German with finesse.
  • French bows used to have a substantial edge in the USA, but German bows have made a resurgence. We still sell more French than German, but not by nearly as big a margin.
  • Learning materials for French are probably a little easier to come by due to this popularity (and their similarity to the bows of the rest of the string family). So if you're not already married to one or the other - and are learning on your own - opting for French may ease the transition to arco - especially if you have experience with other instruments in the string family.
  • We always recommend studying with a reputable instructor, especially when starting the instrument or a new technique (like arco) - so ask your teacher which is best for you!
  • There are multiple variations of the grips as illustrated in the examples below, so don't accept what's shown as "gospel"; your teacher's technique or your learning materials may differ.

Products Related to This FAQ

The Fine Print: The information contained herein is based on what's in my brain and/or my opinions as of today and is subject to change. Like any topic, a great deal more information could be added—but the intent of these writings is to present easy to understand, quick FAQs, to address common questions and improve the reader's general knowledge. What's written here is by no means the authoritative absolute answer, I am not the world's greatest authority on bass (not even close), or on anything else for that matter. I hope the information and opinions here are helpful to you, that's the point!

I welcome email with dissenting and additional viewpoints that help improve my personal awareness and the content pages. If you have a question that you think belongs here, please let me know.

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