Victoria Shen – a sound artist based in San Francisco, CA – has shared video clips of her new “contactless strummer”, which can vibrate multiple strings using a set of spinning magnets.
The guitarist posted two clips on Twitter, stating: “I made this handheld prototype for a contactless strummer which functions sort of like an eBow but it can hit multiple strings at once, has adjustable frequency, and is more immediately responsive.”
I made this handheld prototype for a contactless strummer which functions sort of like an eBow but it can hit multiple strings at once, has adjustable frequency, and is more immediately responsive. pic.twitter.com/vdaEWcsOH3February 1, 2023
The device has a motor and four magnets. The motor drives a wheel and the attached magnets rotate quickly, creating eery, atmospheric sound effects, similar to that of an EBow, though unlike the EBow it can vibrate more than one string.
The demos have quickly led to many musicians expressing an interest in the device and Shen has since responded to comments, acknowledging that she is “talking with a couple companies right now about putting out a commercial version” of her invention.
Magnetic strumming using a motor and 4 magnets. pic.twitter.com/YFwkEiopuOJanuary 23, 2023
The original eBow – or ‘electronic bow’ – was first introduced at the 1976 NAMM show. It was developed to give electric guitar players the ability to emulate the sound of a string instrument bow, using an inductive string driver feedback circuit (ie, magnets) to create vibrations.
It soon found a home with experimental guitar players, including Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Blondie’s Chris Stein. Later, players like Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck would ensure it remained in popular use throughout the ’90s and beyond.
Keep an eye on Victoria Shen’s Twitter profile for more updates on the new contactless strummer…