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.
Bassist, Concert Cellist, Multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer known by pseudonym “The Griot” – Derek Menchan is, and will always be, a genuine Renaissance man. In addition to his musical endeavors, this college instructor of the humanities, philosophy, and music is working to achieve his doctorate degree. On breaks between semesters and studies, Derek sequesters himself to his studio “That Mruzick Laboratories,” for what he calls his “Arts Immersion Summers.” During these periods he creates vivid and entertaining videos using the Accapella app and developing the follow up to his debut album, The Griot Swings the Classics.
“Having first played an NS bass well over 25 years ago, while window-shopping and dreaming, I will never forget the amazing feel—the action of the strings—and, man, I fell in love. Now, I am rather ecstatic to own two of them, a CR5M Upright Bass and EU6 Upright Bass.”
It’s really like Nietzsche says: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
Congratulations to NS Artist Lionel Dean Jarvis who recently received the Legacy Award from the African Nova Scotian Music Association (ANSMA) for his work in the Canadian community and with noted artists as Grammy Award recipient Alessia Cara, as well as bassist and music director for the Weeknd, Nelly Furtado, Enrique Iglesias, Backstreet Boys, George Clinton and Neverest.
Dean recently sat down with Raul Amandor from Bass Musician Magazine for an in-depth interview.
Catch Dean on tour with Alessia Cara in 2020 and beyond.
The Solo Bass Competition was held on Thursday in Anaheim during the NAMM Show 2020 — NS Design are proud to be co-sponsors of this special event, along with Phil Jones Bass, Warwick, LaBella, Marleux, and others; as well as Bass Magazine and Gizmotron. Continue reading…
Winter NAMM 2020 at the NS Design Booth has been lively with NS Artists and friends. Stop in to say hello if you’re in the neighborhood. Hall D #4729.
We have a number of great players at the Winter NAMM 2020 booth performing and demonstrating NS, including: legendary bassist Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon), violinist Daneille Turano, Marcos Varela – Grammy nominated Jazz artist and composer, Los Angeles’s favorite electric ensemble Quartet 405 with a special demonstration including Symphonic Planet, solo bassists Noor Che’ree, Chance Wilder Onody, Donald Waugh and much more!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 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…
Benny Rietveld bassist for Santana, playing the NS CRM Upright. Photo by Alan Poulin
NS Design Artist Benny Rietveld, longtime bassist and music director for Santana, sat down for an exclusive interview with Jon Liebman of For Bass Players Only. Benny shares his history and the power of the bass. Continue reading…
NS Design Artist Jamaaladeen Tacuma speaks with Premier Guitar in the August, 2019 issue about producing The Last Poets 2019 release Transcending Toxic Times, and his Steinberger and NS Design Basses. Continue reading…
Welcome to the fourth edition of THE LYONN’S ROAR, “Electric Technique: The Same . . .or?” by NS Violinist and Educator Julie Lyonn Lieberman.
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.
How else do you achieve these techniques? Attend a summer program that will help you build new skills, there are quite a few to choose from. Check out Julie’s book, How to Play Contemporary Strings: A Step-by-Step Approach for Violin, Viola & Cello, with its video tutorials and backing tracks, it’s a sure way to gain skills and have some fun. Visit her website for more information on all her books, DVDs and courses. http://julielyonn.com/
For more information about all of NS Design’s electric violins and electric violas and the new eco-friendly, active yet battery-free NXTa Electric Violin, or the affordable and road-worthy WAV Electric Violin visit ThinkNS.com.
NS Bassist Bakithi Kumalo is back on tour with Paul Simon this summer playing several dates around the country throughout the month of June. The tour kicked off June 1st in St. Augustine, FL and ends at SummerFest in Milwaukee, WI on June 30. Don’t miss it! Tour and ticket information can be found here: http://www.paulsimon.com/news/paul-simon-announces-us-summer-tour/
Joining him with an NXT Electric Cello is fellow multi-instrumentalist, composer and tour mate Mark Stewart who has been recording and touring with Paul Simon since the late 1990’s. Stewart is also one of the All-Star musicians in Bang on a Can, awarded Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year and heralded as “the country’s most important vehicle for contemporary music” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Mark is also a member of Steve Reich & Musicians and the comic duo Polygraph Lounge with Rob Schwimmer and in 2013 was in a year-long residency at MIT in the Glass Lab teaching students to design and create a glass orchestra.
