NS Artist Bakithi Kumalo sat down with For Bass Players Only at the NS Design Booth during the NAMM Show 2020 for another fun and insightful interview. Kumalo shares his simple, sage advice about what it takes to be a good bass player, his passion for mentorship, and working with students in The Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University Mentorship Program and the various logistics involved in teaching remotely.
NS Artist Laurie Anderson visited San Francisco last week as Resident Artistic Director at SF JAZZ Center for a four-night performance series. Anderson, who plays the NS CR electric violin, shared the stage on night one with her NYC Improvisations Series collaborators – virtuoso bassist Christian McBride and cellist (NS Artist) Rubin Kodheli; night two included the strings duet of Kodheli again, with Anderson; the third evening also included Kodheli with the addition of avant-garde vocalist Mike Patton, of Mr. Bungle and Faith No More; night four featured Anderson’s solo performance with her NS violin, keyboards, and filters. Continue reading…
The NAMM Show 2020 Ultimate Jam Night is a concert that brings all the legendary and top musicians of the world to play music together on one stage. This year’s stellar performances included NS Artists Quartet405 with violinists Eliza James and Rebecca Schlappich Charles, violist Jayna Chou, and cellist Danica Pinner rockin’ their NXTa’s! Check out the amazing photographs of the show taken by NS Artist Noor Che’ree of Cookie Monstah Media.
NS Design has launched an NS Instrument Registration Form on our website. Registering your NS instrument helps us serve you better if you need to request technical support from us in the future. When you complete your registration, we will issue you an NS ID number for your instrument that you can refer to in future communications with us. Continue reading…
Here is your IBMA 2019 World of Bluegrass Conference and Awards Recap!
NS Design attended and exhibited at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) World of Bluegrass Expo, Booth #315. Many NS Artists, friends and fans stopped in to say hello to NS National Sales Manager Tommy Wilson and NS Artist Relations Manager Corey Redonnett, who showcased a variety of NS instruments for attendees to plug in and pick, pluck, bow and strum! The Expo ran from Wednesday, September 24 through Saturday, September 28, 2019. Continue reading…
NS Design Artist Tony Levin plays his CR5M Electric Upright Bass.
NS Artist and esteemed bassist Tony Levin and his long-time band mates in King Crimson are embarking on their 2019 50th Anniversary Celebration American Tour. With his CR5M Upright Bass, Tony and the rest of the KC camp will be ploughing through their extensive history of fan favorites. Continue reading…
Scott Laird, nationally recognized string pedagogue and conductor (and NS Design Artist and Educator), has received The University of North Carolina Board of Governors 2019 Excellence in Teaching Award. Continue reading…
NS Design’s founder and leading innovator of electric stringed instruments, Ned Steinberger, was the Keynote Speaker in the 2nd Annual Maine Luthiers Exhibition and Music Showcase this past November, at the City Hall Auditorium in Hallowell, Maine.
Speaking candidly about his unique and serendipitous path to instrument design, Ned traced his story from his early days in a Brooklyn, New York in a furniture-making cooperative, to meeting luthier Stuart Spector, and the breakthrough headless bass concepts that followed. He also chatted with the audience about his design aesthetics and the challenges and opportunities that new technology creates for instrument design. He showed samples of his formative designs, experimentation, and prototype concepts.
Watch Ned Steinberger’s full keynote speech here:
The Expo week included The Luthiers’ Craft, a Maine-made stringed instrument exhibition at The Harlow Gallery on Water Street in the downtown. The elaborate installation of instruments both contemporary and traditional design, included a of variety of NS Design’s trademark electric bowed, stringed instruments, the NS RADIUS Bass Guitar and Steinberger’s iconic original headless bass made in the early days of the Steinberger Sound Company.
Example of a working prototype design concept for the body of a guitar.
October 12 – 14, 2018, Hallowell, Maine welcomes you to celebrate the craft of lutherie at the 2nd Annual Maine Luthiers Exhibition and Music Showcase at central Maine’s “New Orleans on the Kennebec”, with a gallery exhibition of Maine made instruments, craft demonstrations, and great live performances at auditoriums, restaurants, and pubs in the most charming, and rocking, downtown north of Portland.
