In praise of the EBow, one of the most under-appreciated yet influential guitar tools of all time

(Image credit: Future / Joseph Branston)

The Heet Sound Products EBow is probably one of the most under-appreciated tools for guitar. It has remained in continuous production ever since 1976 and appeared on literally hundreds of recordings and hits, yet it rarely gets mentioned – even by players who have used one frequently. It’s not expensive (the current street price is about $100); it’s very easy to use; and it’s more versatile than most guitarists realize.

The EBow is sort of an “electronic bow,” but instead of dragging the device across strings it employs a pickup and pulsating magnetic feedback circuit to drive a string into vibration without coming into contact with the string. In addition to providing infinite sustain capabilities, the EBow gives players greater expressive control over a note’s attack and decay, enabling the emulation of various wind, brass and bowed string instruments as well as synth-like tones.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.