Photos: Bakithi Kumalo and Mark Stewart in rehearsal for tour with Paul Simon.
Watch: Paul Simon‘s debut performance at Austin City Limits with “Wristband” from his album Stranger to Stranger. The album is described by Andy Greene of Rolling Stone as “an experimental album heavy on echo and rhythm that fuses electronic beats with African woodwind instruments, Peruvian drums, a gospel music quartet, horns and synthesizers.” A great showcase for Kumalo’s talents, who opens this funny song playing his NXT Upright.
Watch: Bass Musician Magazine Interview with Bakithi Kumalo in which he describes how he got his start on stage at just 7 years old playing a Gibson bass in his uncle’s band in South Africa; his ultimate respect for finding the tone, the most influential bassists for him and his willingness to share lessons he has learned along the way to a successful career playing his music for audiences around the world. And at 22:00 in this interview…see and hear the slap sound technique he’s having fun with these days on his CR5 RADIUS Bass Guitar, it’s a real treat and is as fun, adventurous and masterful as Kumalo himself. Enjoy!
More details and features for all the NS Basses that Bakithi plays along with our new eco-friendly NXTa active series EUB’s, Omni’s, Cello’s, Violin’s and Viola’s featuring battery-free electronics are found at our website ThinkNS.com.
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 Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart which lead to an opportunity to join the Quicksilver Messenger Service 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 Neville Brothers Band. 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 “Million Miles” 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 James Taylor 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
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.
The Levin Brothers Band are on tour now. With bassist Tony Levin and his brother Pete Levin on keyboard along with fellow bandmates sax player Erik Lawrence and drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel, the band have select dates on the U.S. East Coast and in South America this Spring.
Playing the classic retro sound of the Afro-Cuban influenced jazz referenced from Tony and Pete’s childhood this combo is sure to please!
Click here for a recap of Tony and Pete’s appearance at the NS Design booth during Winter NAMM 2015.
For more information on the Levin Brothers visit their website at: http://thelevinbrothers.com
Congratulations to NS Artist Jacob Collier on his 2017 Grammy Awards.
Jacob was awarded 2017 Grammy Awards in the Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella category for “You And I” — Jacob Collier, arranger (Jacob Collier) and Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “Flintstones” — Jacob Collier, arranger (Jacob Collier).
Here is what some of Jazz’s greatest legends are saying about Jacob and his amazing vision and gift!
“I’ve never heard anybody like that before, his talent is just frightening.” – Quincy Jones
“Herbie Hancock says he’s an incredible pianist, Nathan East says he’s a fantastic bassist and Quincy says he’s an amazing singer who can it high notes like Michael Jackson but also has an incredible deep bass.” – Billboard Magazine
“The 21-year-old’s one-man show defied both natural and long-established music laws, as he conjured any sound his imagination fancied on a variety of live-sampled percussion, keyboard and stringed instruments which were looped sonically and visually. This was topped by his multiplied vocals across a four-and-a-half octave range from bass to mezzo soprano creating a thick wall of layered rhythmic and melodic sound and images that swirled together to form an electrifying symphonic stew of breathless jazz, funk, pop, electronic, a cappella and more.” – Billboard
“The split screen YouTube videos that brought Jacob Collier to fame are feats of extraordinary talent and ambition. The byzantine arrangements, on which Collier plays every instrument and sings a choir’s worth of vocal parts, are astounding enough when delivered from his home studio in North London. So to attempt to recreate these arrangements live, seems near Icarus-like in aspiration. Yet in his solo show at the Brooklyn Bowl, Collier flies uninhibited to dizzying musical heights, delighting an audience attentive to his every note.” – London Jazz News – Review of Jacob Collier at the Brooklyn Bowl
Jacob Collier and his One-Man Live Show Creature is a truly amazing musical experience, performed live using looping and harmonizing technology. Check out this live video from a performance of his original composition “Don’t You Know” Live @ Village Underground, London.
See more of Jacob’s amazing arrangements and videos and catch him on tour at http://www.jacobcollier.co.uk
Jacob plays the NXT Electric Upright Bass. NS Design’s new NXTa EUB is part of the eco-friendly NXTa active series instrument line. With many models and versions to choose from, the NXTa series is an extraordinary option for a variety of players in any performance setting. thinkNS.com
The NXT Series Goes Active and Stays Green!
