Friday, December 14, 2012

Moog Guitar and EBow

It has always amazed me how many draw conclusions before even knowing all the details about something. This is certainly true of Moog Guitar. On the surface, Moog Guitar appears to be a guitar with a built in EBow. I can't express with more vigor how wrong this is.

First, the EBow is indiscriminate. It just imparts energy like a vibrating magnet. It does not sense individual strings any more than a pick does. With some effort one can learn to use it effectively but Moog Guitar is very different. In Moog Guitar the source of the vibrations are the pickups. The reason this is important is that Moog Guitar senses the vibration of individual strings. When a string vibrates, the pickups impart energy to that string to keep it vibrating.

Second, Moog Guitar also can damp strings. This is critical. Not only does it provide a setting to make strings sound more banjo like by damping energy but in a middle setting, it damps strings not being played. This allows the musician to play individual leads on one or more strings without other strings vibrating. The reason is the vibration is a two fold feedback loop and electronics which mute the other strings not played avoiding any accidental notes.

Third, one aspect of Moog Guitar that most impresses me is the harmonic balance, This shifts the energy from one pickup to the other. What this sounds like is sheer magic. It's not filtering and it's no gimmick. You can actually feel it in the vibration of the guitar. What it sounds like has to be heard but it's a kind of harmonic dance that no other instrument on earth can produce.

Forth, the E-Bow has no power control. It's just a matter of how close it is to the strings. On the Moog Guitar the amount of power can be controlled by a knob (Vo Power). Vo Power becomes part of the playing technique as does harmonic balance. In an ordinary guitar, most of playing technique is in the attack but Moog Guitar is more like a synth allowing shaping of the sound during the sustain including touching strings to create harmonics.

Fifth, the Moog Guitar has a built in filter. While some might think this is an auto wah it's much more subtle and can provide yet another way to shape the sound of the instrument.

So yes, Moog Guitar is a very unique instrument with huge potential. What it most certainly is not is a guitar with a built in E-Bow.

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