Blown away by the NXT bass

We love hearing people play great music on our instruments.  Even better, we love it when our instruments show people new musical possibilities.  Thanks to Dave Norris from Melbourne for writing—this is what it’s all about!

Dear NS Design,

My name is Dave Norris and I’m a bass player from Melbourne, Australia. I have a Lakland 55-02 5 string bass, a vintage ’81 Ibanez Roadster and a MarkBass rig and I play bass in several bands: – The Bay City Hostiles, an urban ‘dirty’ country band (think more Johnny Cash and Rolling Stones in their country period than traditional Nashville country) – playing bass for Sarah Giufre a very talented singer/songwriter (think Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Lamb, Portishead)

Ever since I saw Lamb play live I was in love with the concept of an electric upright bass, and Internet searches turned up the NS Designs NXT series and I was hooked. I had not played a double bass for 30 years (first year high school) and was a little wary but very excited by the possibilities.

The final push came when Sarah decided to launch her debut album, which was recorded with orchestral instruments. We had subsequently done new arrangements of many of the songs with the band but there were a couple of songs that Sarah and I had never been happy with – while the Lakland is a lovely bass, the electric bass sound was just not right and I found myself trying all sorts of EQ, muting and thumb plucking ideas to get more ‘double bass’ in the sound. There were other songs where the notes were really long and again I found myself using classical guitar multi-finger tremolo techniques to try and give a more sustained note.

So I went to my trusted friends at The Bass Centre in Melbourne and picked up an NS NXT5, and it is beautiful!!!! I decided to raise the action to ‘proper’ double bass height and get used to playing it that way, and set myself a goal of getting three key songs under my fingers for the launch. The problem was that I had 7 days before our final rehearsal and 10 days before the album launch!! So the first time Sarah and the band were going to hear the new bass would be the only time we had to decide on whether we would use it for the gig. And from not touching an upright for 30 years, I had to fake being a double bass player in a week

So it was with great concern I started on my path. But the NXT was so easy to play and I worked hard on my intonation and thought it sounded alright (well the bass sounded absolutely magical – it was the player that needed work hahaha). I had also wanted to get a bow for one of the songs but was struggling to find one and in the end decided I would just play pizz – there was so much more sustain on the NXT and so maybe that song wouldn’t need a bow…

I set up for our rehearsal and the look of the bass instantly had them excited – they are the sexiest instruments!! We then started running the set and I played “At the Park” – the song with the long notes:

We finished and everyone was quiet – I looked up and Sarah almost had tears in her eyes. Everyone was blown away by what the NXT added to the sound – such an incredible tone. Needless to say, it ended up getting the green light on all songs.

The album launch was last Saturday. We had over 180 people in the room and it was a great gig. I had over a dozen people come up to me and ask about the NXT and fellow musicians comment on how great it sounded and how incredible it looked. One of our friends is a music video producer (back in the 80’s and 90’s he did videos for Nick Cave, Birthday Party, Elvis Costello, Men At Work, INXS) and he shot the whole gig so I am hoping for feature footage but here are some quotes from people on the night:

“You guys put on such an amazing performance. You were rockin’ that bass and Sarah killed the show. She has such a beautiful voice and when you guys (the band) joined her it was such an awesome performance. I had a good night. Thank you for the opportunity to see such great music. It’s actually been a while since I’ve been to a gig so it was really good to get back into the music scene again”

“When that bass kicked in you could hear it, but you could also feel it punch through the room. Such a phat sound”

“What a beautiful bass. I didn’t realise you actually played it while on the stand. And on Sailor it sounded like a double but then it sounded like you had an electric there as well on World Just Sleeps – how did you do that??” – I actually switched from arco to pizz settings for the chorus 🙂

“Love the new bass! You’ll be getting a call from me for the bass work on my new album – I need a more world music sound and that bass will do it”

“You looked as happy as Larry on Saturday night with your new toy – sounded great! I was curious as to the difference between your basses but it was really black and white. Very cool! Out front was also great. Awesome mix, few of the “louder bits” were dynamically a lot louder which worked well”

So I just wanted to say a MASSIVE thank you for creating such a beautiful looking and sounding instrument. I am really happy with my purchase and I know it’s going to see many more gigs with Sarah, and an album with The Hostiles as well as upcoming session work! I am so excited to be playing it.

Now to find a good bow!!! lol