Ned Steinberger is one of those names who really doesn’t need introduction when it comes to musical instrument design. He’s been actively leading the way in terms of new concepts in this business since the mid 70’s in the last century.
Through the last 5 decades he has developed a lot of new concepts that we consider standard today. For instance he was responsible for the developing of the first ever Spector bass back in 1977, the Spector NS bass, made along with Stuart Spector. He created his own company Steinberger Instruments and developed some radical ideas such as the use of carbon fiber for musical instruments and headless designs to reduce neck diving and improving tuning stability. He has teamed with Emmet Chapman to develop the NS Stick and created the successful “The Realist” upright bass. Ned sold his Steinberger Instruments company back in 1986 and in 1990 he created NS Design with a very specific goal: create 21st century bowed electric instruments with a unique approach,
In Ned’s own words, “Bowed electric instruments have been made since the mid-thirties. Unfortunately, most of these instruments are the victims of the misplaced idea that an electric instrument should sound exactly like its acoustic predecessor. I want to take it a step further, I want to see what these instruments can do when they are set free.” This radical new approach has made that many musicians looking for their own voice on the instrument have chosen NS Design instruments as part of their tools. Of course they can also be used as standard electric bowed instruments for silent practice and ease of amplification, but that’s only part of the story.
NS Design are based in Nobleboro, Maine (USA). Most instruments are actually made at the NBE factory in the Czech Republic. This small factory combines old school lutherie with state of the art methods for building musical instruments and have a long experience doing so. We really thing that some of the finest instruments made in Europe are currently coming out of this factory. It’s there that CR and NXT series of instruments are made. The cost effective WAV instruments are now made in India and this is a big improvement over previous models made in China. What’s more, all the instruments bearing the NS Design brand are carefully inspected and set up at the NBE facilities in the Czech Republic. This means that all the instruments that leave the factory are absolutely perfect regardless of where they have been made.
This is the CR4 Bass and it is the top of the line model. It is made in a small factory in the Czech Republic who have a long history of making quality stringed instruments.
This instrument has a standard ¾ scale and a really nice ebony board.
Perhaps the most striking and unexpected innovation is that there is no neck joint. This automatically allows any player to play any note right to the end of the fingerboard. Of course you can also use standard thumb technique (capodastro).
The special D’addario strings and dot position markers all make for an instrument that is easy to play and inviting. You can also install regular upright strings if you a beefier tone and feel, of course.
The included tripod stand allows the bass to stand on its own rather than having to use your left hand and leg as supports.
Of course the electronics are very well thought. The active board is powered by two 9 Volt batteries for extra headroom.
Controls are Volume, 2 band EQ (excellent) and Pizzicato/Arco mode: Pizz mode is great for a solid all round sound with a nice sustain to it, and Arco for the best bowed sound in the market. Blending pizz & arco 50/50 produces a sound that is rich in mids and has a shorter sustain, so you would be using this more than anything in a band situation (this sound is the closest you get to an amplified double bass).
If you have never played double bass, this is a good chance to start on a top quality instrument that will simply put things easier for you.
If you are an experienced double bass player, you’ll have to come with an open mind regarding the tripod and lack of body reference but once you get used to that (very fast), it is a really rewarding instrument.
It is easier to adjust the bridge for a lower or higher action to suit your needs. If you are a die hard player you might prefer to use regular strings.
It comes with a padded gigbag that will hold the bass and the tripod.