Friday night’s reception at City Hall includes a meet and greet with Ned Steinberger, our keynote speaker and an internationally recognized innovator in musical instrument design and construction. He is an incredible example of innovative intellectual property producer who lives and works in Maine, and is part of an international manufacturing network.
The 2nd Annual Maine Luthiers Exhibition and Music Showcase is brought to you by the City of Hallowell, in partnership with The Harlow Gallery and Maine Craft Weekend, and funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Friday Night Welcoming at Hallowell City Hall
Keynote Speaker: Ned Steinberger, internationally recognized stringed instrument design innovator, City Hall Auditorium, 6:30 PM, with VIP reception at 5:30. General seating starts at 6 PM.
From his Maine workshop, instrument designer Ned Steinberger is reinventing the tools of music’s superstars
WRITTEN BY JIM REILLY • PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIC ROTH
Ned Steinberger’s workshop in Nobleboro, Maine, stands beside the family home he shares with wife, Denise, and their two teenage sons. Originally a barn, the structure dates to the mid-1800s. After years of neglect, it was torn down in the early 1980s but rebuilt on the same foundation to the original specifications. In 1997, when the Steinbergers moved in, Ned, a musical instrument designer, modernized. He added a second floor that serves as a listening room and sound laboratory. On the main floor, which received only a few necessary modifications, violin necks, electric-guitar pickups, and projects both in progress and set aside fight for space with clamps, jigs, and soldering irons. “My work spaces have always been practical in nature,” he says. “They’re certainly not neat.”
From the outside, the shop blends into the rural Maine landscape. On the inside, it looks like countless other woodshops — but looks can be deceiving. This is a laboratory where, with the analytical mind of a scientist and the creative heart of an artist, Steinberger pushes the boundaries of musical instrument design.
More simply, Steinberger makes tools, some of the best of their kind. His tools have found their way into the hands of some of the world’s best-known musicians, who in turn have created every kind of music imaginable and some that defies belief.
When discussing Steinberger’s instruments, renowned bassist Tony Levin, who has shared the stage with artists ranging from Peter Gabriel to King Crimson to John Lennon, says, “If you’re a bass player and you go into a studio and you play just one note, one big, low note, and the engineer goes ‘Wow — I love this,’ and the artist goes ‘Wow — I love this,’ and the producer says, ‘I’m so glad I got you, Tony,’ it’s the sound of the instrument, not me.” That’s the Steinberger sound.
Much like his workshop, which is built on its centuries-old foundation, Steinberger took the fundamental aspects of acoustic bowed instruments and evolved their design so that they are every bit as powerful onstage as electric guitars and basses. His stable of instruments has grown to include a violin, viola, cello, double bass, the unique “Omni Bass” (which combines the features of an upright bass with the size and feel of a bass guitar), and the headless Radius electric bass guitar. Awards and industry recognition have been constant since the first electric upright in 1990. The Radius bass guitar recently won “Best in Show” at this year’s National Association of Music Merchants winter trade show.
As a teenager in his father’s basement woodshop in their Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, home, Steinberger eschewed plans in favor of creativity. If he wanted to make a chair, he’d take one apart, study it from all angles, and use that as the jumping-off point for his own model. He learned by doing and questioning, always asking why and how things worked. He came across that mind-set honestly. His father, physicist Jack Steinberger, is a Nobel Prize recipient. His mother, Joan Beauregard, was a celebrated artist. As with any true inventor, it’s impossible to separate the science of his work from its art. Both drive his passion for exploring questions of sound, form, and function
Next, he made electric guitars and basses under his own name. Some of rock’s best musicians, including Sting, Eddie Van Halen, The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, Mike Rutherford, The Who’s John Entwistle, Rush’s Geddy Lee, and David Bowie, played Steinberger guitars. In 1987, Ned sold the rights to those instruments, along with the brand name Steinberger, to the Gibson guitar company.
That sale allowed Ned to create a new company, NS Design, and to go back to his first love: designing innovative instruments. NS Design’s work grace the stages of an equally impressive and growing list of musicians. Some, like virtuosos Charles Yang, the DaPonte String Quartet, and David Darling, value the instruments’ ability to sound like their traditional acoustic counterparts. A Paul Simon bassist, Bakithi Kumalo, values their unique voice. “I want people to be able to recognize that it’s me playing right away,” he says. Others, like Laurie Anderson, Margot Lane, chart-topping pop band Clean Bandit’s Grace Chatto, Les Claypool, and Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish, love the way the instruments can take on effects like distortion and reverb and sound every bit as massive as Jimi Hendrix’s electric guitar.
