The EBow or ebow (brand name for “Electronic Bow” or Energy Bow) (often spelled E-bow in common usage)is a hand-held, battery-powered electronic device for playing the electric guitar, invented by Greg Heet in 1969. Instead of having the strings hit by the fingers or a pick, they are moved by the electromagnetic field created by the device, producing a sound reminiscent of using a bow on the strings.
The EBow is used to produce a variety of sounds not usually playable on an electric guitar. By varying the EBow’s linear position on the string, the user can produce different string overtones, and also fade in and out by lowering and raising the EBow. Furthermore, starting with the current generation of EBow (PlusEbow, the 4th edition Ebow), the user also gains an additional mode known as harmonic mode, which produces a higher harmonic sound instead of the fundamental note.
description provided from “What Is An E-Bow“
Here’s Phil Keaggy doing a demonstration of the E-Bow (video below) playing Amazing Grace:
It seems the sound possibilities of the E-Bow are too much for some artists to resist: Chris Tomlin (“How Great Is Our God“), Delirious? (“King of Fools“), and Third Day (“Take It All“) just to name a few.