The ebow ( Energy bow), is a small, hand held device that ‘bows’ the strings of a guitar using an electromagnetic field. It produces a unique guitar sound, with a very slow attack and infinite sustain. To play the ebow, the guitarist holds it over the string, near the pickup or hole, so that the string sits in a small notch on the underside of the eBow. The eBow’s magnets then cause the string to vibrate until it feeds back on itself at its own resonant frequency. This feedback loop is very similar to the well-known amplifier feedback, but a much more controllable version. The player can vary the loudness of the sound by moving closer or further away from the string, as with amplifier feedback. The ebow is switchable from low power mode to high power mode, which gives a strong, harmonically rich sound.
The ebow has been used at one time or another by nearly every guitarist under the sun : Radiohead, Tom Petty, Dave Gilmour, Sigur Ros, NIN, Coldplay, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, REM, U2, etc etc…
Creating The Sampled eBow Instrument
We wanted to capture the sound of the ebow for all those non-guitar players out there, or perhaps guitarists who have had problems using it with an acoustic guitar! Two guitars were painstakingly sampled, an acoustic and an electric. Both were sampled with the high and low power ebow setting, with vibrato and then again without vibrato. Several note off samples were recorded for every note, to make the instrument’s response as detailed and lifelike as possible. The level of the note-off sounds can be mixed to taste by the user. The acoustic was recorded in full stereo to give a natural, spacious image. The electric was recorded mono D.I for use with amp simulators or for re-amping.
The high and low power setting can be cross-faded using the mod-wheel -a very expressive effect not possible with a physical ebow! The vibrato samples can be selected using a keyswitch on keys B5/C6 .