The NS Blog

  • NS Design’s Instruments Electrify the Classroom

    Music educators across the country are discovering that electric stringed instruments offer a new, powerful way to engage young musicians. As the string education community has begun to embrace what it terms “alternative styles”—including jazz, rock, and many kinds of fiddling and world music—electric string instruments are attracting attention for their ability to play amplified without feedback, and their ability to incorporate electronic effects.

    Teachers at the forefront of electric string education are quick to point out that the advantages of the instruments extend beyond performance settings. Amplification gives some students a new sense of empowerment, and for many, it clarifies the challenges they face with their playing technique. The process of creating and refining sound electronically requires students to think about aspects of music they would not need to consider with an acoustic instrument—a valuable means of engaging a generation already steeped in technology.

    NS Design recently interviewed four different players, including educators who use electric instruments in their classrooms, as well as performers who use electrics to attract new audiences to the possibilities of stringed instruments in general. We are proud to work with these musicians, and we hope that sharing their perspectives will inspire other teachers and students to new musical endeavors.

    New possibilities

    For Scott Laird, who is Instructor of Music at the North Carolina School for Science and Math in Durham, NC, technology serves both as a pedagogical tool and as a focus of instruction, and NS Design’s instruments are a centerpiece of the classroom. Laird’s performance career has revolved around the electric violin and the technology associated with it. As an educator, he champions a “blended curriculum” of classroom instruction reinforced by online resources, such as D’Addario’s Web site The Lesson Room, to which he has contributed several videos. In his classroom, Laird says, electric instruments serve the dual purpose of facilitating performances that would not be possible with their acoustic counterparts, and engaging students in a more complex understanding of music.

    Laird says that overcoming the amplification barrier is the biggest practical advantage to incorporating electric strings in an educational setting. In so doing, educators can remove the restrictions that often keep string students from trying jazz, rock, and other amplified genres.

    “From a performance standpoint, it completely opens up what you can do with a bowed instrument because volume is no longer a limiting factor,” Laird said recently in an interview. “The great violinist in your school can play with the jazz ensemble.” In addition, NS instruments’ precise tone and volume controls of offer practical advantages in orchestrating student performances. “We use the NXT Bass to accompany the wind ensemble,” he said. “It lets us get just the right amount of volume and a really warm tone.”

    But besides expanding performance options, Laird explains that electric instruments make students think about music in new ways. The precise control NS instruments offer over their output signal—and their ability to use electronic effects—requires students to plan and analyze the sounds they wish to create.

    “Electric instruments ask students to think about tone quality as it relates to an adjustment knob, a reverb tail, a delay. These are questions that traditional string students normally don’t have to answer,” Laird said. “One of the main things teachers are called upon to do is encourage students to step out of their comfort zones.”

  • Great week at ASTA in Kansas City

    This week, I have been at the American String Teacher’s National Conference in Kansas City.  It has been a fabulous week of instructional seminars, exhibits, and networking for string educators and students around the from around the United States and even some from around the world.  Electric bowed strings are always a big part of this conference and this year was no different.  The conference included a huge “Eclectic Strings Festival” that focused on jazz, rock, and other “Alt” Styles.  Several NS Design dealers were featured in the exhibit hall with booths.  It was a great week and NS Design was certainly a big part of it!  There was certainly a fantastic “buzz” around the NS Design products and educational possibilities.

    Scott with the guys from Electric Violin Shop at the ASTA Exhibits


    Scott and Dalton Potter from Potter's Violins

    A student tries out the new NXT Cello


  • NAMM 2011: Better than ever!

    NS Design had a wonderful showing at the 2011 NAMM show at the Anaheim Convention Center, January 13th – 16th in Anaheim California.  From new NS Artists dropping by the booth to longtime NS endorsees showing their support, this show demonstrated the passionate following NS Design’s instruments enjoy.

    Hutch Hutchinson, Ed Friedland, Ned Steinberger, and Reggie Hamilton at the NS booth.

    Reknowned bassist and NS CR4 Omni Bass endorsee Hutch Hutchinson (of Bonnie Raitt’s band) stopped by to play a bit and chat with Ned, as did longtime endorsee Tony Levin.  Tony Cimorosi, one of NYC’s finest bassists, played several jams and solo sessions, even bringing his road-tested CR4T Double Bass to the Phil Jones Bass amp booth. From straight-ahead jazz to latin-tinged solo performances, Tony drew many inquiring players and dealers with his infectiously gracious smile and exuberant personality.

    Yvette Devereaux, Ed Howe on violin; Nailah on cello.

    Newcomers Gary Kuo, Paul Detah and Bahman Sarram took to NS Design’s acclaimed CR series violins and applied their virtuosity to putting the instruments through their paces. Fiery violinist Yvette Devereaux and friend Nailah on cello were an absolute pleasure to have trading solos with NS ambassador Ed Howe. With bows and horse hair flying like that, it’s amazing no one lost an eye!

