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mangotango

Relative beginner to bowing - so, German or French?

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Exactly that. I play jazz on an Aria EUB, pretty much always pizzicato. I have a cheap German bow but never have felt too comfortable with it, though I have been putting in some time on it.

When I played DB a lot of years ago, I had a French bow which felt better. However, to change now will cost ££££'s and will involve a re-learning of technique.

So, should I:-

Persevere with the German option on the grounds that it won't add any more cost and I've already invested time and effort in practice with it? 

Or seek out a French alternative, which may move me on better in the long run, but will require money and time to get up to speed with it, which for the small amount that I'm going to use it, may not be worthwhile?

 

Edited by mangotango

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Bear in mind that there are several reasons that you may find your current bow uncomfortable;

- there are no absolute standards on weight/length/balance point which can make different bows within either style feel very different

- there is no standard in human physiology or individual preference which means that you might actively dislike a bow that I love

- the source of the discomfort might be more about your personal approach/technique than the bow itself (input from a good teacher is really useful in identifying issues with posture or excessive tension)

I play french grip, and have played many more bows that felt uncomfortable than ones that felt like they were not actively fighting me, and a couple of my DB playing pals have made the switch in the opposite direction to you and found relief from shoulder issues by switching from french to german, although in one case he found that the majority of available german bows were on the long side and ended up with a fairly inexpensive student model with a shorter stick which he loves.

Before you jump ship, find a teacher who plays german grip (if you dont have one already) and try some other german bows, so you can remove some variables from the equation - in the meantime check out Edger Meyer, Craig Butterfield, Paul Chambers and Gary Carr if you are debating with yourself about one grip having an advantage over the other.

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I know no one nor have I ever met anyone who uses a German style bow.  There must be some reason for this. 

In my own case I went French from the outset because I was originally a cellist and despite unsuccessful dalliance with a bass viol have always had my hand over the top of the bow. The French sort just seem comfortable.

and yet... You tube vids of the Berlin Phil show them all using German bows as does this one of a Korean double bass orchestra!

One of the weird and wonderful things about bass playing ( along with viol Vs violin corners, straight vs sloping shoulders, flat Vs carved backs ....)

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I play French, but my technique is awful due to the tension of gripping that finicky stick. I've considered one of the Chinese-origin German-style carbon fibre bows on ebay that are fairly well considered as it looks like a much more relaxed playing style. I think my tutor Steve Berry was swearing by one for a while (maybe it was from Thomann)

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Sounds like a few lessons with a German bow player might be the ticket? There is also a course on the German bow on Discover Double bass, maybe worth checking out as well. 

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Might be hard to find a German bow teacher in the uk.?  Obviously nothing wrong with it, but not very popular here.

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There are loads of teachers who can teach German bow. There's no point switching if you have put the effort in to make a start, and if you have a bow you like. I play French bow, but only because that is how I started. I tried German for a while at college, and it was fine, but I was in the reverse position you're in. I was just past Grade 8 and starting to think about my Diploma,and the work to get to that standard with a German bow would have been crazy so I stuck with French. My advice would be to keep going with what you have, it sounds like you have a long way to go before you reach the limits of your potential.

Oh, and if you ever want to audition for the Berlin Phil, you will HAVE to play German bow!

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17 hours ago, neilp said:

Oh, and if you ever want to audition for the Berlin Phil, you will HAVE to play German bow!

I didn't want to switch over from French bow...so I turned down offers from the Berlin Phil 🤣!

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German/French? Whatever floats your boat. There are plenty of of us German players around in the UK. The real question is which rosin you use?

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I would say that one to one with a teacher twice a month for at least 6 months is absolutely crucial ...whatever bow you choose...my teacher is a french bower teaching me German...only cos the bass I bought came with a German and I didn’t know any better ... I think that he would have preferred to teach me french but I had already started teaching myself (bit stupid but I couldn’t wait and couldn’t find a teacher)

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Well, I was finally able to book a lesson with my teacher. I tried his French bow again, but it became apparent to him that I was holding it wrongly, and by the time he'd fixed my hold on the bow, it didn't feel any better than the German bow anymore!!  So we agreed that, for the small amount of bowing that I do, German should be fine. I will persevere for now and see how it goes.

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On 02/11/2019 at 21:20, owen said:

German/French? Whatever floats your boat. There are plenty of of us German players around in the UK. The real question is which rosin you use?

No no no, the real question is "how much rosin do you use?" 

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Don't start down that rabbit hole! Gear obsession is strangely common amongst bass players. My other half is a pro violinist and a completely brilliant musician. What rosin does she use? "No idea, whatever that stuff is". How much? "as little as possible, only when I absolutely have to, I hate it"

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