With the launch of the new NXTa series, Ned Steinberger and NS Design herald the introduction of battery-free, high performance active electronics for the full family of NXT instruments. These include the violin, viola, cello, Omni bass and double bass. The new capacitor-powered custom circuitry, designed for NS Design by Mi-Si Electronics Design, integrates with the NS Polar Pickup System to provide two distinct signal output modes, bringing the convenience, versatility and performance capability of the NXT to another level.
Operationally, for Active mode, the user plugs the supplied charger into an AC outlet for 60 seconds to power the circuit for up to 16 hours of performance time. The instrument can then plug straight into any amp, low or high impedance, no direct box necessary. Since there is no signal loss over the full frequency spectrum of the instrument, the fundamentals of every note remain clear and strong, even with extra-long cables.
In Passive mode, as with the original NXT series, the NXTa can be used with an amplifier with a high impedance input, or with any amplifier using a direct box. In either mode, an important facet of the NXTa circuitry is “eco-friendliness” and convenience. NXTa instruments are still “green” and battery-free, eliminating the hassle and cost of batteries while helping protect our environment.
Michael Ioffe, co-founder of Mi-Si (www.mi-si.com), comments “We are very honored to work with Ned Steinberger. We feel that we share the same design philosophy, it’s all about elegance and simplicity.” At the heart of all Mi-Si products is Mi-Si’s patented, battery-free technology which utilizes supercapacitors rather than conventional rechargeable batteries as energy storage elements. Mi-Si minimalistic design philosophy results in clean sound, high power efficiency, low weight, small dimensions, and elegant, environmentally friendly solution to onboard amplification.
Created by Ned Steinberger, the NXT family of NS Design instruments, along with the advanced CR series, is crafted in the Czech Republic. Ned’s instruments are distributed worldwide and have become a mainstay for countless professional artists around the globe. For more information about our instruments and the players who use them, visit thinkNS.com.
The NXTa will be available in September 2016
Convenience is an idol, and I have no desire to worship at its altar. I don’t own an iPod, I prefer my 78 RPM records played on my vintage tube phonograph. I don’t own a coffee maker, I would rather use my french press, or better yet, I would rather make a cup of pour over that would change your life, not just your morning beverage preferences. But I know what you’re thinking: “Good for you. You and the rest of your little hipster buddies may not worship at the altar of convenience, but you love to sacrifice to the gods of high-horse traditionalism.” Maybe, but not so fast.
I may be an old soul and I may love doing things the old fashioned way (I am a bluegrass player, after all), but to be more accurate, I do what I do because I want the best results. That often means suffering for art’s sake, but other times it means bucking tradition, and when it comes to playing bass in a bluegrass band, it means you have to Think NS.
Bluegrass has always had its growing pains, and I am an ardent supporter of traditional bluegrass done with the spirit and hunger of the pioneers. I like my bluegrass raw, in your face, powerful, edgy, and imperfect. I don’t like pickups on guitars, mandolins, banjos, or fiddles. It is less convenient to mic them, but if you’re playing grass, it’s the only way. It is what works. And not only am I a traditionalist in that regard, I play in Audie Blaylock and Redline, and I defy you to call us anything other than a modern bluegrass band in the traditional mold. Audie spent nine years honing his craft alongside first generation legend and King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin; and while studying at the University of Old School Bluegrass (how wish that institution actually existed), Audie graduated with honors. In fact, he now teaches the classes. So why then are we (Professor Blaylock included) unwavering supporters and users of the NS Design upright basses? Well I’ll tell you one thing: it ain’t for the convenience.
It went like this. I was hired at the end of 2010 to play in Audie’s band, and I started our travels together with my lifetime bass: my 1938 King. That bass rocks. I recorded I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky with it and it can be heard on #1 singles. But I needed something more conducive to travel for some upcoming shows out west, so I started working with NS. It was way more convenient. Then our record label at the time was recording a project at Bean Blossom, and if we were recording, I needed my King. I played our first set with my traditional upright and was faced with obvious realization that my King (or any double bass, for that matter) was not what worked. I put the King in its bag where it rested comfortably while the NS and I took care of business on the second set. That felt better.
