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BOWS: French and German Grip
Recent News and Updates
Gift Ideas for the Bassist in Your Life
Looking to get a holiday gift for the bassist in your life? We've got lots of great (and affordable) stuff to choose from! Under $25 items include our popular clip-on electronic tuner, the clever Turbo-Tune string winder, music room decor, and our fun "Bass Bomb" resonance reducer. We also have videos and book sets, instrument cleaning/polishing kits and more - all under $50! Most items don't require you to know specifics about their bass - most of them are delightfully universal! And of course, if you're nervous about getting the wrong thing, you can always play it safe with a Gift Certificate, which is a sure bet with any bassist (we ALWAYS need strings, or rosin, or...) Click here for our guide for holiday gifts!
Get Your Gifts In Time!
Thinking about buying a holiday gift for your favorite bassist? We want to help! We're known for super-fast order handling and shipment, and do our best to ensure that you'll get your gift in time. Check out our handy guide for ensuring holiday gifts arrive in time!

Recently Added Products
LaBella Supernil SLAPS Upright Bass Strings (Gollihur Exclusive)
LaBella Supernil SLAPS Upright Bass Strings (Gollihur Exclusive)
This item is made in USA!Gollihur Music has created this unique, specially-sourced set to be an affordable option for rockabilly (and other) players seeking a very light tension nylon set. An alternative to "strings" that might be better off whacking weeds, these strings have a warm, boomy character, which can be a thumper's delight. FULL NYLON, with super-light (bumped) tension makes them eminently slappable.
Acoustic Image DoubleShot Speaker Cabinet (and combos)
Acoustic Image DoubleShot Speaker Cabinet (and combos)
This item is made in USA! Acoustic Image never stops innovating. Building on the massive success of their tiny UpShot speaker cabinet, now we get the DoubleShot. It HAS to be the all-time smallest and lightest 2x10 cabinet (with 5" mid/high front driver!) ever made, at 11" x 12" x 12" and only 15 lbs! It's kind of unreal - a legit bass cabinet at this size... and yet, here it is.
• 600w • 4ohms • 12" side diameter, 11" wide • 15 lbs.
Deluxe Tabletop Metronome with Wood Case
Deluxe Tabletop Metronome with Wood Case
A true mechanical metronome, in a gorgeous solid-wood mahogany case. Classic and useful, ours is a brand-name unit made in Germany.
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.


An Important Note About Caring for/Handling Bows:
Especially when under tension, a simple rap against a hard surface (like the post of a music stand) can easily break a bow. Bumping into a bow that is perched on the lip of a music stand is also a common "maker of unhappy bassists" -- the bow hits the floor, and suddenly the stick is in two pieces. I really hate taking those phone calls -- it makes me sad, as such a tragedy can be easily avoided, but also, parents of younger players who deny they did anything (would you expect them to fess up?) often incorrectly blame the bow.

Put simply, a bow that "snaps" from a seemingly innocuous rap against a chair leg is not a sign of a "defective" bow, any more than shattering a glass vase by grazing a marble countertop would be considered the fault of the vase.

We STRONGLY recommend that you (and/or your bass-playing children) exercise prudent, responsible handling of ANY wooden bow, whether bought from us or not. A wooden bow is a fragile musical instrument in and of itself, and should be treated with the same care afforded the bass.

To limit accidents, there are bow "holders" available, which can help keep them safe from harm; we sell bow quivers (a leather bow "holster" that ties to the tailpiece) as well as inexpensive hooks that clip onto the music stand, providing a safer means for putting the bow down for pizz sections. You can find them in the Bow Accessories section.



Products Related to This FAQ




The Fine Print:

The information contained herein is based on what's in my brain — and/or my observations and opinions from my personal experiences (and those of Bob, before me) — as of this moment today, and is subject to change. I'm sure that a great deal more information and detail could be added — but the intent of these writings is to present easily understood, quick FAQs, to address common questions and improve the reader's general knowledge.

What's written here is by no means any kind of authoritative absolute answer, for I am not the world's greatest authority on bass (not even close), or on much of anything else, for that matter. So, by all means, get a second opinion, and know that all the information provided here is for general informational purposes only. I am not providing professional advice; be aware that, where applicable, any information acted upon is at your own risk.

I simply and sincerely hope the information and opinions here are helpful to you on your quest for knowledge about the bass and related subjects... that's the point!

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

PS: It should go without saying that all of the information here, unless otherwise attributed, was expressly created by us for the benefit of our customers. All graphics, text, data, and other information is copyrighted © 1995-current. You are not permitted to re-use any text, information, or graphical elements on your own website; you may post links to it, or small excerpts, on message boards if properly attributed and linked back to our pages.