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bows for guitars
I've been bowing things for many years and currently own several bows.
A few salient things that might interest you:
1) Suzuki makes very small bows for their graduated size violins for
of teaching little kids. I went into Sylvain music and bought the very
that they sold for $25 and it has become my favorite of all of my bows (I
bows, cello bows, regular sized violin bows, tiny Suzuki bows and a bowed
It is by far the cheapest bow you can purchase. I just resin the hell
of it when playing
bass, guitar, mandolin, banjo, oud or saz
2) Barry Cleveland, the fine guitarist and writer for Guitar Player
magazine just told me he is
saving his money becausea guy in Los Angeles is making a curved fretboard
a six string normally tuned guitar with a curved bridge that is designed
expressedly for bowing.
I'll find out more from him about it. Barry uses a lot of bow on his CDs
and did the other
night if I"m not mistaken when we played together with Michael Manring and
He has several fine ones out and debuted at the Y2K6 loopfestival last
and will be playing
again this year, thankfully http://www.barrycleveland.com/.
3) Using a traditional guitar, barr chords and or one of those beautiful
it's really great to throw a guitar into open tunings so that you can bow
across the entire
surface of the bow.
4) I use a bowed psaltery bow that I had customized (but which you could
Lark in the Morning in California) that is a bowed symmetrical bow (curved
I customized mine by going out and finding the thinnest brass plating I
could possibly find
and then wrapping part of the curved wooden part of the bow. This
ersatz slide that allows you to use three techniques in one piece of music
1) turn it upside down and use it to 'hammer' the strings like a hammered
(the small curved body is excellent for bouncing off the strings)
2) you can just bow the strings conventionally or
3) you can turn the bow upside down and use the brass portion as a slide
By tuning a mandolin into an open tuning (I'm just in love with DADE
of it's lydian barr harmonics
and sus2 feel) you use both hands to play the instrument in a drone line
fashion (it's great for creating
really intriguing loops that are, nonetheless, open ended to play
on top of because they aren't
dense harmonically speaking. I use a blue plastic tiki martini skewer
a hammer in one hand
and my psaltery bow in the other to create different kinds of rhythmic or
pad styled textures.
Additionally, just to make it even more idiosyncratic, I prepare the
mandolin with alligator clips and bicycle
chains but then tune it to an open tuning once the instrument is prepared.
It's a great droning timbre with all of these different kinds of strikes.
I just wish that the wonderful Cimbalon player Michael Masley would sell
inventions..........he has invented
hammered dulcimer hammers that have small curves bow at the very ends that
velcro onto his fingers.
Check his amazing music out for some ethereal bowed goodness.
and one last thought, Did you ever see the keyboardist Lyle Mays play
with Pat Metheny back in the original days of his
quartets on ECM records? He was fond of tuning an autoharp to open
tunings, putting a mic on it and then
occasionally strumming a lush chord over the top of his acoustic piano
playing with a pic and his left hand.
It was a lovely and ethereal sound.
It occurred to me that the same thing could be done with simple children's
zithers that are sold lots of places.
These are cheap instrument (usually from $20-$40 each) and they are
easily put contact mics on a couple of them and tune them to some cool
chords and just bow them or strike them
at different places during your sets. Hey, I think I'm going to do
right now. I"ve collected a bunch of them
Good luck with your bowing.