San Francisco sound artist / experimentalist and designer Victoria Shen has revealed her prototype for a 'contactless strummer' – imagine an EBow that can drive multiple strings at once instead of just one.
Shen, who last year mashed a turntable and Eurorack together, says her strummer has adjustable frequency range and is "more immediately" responsive that an EBow. Now players are calling for her to pursue the idea to make it commercially available. Well Shen is ahead of them there.
"I'm talking with a couple companies right now about putting out a commercial version," she replied to one request.
I made this handheld prototype for a contactless strummer which functions sort of like an eBow but it can hit multiple strings at once, has adjustable frequency, and is more immediately responsive. pic.twitter.com/vdaEWcsOH3February 1, 2023
While an EBow functions as a movable guitar pickup that can be held by the player and moved around to drive individual strings to resonate for a bow-like effect, Shen's design uses a motor with multiple spinning magnets to vibrate multiple strings at once using their magnetic fields, making for a much more drone-like effect.
Magnetic strumming using a motor and 4 magnets. pic.twitter.com/YFwkEiopuOJanuary 23, 2023
The frequency is then adjusted by her thumb with a small control. It's a really interesting idea and we look forward to seeing where the designer can take it next.
You can hear more of Victoria Shen's experimental music at Bandcamp.