Originally a furniture designer and custom cabinetmaker, Steinberger made his very first instrument, a bass guitar, for luthier Stuart Spector in 1976. It is still Spector’s most popular model.
NS Design’s 51 models, ranging in price from $849 for an entry-level violin to $7,200 for a top-of-the-line upright bass, are made in the Czech Republic and Asia. This leaves Steinberger free to keep asking questions and pushing boundaries in his Nobleboro shop. As Steinberger says, “It’s a continuing quest!”
For those of you returning to school this September, put fiery bounce in your bow by developing your “chop” percussion techniques on your violin, viola, cello or upright bass.
Starting as what was called the “chunk” technique and made popular by the father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, “chopping” has quickly become a fun and funky way for players to keep the groove moving. Bill Monroe’s fiddler Richard Greene (pictured below) further developed the “chop” technique into his own artful musical language.
Be sure to check out an excerpt from his guest appearance at the Strings Without Boundaries Summer 2016 Session in Seattle, Washington:
With much anticipation from fans and followers, NS Cellist Katie Larson and her Indie Folk-Rock band The Accidentals are celebrating their recent signing as Sony Materworks Artists and the release of a new album, Odyssey.
The Odyssey Album Release Tourkicked off in New York City and continues with several dates throughout the US, continuing into Canada, back to their beloved Michigan and beyond. With many musical stories to tell along the way, be sure to check out a show and share their journey.
“The Accidentals draw inspiration from just about every kind of music you can think of, but it really doesn’t matter what you label them as long as your label contains the word ‘great’.” -“45 of the Best Up & Coming Rock Bands to Check Out in 2017,” GoodDeedSeats
Katie Larson along with bandmate Savannah Buist, violinist/vocalist, are both multi-instrumentalists, and combined with the talents of singer/songwriter/drummer/percussionist Michael Dause, The Accidentals provide an edgy and energetic soundscape that renowned musicians have noticed and that audiences around the country respond to.
Photo credit: Max Sharp
“The musicianship and delicate preciseness to their music is unparalleled to anything else we’ve heard from talents of this age.” Raves from theAnn Arbor Indie Music Examiner
This hardworking young trio have toured extensively as supporting acts and have also joined the stage with some of the greats. The list is both diverse and impressive: Martin Sexton, Brandi Carlile, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Keller Williams, Andrew Bird, Dar Williams, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Rusted Root, The Wailers, and so on.
“Displaying a genre-hopping range of influence and some smart songwriting skills to go with their abundant musical chops.”-“SXSW: 7 Breakout Acts”, BillboardMagazine
The Accidentals first single released from Odyssey is called “KW”. Check out an exciting live version of “KW” from Founders Brewery featuring Katie moving and grooving with her NS CR Cello and NS Frame Strap System. In Katie’s own words: “The NS Design cello and harness system are so versatile in design and tone that they lend themselves to any situation; jazz jams, symphony concerts, outdoor music festivals, theater shows, house concerts, punk clubs, etc. I’ve used it in every situation and I’ve never had this much fun playing cello.”
For more information about the NS Cellos Larson plays and the entire family of NS instruments, including our newly released affordable and road worthy WAV Cello Series and the new high-performance Eco-friendly active NXTa’s, visit ThinkNS.com.
Whether you’ve just unboxed your new NS Violin, plugged in your acoustic for the first time, or are just ready to unleash into new territory on the instrument you already love to play, these exciting iNSights will take your playing to another level and help you stand out in any performance setting.
Chord connection fills, textural ghost notes, chopping techniques, and incorporating guitar and horn like riffs to electrify your string sound, Lieberman highlights a range of suggestions for expanding your violin’s voice using several alternative techniques.
This fourth edition includes a bonus interview with violinist Papa John Creach of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. Papa John is an exciting and unique violinist and performer that understands how to truly stand out on a stage. In the interview, he talks about how to “Get Down, Get Dirty and Give it some Guts” on your electric.
