NS Artist and esteemed bassist Tony Levin and his long-time bandmates 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. After a Summer of European shows, this series of concerts are sure to please the most diehard fans.
Tony will also be doing a run of December dates with The Levin Brothers. Featuring tinges of mid-century Afro-Cuban Jazz, Tony on his CR5 Cello and CR5M Upright Bass along with keyboardist brother Pete Levin, carve out fiery improvisations and groovy compositions rooted in classic Jazz of their childhood.
Classical crossover trio Simply Three plays music that is anything but simple.
They have performed covers of artists from Adele to Michael Jackson to Queen, winning the hearts of thousands of concert-goers and millions of YouTube followers. Blending top-notch musicianship with high production value and a dose of good humor, their recent music video—a cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”—sums them up pretty well:
(Please note: NS Design does not endorse playing your bass on top of a moving car. Even if you can.)
NS Design’s electric bowed instruments are integral to Simply Three’s music, both live and in studio. They perform with a matching set of CR Series instruments (CR Violin,CR Cello, CRM Upright Bass) with custom slate gray finish, in addition to their acoustic instruments.
The group takes full advantage of their NS instruments’ broad tonal palette and strong, clean signal. They also rely on NS Design’s ergonomics and patented support systems for their choreographed performances.
After all, not just any cello sounds good inside an AMC Pacer!
Here’s what Glen McDaniel, Zack Clark, and Nick Villalobos say about their NS instruments:
“NS makes a fantastic violin. It stands out against all the major brands in its ability to produce a warmth and resonance that sound natural despite being an electric instrument. To me, it has the most interesting and visual appeal as well.”
“The NS CR Cello is the best sounding electric cello on the market today. I absolutely love its unique look as well as the versatility I have with its dual pick-up system. It’s the only electric cello I use both on the road and in the studio.”
“I continue to discover the versatility of this instrument and it continues to impress me every day.”
Acclaimed by everyone from the Boston Philharmonic to the Huffington Post, Simply Three has over 1.1 million followers on YouTube. (Check out their channel here.) Their upcoming East Coast tour begins in Delaware on June 19. A new album is due out later this year.
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.
The electrifying trio of Zack Clark, Glen McDaniel, and Nick Villalobos, together known as Simply Three, have been captivating audiences worldwide with high-octane performances since 2010. Be sure to catch Simply Three at upcoming appearances. Link to their website for more information on the new album Undefined: https://simplythreemusic.com/
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.
For the cellist venturing into the world of the electric, this instrument offers the combination of design, performance and affordability exceeding any other instrument in its class. Compact and light, the WAV cello is a pleasure to travel with, but in terms of features and performance, this instrument is no lightweight. True to the NS tradition, the WAV captures the essence of an acoustic, yet opens up an exciting range of new possibilities. It’s a pleasure to play!
WAV4 – 4 string (CGDA) WAV5 – 5 string (FCGDA)
Compact and Light Weight The WAV cello is incredibly easy to travel with. WAV4 – 4.5 lbs; WAV5 – 4.7 lbs. 37″ long. Length: 37″. Width: 5.5″.
Maple Neck and Body
For rich tone, strength and visual grace.
Expertly Graduated Fingerboard
Rosewood, asymmetrical relief for easy playability, even in the highest positions. Intonation referenced with cascading dot markers.
Battery-FreeNS Polar™ Pickup System
The great natural sound of our piezo-based passive pickup system. Volume and Tone controls; Pizzicato / Arco select switch. The WAV delivers beautiful, full-bodied tone, no batteries required.
Adjustable Truss Rod and Bridge
Tweak the string heights and neck relief to suit your music and playing style.
Padded Gig Bag For the instrument, stand and accessories. Goes anywhere, anytime.
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 Artist Abi Loutoo is a prodigious cellist and multidisciplinary artist. Her performances combine movement and music with an energy that excites the eye, ear and heart.
At only five years old, after piano failed to spark her interest, Abi started playing the cello. Within five years she had played for Robert Cohen and appeared on television with Yo-Yo Ma in a Master Class at the World Cello Congress.
Studying both dance and cello simultaneously gave her unique insight into how each artform complements the other. “I learned how dancers and musicians feel music differently. The beat divisions in music can be perceived as the human heart while the cello is the instrument closest to the human voice.” Her combinations of the two are deeply felt, as is her belief that each discipline depends on the other. “Every dancer should take up an instrument and every musician should go to dance classes—the two need one another to survive.”
The NS Design NXTa Electric Cello is the perfect instrument for Abi to combine her two loves. The NS cello with the Frame Strap System frees the player from the stand or chair. The mobility has allowed Abi to explore the connections between her music and her dance in ways that would be impossible with a traditional cello.
Likewise, the ability to experiment with amps and effects pedals has broadened her artistic horizons. Her rig is simple, a VOX AD30VT and an amp. The versatility and portability of this system mean more opportunities for her career: “I wanted to make myself a part of any type of band in any genre, be able to travel easily without sacrificing sound quality, have a more ergonomic set up, be able to combine movement with playing and last but certainly not least, help protect the environment.”
In much of her work and life, Abi commits to improving the environment. The capacitor system in NS Design’s NXTa Cello gives her the power of an active pickup while eliminating the need for on-board batteries. “NS Design is at the forefront of string instruments. The eco-friendly charge of the NXTa, along with its clear tone and portability, make it a must have.”
As might be expected of such a diverse talent, Abi’s influences span the musical spectrum. “I love playing hip-hop fusion with many different genres—be they electronic, R& B, jazz, soul, hints of classical, or gospel. As long as I am playing music, I’m having fun!”
Now recording and performing under the name “Abi-L-ity”, Abi is currently at work on a new EP. She just finished a project with DWayne Saint Orbin Bennett. She also continues to work closely with band mate Eddy Bayes, and is in collaboration with Joni Fatora, The Gallactic Effect among other artists.
For more information, news and videos of Abi’s work and collaborative efforts, visit her website www.abi-l-ity.com.
“Watching For Foxes make every song feel like it’s that half-triumphant, half-weary, all-around cathartic march up the hilly knoll towards the unknowable-yet-still-hope-splashed horizon, as if every song were the build up to the closing credits of the indie-arthouse film of the story to your life. ” – Jeff Milo (Detroit Free Press, PASTE) – DEEP CUTZ
Check out their video from Session LIV performing the single “Bad Kids”:
“Arguably the band with the most buzz…This folk-rock ensemble out of Grand Rapids has crafted a cinematic showcase of emotion packed with as many memorable hooks as it has moving, existential passages.” – REVUE MAGAZINE
Here’s “Built Broken | Sofar Cleveland”:
“We love playing music together and we want this to be our entrance into doing music for a living; we work really hard at what we do. Our songs yearn to be heard, to tell our stories, and inspire others to do the same.”
Kartes moonlights as a teacher and shares his passion for music with his students at the Triumph Music Academy in Grand Rapids, MI. He also has time to run a multimedia design company two9two. He plays the current model of the NXT Electric Cello with an NXT Cello Tripod Stand and for added mobility during performances he uses the Frame Strap System. NS Design’s recently released version is the very popular NXTa Electric Cello and is part of the comprehensive NXTa eco-friendly active series instrument line.