The new NS NXT fretted cello, designed by Ned Steinberger, blends the character and advantages of the guitar with the power and performance of the standard NS NXT cello. Available in 4 or 5 string configurations, either Black or Sunburst, and made in the Czech Republic, these sophisticated new instruments are beautifully crafted, yet surprisingly affordable.
Even the most traditional cellist will find that frets offer certain advantages, as well as new performance and textural possibilities. The most obvious of these is that, particularly when playing pizzicato, frets provide “open string” sustain for every note. The fretted cellist can more fully exploit techniques such as tapping, hammer-ons, and “stepped” glissando. Frets also guarantee accuracy of pitch in high volume performance situations where there may be less-than-optimal individual monitor setups.
The tone quality and dynamic range of the NS NXT cello owes much to the self-powered NS Polar(TM) Pickup System. Employing special piezo crystals, mounted beneath the bridge, the pickup captures the full sound spectrum created by the strings and body of the instrument. Arco versus pizzicato playing creates more vibration energy in one direction than the other, and a convenient switch on the side of the NXT actually allows the player to select sensitivity for either mode. The result is either more percussive response, or smoother and sustained response, adding a new dimension to what the player can create musically.
As a pure electric instrument, the NS cello has certain built-in advantages over an acoustic. One is the virtual absence of wolf tones, an unfortunate fact of life for the acoustic cellist. Another is freedom from feedback in amplified performance settings, which means that the cellist can move about the stage at will, and better yet, can take solos at any volume. Since 100% of the sound comes via the pickup, using looping and other electronic effects in live performance is much easier and far more effective than with an amplified acoustic, where much of the unprocessed sound “leaks” out to the audience.
Equipped initially with D’Addario NS Electric strings, NS cellos can be strung with any conventional cello strings. The 5-string version can be set up with either a high E or low F string. Since the electronics of the instrument are designed to deliver a powerful signal throughout the entire frequency range, the output is limited only by the range and quality of the amplifier or sound system.
NS cellos are designed around a 4/4 cello string scale. The NXT weighs just over 4 pounds, and comes with a padded gig bag and tripod stand. Other support options include the Frame Strap System which lets the player stand and move around with freedom, and the NS End Pin Stand for a more conventional seated playing experience. An escutcheon pin on the neck, corresponding to the location of the heel on an acoustic cello, is standard; a more conventional wooden neck heel is also available for installation. The bridge can be readily adjusted for higher or lower action, tailored to the preferences and style of the player. The NS cello also features a truss rod, which permits adjustment of the neck relief – useful under changing humidity conditions.
Last week, I had the pleasure of performing with the Intermediate Jazz Ensemble at Interlochen, under the direction of David Kay, on the David Sanborn/Bob James tune, Maputo. The performance was a ball and the reaction to the NS Design CR4 violin in that setting was magnificent.
There were a ton of young violinists in the audience to see the performance and I was particularly pleased that a member of the National Symphony (Washington DC) was there to hear her son perform with the band on trumpet. Following the performance she and many of the students were interested to hear more about the instrument, specifications, the strings (D’Addario NS Design Electric Strings always!), what bow I use (Coda Joule always!), amps, and other details about improvising and performing. The pics tell the story in many ways.
I had a blast on Tuesday, July 8, performing with the Intermediate Jazz Ensemble up here at Interlochen in Northern Michigan. We did the old David Sanborn/Bob James tune, Maputo from the mid 1980′s. I have my CR4 violin up here and have been giving it a work-out, performing with various groups and doing some of my solo stuff as well. Here are some pics from the Intermediate Jazz performance and an art exhibit opening that I played for last week. (Drastically different weather!!) For the solo stuff, I loop my guitar on a Boss RC 300 Loop Station, then play the head and solos on my CR4 or CR 5, depending on how I feel that day!
I will be performing again with the jazz students tonight at 6:30 and will certainly be soloing with an orchestra or two as the summer progresses.
While few dispute Leo Fender being hailed as the father of electric bass as we know it, Ned Steinberger may well be the father of electric bass as we never imagined it. His very first collaboration with Stuart Spector in the mid 1970s produced the iconic Spector NS-1 bass, and in the years that followed, his innovative designs literally changed the shape of electric bass with a focus on ergonomics, outside-the-box materials, and improved function. The Steinberger L2 bass (introduced in 1979) was revolutionary in concept, technology, and design; the headless, graphite axe with a minimalist body found its way into the hands of pioneering players like Tony Levin, Andy West, Bill Wyman, and Jamaaladeen Tacuma. The L2 spawned a myriad of imitators and has become a defining image of the 1980s music scene.
New for 2014, GHS is proud to introduce the Crossovers, strings designed for any bass made to the NS EUB standard, including our own NXT and CR Series of Electric Upright Basses. Nickel-Iron Alloy 52 is wound over a round core wire and then micro-ground for a smooth, upright bass feel. GHS explains that this yields a string with a deep and focused fundamental tone, suitable for those needing both contemporary and traditional sounds.
NS Design welcomes internationally acclaimed bassist, composer, and arranger Roland Guerin of New Orleans, LA, as an endorsing artist. Roland has recently added both the NS Double Bass and NS Omni Bass to his arsenal. Roland has a highly successful career as both leader and sideman on 100+ international albums, including appearances with John Scofield, Ellis Marsalis, Marcus Roberts and Mark Whitfield among many others.
Roland is currently the Director of Music for the indie film “The Shotgun Waltz” which features many creative soundscapes and instruments including his NS Basses. This summer, he and his Omni Bass will share the stage with Allan Toussaint, Ingrid Lucia and Shannon Powell.
Enigmatic and possibly the “world’s most interesting bass player” Les Claypool will be joining his band Primus, playing select East Coast US dates in June with dates following in September. You can also catch his storytelling Americana narrative group Duo De Twang on tour throughout the Summer. Always a showman with his unfettered and imaginative bowing on the NS CR5M Double Bass!
Tour dates and news at: http://www.primusville.com/tour.html and http://lesclaypool.com/news/
When classical soloists embrace new technologies, waves are sure to made. Burgeoning soloist Patrice Jackson-Tilghman dives headfirst into new waters incorporating her NXT-5 Cello, into her broad repertoire of orchestral solos. Described as a “big-toned, boldly projected soloist”, we can only imagine the wonderful tones Ms. Jackson will be creating with her NS Cello.
A graduate of Juilliard and Yale, Ms. Jackson studied with Claude Frank and the Tokyo String Quartet at the Yale School of Music, and took master classes with renowned Brazillian cellist Aldo Parisot. She is currently an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Performing with the Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, New Jersey, Milwaukee, Omaha, St. Louis, Nashville, Hartford, Colorado and Symphonies, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many others, Ms. Jackson has numerous awards and accolades from conservatories and juries worldwide.
She plans to release a solo CD, featuring the NS cello, in Fall of 2014.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0pnsMSEj5w&feature=youtu.be Praise and Worship leader De Rock and his NS Violin in a catchy and moving tune “You” by Temple Veil. Be sure to catch them on tour this Summer throughout the US including Camp Abaco in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. Tour dates and news
If you are ever in Gatlinburg, TN, be sure to check out Firewater Junction and their fiery blend of bluegrass at Davy Crockett’s Tennessee Whiskey Distillery and Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery. A great band with some big low end from the NS Omni Bass.
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