using bows on electric basses?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Every1TookMyName, Jan 2, 2002.

  1. What type of bow would be best suited for use on a bass guitar?

    Also, do you guys know of any recordings where bassists use them?

    edit: I took out the picture. Don't ask...
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    that's not a bow, that's a drumstick.
  3. Oh man.

    Am I a bassplayer or what?
  4. Ted Nugent used a bow on his electric guitar. . .
    oh, wait, that was a cross-bow.
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Me too!
  6. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    E-Bow? :D

    Gizmotron?!? :eek:

  7. Okay here's the pic:


    I don't see how I got them confused...

    Anyways, ebows don't really give bow like sounds, IMO... plus they don't have the visual effect.

    So if I were to do this, should I get a cello or violin bow? What size?
  8. I tried this many years ago.

    The rosin that got on the strings was disgusting.

    I wouldn't do it again.

  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    You're going to run into several problems here. First, the curvature of the bridge on an acoustic bass allows bowing across all 4 strings, the electric does not. You'd only be able to bow the two outside strings, if that.

    Secondly, roundwound strings would absolutely kill the hair on the bow - tear it to shreds without getting much of a sound at all. With roundwounds, there's really not much for the hair on the bow to "grip" as it travels across the string.

    All in all, I wouldn't recommend it.
  10. Lets all go hang out in rosin
  11. Hehehe...
    Out of boredom in one rehearsal for the fair I picked up the cellist's bow while we were taking a break and started...attempting to bow my bass, but it's pretty hard, and yeah, that rosin on the strings is pretty nasty.

    Fortunately for me, though, I didn't shred up the hairs on her bow. :p
  12. chipmolter

    chipmolter Guest

    Aug 27, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    As pacman stated, the curvature of the neck and bridge do not make all of the strings available to the bowing surface. Further, you'll have a hard time angling the bow to hit either the E or the G string without hitting the other strings and without hitting the wings of the body.

    You've got 2 options:
    1. Cut away areas in the body to give the bow access. Don't do this if you value your bass as it is!
    2. Remove all strings except 1. I'd suggest leaving the D string. The sound from a bow is going to be VERY rich, so you shouldn't miss the lower notes that much.

    If you still want to try the bow, I'd suggest the following: get a student grade bow. You're not going for precision and clarity here. Next, remove all strings from your bass except for one flat-wound or half-round. Finally, run your signal through a chorus effect. The chorus rounds the sound out nicely.

    Good luck!
  13. Oh well, its just a gimmick... sounds like too much to deal with when I could just use a volume pedal.
  14. You know of Sigur Rós? that's really cool! :)

    anyway, I don't think it would sound good using a bow on an electric bass, but if you were, it would probably be best to use a Double Bass bow...
  15. I just learned Vidrar vel til loftaras yesterday. :D
  16. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    notduane, you've got a Gizmo?!?!?! I saw the prototype of this years ago.
    Every time this topic comes up, I say the same things...
    1. I've done it before :cool:
    2. No arched bridge makes only certain strings useable. :(
    3. The body cutaway will also affect how much you're able to use the bow. :(
    4. Don't use a violin bow - use a cello bow. ;)
    5. Gizmo would be an easier way to go! :D
  17. NioeZero


    Sep 2, 2001
    Sigur Ros is amazing.

    I've been thinking of playing with a bow also... Sounds like more trouble than its worth.
  18. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    No, sorry :(. I was bein' lazy and figgered I'd save
    1,000 words with a picture :) . Did a Google search
    and sure`nuff, there's a pic at,
    which appears to be down at the moment.

    I recall when they first came out too! Wasn't there a
    problem with pickups pickin'-up noise from the motor?
    Couldn't afford one at the time anyhoo. I opted for a
    couple Vibraphone mallets for some percussive wackyness
    on an old Ric :rolleyes:.
  19. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000