The NS Blog

  • Midwest Clinic Notes – Tuesday

    Hi all.
    Today, I am the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. It is one of the largest annual gatherings of music educators and music companies. If you are a music educator and have never been to this event, it is really worth the effort to get here at some point.

    The string education sessions began this morning with a nice breakfast gathering that was sponsored by the Kjos Publishing Company. It was a really nice event and I had the opportunity to reconnect with many friends from around the country. I was particularly pleased to reconnect with Marvin Rabin, one of the true pioneers in the string ed field. He paved the way for so many of us that are making our careers in public school string education and at age 93, is really getting around well. I had the chance to thank him for the impact he has had on my career. For those of you that are familiar with some of my web-teaching, he planted the seeds for many of the concepts that I teach using finger patterns. (major scales and upper positions) You can see these concepts put to use  soon on the D’Addario site: I believe that they will be posted very soon.

    I also had the opportunity to see Mark O’Connor present a session on his new O’Connor Violin Method. It is available exclusively through Shar Music. I think that he has hit on something really effective here and applaud his efforts to be innovative in the traditional world of string education. There were several performances by students that have studied with Mark in various capacities over the years and they were all fantastic. I am going to check this method out very closely and try it out with my own sons.

    Tomorrow, I will be giving a session with Doris Gazda, Matt Turner, Sean O’Laughlin, and Larry Clark. This session is sponsored by Carl Fischer Music and, as always, D’Addario Strings and NS Design are supporting me in this session. This session is called “Teaching the Nitty Gritty: Who Has Time for Anything More?” and will cover a variety of topics related to technique, literature and enrichment to traditional skills in the string classroom. I think that this will be a lively panel discussion and look forward to sharing this platform with my friends.  I will certainly have the opportunity in the session to discuss the way that I incorporate electric string technology and NS Design Instruments into my classroom teaching and guest conducting appearances.  I am always proud to be a representative of NS Design to the great music education community.

    Meanwhile, I have just enjoyed a lunch in my room while jotting down this post. Time to head back over to the conference to get more new ideas! More later…


  • NS Design and D’Addario to launch NS Electric Strings

    In partnership with D’Addario, NS Design has developed a full range of NS Electric strings.  These steel-cored strings are available in standard lengths for violin, viola, and cello. Smooth-polished Omni Bass strings will also fit any standard 34″-35″ bass guitar, giving a rich bass tone and clear singing upper register. Upright bass strings are available in the NS Standard Double Bass string length (46.5″ wound, 54″ overall).  The Traditional Double Bass set offers a warm tone and great bowed response; the Contemporary Double Bass set produces a brighter sound and offers lower tension.

    NS Electric strings fit all NS Design instruments as well as other bowed electrics.  Some acoustic players may also appreciate these strings for their subtlety of expression.

    NS Design and D’Addario will launch the NS Electric line at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California, January 14-17, 2010.


    Read More »

  • Inspiring Students with New String Technology

    Hi all!  This is the introduction from my presentation at the NCMEA Fall In-service Conference in mid-November.  I will be giving this session again at the ASTA National Conference in Santa Clara, CA in Feb.  I hope to see you there!


  • Thank You NS Design!

    We received a very nice letter from JC Magsalin, a bass player from Manila, who has been playing the CR4M bass and loving its versatility.  We’re always psyched to hear how people appreciate our instruments in all corners of the globe!

    Hello there,

    My name is Juan Carlo “JC” Magsalin. I’m a session bass player and a member of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra here in the Philippines. I have
    recently acquired an NS CR4M Bass just last March. All I can say is THANK
    YOU for making this bass. It’s been a real big help with gigs that require
    me to play classical, broadway, and jazz music in one night. It’s a very
    versatile instrument that i can switch to whatever sound i want for any
    style of playing that i do.

    Again, Thank you so much 😀 I’ve attached a picture from one of my
    performances here in Manila, Philippines 😀


    Bass Player

    Manila, Philippines

    JC Magsalin

  • NS Design Celebrates Omni Bass Re-Birthday

    NS Design announces a new designation for the model formerly called Bass Cello. We proudly reintroduce an instrument which, in bridging the electric bass guitar and upright electric bass, is now, and more appropriately, named Omni Bass.

    What’s Omni Bass all about?

    The NS Omni Bass breaks through conventional barriers by integrating both acoustic and electric upright bass tonality and performance capabilities (including bowing) with the familiar 34 inch bass guitar scale. When tuned in fourths, the four and five string fretless and fretted models use identical fingering to that of the conventional bass guitar, yet deliver dynamic new plucked and bowed sound possibilities for the bassist seeking to extend expressive range. In every playing application, a beautifully resonant low end response is the essence of this remarkable bass instrument.

    Some of the additional exciting features of the Omni Bass which we invite you to explore include:

    • Familiar 34” bass guitar scale
    • 4 and 5 string fretless and fretted models
    • The Polar™ Pickup System provides a natural sound with deep bass response and brilliant highs. The Polar pickup has two modes of operation: arco and pizzicato, allowing the player to control attach and decay characteristics when plucking, or to optimize for bowed response.
    • Custom designed EMG™ low impedance magnetic pickups give a smooth response with thundering bass output and lots of sweet midrange for the quintessential “electric” tone.
    • Active controls include two balance controls for unlimited mixing options for the magnetic and Polar Pickup systems. Onboard pre-amplification provides master volume, bass and treble controls.
    • The patented Boomerang Strap System allows the instrument to be placed in virtually any position, vertical or transverse, and makes the Omni Bass a nearly effortless extension of the musician’s body. An End Pin Stand is also available for fixed upright-bass-style vertical support.

