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Ebow

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Josh Ryan, May 31, 2001.


  1. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I can't seem to get this thing to work! How does one apply this to the bass to produce a tone? My apologies if this has been asked before and I missed it, but I was just reading your description of how you recorded Pillow Mountain, so I thought I'd ask. Thanks.
     
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Blisshead.

    It is a bit tricky at first.

    The principle is that you want to get the string running along the channel on the underside of the Ebow, as close as you can without it touching. If you hold it over the neck pickup it will distort rather nicely (but very loudly!)

    if you're playing fretted bass, try starting the note with your left hand by hammering on, then sustaining it with the E-Bow. If you're using the EBow on your G string (or C for you 6-stringers), try pushing the edge of it up against the string below, that gives you a sort of pivot point, so you can slowly lower the E-Bow onto the string, stopping before you touch it. I tend to hold the EBow over about the 22nd fret, or over the pickup, depending on whether I want a clean sound or a distorted one.

    Does any of that make sense? If you've got the EBow + with the harmonic setting, practice on the normal setting first as the harmonic takes longer to get going...

    and be patient - you wouldn't learn to slap in a day, likewise e-bow can take a while, but it's worth it - it is probably my favourite musical toy...

    feel free to ask more questions if that lot didn't make sense... let me know how you get on...

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  3. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    BTW - if anyone else out there is experimenting with E-Bow, please post your results here. Tips on sounds, problems you may have, new string crossing techniques - whatever, post it and let's all learn something new! :oops:)

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  4. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I think I was doing it wrong before....I'll try it when I get home. I've always thought the sound was so cool, but I'd hold it over the strings and get a fat lot of nothing. I imagine I wasn't lining it up right. Thanks Steve!
     
  5. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    The way I first got sound with my Ebow was to actually have it resting on the string, making sure the light was glowing on the string. Then, slowly pull the ebow up, and, as long as you don't move the Ebow side to side too much, you should get the string in the field, and hear something. If you are just starting out, I suggest you hold the Ebow right at the edge of the fingerboard. Once you get a sound out of it, it tends to make more sense. Now, string skipping is another story, altogether. I'm still working on that one....Hope this helps.
     
  6. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Hey Steve.... yes, strarting the note out with a hammer is very good for getting the ebow working on bass....also setting the device at a bit of an angle (ignoring those pesky guitar string guide grooves) gets a little more arc to the string allowing for a freer vibration, and much less annoying buzz and rattle.
    It takes A LOT of practice. You have to learn to really control your right hand and arm....and then re-learn it when you want to move the ebow to another string! But it is so worth the struggle. The Ebow is one of the most expressive little gizmos for the bass.
    I have found that using light (very light) strings helps. I am using Thomastick jazz roundwounds which are gagued oddly (.043;.051;.068;.089) and I find these work well with Ebow. I was just speaking with Michael Manring last week about this. He uses very light D'Addario nickels....but he also said he was able to get good results with bit ol fat flats!! I guess lots of practice is really the key!
    Speaking of Michael Manring...and Steve! I'd like to pass on to all the readers that Steve Lawson, Michael Manring and myself will be joining Percussionist/bassist extraordinare (and all around great guy) Rick Walker for (at least) two solo bass/looping in shows in Northern California on JUly 7 and 9...I believe there are possibly more in the works!
    If you are in Calif. or plan to be this July try to catch these as they will certainly be eye and ear openers! I had the unique privilage of playing with Steve in Jan. at the world's first Solo Bass Looping Festival, and words really do not do justice to the artistry of his playing! I am so excited and looking foward to playing with him Michael and Rick!
    Best always.....Max Valentino
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Sorry to diverge here, but I tried this set of Thomastiks for 5 string and while I wasn't too keen on the tone, I really liked the mix of light gauges - they really made my playing better - faster and easier for string-crossing. I do prefer D'Addario Nickel strings for tone, but they only seem to be available in quite heavy gauges - anybody got any ideas about where you could get light gauge D'Addarios or which sets I should be looking at?

    Back to the Ebows now!
     
  8. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    You might have to contact the distributors in the UK - there are some shops that are D'Addario dealers who might have a bigger range in, but Elites and Rotosound have a bit of a strangle-hold on the string scenario in the UK.

