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I bought a used NS Wav 4 on BC last year and have got on well with pizzicato, mostly playing jazz/big band style music.  I had some lessons with a pro as the advice here was to do so, which were really useful.  The lessons (which were curtailed by redundancy and lockdown) included tuition on bowing with the included French style bow (probably more like a cello bow in size).  Despite my best efforts, I'm not really getting to grips with it, even after my teacher's hints and tips, I still find it difficult to hold without cramp, and it's not very musical.

Does the hive mind think I should stick with the French bow or, given I'm really at the start of my EUB journey, cut my losses and try to learn with a German bow?  How difficult is it to change from one to the other?  I don't think I'll ever be playing orchestral DB, but who knows?

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Give it a try.. they're different rather than one being per se better.

I prefer German myself, but the teacher I used to go to didn't like German at all. Hey, if it's good enough for Gary Karr..

I noticed you can get more easy finesse from the French, as you have all the flexibility of your fingers at work, but more easy power from the German. 

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From the thread title I thought it was about wearing a tux and meeting the Queen......

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9 hours ago, Baxlin said:

From the thread title I thought it was about wearing a tux and meeting the Queen......

According to Raab (?) that's kneeling, isn't it?  😀  Yes, I thought the thread title was humorously replete with homonyms.

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17 hours ago, dexter3d said:

Go German. In some auditions, you could be a priori dismissed for playing a French bow.

Thanks. As I see it,  I'm unlikely ever to be auditioning for an orchestra.

16 hours ago, hubrad said:

Give it a try.. they're different rather than one being per se better.

I prefer German myself, but the teacher I used to go to didn't like German at all. Hey, if it's good enough for Gary Karr..

I noticed you can get more easy finesse from the French, as you have all the flexibility of your fingers at work, but more easy power from the German. 

Thanks, I'm doing some more research, some useful videos out there. The hand issue is tension/cramp/thumb joint discomfort, and the musicality issue is probably just beginner's bad playing, although I do seem to sound the first harmonic (+1 octave) rather than the fundamental on the open strings with a bow.   I'll also ask my previous teacher if he teaches German - I guess he assumed that seeing as I turned up with a French bow, he might as well teach what I had. 

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If you're getting the octave harmonic it could be you're moving the bow too quickly or lightly, also perhaps try a softer rosin.. my first good rosin was Pops, one of the stickiest going. 

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The cramps you're getting with the French bow is probably over-gripping, it will get easier the more you get used to playing. A bit like the left hand cramp you get when first learning bass/guitar...

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It has taken me many years to be comfortable with the bow (after playing guitar and electric bass for most of my life) despite having some lessons and advice from top professionals. Not just my bow grasp, but the whole of my arm was always too tense. I still get it wrong when I'm under pressure, but I have now started feel relaxed and understand what is going on.

This YouTube clip, from Thomas Martin, on the French Bow grasp, is a good way of understanding - then you just need a few more years practise 😂!

French Bow Grasp

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5 hours ago, philparker said:

This YouTube clip, from Thomas Martin, on the French Bow grasp, is a good way of understanding 

French Bow Grasp

Agreed.  My bass teacher had already recommended that series of videos.

5 hours ago, philparker said:

then you just need a few more years practise 😂!

Probably this!!!! 

Thanks all for the suggestions and help.

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On 18/06/2020 at 22:12, dexter3d said:

Go German. In some auditions, you could be a priori dismissed for playing a French bow.

?

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Look at the CBSO and everyone is using a French bow; likewise the LSO, likewise my amateur outfit; in fact I've never even met any German bow users.  Look at the Berlin Phil however and they are all using German bows.  French bowers need not apply.

Is it easier to hold?  Less crampy?  Evidently works just as well as the French sort, once you get the hang of it.  Looks awkward to me.

 

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Lots of people play with French bows. Lots of people play with German bows.

People play 124, people play 1234.

People sit down to play, people stand up to play.

People use really sticky rosin. People use violin rosin.

People use gut strings. People use Spiro Weichs. 

The Double Bass is quite young in terms of pedagogy compared to Vln/Vla/cello. Do what works for you. 

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I am 18 months into lessons with German but my teacher is. French player. I bowed open strings for over a year and if I wasn’t so damn old I would probably bow open strings for two years. For me it was all about tension. Start with the back, shoulder and in particular the triceps....a muscle often overlooked. Then the (controlled)limp wrist.....also used in drumming and rhythm guitar playing. I still struggle but worth every practice hour

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It's a journey. I studied at the RCM, and played in the National Youth Orchestra nearly 40  years ago, and I still find tension in my bow arm and hand. Practice and mindfulness. Study how it feels, then consciously relax muscle groups, all the way from your neck to your fingers, then study how it feels again. It's more difficult with the bass than with any other string instrument, but also more worthwhile

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Posted (edited)

Further to neilp's post, Knut Guettler, in his (sadly out of print) book A Guide To Modern Double Bass Technique, put this graphic up regarding movements of the whole arm system on reversal from down to up bow.  Same thing applies for up to down bow.

20200718_124310.jpgAs he says, "The foundation of all bowing technique is the change of bow."

Reverse the big bits first, i.e. torso, shoulder, then on down to the fingers. 

Think of your arm system as similar to the con rods and piston on a steam locomotive, one whole smooth system made up of its component parts.

Edited by hubrad
Easier to type on laptop than phone!
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I've never seen that before, but that's almost exactly how I was taught. If everything is relaxed enough, it's like flicking a loop along a skipping rope, if that makes sense? I know what I mean, anyway!!

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I started out on French bow, but swapped to the German hold.

Try both!

You can hold your French bow with a German grip to try it out. You don't quite get the same clearance at the frog, but it works.

Similarly I would often hold my German bow with a Fench grip for certain things.

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Mrs Saints bought me an early birthday present, a cheap 3/4 size German bow just to see how I got on.  It's like night and day.  Previously I was struggling to finish Ex 2 in the Simandl tutor without pain with the French bow.  With the German bow, it's much more musical and there's a lot less tension in my hand. It's not perfect, but at least I can practice to make it perfect now.  

Thanks for all the advice. 

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