How to Play an EBow

How to Play an EBow

The EBow is a tool for an electric guitar that creates feedback loops and distortion as you play. Classified as a handheld synthesizer, you can use the EBow to create textures and tones that you wouldn’t normally be able to with just your fingers. Using the EBow isn’t difficult, but it does take some practice to get the sounds and tones that you want.

Part 1 of 2:
Situating the EBow on Your Guitar

1
Lower the volume and treble settings on your guitar. When you first start using the EBow, it can be a little loud. Lower the volume and treble settings as low as they can go after you plug your guitar into the amp. [1] X Research source Once you figure out how to use the EBow, you can turn your settings back up to normal.
2
Set the EBow to standard or harmonic to turn it on. Find the button on the side of the EBow to turn it on. Slide it to “Standard” for a more natural tone, or slide it to “Harmonic” for a rich, upper harmonic tone. [2] X Research source You can try out both settings to see which one you like more. If your EBow isn't turning on, it may need fresh batteries.
3
Hold the EBow with your strumming hand. Situate your guitar like you normally would with one hand near the bass pickup, or the metal plate near the bottom, and the other on the neck. Grab the EBow with your strumming hand, since you’ll be holding it close to the bass pickup. [3] X Research source You won’t need to strum your guitar when you use the EBow since it vibrates the strings on its own.
4
Position the EBow close to the bass pickup of your guitar. The EBow works best when it’s within 2 inches (5.1 cm) of your guitar’s bass pickup. Choose a spot to start with your EBow that’s about 2 inches (5.1 cm) behind the bass pickup, near the very end of the strings. [4] X Research source
5
Situate the middle groove over the string you want to affect. Look on the bottom of the EBow to find the 3 grooves that are parallel to each other. Pick out the string you want to use it on, then put the middle groove of the EBow onto that string. Rest the other 2 grooves lightly on the strings on either side of the middle string. [5] X Research source If you’re putting the EBow on the outside strings, you’ll have to hold it upright on your own, since it’s only anchored by one string instead of 2. The middle groove is also called the Drive Channel. As soon as the EBow touches the string, it will start vibrating it, creating a distortion.
6
Hold the bottom of the EBow flat with light pressure. To start out, keep the EBow flat on your guitar string. Don’t press down too hard, and press it gently against the string to start the vibration. [6] X Research source Try to avoid touching the string that the EBow is on with your other hand, or you could make a super loud, ear-splitting noise.
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Part 2 of 2:
Using the EBow

1
Glide the EBow towards the bass pickup to make it louder. Keeping the EBow on the same string, slide it forward toward the bass pickup of your guitar. You may notice the volume getting louder and the tone getting higher as you slide it. [7] X Research source If it gets too loud, slide it away from the bass pickup.
2
Find the Hot Spot, or the loudest area, near the bass pickup. As you glide your EBow towards the bass pickup, take note of the loudest part of the strings. This spot, called the Hot Spot, is where you’ll get the most tone and volume out of your EBow. [8] X Research source You can also mess with the EBow on and around the Hot Spot to find more tones and different volumes. You don’t have to know exactly where the Hot Spot is, but try to remember the general area to use in the future.
3
Press down the EBow for a deeper tone. Holding the EBow flat on the string, press it down gently to affect the tone. This creates a deeper, richer sound, even on the harmonic setting. [9] X Research source You don’t need to press down super hard—the EBow is pretty sensitive, so you’ll notice a difference in tone right away.
4
Tilt the EBow side to side for a cleaner sound. Keeping the same string in the middle groove, tilt the EBow side to side as it vibrates. You may notice a sharper, cleaner sound coming from the EBow as you tilt it back and forth. [10] X Research source This is a great way to sharpen the distortion right before you stop playing.
5
Rock the EBow to sweeten the sound near the Hot Spot. Glide your EBow to the position near the bass pickup where you noticed it was the loudest. Gently rock the EBow backwards to sharpen the tone near the Hot Spot, and rock it forwards to create a tonal slur. Play around with rocking the EBow back and forth for more or less distortion. [11] X Research source This technique can be a little tricky at first, so don’t get discouraged if you need a bit of practice.
6
Switch between strings by sliding the EBow across. When you want to switch strings, lightly lift up the EBow and glide it widthwise over your guitar strings. Once you get to the string you want to affect, gently press the EBow down and slide the string into the middle groove. The EBow will grab onto the string, so you don’t need to guide it in. [12] X Research source You can switch strings to distort different notes on your guitar. You may hear a slight distortion as you slide the EBow over the strings, but it won’t be very noticeable.
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Part 1 of 2:
Situating the EBow on Your Guitar

