April 9, 2008
Bereft of brightly colored enclosures, footswitches or 1/4” jacks, the EBow has remained unique among guitar effects by not acting like an effect at all. Instead, the EBow requires a fresh approach and a few new techniques to deliver the goods.
Featuring a spartan feature set, the only thing to tweak here is a 9-volt battery compartment and a three-position, Off- Standard-Harmonic switch. A blue LED helps lead the way, and a pair of grooves on the bottom makes sure the unit lines up over the desired string effectively.
Thankfully, a comprehensive Player’s Guide is included in both print and cassette form. Luckily, they also have some well thought out, newfangled mp3s that all the kids are talking about (posted at ebow.com) that display the dazzling technique of EBow savant Lenny Walker. Beginning with the suggested guitar and amp settings, the first tip gleaned is that the neck pickup is king. Next was the quick dismissal of the assumption that a linear, up-and-down-a-single-string approach is needed – effective movement from string to string occurred much sooner than expected.
Another key is locating the “hotspot” on your guitar. Begin with the EBow near the bridge pickup and move it slowly toward the neck until you find it, typically directly over the neck pickup. Users are wisely instructed to turn their amps down beforehand, which makes moving from string to string, as well as bowed, plucked and horn sounds, much more effective. Sure, convincing cello and French horn sounds abound, but then Lenny goes and shows off a spot on harmonica impersonation.
The EBow is one of those things that seems like a good bit of coin when it’s sitting in the display case and breaking one out for a quick demo probably won’t change that opinion. Check out Lenny’s online clips, and if you like what you hear, remember that the EBow is best approached like picking up slide – be prepared to learn it.
MSRP $135 - Heet Sound Products - ebow.com
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