NS Design welcomes Fiddler Anna Blanton to its roster of Artists

NS Artist Anna Blanton violinist fiddler

NS Design Artist Anna Blanton has spent years playing a wide range of musical styles from bluegrass and classic country to Celtic, folk and orchestral pieces. Blanton started her early training in music at her grade school orchestra program under the direction of Catherine Moeller-Cunanan. As a child she particularly enjoyed Irish music which led her to study Irish and Bluegrass fiddle tunes and the mandolin under Jeff Guernsey. Later, at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, Anna studied classical violin and continues to perform and record with area symphony orchestras. In 2016 and 2017 she partnered with Kentucky Shakespeare on their productions of Twelfth Night and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead under the music direction of Jack Ashworth and in 2018 Anna was part of a 52 piece orchestra that recorded Bear McCreary’s The Professor and The Madman movie soundtrack.

Anna Blanton with CR Violin New Bees Band

NS Artist Anna Blanton (left) with the New Bees Band.

While dedicated to performing with acoustic instruments, after finishing a challenging tour with Canadian singer-songwriter Colter Wall and experiencing environmental issues with her acoustic violin, Blanton felt it was time to explore available electric options. Anna was introduced to the NS series of electric violins while performing with the roots-rock five piece Jericho Woods. Jory Hutchins, Jericho Woods’ former fiddle player had a CR Series Violin and their bassist, and fellow NS Artist Paul Priest, who plays CR RADIUS and NXTa RADIUS bass guitars, encouraged her to try out the NS.

Anna found it very easy to transition to the NS CR5 electric violin, only having to change her bow angle to accommodate the low C string. Now a dedicated NS player, Anna appreciates how easy it is using her CR5 violin on the road. She says, “I’ve played lots of scorching hot outdoor gigs. I’d always worry about my 200+ year old acoustic fiddles getting damaged or going out of tune. This CR5 fiddle not only sounds great and looks cool; it also handles the heat outside remarkably well! I’ve had no tuning issues and don’t have to worry about seams coming open at any of my outdoor gigs. I can just enjoy playing and not stress about my gear!”

NS Artist Anna Blanton with Jericho Woods guitarist, Aaryn Martin at Fourth Street Live! Louisville, KY.

NS Artist Anna Blanton with Jericho Woods guitarist, Aaryn Martin at Fourth Street Live! Louisville, KY.

Anna’s advice for acoustic violinists considering the transition to electric is to keep in mind that the electric violin’s sound isn’t as loud as an acoustic in a player’s ear. To that end, Anna uses a Fishman Loudbox Mini mainly for self-monitoring on stage while running a direct line out the front-of-house PA. Along with the Fishman, Anna occasionally uses a Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Wah pedal, MXR Phase 90 and a boost pedal.

NS Artist Anna Blanton plays the CR5 Violin with Jericho Woods | Abbey Road on the River.

Anna’s schedule is as full as you might expect for someone playing a wide range of music. Whether touring with Jericho Woods in support of their new album One Perfect Song, releasing an album of traditional instrumentals and original folk music with her band Croghan’s Crossing, or working with students of all ages through private instruction, Blanton keeps building her fan base and her career with a dedicated passion for music.

New owners, Charlie and Anna Blanton in front of their Kentuckiana Music Center, New Albany, IN.

New owners, Charlie and Anna Blanton in front of their Kentuckiana Music Center, New Albany, IN.

 

NS Artist Anna Blanton plays “What Happiness Looks Like” for Red Barn Radio with Jericho Woods, also featuring NS Artist Paul Priest with the CR RADIUS Bass.

For more information about Anna and her music visit: www.annablantonmusic.com

For more information and tour dates for Jericho Woods, visit: https://jerichowoodsband.com/home

Also, check out the Kentuckiana Music Center recently purchased by Anna and her husband Charlie at: www.kentuckianamusiccenter.com


Classical crossover trio Simply Three plays music that is anything but simple.

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:

Glen McDaniel (CR Violin)

“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.”

 

Zack Clark (CR Cello)

“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.”

 

Nick Villalobos (CRM Upright Bass)

“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.

Learn more about Simply Three by visiting https://simplythreemusic.com/.


