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E-Bow or Sustained Guitar Sound in Today's Music
Old 5th June 2015
  #1
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Yungwimen's Avatar
E-Bow or Sustained Guitar Sound in Today's Music

So I recently got refereed to the e-bow for getting a guitar sound that sustains like a pad or string instrument. I also had people suggest different methods like using a violin sort of bow or electric fan to give a constant strumming to the strings. Also, others talked about the gizmotron and the sustainer guitar and stuff.

Now my question is, since these sustained guitar sounds have actually been around for a lot longer than I thought, how do we make them sound current and or modern?

I'm very curious as to how we used to use these sustained guitar sounds in the past. I don't think I can recall hearing that much music with it. Maybe a few rock bands and some film scores but nothing where I can say and recognise, "oh yeah that's totally a 70's e-bow guitar because theirs a lot of top end on the reverb and he's putting lots of vibrato and feedback in it." for instance.
Old 5th June 2015
  #2
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See the Wiki entry on E-Bow, there's plenty of old and new music done with it. I would also recommend learning the Glissando guitar technique -- Steve Hillage is a good example and he even uses that in his System 7 techno band. Also less known/sounding effect so it would not sound so 'David Bowie Heroes.' Not that you could do a lot with an E-Bow if you go outside the box with this tool.
Old 5th June 2015
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksandvik View Post
See the Wiki entry on E-Bow, there's plenty of old and new music done with it. I would also recommend learning the Glissando guitar technique -- Steve Hillage is a good example and he even uses that in his System 7 techno band. Also less known/sounding effect so it would not sound so 'David Bowie Heroes.' Not that you could do a lot with an E-Bow if you go outside the box with this tool.
Thanks.
Old 5th June 2015
  #4
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GIZMOTRON

]

originally designed by



from



beer courtesy of Robinson's Brewery @ The Waterloo





ns
Old 5th June 2015
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightscope View Post
GIZMOTRON

]

originally designed by



from



beer courtesy of Robinson's Brewery @ The Waterloo





ns
Thanks for your enthusiasm lol. Well that thing has been around for a while. It would be great to have, but I would definately look into previous usage before using it.
Old 5th June 2015
  #6
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Originally Posted by Yungwimen View Post
Thanks for your enthusiasm lol. Well that thing has been around for a while. It would be great to have, but I would definately look into previous usage before using it.
Oh, definitely. It's just that thinking back to way back then I thought that Lol Creme invented the E-Bow, but he didn't. So I hunted around for what he did. The original company went clogs up but the product is being rolled out again.

I use one of these for guitar strings type stuff 'cos I'm lazy,



ns
Old 5th June 2015
  #7
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Gizmo on the port bow, cap,



ns
Old 5th June 2015
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightscope View Post
Oh, definitely. It's just that thinking back to way back then I thought that Lol Creme invented the E-Bow, but he didn't. So I hunted around for what he did. The original company went clogs up but the product is being rolled out again.

I use one of these for guitar strings type stuff 'cos I'm lazy,



ns
Oh yeah that would come in handy. I might have gotten one a long time ago.
Old 7th June 2015
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yungwimen View Post
Now my question is, since these sustained guitar sounds have actually been around for a lot longer than I thought, how do we make them sound current and or modern?
Depends what you mean by 'current and or modern'. How does this specific question differ from making the guitar itself sound current or modern?

It can be a very 70s guitar sound in a way if left completely dry. I believe Pink Floyd used them some. I do know that the Smashing Pumpkins used them in the 90s in a whole range of settings that sounded great - ie using them with phaser and delay, or ebowing 24 tracks of acoustic guitar and bouncing them down to one stereo track.

It's also a question of what you want to achieve. I bought one almost ten years ago, and in that time have used it on only one recording, where I mixed it tremolo and reverb to create a shimmering sort of background feedback sound. (I can send you the link if you want it).

Oh and I did use it once on a bass with a brass slide for an insane kind of elephant/dobro thing, but that never made the final cut.