1
Lower the volume and treble settings on your guitar. When you first start using the EBow, it can be a little loud. Lower the volume and treble settings as low as they can go after you plug your guitar into the amp. [1] X Research source Once you figure out how to use the EBow, you can turn your settings back up to normal.
2
Set the EBow to standard or harmonic to turn it on. Find the button on the side of the EBow to turn it on. Slide it to “Standard” for a more natural tone, or slide it to “Harmonic” for a rich, upper harmonic tone. [2] X Research source You can try out both settings to see which one you like more. If your EBow isn't turning on, it may need fresh batteries.
3
Hold the EBow with your strumming hand. Situate your guitar like you normally would with one hand near the bass pickup, or the metal plate near the bottom, and the other on the neck. Grab the EBow with your strumming hand, since you’ll be holding it close to the bass pickup. [3] X Research source You won’t need to strum your guitar when you use the EBow since it vibrates the strings on its own.
4
Position the EBow close to the bass pickup of your guitar. The EBow works best when it’s within 2 inches (5.1 cm) of your guitar’s bass pickup. Choose a spot to start with your EBow that’s about 2 inches (5.1 cm) behind the bass pickup, near the very end of the strings. [4] X Research source
5
Situate the middle groove over the string you want to affect. Look on the bottom of the EBow to find the 3 grooves that are parallel to each other. Pick out the string you want to use it on, then put the middle groove of the EBow onto that string. Rest the other 2 grooves lightly on the strings on either side of the middle string. [5] X Research source If you’re putting the EBow on the outside strings, you’ll have to hold it upright on your own, since it’s only anchored by one string instead of 2. The middle groove is also called the Drive Channel. As soon as the EBow touches the string, it will start vibrating it, creating a distortion.
6
Hold the bottom of the EBow flat with light pressure. To start out, keep the EBow flat on your guitar string. Don’t press down too hard, and press it gently against the string to start the vibration. [6] X Research source Try to avoid touching the string that the EBow is on with your other hand, or you could make a super loud, ear-splitting noise.
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Part 2 of 2:
Using the EBow

1
Glide the EBow towards the bass pickup to make it louder. Keeping the EBow on the same string, slide it forward toward the bass pickup of your guitar. You may notice the volume getting louder and the tone getting higher as you slide it. [7] X Research source If it gets too loud, slide it away from the bass pickup.
2
Find the Hot Spot, or the loudest area, near the bass pickup. As you glide your EBow towards the bass pickup, take note of the loudest part of the strings. This spot, called the Hot Spot, is where you’ll get the most tone and volume out of your EBow. [8] X Research source You can also mess with the EBow on and around the Hot Spot to find more tones and different volumes. You don’t have to know exactly where the Hot Spot is, but try to remember the general area to use in the future.
3
Press down the EBow for a deeper tone. Holding the EBow flat on the string, press it down gently to affect the tone. This creates a deeper, richer sound, even on the harmonic setting. [9] X Research source You don’t need to press down super hard—the EBow is pretty sensitive, so you’ll notice a difference in tone right away.
4
Tilt the EBow side to side for a cleaner sound. Keeping the same string in the middle groove, tilt the EBow side to side as it vibrates. You may notice a sharper, cleaner sound coming from the EBow as you tilt it back and forth. [10] X Research source This is a great way to sharpen the distortion right before you stop playing.
5
Rock the EBow to sweeten the sound near the Hot Spot. Glide your EBow to the position near the bass pickup where you noticed it was the loudest. Gently rock the EBow backwards to sharpen the tone near the Hot Spot, and rock it forwards to create a tonal slur. Play around with rocking the EBow back and forth for more or less distortion. [11] X Research source This technique can be a little tricky at first, so don’t get discouraged if you need a bit of practice.
6
Switch between strings by sliding the EBow across. When you want to switch strings, lightly lift up the EBow and glide it widthwise over your guitar strings. Once you get to the string you want to affect, gently press the EBow down and slide the string into the middle groove. The EBow will grab onto the string, so you don’t need to guide it in. [12] X Research source You can switch strings to distort different notes on your guitar. You may hear a slight distortion as you slide the EBow over the strings, but it won’t be very noticeable.
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