1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

bow on electric bass !

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Paolo, Feb 28, 2001.

  1. I have a question : Is possible play the elec bass with a bow ? Is better the bow of double bass or the bow of cello ? There is a special tecnique ?


  2. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    No. There is no way to get the bow on the A and D strings at all and to play the E and G strings would be terribly awkward, if even possible.

    There is a device called an E-bow that supposedly simulates the sound of bowing on electric bass. I haven't tried one so I'll leave advice on the E-bow up to someone who has hands on experience.

  3. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    There are a couple of threads somewhere in the archive on this. I've tried this before, and this is what I found:
    You do need to use a heavier bow - I used a cello bow, but I've heard people recommend the double bass bow. Because you don't have an arched bridge, you'll only be able to play (typically) the E and G string. It will be a little awkward. How effective the sound is will also depend on the type of bass you play. I did this on a Vox teardrop bass, so the body didn't get in the way of using the bow. The sound is fairly cool when you work it out, but in the end, that Ebow may be an easier route to take. If you're in the mood for digging, Godley and Creme made a device called The Gizmo years ago - while it was primarily for guitar (you can hear it on "I'm Not In Love"), there were also some bass models made. This device attaches to your bridge, and is bassically a set of motorized nylon wheels that stroke the string when you press a button.
  4. MuNkEy


    Jul 4, 2000
    utica, ny
    there is no way...on acoustic bass, which i also play-the bridge i curved so you can move across the strings in a sequence. on elec the strings are straight, you would not get a sound out of the a and d strings.
  5. I have seen video footage of Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin playing his guitar with a bow(violin,cello?).Pretty wild! That bow was in shreds by the time he was through with it.Not sure if it would be viable for the bass though. :)
  6. I can utilize E-bow on my elec bass ?
  7. MuNkEy


    Jul 4, 2000
    utica, ny
    yes probably...but only on the e and g strings. if you have a 5...then b and g, and so on-the two outside strings.
  8. MuNkEy


    Jul 4, 2000
    utica, ny
    bass bows are also generally larger than cello or violin bows anyway. there must be a thicker surface so the sound can resonate.
  9. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Paolo, check out Michael Manring's records for some serious e-bowing...
    The e-bow works on all strings...
  10. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Hi...I use ebow on my electric bass...in fact (taking Michael Manring's lead) I just started using TWO ebows on my bass. An Ebow can be used on all four (or five, or six, or seven) strings. You do need to develop a technique for creating the initial attack. Those string groove guides on the ebow are designed for guitar and do no ggod for bass. Sometimes setting the string in motion with a vibrato is helpful (esp. on heavier strings). Position of the ebow is crucial. I have found that hovering it over the very end of the neck is a good sound. Moving it back towards the pickups can put it in the path of the strings vibrational arc....still useful, but tricky. Putting over the pickup itself can give some riotous distotion and overdrive (watch yer volume there! Save your speakers) Ebows esp.k well on fretless, but I use mine on fretted also. Delay, 'verb and amp or pedal overdrive also enhance the ebow's effect. Tons 'o fun! I never leave home w/o my ebow packed. Last week I did a blues gig (a fill in for a friend)....used the ebow on a 12bar! (You shoulda seen the astonished looks on all the faces.....)
    Violin bows: because of the flat (compared to a upright) radius of electric bass fingerboards...bowing is problematic. Suzuki makes a student violin bow which is smaller (3/4...2/3?) than a regular violin bow. I have found that useful with electric bass. Not easy, but useful. I also have used it on my Acoustic Bass Guitar. regular size bow is just too cumbersome to get around on the relatively flat fingerboard. With the smaller bow I can play the A and D strings as well.
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Yes, you can bow an electric bass. I have actually done this on stage (I used a French grip bass bow). That is not to say it works anywhere near as well as bowing a double bass.

    You can bow on the outer strings if you bow up on the neck (where the bow will clear the body). The inner strings can't be bowed effectively since there is no arch to the bridge. It's real easy to just make noise, it's a lot harder to get notes happenig.

    A second issue is that when bowed, a string doesn't move as much so with magnetic pickups, the bowing won't sound as loud as plucking the strings.

    Since bass guitar strings are not meant for bowing they will also sound "scratchy" when bowed.
  12. darthspada


    Jan 20, 2001
    Lancaster, PA
    A volume pedal can also work to create a bowing effect... ie. the opening to Metallica's Damage Inc. It's limited compared to the e-bow, but easier to use.
  13. BassDude24


    Sep 12, 2000
    As it turns out, it isn't that bad to play the electric with a bow, I use my bass bow just cause I have one, but I don't make a point of it. You can only use it on the G and E string however.

    And about the e-bow, it sounds nothing like a bow but is a cool affect, it is made mainly for guitar though.
  14. herenseti


    Apr 15, 2011
    Dorset, UK
    hold down the other strings and you can play the a and d.
  15. Rebmo


    Aug 19, 2006
    Maybe a Steinberg with a 7.5" Neck radius?
  16. Also, tapping with your fret hand and working the volume pot with your right approximates a bow sound.
  17. cvogel


    Dec 17, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    if you are bowing to acheive an upright sound, its just not going to happen.

    ive used it in the past for more of a pad effect. high lines on the g, a touch of delay and maybe chorus.
  18. Oneirogenic


    Nov 10, 2009
    Check out Darin Schaffer on youtube. He uses a bow on his acoustic piccolo bass on many of his songs to great effect.
  19. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    I remember a thread not too long ago. The OP wound up using a violin bow. The major downside was rosin dust on the strings. It is hard to clean & can make things pretty messy.
  20. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX

Share This Page