    I once ordered a non-standard set of D-Addario strings from Rock Around The Clock in Crouch End (as it was i didn't really like them, they didn't fit my bass properly, and I went back to the Elites I'd been using for years before that - I've only had three sets of non-Elites on my basses in the last 8 years - one set of trace strings when I was on tour and couldn't find Elites, that set of D'Addarios, and the Tomastik nylon core thingies that are on my Rick Turner and are amazing... (but don't work with an E-Bow!!!!)

    BTW, I did manage to get the E-Bow to work on my Cello, though it was a bit quiet... :oops:)

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  9. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I still can't do it, I'm actually going to try my guitar players ebow as I suspect this one may be broken. It doesn't work over guitar strings right now either, so I'm betting I need to go buy one.
     
  10. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    before you buy a new one, check the battery - it could be worn out... :oops:)

    Steve
     
  11. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Yep, I tried that, I have enough batteries at any one time in my apt. to power California for a day.
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I buy all my strings via the internet - mostly from US-based shops - sheetmusicplus have been very good. They get things to me quickly and the sets are always cheaper than buying sets in the UK - even when you take into account the P&P!! In fact they are usually half price. :D

    From experimenting, I have discovered that I like D'Addario Slowwounds best for tone, but on the net they seem to only be available in fairly heavy gauges - no B strings under 130. So I was interested in the name of the set that Michael Manring used, so I could order them via the net.

    As I didn't get any answer on this, however, I did a search on the net for info about Michael's strings and turned up the Zon site, which sells strings on-line. So I thought - OK , I might as well give these a go and have ordered a light gauge, nickel roundwound set for 5-string. So hopefully something positive has come out of this - maybe I will like Zon strings better? I didn't even know they existed before!
     
  13. Bob Lee (QSC)

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

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    E-Bows were designed for use primarily on guitar strings, which are a heck of a lot smaller than bass strings. A bass string is a lot of mass for an E-Bow to get moving, so it might take a while for the note to develop unless you help it along with a hammer-on or -off (if you have an expression pedal, you can use it to eliminate the attack if you so desire). Once you get it going, though, the E-Bow can sustain it very nicely. I've used mine for times when I needed a droning bass note, like a pedal tone. With practice you can bring the E-Bow closer to the string to make it louder, and pull it away to let the note decay.
     
  14. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Yeah I finally got a note to sustain, but is there a way that I can get it to "grab" the note quicker? -so I can change notes quickly? -Or do I have the guitar player play that part, damn him...:D
     
  15. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    The attack on the E-Bow is a tricky thing to control - getting quicker at getting it into place is one way to speed it up a little, and playing over the pickup will make it distort in a cool way and respond a bit quicker, or start the note by hammering on with your left hand.

    But for the most part, I tend to just use that slower attack at a feature of the bass and ebow that guitarists can't really get. Have a listen to Adahn by Michael Manring to hear how it works...

    I'll be giving it some serious E-Bow abuse on this upcoming tour with Michael Manring and Rick Walker, and I'm sure Michael, and Max Valentino who's opening for us will be using theirs as well...

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  16. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I try hammering the note, I wonder if Ebow has any plans to make a stronger one for bass?

    Thanks again Steve!
     
  17. hujo

    hujo

    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    What is this Ebow thing? is it an electro-magnet? sounds like it, by reading what you say about it... i've never heard about it, but it sounds quite interesting... do any of you guys know where i can get some more info about it? thanks for the time...
     
  18. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Here ya go:

    http://www.ebow.com

    They do sound really cool.
     
  19. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    The thing to remember with the E-Bow is to find out what 'it' wants to do with your bass. The problem that a lot of bassists have it that they expect it to respond the same way it does on guitar, and they get frustrated. Heavier strings take longer to get moving with the E-Bow, but it means that you can do some really really cool swells and squeaking effects with it. I'll also started using it for an atonal sweep picking thing, which is way cool... :oops:)

    Come and see the Bass Looping Shows this weekend, and you'll see it all in action!

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  20. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    If you video taped it I would order one!! I'm on the wrong damn coast.