Ned Steinberger, NS Design Founder, Keynote Speaker at 2nd Annual Maine Luthiers Exhibition & Music Showcase

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.
  • Featured Performers: Adam Frederick, bassist, NS Design Featured Endorser, City Hall Auditorium, 7:30 PM; The Katie Matzell Band, City Hall Auditorium, 8:00 PM

NS Artist Adam Frederick with the Fretless Sunburst NXT5a RADIUS

Music and woodworking vendors and demonstrations including:

  • Bourgeois Guitars, Hallowell City Hall
  • Kennebec Instrument and Amplifier, Hallowell City Hall
  • Carter Ruff, Luthier, Hallowell City Hall
  • Shelter Tool, Hallowell Bandstand (next to The Harlow)

All days Featuring:

  • Maine-Made Stringed Instrument Exhibition at The Harlow
  • Raffle drawings for great stringed instruments including a NS Design WAV4 Radius electric bass guitar and a Yamaha Revstar RS502 electric guitar
  • Music Performances in Downtown Venues throughout the weekend

Visit http://hallowell.org/luthiers/ for more details and to reserve your tickets!


The String Theorist Ned Steinberger Design New England Magazine – May/June 2018

The String Theorist
From his Maine workshop, instrument designer Ned Steinberger is reinventing the tools of music’s superstars

 

 

 
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!”

http://www.designnewengland.com/

NS Design; thinkns.com. Steinberger: A Story of Creativity and Design by Jim Reilly will be published this fall by TwoHanded Press.


NS Artist Jason Yang – Exploring new modes of violin performance

Performance by Jon Boogz and Lil Buck at TED2017 – The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

NS Violinist Jason Yang follows his creative instincts into innovative musical territory. As a young classical violinist growing up in New Jersey, Yang enjoyed performing with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. He broadened his interests beyond classical music while at the University of Southern California, where he met musicians who sparked his interest in composing and improvisation.

Yang began composing, arranging, and teaching, and developed his own unique style.  In 2007, he began playing the NS Design CR Series Electric Violin, which expanded his sonic palette and offered a new array of technical possibilities.  Jason’s performances came to encompass a variety of genres, bound together by technological innovation and his deft, playful musicianship.

Yang is pictured here at NAMM 2017 with his composing mentor Mick Baumeister (left), and Ned Steinberger (right),  founder and designer, NS Design.

In 2008, while still at USC, he started posting YouTube videos of himself from his dorm room jamming on the CR4 with various pedals and layering effects. Layering and mixing using the NS electric violin, his acoustic violin, and other instruments, Yang constructed an orchestral base for his music. The success of his YouTube videos raised his profile among a new generation of experimental violinists. Today, his YouTube channel has 198,000 subscribers.

At Yang’s workstation, pictured in foreground: NS Design CR4 Transparent Black Cherry High Gloss Custom Electric Violin displayed on the NS Violin Caddy; background: NS Design CR4 Amber Satin Electric Violin.

After college, Jason found increasing success as a professional musician. In 2012 he joined Madonna’s MDNA World Tour as her violinist. He continues to collaborate with dancer and performance artist Lil Buck, who also tours with Madonna. Lil Buck and Yang have also performed together on The Colbert Report, and recently at TED2017, in the premier of a performance as MAI: Movement Art Is, co-led by dancer/choreographer John Boogz. That work, “A Dance to Honor Mother Earth”, combined dance, spoken word, and Native American song and music performed by Yang on the CR Violin.

Performance by Jon Boogz and Lil Buck at TED2017 – The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Watch the full performance here:

Jason has played the CR Violin for almost a decade. In his own words, the instrument is “hands down the best electric violin available … sound, response, design, build quality, dependability.”  Jason goes wireless in his live performances, with a wireless pack in to his CR, and wireless in-ears for monitoring. He uses Boss pedals and loop stations for his effects.

Here’s another example of what Jason does so well, in what he describes as: “Spontaneous 100% freestyle jam of Moonlight Sonata. With a lil’ bit of distortion…” in a video post with fellow Movement Art Is collaborator, John Boogz:

Recently Amazon.com approached Yang to host his own live streaming channel on their online streaming service TwitchCreative.  Growing out of TwitchTV, which originally focused on live-stream gaming, TwitchCreative has channels for music, cooking, painting, and crafts.

Jason’s live shows feature jamming, requests from among his 14,000 followers and guest appearances by other artists he hosts from his living room studio.  Some of the most popular streams include work with ChewieMelodies, The Luck, Cellist Mariko, and several collaborations with his sister, pianist Pauline Yang.

For more information about Jason Yang and links to various projects and performances, goto his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/JasonYangViolin or at TwitchCreative: http://www.twitch.tv/jasonyangviolin.

For more information about the CR Series Electric Violins that Jason plays and the entire selection of NS Bowed Electric Instruments, including the new Eco-friendly and battery free NXTa or the affordable and road-worthy WAV Series or to see a selection of our Custom CR Series Finishes, and available accessories for the NS Electric Violin, please visit our website: ThinkNS.com.


