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  1. hello,
    i have been thinking about an ebow to spice up my music, so i went to the website to check it out. my only problem is that ebow.com's faq talked about how it is harder to play on a bass, and that micheal manring has mastered it. can someone explain how it is harder to use on a bass, and what you have to do to play it correctly?

  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    It can almost be inadequate to move a bass string, except for doing lead passages. The more string mass that must be moved on lower notes just falls beyond the range of the Ebow.
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Michael (generally) uses really really light gauge strings. That helps a lot with the eBow, because well, it's not a very powerful device. It's not so much that it's incapable of resonating the thicker strings, it's just, it doesn't put out a lot of power, so it has trouble getting them going and keeping it up. (at least from what I understand)

    I have no problems working the G string, but it gets progressively trickier as I move to the E(.095) which will vibrate, just have to get it in the right spot really.

    If you have active pups, a way to increase eBow feedback is to play over an active pup, with some good blending, you could strike a balance between unbearable screech and interesting squeal :D

    Oh, the other big issue is that the eBow design has grooves on it that align it for a standard guitar string spacing, so that basically all you have to do is plop the eBow on the string and the groove lock it into pretty much perfect alignment. Since those grooves are designed for Guitar spacing, it means that when you use it on bass it's like manual alignment. So, while this is not impossible, it makes it way trickier to get a good sound, quickly. However, the grooves can still be helpful I find, so keep that in mind.

    Steve, you are also very competant and skilled with the eBow, do you use light gauge strings as well?
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I use my Ebow on heavy guage flatwounds (.028, .045, .065, .085, .105, .125), and it works fine. It's a tricky technique, but all techniques are tricky!

    The Ebow takes a while to get the hang of, and ages to 'master' - it's like anything else. I can't believe the number of people who get one, play with it for ten minutes and then dismiss it as 'not for bass' - if that was the case, none of us would play bass at all, cos it sounds rubbish after 10 minutes.

    The Ebow works really well on bass, just not the same as it does on guitar. The strings take longer to 'engage', and switching from one string to the next doesn't work the way it does on guitar, but I think it's a more useful tool for bassists in general than for guitarists!

  5. suicas


    Mar 12, 2004
    Mine just arrived this morning, made me an hour late to work :)

    Looks like it has a lot of potential, works great with a bass once you start getting the hang of exactly where to place it.

    So far it does seem to take a bit longer to get a string moving on my bass in comparison to guitar, but this too looks like it should be easy to minimise with some practice.

    Seems to work especially nicely with delay effects, as the delay from one note covers up the build up it takes to sound another note.

    To help position the ebow in the right place above the string, I've been hold the ebow as I would a pick (between thumb and forefinger), and using the groove between my fingers and the ebow's sides to put the strings above and below the one I'm trying to sound into.

  6. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I find that certain strings work better than others with my eBow, but I haven't found any that don't work.

    Personally, I prefer the way nickels sound with the eBow, but I also prefer nickelwound over steelwound, in general. It's just a matter of seeing what that string needs to get it going. :D

    I am happiest with TI Powerbass and Jazz Flats for eBowing.

    I highly recommend eBows. They are tremendously fun. I don't have the skill of Steve, or Michael, but I do get to use them live with my band when I want, and it's a blast.

    Here are a couple of short eBow recordings:



    One has eBow in the background, and the other has it in the foreground. And, I'm pretty sure both are flatwounds--I know "Savannah" is TI Flats, "Sand" probably is, too.

    For me, the key was finding where on the string to produce the note quickly. If I want a really fast attack, I'll start as close as I can to the pickup without getting undesirable distortion (oh, how I love the times distortion is desirable :hyper: ).

    But, mostly, it's just a matter of spending time with it and not being afraid to make an ugly noise. It's like riding a bike, though. Once you've got it figured out, you're in pretty good shape with only the occassional wipe out.

    Experimentation is key. In fact, I've been able to play only on the octave strings on my 8 string fretless Curbow--I recently discovered that the octave pair are spaced fairly wide, I can actually use the string guides! So, expect some new sound clips soon! :help:
  7. wow basmonkee, nice clips!
    i think i am going to have to get an ebow now (someday)!

    Thanks, and keep the clips coming for the ebow! especially that eight string idea you talked about!

  8. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    Ah nice to see that others also enjoy the wonderfull e-bow!
    I have found the newest version with the harmonic function is way cool. My technique for holding it is thumb on the left holding the bass of the e-bow, parallel with the strings. Middle finger on the right side. All fingers point toward the headstock. And you use both fingers on the adjacent strings to the string you want to e-bow. I hope that makes some sense, if not I'd be happy to explain more.
    I love the e-bow for looping and with FX are great.
  9. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    The Ebow is a blast. I will never forget seeing Manring play "Adhan" during a clinic at Berklee about.....well many years ago :)
    He actually made the bass sound like a woman singing!!

    I try to (clumsily) use my ebow.... It is a great tool to get new sounds and textures.
  10. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    It's great to know that so many of you are having fun with the Ebow! It really is a cool little box. Steve's description of working with it is exactly in line with my experience. I'm always amazed at how many expressive possibilities the Ebow opens up and I've always been a little surprised that it wasn't more popular among bassists. I apologize for sounding like an advertisement, but I never go to a gig without my Ebow!
  11. I know a bassist who uses one, but he modified it so that it takes two 9-volt batteries instead of one, and it seems to work pretty well,

    didn't explode, at least.
  12. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I was going to ask about this. Have you played the 9v version? How big is the difference?
  13. I use a PlusEBow occasionally. I have found that it does work better on lighter gauge strings but it is usable on heavier gauge strings. You have to get closer to the string and hold it longer. Also, you have to start the string oscillating a little by tapping it with your fretting hand before you put the EBow up to it. Otherwise it might pick the wrong fundamental and won't get the string moving very well. Sometimes it's cool to have it lock onto a harmonic. I don't generally use the new higher-order harmonics feature of it though.

    Here's a famous EBow user, can you guess who? :D


    - Dave
  14. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Hmmm... looks familiar.
  15. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    oh come on michael! you should know that picture like the BACK OF YOUR HAND! :hyper: :D
  16. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Charlie, there's another thread here about EBow techniques. As others have said, the EBow cannot excite the large strings of a bass as quickly as it can guitar strings, so especially for anything lower than the G string, you may need to get the string vibrating a little first, perhaps with a hammer-on. likewise, don't expect to be able to do any Big Country-type stuff on a bass. ;)

    Be mindful of where on the length of the string you work the EBow. Especially for sustained notes on the lower strings, it's easy to lose the fundamental of the note after a few seconds and end up with a harmonic instead. Learn how to avoid that if you want to keep the fundamental, but you can also learn how to use it as an effect; it's similar to feedback with an electric guitar, à la Jimi Hendrix or Terry Kath.

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