James “Hutch” Hutchinson is respected far and wide for his musical versatility and long experience playing with top-tier acts. After taking some classes at the Berklee College of Music while gigging in bands around Boston, the 17 year old decided to head out west to the San Francisco Bay Area. He jumped at opportunities to play on sessions with Link Wray’s band and with GratefulDead drummer MickeyHart which lead to an opportunity to join the QuicksilverMessengerService spin-off Copperhead, all this before he turned 20 years old.
When their album failed to find an audience the band broke up and Hutch left for Guatemala for what he expected to be just a three week visit. Three weeks turned into a year which allowed Hutch to immerse himself in Latin American culture and rhythms. Returning to the US with his Latin Jazz Fusion band The Point, Hutch got an offer to play in The NevilleBrothersBand. While playing with the Neville Brothers he was introduced to Bonnie Raitt and in 1983 moved to Los Angeles to join her band after her original bassist dropped out right before she was scheduled to go on tour.
In the intervening 30 plus years, Hutch has made significant contributions to Bonnie’s sound and has co-written some of her tunes along the way. In an interview with Bass Player Magazine Hutch recalls, “Bonnie calls me her ‘musical ranger’ because I bring in all of these different influences. It’s not just that I’ve listened well and learned to play different styles, it’s that I’ve spent time living and working with the players in those communities. There are musicians in various parts of the world—blues players, country guys, even African musicians—who think of me as their style of musician. They may not even be aware of other styles I play.”
Fellow NS artist Tony Levin sums up Hutch’s musical versatility and impact on Bonnie’s records for Bass Player Magazine: “Hutch Hutchinson has never played a wrong note for Bonnie Raitt. He’s perfect for her songs.”
Hutchinson uses a variety of basses to bring the best tone and feel to his music. For songs requiring versatility in upright sound, Hutch loves NS Design’s CR Omni Bass. Ned Steinberger created the Omni Bass to connect the sound and feel of the electric bass guitar with its familiar 34″ scale and TransRadius™ fingerboard with the tonal purity, voice and bowed or plucked response of the classic upright bass. The Omni bridges both worlds. It’s a portable and adaptable innovation that has opened up new worlds of sonic versatility and physical freedom for so many musicians like Hutch.
Hutch’s favorite go-to upright on the current Dig In Deep tour is NS Design’s high performance CR4M Upright Bass. It’s as versatile as the CR Omni, including an active EQ and mixer, EMG™ magnetic pickups and Steinberger’s patented Polar™ Piezo Pickup System, and provides all the depth of sound that a full scale double bass commands. Hutch uses the CR4M with vintage Ampeg B-12, B-15’s; and when in the studio, the B-18 combos or the classic Ampeg SVT808’s and 8X8 matching cabinets.
NS Design founder and creator Ned Steinberger with Hutch Hutchinson
Here’s Bonnie Raitt and Co. covering a Bob Dylan classic “MillionMiles” from her 2012 album Slipstream.
With headlining tour dates in May and June around the US, Bonnie, Hutch and Co. will also be joining fellow Massachusetts-native JamesTaylor in select US dates in August, with a very special performance on August 11th at historic Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Check out all tour dates and related info at: http://www.bonnieraitt.com/tour
Learn more about James “Hutch” Hutchinson, NS Design Artists and NS Basses at thinkNS.com
Welcome to the third edition of THE LYONN’S ROAR, “Get The Best Tone On Your Electric,” with highlighting iNSights into Choosing an Electric Instrument, Amplification and Effects, and Strings and things by Julie Lyonn Lieberman. Check out this informative article that covers all the bases of Electric String Instruments:
NS Design’s founder and instrument designer Ned Steinberger was invited as a featured speaker at the Skidompha Library “Chats With Champions” series this past month in co-sponsorship with Sherman’s Bookstore in Damariscotta, Maine.
In the talk titled “Trial, Error and Invention” Ned discusses the evolution of his life’s work from his childhood passion for woodworking, early career as a furniture designer interested in ergonomic design challenges and the path that ultimately unfolded for the state-of-the-art innovations he brings to the musical instrument world.
Ned describes his forays into business, his early collaborations with Stuart Spector, meeting Les Paul for the first time, and the trials and tribulations of his process for finding the optimal sound potential of an instrument as it relates to its design and construction.
Guest guitarist, David Martin provides examples of the sonic variations and technological advances that make Ned’s instruments so exciting and versatile for players and listeners alike.