My take on the ebow is that it is essentially a kind of instrument on its own. I've never managed to use it to create any sort of effective imitation of violins/strings etc, and it's way too guitar-y to work as a pad. I haven't tried layering a whole section up like a string section though. That might be an interesting sound, but on the whole I find that things generally tend to sound like exactly what they are, if you catch my meaning.
Old 7th June 2015
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gideon K View Post
Depends what you mean by 'current and or modern'. How does this specific question differ from making the guitar itself sound current or modern?

It can be a very 70s guitar sound in a way if left completely dry. I believe Pink Floyd used them some. I do know that the Smashing Pumpkins used them in the 90s in a whole range of settings that sounded great - ie using them with phaser and delay, or ebowing 24 tracks of acoustic guitar and bouncing them down to one stereo track.

It's also a question of what you want to achieve. I bought one almost ten years ago, and in that time have used it on only one recording, where I mixed it tremolo and reverb to create a shimmering sort of background feedback sound. (I can send you the link if you want it).

Oh and I did use it once on a bass with a brass slide for an insane kind of elephant/dobro thing, but that never made the final cut.

My take on the ebow is that it is essentially a kind of instrument on its own. I've never managed to use it to create any sort of effective imitation of violins/strings etc, and it's way too guitar-y to work as a pad. I haven't tried layering a whole section up like a string section though. That might be an interesting sound, but on the whole I find that things generally tend to sound like exactly what they are, if you catch my meaning.
Sure send me the link.

Well current and or modern pretty much means doing what we are currently doing today, and perhaps something completely new. If their even is any particular e-bow guitar sound in today's world.... Basically, I just want to avoid sounding dated. I think that was a pretty good answer when you said leaving it dry might make it sound older. I've heard some examples now and it seems that a lot of e-bow mixes are kind of dry. And seeing it as an instrument in itself will probably bring something new to the table. Layering it many times to get a string section sound is a unique idea. That's also the kind of stuff I'm looking for.

From what I've heard in mixes, it seems like using the e-bow and giving it some extra vibrato with the fingers, in the higher notes, and with an old reverb unit that has a lot of top end to it seems to be a bit of an older e-bow sound.

On the contrary, I heard in the score for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo something that was almost certainly an e-bow, but the tone was incredibly dark and it was in a dark hall with the reverb mix cranked all the way seemingly. It was quite pad-like actually. To me, that sounded kind of new:

(skip to 2:37 - their are about 2 or 3 layers of sustain guitar; easy to hear)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKiWJlOtjrU

Last edited by Yungwimen; 7th June 2015 at 06:27 PM..
Old 7th June 2015
  #11
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I would use E-Bow sounds with sync:ed delay or gate plug-ins, that would immediately make the guitar sounds more modern.
Old 7th June 2015
  #12
Well, I put a few different tracks of ebow on this piece I did for a short film recently. Kicks in around 1:12. I've got them with tremolo, reverb, a little distortion (although the ebow is high-output and tends to boost the gain on the signal anyway).
https://soundcloud.com/gideon-k/emphasis

Also there's some cool ebow on this Pumpkins track.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn7CZmkD970

About sounding dated: My take on that is to not get too hung up about it and focus more on trying to do something original and creative with the sound, whether that's using it on a different instrument, or using interesting combinations of effects. Ultimately it has to all serve the greater purpose of the music and fulfil your vision.
Old 8th June 2015
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gideon K View Post
Well, I put a few different tracks of ebow on this piece I did for a short film recently. Kicks in around 1:12. I've got them with tremolo, reverb, a little distortion (although the ebow is high-output and tends to boost the gain on the signal anyway).
https://soundcloud.com/gideon-k/emphasis

Also there's some cool ebow on this Pumpkins track.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn7CZmkD970

About sounding dated: My take on that is to not get too hung up about it and focus more on trying to do something original and creative with the sound, whether that's using it on a different instrument, or using interesting combinations of effects. Ultimately it has to all serve the greater purpose of the music and fulfil your vision.
Thanks for the advice. Interesting examples.
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