The NS Blog

  • Students and NS Design at Interlochen


    “Mr Laird!! It arrived! It arrived today!”

    These are the words I was greeted with on a Tuesday morning during my last week of the summer at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.  Cello student, Luis Enriquez, from Belgium, has been a student at Interlochen for the past 3 summers and has been part of numerous performances where I would solo on my CR4 or 5 violin with my Intermediate Concert Orchestra on the famous Kresge Hall stage.  I must admit, when he told me he was getting a new NXT 5 string cello, it didn’t come as a big surprise.   It was, however a great thrill.  Luis brought the instrument to the next rehearsal and showed it to me and the rest of the orchestra with great enthusiasm.


    Earlier in the summer, we had spoken about the possibility of him getting the NS Design instrument.  We had discussed amps, effect processing, and possible choices of  retailers as well.  In the end, I know the NXT 5 cello will be a great choice for Luis as he begins his electric journey on the cello.  He also picked up a small effects processor which led to  a great discussion about reverb, delay, and “mix.”


    This is how NS Design and music education fit together so neatly.  Kids want to be creative.   Kids get inspired.    Kids spend more time with their instrument and build their skill set as musicians.    Everybody wins!!


    Congrats, Luis.  I can’t wait to hear what you come up with as you begin to develop your technique on your new instrument,  new ideas as a result of the technology, and your new style of playing with your 5 string electric cello!




  • The Levin Brothers


    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.

  • Big stages, bigger hits!

    Featuring cellist Grace Chatto, UK pop sensation Clean Bandit has a hot summer hit “Extraordinary”, reaching #2 on the UK Dance charts and #5 on the UK Single Charts. Grace will appear at festivals, TV and arenas worldwide, playing her Poplar Burl NS CR4 Cello.

    Interesting background: Grace was “discovered“ while playing in a string quartet at Cambridge University while her current bandmate Jack Patterson mixed beats and electronica to Grace’s classical pieces, creating a unique blend of electronica.

    Enjoy this clip of their performance at T in the Park 2014.

  • Congrats: Violinist and Composer Gary Kuo Grabs His 6th Emmy


    A tasteful and refined soloist, Gary’s emotional and thoughtful style always affects listeners on an intimate level. With 130+ TV and Film credits to his name, Gary stands out in the Hollywood scene with his poignant compositions. Stay updated on our Facebook page and YouTube channel for more original tracks and upcoming videos featuring Gary and his CR5 Violin.

    Watch Gary create a haunting 21st Century treatment of “Nearer, My God, to Thee”.

  • The NXT Cello—Now Fretted!

    frettedcello-bThe 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.

  • Maputo and Interlochen

    IMG_0670 Hi all –

    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.




  • Interlochen 2014

    IMG_0303IMG_0572IMG_0567Hey all –

    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.



  • NS-CR RADIUS Bass Guitar review in Bass Player Magazine.



    By Ed Friedland

    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.


    Read more at:

  • GHS Strings announces Crossover Upright strings for NS Design Electric Upright Basses


    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.

  • Roland Guerin – At home in NOLA and the World

    guerinNS 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.