Shortly thereafter we were headed into the studio to record a song I wrote for a Travel Channel series, so I loaded up the King and the NS (for the shows we had to play following the session, not for the session itself) and headed to Nashville. The King never left its case. In fact, we just recorded a new record called The Road That Winds that will officially drop on July 10, and the NS is all over it. I would love for you to hear how good the NS sounds in that environment. I had the option of recording with a traditional upright, in fact doing so wouldn’t have been inconvenient, but the NS sounds like what a bass in a bluegrass setting should sound like and rarely does. It is fat, punchy, consistent, and clean. It is immediate and unambiguous. As Audie says, “It is a bag full of hammers,” and that’s a great thing. All you have to do is roll off the tone and put a little foam under the strings at the bridge (foam, by the way, is regularly used by grassers on upright basses in recording situations, so nothing shocking or innovative about that) and you have what uprights wished they sounded like.
To sum it all up, I want to sell you on two things. First, check out Audie Blaylock and Redline’s upcoming record The Road That Winds on Patuxent Records. We are crazy-proud of it and I know you’ll love it…the NS, too. Secondly, NS Design basses are not just for convenience in the bluegrass world. I want to hold them up to you as all around, first-in-line instruments that are not just designed for the road. They do that better than any other option, but they are much more. Consider stepping out of your comfort zone just for a second, and you’ll realize they should be used in the studio, as well. Especially in traditional bluegrass. Who is the strident traditionalist now?
Audie Blaylock and Redline doing a Bill Monroe tune with twin fiddles. Does it get more traditional? Nope. NS included.
Reed Jones is the bassist for Audie Blaylock and Redline and composer for film and television.
Iconic bassist talks to FBPO about his three decades with Bonnie Raitt, plus a whole lot more you may not have known
By David Sands
April 8, 2015
James “Hutch” Hutchinson has been cooking up music with blues-rock legend Bonnie Raitt for over three decades. It’s a relationship the bassist cherishes, but his musical hunger has led him in a lot of other directions too. All over the map, in fact.
While he’s made some amazing records with Raitt, like the triple Grammy-winning Nick of Time and 2012’s best-selling blues album Slipstream, those albums are just flavorful morsels in the stew of a life richly lived.
Read the full interview at http://forbassplayersonly.com/james-hutch-hutchinson-bridging-musical-worlds/
NS Design is proud to announce the appearance of The Levin Brothers at our booth at NAMM 2015 – January 21 – 25 in Anaheim, CA. The Levin Brothers are, of course, bassist Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Stickmen, etc.)—who is this year adding the NS Cello to his repertoire—and his brother Pete Levin on keyboard. The Levin Brothers will certainly be bringing the “cool” swinging grooves to the NS Booth this year and we can hardly wait!
Be sure to check out their self-titled debut album and upcoming tour at thelevinbrothers.com/
Watch Robbie pulling out lyrical lines on his NS CR Bass, accompanying indie-folktronic minstrel David Gray on his hit “Sail Away”. Check out more of Robbie on David Gray’s newly released album “Mutineer”.
Information about David Gray’s 2014 North American Tour this Fall is at: https://tickets.davidgray.com/.
Tony Levin is featured in the September 2014 issue of Bass Player magazine, showcasing Tony’s new work (with an NS Cello!) on the forthcoming Levin Brothers Jazz CD. This intimate article journeys through Tony’s long-time association with NS Design and his enviable and disparate musical journey. Harkening back to the “Cool Jazz” Tony and older brother Pete (keyboards) grew up on, this release features 15 melodic-driven be-bop swinging tunes, featuring veteran heavy weight drummers Steve Gadd and Jeff Siegel, saxophonist Erik Lawrence and guitarist David Spinozza. Levin Brothers brings a myriad of references from Tony’s inspiration from Oscar Pettiford, to the pizzicato driven Latin tinged “Havana,” to a cover of King Crimson’s “Matte Kudasai”.
Tony’s diverse performance schedule continues throughout 2014, with a Levin Brothers upcoming jazz release in the Fall. This September he tours with the refreshingly reformed and possibly “final” version King Crimson, after which he joins Peter Gabriel’s “Back to Front” tour in the UK in November and December. Don’t forget to check out Tony’s tour dates and photolog.
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.