(click on pictures to enlarge)
- Bass players use two different types of bows: the French bow and the German bow. The French bow is shorter and heavier than the cello bow, and utilizes an overhand bow hold similar to what cello players use. The German bow has a taller frog that requires the bassist to use an underhand bow grip. Both bows have their advantages. Consult your bass teacher or a bassist friend for their assistance if you’re unsure which bow to use.
- There are many different ways to hold the German bow. Consult your bass teacher or a bassist friend for the grip they recommend. The following instructions explain only one German bow hold.
- To prepare for the German bow hold, as the handshake image illustrates, hold the bow pointing downward as if you were about to shake someone’s hand, with the frog gently resting in the palm of your hand.
- As the German front bow hold image illustrates, turn the bow sideways. The tip of the bent thumb should lightly touch the tip of your index finger (forefinger). The middle finger should rest against the index finger.
- The little finger (your fourth finger or pinky finger) should rest underneath the frog touching the outside of the ferrule (the silver part on your bow).
- The French bow hold is similar to the bow hold used by cellists. Relax your hand and let the fingers drop into place.
- The tip of the bent thumb touches the frog contact point.
- Fingers gently curve over the top of the bow stick.
- Do not let the fourth finger (little finger) rest on top of the bow stick as it does in the violin and viola bow hold. Let the fourth finger curve and extend over the top of the bow stick along with the other fingers.
- As the French front bow hold and alternate French bow hold images demonstrate, it is a matter of personal preference how far the fingers extend beyond the stick. Some bassists let their fingers extend beyond the stick, others do not. There are multiple ways of holding the bass bow. Consult your bass teacher or a bassist friend for their bow hold recommendations, and experiment until you find the bow hold you like best.
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