The Lyonn’s Roar by Julie Lyonn Lieberman – Edition Five – “Rhythmize Your Bow with Chop”

Welcome to the fifth edition of The Lyonn’s Roar, “Rhythmize Your Bow with Chop” by NS Violinist and Educator Julie Lyonn Lieberman.

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:

For lessons in how to develop this technique in your own playing, check out the Lyonn’s Roar – Fifth Edition “Rhythmize Your Bow with Chop”.

Go to Julie’s Strings Without Boundaries website page to learn more about contemporary and alternative string techniques or check out her book How to Play Contemporary Strings: A Step-by-Step Approach for Violin, Viola & Cello. Complete with video tutorials, backing tracks and a step-by-step approach including explicit notation, it will get you on your way to building new skills and techniques.

For more information about all of NS Design’s instruments including the NXTa Electric Violin that Julie plays and its eco-friendly, active yet battery-free features, and the affordable and road-worthy WAV Electric Series of instruments visit ThinkNS.com.


NS Artist Margot Lane – Music Director and Violinist ‘Angel’ with Corey Feldman and the Angels

NS Artist and multi-instrumentalist Margot Lane is an accomplished writer, pianist and is currently violinist, keyboardist and music director for former child actor and musician Corey Feldman’s new outfit Corey Feldman and the Angels.  Corey and the Angels includes Lane and three other musicians.  They made an impact last summer with a unique performance on the Today Show, and by doing so created a social media storm filled with criticism and accolades.

Feldman explains in an article by Brett Callwood of LA Weekly: “There’s a strong buzz, and the reviews from the first show have been fairly tremendous,” Feldman says. “It’s not rocket science. We’re not The Beatles. But there’s an importance to what we’re doing. It’s tongue-in-cheek and we’re all having fun with it, but it’s also an important and positive message: Don’t ever think that your day is done. As long as you have the fight and fire in you, you can achieve anything.”

The momentum of that particular performance last year inspired Feldman to find testing ground for an exciting and theatrical production collaborative with the ‘Angels’ in a mini-tour.  He continued to garner more attention and a full spectrum of press coverage from this new performance concept as Corey Feldman and the Angels, and a full U.S. summer tour was recently announced with several dates slated for venues all around the country.

Tour poster photographed by Maggie St. Thomas & with artwork by Chris Canote.

“Corey’s Heavenly Tour: Angelic 2 The U.S.” kicks off June 9th in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with Margot Lane featured on the NS NXT4a Electric Violin.  She plays on hits from Feldman’s notable movies such as “Stand By Me,” “The Lost Boys” and even “The Goonies.”

Lane is no stranger to the theatrical realm and since moving to Los Angeles has written, performed and recorded soundtracks for film, worked in Asia with the Saigon Broadcasting Television Network and is also currently violinist in the Las Vegas based rock string group Bella Electric Strings.  She also has time to lead a heartland rock band called The Grey Birds and Margot Lane.

To kickoff Winter NAMM each year Michael Angelo Batio and Neil Turbin host a metal concert, an artist collective of bands and players that play in benefit to a particular charity.  Lane played her NS violin in the 9th Annual N.A.M.M. All-Star Metal Jam in benefit for the Rock Against MS Foundation.  Here’s a great shot of her from that show playing her NXTa.

For more information about Margot Lane, links to her videos, music and more check out her website:  https://www.margotlane.com/home.

For tour information and tickets for Corey’s Heavenly Tour: Angelic 2 The U.S. you can visit their official website: www.Angelic2theCore.com.

For information on the new eco-friendly active and battery-free NXTa electric violin that Margot plays and all the NS Design family of instruments visit ThinkNS.com.


The Lyonn’s Roar by Julie Lyonn Lieberman – Edition Four – “Electric Technique: The Same . . .or?”

Photo Courtesy of NS Artist Avery Merritt

Welcome to the fourth edition of THE LYONN’S ROAR, “Electric Technique:  The Same . . .or?” by NS Violinist and Educator Julie Lyonn Lieberman.

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.

Electric Technique

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.

How else do you achieve these techniques? Attend a summer program that will help you build new skills, there are quite a few to choose from.  Check out Julie’s book, How to Play Contemporary Strings: A Step-by-Step Approach for Violin, Viola & Cello, with its video tutorials and backing tracks, it’s a sure way to gain skills and have some fun.  Visit her website for more information on all her books, DVDs and courses. http://julielyonn.com/

For more information about all of NS Design’s electric violins and electric violas and the new eco-friendly, active yet battery-free NXTa Electric Violin, or the affordable and road-worthy WAV Electric Violin visit ThinkNS.com.


