The double bass bow, by comparison to the other stringed instuments in its family has a few things in common with the other bows and a few key differances.  Like the Cello bow, the double bass itself has a much lower register and thicker strings and thus needs a more robust bow to produce the desired sound.    The other primary differance is that unlike the other stringed instruments it has two different style of bow.

The first is the German style, or as its also known the “butler bow”.  Its design and underhand holding technique stem from the Viol family of stringed instruments, out of which developed the current generation of Violin stringed instruments.   The underhand technique itself stems from the period before the screw was added to the design of the bow to maintain tension.  Players at the time used to place their fingers inbetween the stick and frog to maintain string tension.  While that is no longer nessecary with the current technology, the underhand technique is favoured by players who prefer to place much more power in their bowing.   The frog in German style bows is much larger, as it is designed to rest against the palm.


An example of the two types of bows, on top is the German style and the lower bow is of the French style







The second is the French style, which has much more in common with the other bow styles.  These bows are held underhand, in a similar fashion to that of the Violin or Viola.   There is a rich history of French bowmaking, with many past masters like Francois Tourte (an integral figure in bowmaking history) forming the nuceleus of their tradition.  The French bow is also the younger of the two models, not finding much favor with musicians until Giovanni Bottesini adopted and popularised it.     The primary differance is the again found in the frog, which is much smaller than the German model.



Illustration of the differing bow grips