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John Boulware.com » Blog Archive » The 3-Point Perfect Bow Grip

The 3-Point Perfect Bow Grip


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Hey everybody. I’ve been getting a lot of questions on Bow technique, and it seems to be an issue with lots of fiddlers, so I figured I would write some articles on it to help clear some things up. This particular article is going to focus on gripping the bow.

*Note: Remember that just because I do something a certain way, does not mean that it is “right” or the “best” way. This is just how I do it, and what I believe to be the best way. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. :-)

Just in case anybody isn’t familiar with the different names for the parts of a bow, here is a picture that points them out: (Fig.1)

Figure 1

 

Let’s start with the basics: where to hold the bow. A lot of fiddlers (especially old-time fiddlers) tend to want to “choke-up” on the bow too much, or hold it too close to the middle. (Fig.2)

Figure 2

 

This is not really ideal. For one thing, you’re losing about 3 or 4 inches of bow behind the hand that you could be using. You also have less control over the tilt of the bow. Overall, you have less control and tone this way. (There’s a reason they have all that stuff to hold on to at the end of the bow.) A better idea is something similar to Figure 3.

Figure 3

 

 

This is what I call the 3-point technique: (Fig.4)

  1. The thumb goes on the underside of the stick between the frog and the grip.
  2. The tip of the pinky sits somewhere on the top of the bow.
  3. The pad of the ring finger goes on the eye of the bow.

Figure 4

Your hand should turn inward just a little bit to accomodate this. Also make sure you’re pinky isn’t sticking too far out. It doesn’t have to be all the way out on the screw, just some where on top that feels comfortable.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “Well, what do I do with the other two fingers?” The answer is, “Nothing.” You just wrap them around the side. Wherever they happen to fall will be fine as long as it’s comfortable.

Now if this feels wrong, it probably is. Most people tend to want to tighten everything up so keep everything relaxed. It is VITALLY IMPORTANT that you keep your pinky and thumb slightly curved. If you don’t, it will create tension and will cause your wrist to be stiff. (Not good.) Every aspect of this bow grip should feel natural and relaxed. That doesn’t mean that you will instantly be used to it, but it shouldn’t feel tense or strange in any way.

That’s all for this time. If you have any questions about this or anything else, feel free to email me.

john@johnboulware.com

-John Boulware

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50 Responses to “The 3-Point Perfect Bow Grip”

  1. Ruth Brons Says:

    Great lesson, John.
    One of the trickiest parts of getting a new violinist’s technique set up, even with a teacher, is indeed the learning of the bow hold.

    If the bow hold is an issue, you may find useful the Bow Hold Buddies[tm] Instant Bow Hold bow accessory I have developed to speed student learning. Great for beginners of all ages!

    This new product has been featured in Strad, Music Teacher and Strings Magazines!

    Best Wishes,

    Ruth Brons
    Teacher/Performer for 30 years

  2. Pete Franklin Says:

    Did you know that over 90% of most miss hits are caused by an incorrect grip around the club. You need to find out what golf grip is the best for your swing? Since all golfers are different, everybody has their own unique grip.

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  20. Jerry Rice Says:

    I have been playing/practicing less than two years. The three point bow hold has never been explained to me this way. It has been very useful. Now I’m very conscious that everything is in place with my hand at the frog every time I pick up the bow. Thank You. Regards, Jerry

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