German bow vs French bow – which is best?

Which one of these bows is better... or is it just a matter of personal preference? That's what we dive into in this post.

With Jason Heath · San Francisco, CA

People ask me all the time, what’s the difference between a German bow and a French bow?

Is one better at some things than the other?

Which one should I play?


First of all, what are the differences between German bow and French bow? Some of them are pretty obvious. I think the frog is one. You can see the French bow looks like a violin bow, and the German bow has a wider frog and a different screw to tighten and loosen the bow.

One of the biggest differences is in how they are held. The french bow is held “overhand,” and the German bow is held “underhand.”

Which is better?

People often ask, “Is the French bow better at certain things? Is the German Bow better at certain things?”

The French bow tends to be a bit easier in terms of crossing strings.

The German bow tends to bounce incredibly well. Too well in some ways, but I find that teaching spiccato and strokes like that tends to come a little bit faster for German bow.

Also, there’s this wonderful full body kind of connection that you have with the string when you’re playing German bow. It just tends to lend itself, I find, toward getting the whole back and body engaged.

The thing that tends to be a little more challenging on the German boat is string crossing. It can be done, and people are amazing at German bow string crossing, but because of the orientation of the wrist, you don’t have that kind of flexibility going for you twith the French bow.


They’re both great, but they have a bit of an edge in some areas, and are more challenging in others. Try them both out at a local music store and see what you think!

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