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Re: acoustic ebow experiences?
I've been using the e-bow with a variety of non-guitar acoustic stringed
instruments (including tanpura) and it *is* as good as everyone claims.
A couple of pointers:
1) as Bobdog mentioned since the e-bow's magnetic it simply won't work
brass or bronze strings (usually the PA and low SA on tanpura). You can
often replace the PA (1st) string on the tanpura with a comparably thick
steel string and suffer no loss of tone. The low SA string is tougher.
sure you could substitute a very thick steel string, but I'd be concerned
with having too much tension on the neck, as well as cutting into the
tuning peg and the face of the instrument.
2) I've encountered similar problems with the sitar and surbahar, since
only the main playing string on each is steel. The lower octave strings
bronze, so no go. Another problem with these instruments is that it's very
difficult to keep the right hand (which is holding the e-bow) moving
smoothly enough to follow the 3, 4, or 5-note bending meends (lateral
pulling) that the left hand is executing. Maybe some of the guitarists on
the list can offer some suggestions?
Also, the e-bow in the absence of a pickup tends to be fairly soft and so
generally does not excite the sympathetic strings the way that plucking
3) Double-course strings (like those on a 12-string guitar) or triple
(like a Turkish baglama) are also really tough -- if the strings are
extremely close together they tend to vibrate against each other,
the sound entirely. I've found I've had to really focus on a single string
and hope that the others don't get too much in the way.
4) Back to the tanpura (and to looping) -- I've found that a really rich
drone can be created by looping the plucked sound of the tanpura first,
overdubbing a single e-bowed string (or multiple overdubs of the strings).
With a little practice you can also get lovely effects by occasionally
tapping the string very lightly at one of the harmonic nodes while it's
already vibrating. You'll also find that by experimenting with the
that it's held from the string you can produce many different overtones,
5) I've used the e-bow with all these instruments both unamplified as well
as with temporary pickups. Of course there's a bit more control with the
pickup and amp volume settings, but nothing like an electric guitar (since
don't position my pickups directly beneath the strings).