How to Hold the Cello Bow

The sharp corner on the frog of the bow pictured here may fool you into thinking this is a violin bow, but it really is a cello bow, made by a very famous old bow maker. Most modern cello bows have frogs with a rounded corner. The stick should be made of pernambuco wood, but you will find cheaper bows made of nylon or brazilwood, and more expensive bows made of carbon fiber. Pernambuco wood is the standard.

The bow is held in the right hand (the stick pointing to the cellist's left), with the thumb somewhere between the frog and the leather pad just ahead of the frog. The other fingers all fold loosely over the stick, with the second finger generally opposed to the thumb on the other side of the stick. The third finger falls somewhere on the side of the frog. The first joint of the first finger will be somewhere around the front of the leather pad, or even on the metal (or other material) winding ahead of the pad.

The precise placement of the fingers is not crucial, and the beginning cellist should not worry too much about it. Do not allow your thumb to collapse backward. It should be slightly bent in the normal direction. The goal is to have a grip which is firm, and yet relaxed and flexible at the same time. This is necessary due to the fact that the grip must constantly change slightly as the bow moves horizontally back and forth across the strings, and even at different elevations, depending on which string is being used.

"But exactly where do I put my thumb?" These photos may be helpful...

See also Leonid's page on bow holding. Also his page on "how to bow."

Return Home