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File:EBow P1400291.JPG
Playing the EBow on a Fender Telecaster

The EBow or ebow is a brand name of Heet Sound Products, of Los Angeles, California, for the original type of handheld string resonator, invented by Greg Heet in 1969, first marketed in 1976, and patented in 1978. The name Ebow stands for "Electronic Bow" or Energy Bow) (often spelled E-bow in common usage).[1] The EBow is a battery-powered electronic device for playing the electric guitar. The resonator uses a pickup - inductive string driver - feedback circuit, including a sensor coil, driver coil, and amplifier, to induce forced string resonance. The Ebow brand resonator is monophonic, and drives only one string at a time, producing a sound reminiscent of using a bow on the strings.[2]

Heet Sound Products, which produces the EBow, is one of only three manufacturers of string resonators worldwide.[citation needed]

The EBow is used to produce a variety of sounds not usually playable on an electric guitar. These sounds are created by a string driver that gets its input signal by an internal pickup, which works like a guitar pickup. Its output signal is amplified and drives the other coil, which amplifies the string vibrations. With this feedback loop the player can create a continuous string vibration.

Function and usage

By varying the EBow's linear position on the string, the user can change the sound due to the changing string harmonic along different positions of a vibrating string. Fading in and out by lowering and raising the EBow is also possible.

Harmonic mode

Starting with the current generation of EBow (PlusEBow, the 4th edition EBow), the user also gains an additional mode known as harmonic mode, which produces a higher harmonic sound instead of the fundamental note. This is achieved by reversing the signal phase to the driving coil, which damps the string's fundamental frequency and creates higher harmonics.

Style range

Many different artists have used the EBow in a wide variety of musical styles. One of the first notable users was Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, who used the device on "Carpet Crawlers" from the band's 1974 album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Another early pioneer of EBow playing was Max Sunyer, who used it in a 1978 live album Iceberg en directe, recorded and released in Spain.[citation needed] It was used later on by Bill Nelson, who introduced it to Stuart Adamson of The Skids. Adamson went on to use it with Big Country, specifically in their song "In a Big Country".

Contemporary Christian performer Phil Keaggy (of Decca recording artist Glass Harp fame) is also a user of the EBow, more notably in his 1978 instrumental release The Master and the Musician, which features many different sounds created with the EBow. The EBow is frequently used by Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien in studio and for live performances of songs such as "Talk Show Host" and "Nude"[3] and "My Iron Lung", "Where I End and You Begin" and the live version of "Jigsaw Falling into Place".

It has also been used on Opeth's 2001 album Blackwater Park, to create ambient background melodies. Blondie has used it on several songs including "Fade Away and Radiate" and "Cautious Lip". In the 1980s The Bongos used the EBow in the intro of their song "Numbers With Wings" and also in "River To River", "Miss Jean", "Glow", "Flew A Falcon" and "Sweet Blue Cage". Frontman Richard Barone continues to use an EBow on his subsequent solo recordings and much of his production work.[citation needed]

Besides its appearance in rock and jazz music, the EBow also made its way in the domain of contemporary art music, being used by John Cage in his harp piece A Postcard from Heaven (1982), Karlheinz Essl in Sequitur VIII (2008) for electric guitar and live-electronics, Elliott Sharp on SFERICS (1996), Arnold Dreyblatt in E-Bow Blues (1998) and David First in A Bet on Transcendence Favors the House (2008).

Alternative usage

Although the EBow is most commonly played on the electric guitar, because of its ease of use and the responsiveness obtainable from the pickup, many artists have experimented with the EBow on other types of guitars and string instruments to various effect. While the EBow is not normally used with the electric bass guitar, which has heavier strings, Michael Manring (who uses light bass strings) uses it on his 1995 album Thönk. He has also been known to use two at once. Another instrument that the EBow is sometimes used on is the steel-string acoustic guitar. For example, guitarist David Gilmour of Pink Floyd used one on his Gibson J-200 acoustic in their 1994 song "Take It Back"[4][dead link]. Generally an acoustic guitar gives a limited response for varying reasons, including the density and spacing of the guitar strings. But despite these limitations, using an EBow on an acoustic guitar gives a rich, flute- and clarinet-like tone with a slow-swelling response.

Steve Rothery of Marillion has used the Ebow in a number of tracks, including on the 1985 UK Number One album Misplaced Childhood, the song "The King of Sunset Town" and the ending part of "Seasons End", both from the 1989 Seasons End album, and also throughout the song "You're Gone" from the 2004 Marbles album.

Composer Luciano Chessa employs EBows regularly in his music for solo Vietnamese đàn bầu. Furthermore, an EBow can also be utilised on a grand piano (with depressed sustain pedal) to create sustained sinusoidal sounds as it was used by Olga Neuwirth in Hooloomooloo (1997)[5] and Karlheinz Essl in Sequitur XIII (2009) for extended piano and live-electronics.[6]

Other notable users

This is a partial list of only notable performers who have used an EBow in at least three of their songs and who were not mentioned in the text above.


  1. "The Amazing EBow :: FAQ". ebow.com. Retrieved 31 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The Amazing EBow :: SoundClips". ebow.com. Retrieved 31 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "the King of Gear;". thekingofgear.com. Retrieved 31 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://www.pinkfloydfan.net/t1479-david-gilmour-sounds-silence-guitar.html
  5. "Olga Neuwirth, Hooloomooloo". stefandrees.de. Retrieved 31 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Karlheinz Essl: Sequitur XIII (2009) for extended piano and live-electronics". essl.at. Retrieved 31 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFRL19DrQs4:Dream Theater-The Making of Disappear
  8. "The Rough Guide to Rock". google.co.uk. Retrieved 31 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. http://www.webcitation.org/5PkgWTFnD

External links