    Ned and Yorgis Goiricelaya

    Bassists Yorgis Goiricelaya and Filipe Andreoli each gave the audience swinging Latin grooves—and big smiles—on the Omni Bass.

    Ryan Cross on bass, Adrienne and Chris Woods (of the Elevation Orchestra) on cello and violin

    Group performances by Ryan Cross (double bass) and members of the Elevation Orchestra from LA (Adrienne and Chris Woods on Cello and Violin), and by the Tomas Donker Group with violin endorsee Alan Grubner, both drew large crowds.

    Big thanks to everyone else who stopped by the booth to chat, perform or listen, including: Ron Bienstock, Christopher Vitas, Chance Wilder Onody, Nina DiGregorio, Steve Bruner, Zach Rudolph, Zach Fowler, Dave Fowler, Fernando Vallin and Rich Delany.  With so much heartfelt appreciation for Ned and his company, so many supportive friends, the show could not have been any better.

  • Southeastern Strings Conference

    String teachers in the NC area:
    January 21 is a state-wide in-service day for teachers. Please consider attending the Southeastern Strings Conference at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I will be giving a session on electric bowed strings and there will be many fine sessions throughout the day.  During my session, we will have an ensemble of NS Design instruments set up for attendees to try.  We will provide charts for the ensemble and we will simply all experience playing in an electric string ensemble.  I will explain panning and the use of a PA system, monitors, and basic EFX processing.  We will have an NXT Bass and Cello, a CR violin and viola, the new 5 string Wav, and many other NS Instruments for you to try out as an ensemble.  It will be a blast!

    It is not too late to register.

    Pre-Register by phone: call 1-800-999-2869 and have your Visa or MasterCard ready.
    Conference Fee & NC Renewal Credit Verification of Attendance

    There is a $40.00 fee for all instructors attending the String Teachers Conference. This fee will cover all instruction, handouts, clinician expenses, and refreshments. You may be able to obtain one unit of North Carolina Certificate Renewal Credit by attending this event. Please Pre-Register by mail or by telephone. To Pre-Register by phone, simply call us toll-free at 1-800-999-2869 and have your Visa or MasterCard ready. (Please Pre-Register!!) The on-site registration fee on Thursday evening, January 20, will be $50.00.

    Here is a list of events.
    Southeast String Festival Teachers Conference

    Master Class, Dimitry Sitkovetski
    New Music Reading Session, Lynne Latham, Latham Music, a Lorenz Company
    Electric Strings, Scott Laird
    Jazz Clinic for String Educators, Steve Haines
    Upper String Pedagogy, Marjorie Bagley, Fabian Lopez, Scott Rawls
    Old Time Ensemble Music, Revell Carr and Gavin Douglas
    Lower String Pedagogy, Craig Brown and Alex Ezerman
    Achieving an Artistic Vibrato in the String Class, Rebecca B. MacLeod
    Incorporating Students With Disabilities In Your Orchestra Classroom, Jennifer Stewart Walter
    String Instrument Repair, Melody Choplin

    Time Session Location
    7:45 Introductions School of Music Recital Hall
    8:15-9:30 Reading Session sponsored by School of Music Recital Hall
    Latham Music, a Lorenz Company
    9:30 Refreshments, student rehearsal ends Recital Hall Atrium

    9:00-9:50 Electric Strings, Scott Laird EUC Auditorium
    10:00-10:50 Jazz Strings, Steve Haines EUC Auditorium
    11:10-12:10 Violin Pedagogy EUC Auditorium
    Marjory Bagley and Fabian Lopez
    12:10-1:15 Lunch
    1:15-2:15 Viola and Cello Pedagogy EUC Auditorium
    Scott Rawls and Alex Ezerman
    2:15 Walk to Aycock Auditorium
    2:30-3:20 Old Time Music Aycock Auditorium
    Gavin Douglas and Revell Carr
    3:30-4:20 Artistic Vibrato, Rebecca MacLeod Aycock Lower Level
    4:30-5:00 McIver Quartet Performance Aycock Auditorium
    5:00-6:00 Dinner
    6:00-7:00 Observe Rehearsal Aycock Auditorium
    7:30 GSO Chamber Concert School of Music Recital Hall

    9:00-9:50 Students with Disabilities, Jennifer Walter Aycock Lower Level
    10:00-10:50 String Repair Lab, Melody Choplin Aycock Lower Level
    11:00-12:00 Dimitry Sitkovetski Aycock Auditorium
    12:00 Lunch
    1:30 Dress Rehearsal Aycock Auditorium
    2:30 Concert Aycock Auditorium

  • Tony Cimorosi and Saundra Silliman

    NS Bassist Tony Cimorosi and singer Saundra Silliman have been working on a beautiful bass/voice collaboration.  Tony shared this video of them performing “Summertime” together.

  • CR-4 on the Ellen DeGeneris Show

    NS Bassist Robbie Malone and his CR-4 Double Bass got some bigtime airtime last night on the Ellen Degeneris show.  Robbie plays with David Gray, a show favorite.  They stopped by the show to perform David’s latest single, “Only the Wine”.  Check it out!