    For more information please visit the Omni Bass web page.

  • D’Addario videos feature NS Violin

    Scott Laird, NS Design’s ambassador to the world of string education, has produced a series of videos for D’Addario strings introducing aspects of the electric violin.  Using his CR-4 as an example, Scott talks about amps, effects, tone controls, and what to look for in your first electric violin.  Check them out!

    Transitioning from an acoustic to an electric violin

    Electric violin tone quality

    How to Use Electric Violin Tone Control Knobs

    Electric Violin Effects Processors

    The Difference Between Active and Passive Electric Violins

  • NXT is now!

    We are delighted to announce that the new NXT series Double Bass will be available November 1st, 2009.  The NXT  opens up a new horizon for the serious bassist looking to play a great instrument on a limited budget.  These new instruments, crafted in the Czech Republic by the makers of the renowned CR Series, exemplify flawless workmanship at an incredible value.

    We have webpage for the NXT which will tell you more.

  • Matt Schoening demonstrates looping with NS Cello

    Matt Schoening just sent us this video he made for Strings magazine, in which he demonstrates the Boss RC-50 looping system that he uses with his NS Cello.  Matt does a great job explaining how he uses the technology and gives us a great taste of his skills with the instrument.  The accompanying article, written by NS violinist Gregory Walker, gives a run-down on what prospective “loopers” need to get started using the technology.  It’s a great resource for anyone thinking of adding electronic sampling to their performance repertoire.

    To see more of Matt’s work, check out his website at

  • Kansas to release live DVD

    The band Kansas, featuring David Ragsdale playing his CR violin, is planning to release a live DVD of their February 7th performance at Washburn University.  Read the press release below and check out this great clip from the video!



    All these years later, Kansas still rule the classic rock radio airwaves, and continue to put on simply spellbinding shows of the highest caliber. And what better way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the release of Kansas’ self-titled 1974 debut than with a live DVD, ‘There’s Know Place Like Home,’ which will be released on October 13th, 2009 . A hi-def for Blu-ray release (mixed in 5.1 surround sound), the show was filmed on February 7th of this year in their home state (at Washburn University’s White Concert Hall), and was certainly not your average affair. For this show, the group – which includes singer/keyboardist Steve Walsh, guitarist Rich Williams, violinist David Ragsdale, bassist Billy Greer, and drummer Phil Ehart – was united with former members Kerry Livgren (guitar/keyboards) and Steve Morse (guitar), as well as the 50-piece Washburn University Orchestra.

    When asked how it was to play alongside an orchestra, Ehart responds, “It’s always an adventure. Adding another 50 people to your ‘band’ can always prove eventful. Our biggest memories are usually of certain symphonies that look down their noses at our music. What’s funny about this is that those symphonies are usually the ones that have the most trouble playing our scores!” And when the topic of playing with Livgren and Morse comes up, Williams gets downright philosophical. “Very comfortable…like loose fitting underwear.” Comprised of a solid track listing that includes fine renditions of Kansas classics (“Dust in the Wind,” “Carry On Wayward Son,” etc.) and fan favorites (“Hold On,” “On the Other Side,” etc.), ‘There’s Know Place Like Home’ will surely go down as one of the group’s best- ever live performances.

    In addition to the DVD’s release, Kansas will appear on the popular syndicated radio show, Rockline, on Wednesday, September 9th, from 11:30pm to 1:00am. The group will also be supporting the DVD’s release with a summer’s worth of tour dates. And if that wasn’t enough, Kansas’ members (save Walsh) have released the debut of their new side band, Native Window ( nativewindow), which issued their self-titled album on June 23rd, and “open” for Kansas on the summer/fall tours. And as far as Kansas’ popularity, it continues to flourish, as their classic ballad, “Dust in the Wind” recently obtained gold status as a digital download, while their classic rocker, “Carry On Wayward Son,” is featured on the games ‘Guitar Hero II’ and ‘Rock Band II.’ “They still get a lot of attention, still get a lot of airplay,” says Williams about the enduring popularity of Kansas’ songs. “They have retained a relevance through the years, that only a small percent of recordings do.” With the release of ‘There’s Know Place Like Home’ and the supporting tour, Kansas will prove this theory as fact once again this summer and fall.

    Click here to read the PDF, including full track listing and tour dates.

  • Custom Violin Shoulder Rest Forms to Your Shoulder

    Getting comfortable with your violin is an important for successful practice and performance. The instrument is cradled intimately against the body, yet we are all shaped differently.  In response to this ongoing issue, I’ve developed a new shoulder rest that should bring a higher level of comfort and support to many players.

    shoulder rest

    The new “Custom” Shoulder Rest can be formed by the player to fit his or her body shape.   Firm foam is backed by a  layer of malleable aluminum that can be bent with  thumb and forefingers to mold the rest into virtually any shape, as shown in the picture below.

    bending rest

    Once the shoulder rest is formed, the shape remains fixed, providing a secure structural platform.  It does take a little trial and error to find the ideal shape, but the benefit can be quite dramatic.  Through the development process I’ve heard the happy oohs and ahhs  from players getting really comfortable for the first time.  In combination with the new NS Adjsutable Chin Rest, virtually any body shape and style of play can be accommodated with amazing comfort.

    I’m very happy to finally be at the point where these products are available to everyone.

    For more information, or to purchase one of the shoulder rests, talk to your NS Dealer, email, or give us a call at 866 NS DESIGN (866 673 3744).