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.
NS Artist Noah Sierota, bassist/singer/songwriter for Echosmith, started out with 2013’s Top-40 charting debut Talking Dreams with the single “Cool Kids” followed by 2017’s Inside a Dream and their latest 2020’s Lonely Generation. Echosmith exemplifies the generational voice of contemporary youth through catchy songs of isolation and coming of age, in the midst of the ever-evolving world of technology and social media. Continue reading…
NS Design has launched an NS Instrument Registration Form on our website. Registering your NS instrument helps us serve you better if you need to request technical support from us in the future. When you complete your registration, we will issue you an NS ID number for your instrument that you can refer to in future communications with us. 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 Design Artist Gianni Luminati is one of the lead members of the multi-platinum selling indie pop act Walk off the Earth. Since 2006 WOTE’s viral and intriguing videos have captured the world over. Reimagining popular music’s most revered and coveted songs, Gianni and company have truly made a mark for themselves, inspiring many musicians to push the envelope of creativity by implementing non-traditional instruments in non-traditional roles of pop music.
Gianni says, “We have always been a huge fan of the Steinberger Electric Bass Guitar. When we found out Ned had started a new endeavor with NS Design, we were intrigued. We knew his attention to sound quality and detail was something we would see when we got our hand on these instruments.”
Check out Gianni and Walk Off The Earth joining Lisa Loeb on her 90’s smash hit Stay.
NS Design Artist Tony Levin plays his CR5M Electric Upright Bass.
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…
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: