What is the best way to bow a guitar?
March 19, 2013 3:23 PM   Subscribe

I want to play bowed electric guitar on some recordings. How best to optimize the sound and technique? Best type and size of bow? Best strings?

Basically I'm bowing an electric guitar which sits on my lap and I'm using a short psaltrey bow. It sounds okay but is pretty creaky and inconsistent unless I add a ton of rosin. I'm thinking flat-wound strings would work better for smoother and more consistent notes? And maybe something longer like a cello bow?

Does anyone have experience playing around with different bowing setups?

Also I have stripped the guitar to only a low E and A string. I only plan to use it minimally for long droney notes during certain parts of the song.
posted by critzer to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you looked into the Ebow? I've tried the actual bow thing, usually ends up shredding the bow in short order, with less than stellar results.
posted by stenseng at 3:30 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jonsi (Sigur Ros) uses a cello bow (link).
posted by swordfishtrombones at 3:52 PM on March 19, 2013


flat wound strings will make a difference tonally for sure
posted by frequently at 4:18 PM on March 19, 2013


Thanks guys. I have tried an Ebow but really sucked at it and it's mostly good for swelling or backward sounding guitar. I'm looking for a more organic sound of actual bowing.

Any other tips on types of bows or strings? I may try a cello bow and some heavy gauge flatwounds and give that a whirl otherwise.
posted by critzer at 5:59 PM on March 19, 2013


Put "guitar" into the search box at this great podcast's site. You should get several results with names and audio of people whose bowed-guitar music was featured (you can listen and then contact the people to ask what techinque they used if it wasn't mentioned in the episode's summary).

Also, rosined fishing line threaded under and pulled past the string works great for bowing low piano strings (which of course are at much higher tension, but are similar in some ways - worth a try).
posted by kalapierson at 10:14 PM on March 19, 2013


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