Coax Spooky Sustain from Your Flat-Top

Acoustic feedback? Infinite singing sustain? It might seem improbable, but armed with an EBow you can pull these and other trippy textures from an unplugged steel-string guitar. The EBow—a handheld, battery-operated device designed to magnetically vibrate a metal string—has been part of the electric guitarist’s toolkit since 1976. But many guitarists don’t realize that this $80 unit will also allow them to turn their acoustic from an instrument with a sharp attack and relatively fast decay into one with a swelling attack and infinite sustain—all without compromising its natural, woody tone. Yes, now you can rewrite the laws of physics.
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Best of all, the EBow lets you rediscover your instrument by exploring extended lines and melismatic melodies that are impossible to execute with conventional plucking techniques. Armed with an EBow, a mic, and a multitrack recorder, you can even create guitar choirs by stacking single-line parts played on your flat-top. Whether you’re jazzed by Johannes Brahms or Brian May, the Allman Brothers or Robert Fripp, you’ll be thrilled with the results.

This lesson will introduce you to some of the EBow’s musical possibilities. (If you’ve never used one before, see “EBow Chops 101” for an overview of the fundamentals.) Experiment a bit with this device, and you’ll soon be hooked on insane sustain.