The Lyonn’s Roar by Julie Lyonn Lieberman – Edition Three -“Get The Best Tone On Your Electric”

By Julie Lyonn Lieberman

Photo courtesy of Blackerby Violin Shop, Austin, Texas

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:

Get the Best Tone on Your Electric

This edition features a special interview with Fan Tao, Director of Research and Development for D’Addario Orchestral Strings

Check out this informative article and the many videos of Julie demonstrating the use of multiple effects units and changing strings on the NS Violin.

Learn more about all the amazing electric bowed string instruments NS Design offers at ThinkNS


NS iNSight – Chats With Champions – Ned Steinberger

NS Design’s founder and legendary instrument designer Ned Steinberger was invited as a featured speaker at the Skidompha Library “Chats With Champions” series this past month in co-sponsorship with Sherman’s Bookstore in Damariscotta, Maine.

In the talk titled “Trial, Error and Invention” Ned discusses the evolution of his life’s work from his childhood passion for woodworking, early career as a furniture designer interested in ergonomic design challenges and the path that ultimately unfolded for the state-of-the-art innovations he brings to the musical instrument world.

Ned describes his forays into business, his early collaborations with Stuart Spector, meeting Les Paul for the first time, and the trials and tribulations of his process for finding the optimal sound potential of an instrument as it relates to its design and construction.

Guest guitarist, David Martin provides examples of the sonic variations and technological advances that make Ned’s instruments so exciting and versatile for players and listeners alike.

For more interviews and discussions with Ned, please visit the Interviews link on our website or go to the NS Design YouTube channel linked here.


NS Violinist Kate Liebisch “Umbriel” with Winterhymn releases a Mighty single

“Dream of Might”  is the newest release by Winterhymn from their current album Blood & Shadow.  It is a thrilling metal epic that ardent fans of progressive metal will love.

Featuring NS Design Violinist Umbriel (aka Kate Liebisch) this driving masterpiece “weaves soaring, epic, majestic progressive pagan folk metal elements with haunting violin and symphonic melodies.” – New Noise Magazine

For upcoming tour dates and more about Ubriel and Winterhym check out their website at www.winterhymn.net

Umbriel’s violin is the NS WAV, an exciting and affordable electric violin with great performance features, color finish options and a variety of available accessories.  The WAV is an ideal choice for any player who wants freedom, comfort and durability while exploring the world of electric and amplified sound.  thinkNS.com

 

 


Electric Strings Seminar at Northwestern High School, Rock Hill, SC

Rock Hill Group

On October 25, 2014, I headed down to Rock Hill, SC, to work with the orchestra students at Northwestern High School.  Their teacher is Marsha Gross and she had recently invested in a quintet of electric stringed instruments to use as part of her recruiting and retention efforts for the orchestra program at the school.  This is especially cool because she really didn’t have a background in electric strings and simply wanted to branch out and do something different and cool for her students.  She also picked up a bunch of Digitech effects processors to use with the groups as well.   I took a couple of NXT and CR violins, violas, basses, and cellos to the session, along with a ton of sound equipment so that everyone would have an opportunity to get hands on instruments during the day.

The day ended up to be really an amazing day of playing and learning.  I headed out of Durham, NC around 6:00 AM in order to get started at 9:00 in SC.  I started with a quick performance for the kids, so they could see how I perform on my CR violin, using loops and efx processing.    I wanted them to understand that the key to being an electric violinist is to be a solid violinist and musician.

Next, we talked about optimum set up for hearing yourself and getting comfortable with the sound coming from an amp rather than the instrument.  We also discussed tone controls and listening for the best tone possible.  Once everyone was set up with a great tone quality and a comfortable playing environment, we played for a while as an ensemble and discussed the experience as well as ways to optimize intonation, dynamics, and monitoring.

Cellos

After lunch, I gave them an extensive tour of effects processing, covering EQ, reverbs, time based effects, filter effects, distortion, and pitch shifters.  Then, we ended the day by getting everyone set up with an in-line effects processor and turning them loose to get creative.  I was also able to give the kids pens, lanyards, stickers, and other cool stuff from NS Design,, the Electric Violin Shop, and D’Addario Orchestral.  (There is nothing like free stuff to get everyone interested real fast!)

In then end, it was a fun day, full of learning and playing.  I think that everyone left with a new set of tools for real creativity with bowed electric strings.   Congratulations to Marsha Gross for her innovation and forward thinking approach.   Congratulations to the students for great attitudes and preparation, as well as a real openness to my ideas.  The students could not have been any nicer and attentive. And, big thanks to all at NS Design for supporting this type of work in so many ways.

 

Scott Marsha