  • Announcing the WAV-5!

    NS Design is pleased to announce that a five-string version of the popular NS WAV series electric violin is now available from dealers. Building on the same world-class design and workmanship of the original four-string WAV, the WAV5 brings the extended range of the five-string violin to market at an incredible value.

    Since its introduction two years ago, violinists of all abilities have hailed the NS WAV series as one of the most responsive, playable violins in its class. The WAV5’s carved maple body keeps its center of gravity close to the player’s torso, giving perfect balance and maximum control. The adjustable shoulder rest molds to fit the contours of the shoulder for optimum grip and comfort. Fitted with the optional Balanced Shoulder Rest, the WAV5 rides almost weightlessly on a counterweighted arm, freeing the musician’s upper body and providing sure-footed support for even the most high-impact playing.

    The WAV5’s streamlined neck and fingerboard enable blindingly fast fingering while preserving traditional reference points at the scroll and the upper bout. By raising or lowering the adjustable rock maple bridge, players can set the strings to the height they desire—high action like a classical violin or lower fiddle-style action for effortless, quick response. The tail-mounted tuners allow for precise adjustments and offer “set it and forget it” stability unmatched by traditional tuning pegs.

    The WAV5 matches its thoroughbred performance with exquisite sound quality. Built around NS Design’s Polar™ pickup system, the WAV5 delivers a nearly flawless signal that raises the bar for clarity and natural tone. The instrument sounds good on everything from small guitar amplifiers to full-blown sound systems and has enough power to drive almost any preamp. The passive pickup system does not require a battery, making the WAV5 truly a “plug-and-play” instrument.

    The addition of the lower fifth string to the NS WAV series presents an exciting opportunity, not just to performers and students who wish to explore the creative possibilities of an extended range, but also to string educators who want to lead violin, viola, and cello students from a single instrument. As one of the most affordable five-string violins currently on the market, the WAV5 is expected to take its place alongside the original four-string WAV violin as a top choice among among music teachers, reinforcing NS Design’s commitment to innovation in music education.

    Forgiving enough for the new player, powerful enough for the professional, the WAV5 broadens the creative horizons of musicians seeking a high-quality five-string electric at a reasonable price.  Check out the WAV Violin page for more information, or use our dealer locator to find out where to purchase one for yourself.

  • Morwenna Lasko – NS CR5 Violin – Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun

    NS Design Artist Morwenna Lasko (NS CR5 Violin) and partner Jay Pun  (Kevin Ryan Guitars) recently performed at the Frontier Café in Brunswick, Maine, near NS Design’s headquarters.   Artist Relations manager Corey Redonnett and NS founder and designer Ned Steinberger got to thoroughly enjoy an intimate performance by this fantastic duo.  Morwenna exemplifies a true forward reaching fiddle style with slides, whistles and percussion techniques bursting from her NS Violin.  Guitarist Jay Pun also pushes the envelope of unorthodox fingerstyle picking and rhythm backing, stretching out into the territory of percussive two-hand tapping styles.

    Please enjoy this video I shot and of Morwenna and Jay:

    …And check them out online at:

  • Tim Kidd – Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers NS CR4T Double Bass

    Tim Kidd, “new” bassist for Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers is a perfect match with NS Design’s NS CR4T Double Bass. Just off a busy performance schedule at the 2010 IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) in Nashville, Tennessee this October, his playing shows how an electric upright bass can blend with traditional acoustic instruments in a top-notch Bluegrass band.

    Tim is committed to getting the best sound from his instrument.  He says the NS CR4T electric upright bass offers “a great sound which is always consistent”, on the road or in the studio.

    Originally from  Morrow, Ohio, Tim began performing Bluegrass as a young teenager, performing with acts  Southern Gospel with the Hoskins Family and the Beacons,  later becoming acquainted with Joe Mullins and Mike Terry, with whom he has performed for nearly five years.

    Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers will be in concert filming the award winning public television series “Song of the Mountains” on Saturday, November 6th at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia.

    Joining Joe and the guys will be veteran entertainers the McPeak Brothers, the fantastic and youthful Snyder Family Band from North Carolina, the traditional Appalachian music of James Leva and Purgatory Mountain and contemporary bluegrass artists Hard Ryde from Canada. Song of the Mountains features bluegrass, old time, Celtic and Americana Music and is currently airing on over 190 Public Television outlets across the United States,  hosted by Tim White.

    Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers have officially completed the recording  their soon-to-be-released gospel project for Rebel Records. “Hymns From The Hills” features both new and older songs and some of the finest singers and musicians in bluegrass and gospel music.  Guests include Ralph Stanley, Doyle Lawson,  Paul Williams, Rhonda Vincent, Larry Sparks, Dale Perry, James Allen Shelton, Matt DeSpain, Missy Everidge, and a children’s choir.

    For more information, upcoming events, releases and tour dates, please visit: