How to hold the French Bass bow

How to Play a “French” Double Bass Bow (Part 1)

Double Bass players use either a “French” or “German” bow to produce an arco sound.

Here are a few tips and exercises I use with my students about practicing with a French Bow:

1. Keep your fingers gently curved over the bow

2. The thumb is positioned at a 45 degree angle

3. Keep an equal grip with all five fingers

Exercise 1: Three Fingers Method

With a slow bow speed, play long tones with the “3” methods below, while keeping a relaxed grip with only 3 fingers.


Hold the bow with only…

  • Thumb, Index & Middle fingers
  • Thumb, Index & Ring fingers
  • Thumb, Index & Pinky fingers

Outcome = Better Control of Tip #3 and Dexterity

Exercise 2: Crab-Walking Up and Down the Stick of the Bow.

How to "Crab Walk" by crawling your fingers up and down the stick of the bow

1. Start at the “Frog” and using only your fingertips crawl your way up to the “tip.” Keep the bow close to you to give your fingers more support.

2. Once you feel comfortable climbing up and down the bow, start to extend out your arm, while keeping the bow far away from you. This will help train your finger dexterity and strengthen your forearm

Outcome = Stronger Fingers & Easier to Create a Core Sound

I’ll be releasing more tips on bow control soon.

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