No, it may not look like much, but the EBow –– that funny little J-shaped plastic thingamajig –– is easily one of the grooviest gadgets ever created for the guitar. If you’ve never been exposed to one, the EBow (which I can only conclude is short for “Electronic Bow”) is essentially a hand-held electromagnetic device (running on a 9V battery) which when held in close proximity to your guitar, causes a string to vibrate as if it were being played by a bow.
Your electric guitar’s pickup kicks in, does it’s thing, and the next thing you know you’ve got long and sinewy notes coming from your amp, not unlike the majestic sounds of a violin or cello.
Honestly, the effect can be downright creepy, making this unassuming little guitar gadget incredibly popular with anyone who wants to send shivers down a listener’s spine, including one of the EBow’s most famous and dedicated users; Daniel Ash, guitarist for legendary death rock band Bauhaus, the incredible Tones On Tail, and later Love & Rockets.
The EBow, and it’s apparently new & improved sibling the PlusEBow, can produce sounds you’ve probably never thought of producing with your electric guitar — all through the simple vibration of the string. Theramin-like wails, lamenting whale songs, soaring crescendos, and even, if you’ve got Daniel Ash’s guitar chops… the cry of seagulls. These things are truly crazy-fun to play with.
While I haven’t had a chance to try out the latest model, according to the good folks who make them, the PlusEBow adds a new “harmonic” setting, which “causes the string to vibrate with rich upper harmonics.” While it’s hard for me to imagine how you could improve upon this simple design, I’ll have to see if I can get a PlusEBow in for review.