James “Hutch” Hutchinson – Groove Royalty

James “Hutch” Hutchinson is respected far and wide for his musical versatility and long experience playing with top-tier acts. After taking some classes at the Berklee College of Music while gigging in bands around Boston, the 17 year old decided to head out west to the San Francisco Bay Area.  He jumped at opportunities to play on sessions with Link Wray’s band and with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart which lead to an opportunity to join the Quicksilver Messenger Service spin-off Copperhead, all this before he turned 20 years old.

When their album failed to find an audience the band broke up and Hutch left for Guatemala for what he expected to be just a three week visit. Three weeks turned into a year which allowed Hutch to immerse himself in Latin American culture and rhythms. Returning to the US with his Latin Jazz Fusion band The Point, Hutch got an offer to play in The Neville Brothers Band. While playing with the Neville Brothers he was introduced to Bonnie Raitt and in 1983 moved to Los Angeles to join her band after her original bassist dropped out right before she was scheduled to go on tour.

In the intervening 30 plus years, Hutch has made significant contributions to Bonnie’s sound and has co-written some of her tunes along the way. In an interview with Bass Player Magazine Hutch recalls, “Bonnie calls me her ‘musical ranger’ because I bring in all of these different influences. It’s not just that I’ve listened well and learned to play different styles, it’s that I’ve spent time living and working with the players in those communities. There are musicians in various parts of the world—blues players, country guys, even African musicians—who think of me as their style of musician. They may not even be aware of other styles I play.”

Fellow NS artist Tony Levin sums up Hutch’s musical versatility and impact on Bonnie’s records for Bass Player Magazine: “Hutch Hutchinson has never played a wrong note for Bonnie Raitt. He’s perfect for her songs.”

Hutchinson uses a variety of basses to bring the best tone and feel to his music. For songs requiring versatility in upright sound, Hutch loves NS Design’s CR Omni Bass.  Ned Steinberger created the Omni Bass to connect the sound and feel of the electric bass guitar with its familiar 34″ scale and TransRadius™ fingerboard with the tonal purity, voice and bowed or plucked response of the classic upright bass. The Omni bridges both worlds. It’s a portable and adaptable innovation that has opened up new worlds of sonic versatility and physical freedom for so many musicians like Hutch.

Hutch’s favorite go-to upright on the current Dig In Deep tour is NS Design’s high performance CR4M Upright Bass. It’s as versatile as the CR Omni, including an active EQ and mixer, EMG™ magnetic pickups and Steinberger’s patented Polar™ Piezo Pickup System, and provides all the depth of sound that a full scale double bass commands.  Hutch uses the CR4M with vintage Ampeg B-12, B-15’s; and when in the studio, the B-18 combos or the classic Ampeg SVT808’s and 8X8 matching cabinets.

NS Design founder and creator Ned Steinberger with Hutch Hutchinson

Here’s Bonnie Raitt and Co. covering a Bob Dylan classic “Million Miles”  from her 2012 album Slipstream.

With headlining tour dates in May and June around the US, Bonnie, Hutch and Co. will also be joining fellow Massachusetts-native James Taylor in select US dates in August, with a very special performance on August 11th at historic Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Check out all tour dates and related info at:  http://www.bonnieraitt.com/tour

Learn more about James “Hutch” Hutchinson, NS Design Artists and NS Basses at 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.


The Levin Brothers Band on tour!

The Levin Brothers Band are on tour now.  With bassist Tony Levin and his brother Pete Levin on keyboard along with fellow bandmates sax player Erik Lawrence and drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel, the band have select dates on the U.S. East Coast and in South America this Spring.

Playing the classic retro sound of the Afro-Cuban influenced jazz referenced from Tony and Pete’s childhood this combo is sure to please!

Check out Tony stretching his wings on the NS Cello and NS Bass on the first single from their debut album: “Not So Square Dance”

Click here for a recap of Tony and Pete’s appearance at the NS Design booth during Winter NAMM 2015.

For more information on the Levin Brothers visit their website at:  http://thelevinbrothers.com


NS Artist Abi Loutoo – Fusing Music and Dance with her NXTa Cello

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 – Spring Tour 2017

NS Cellist Geoffrey Kartes leads Michigan’s indie-rock outfit Watching for Foxes on the 2017 Spring Tour supporting their debut album Undone Bird.”

“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.

Catch Watching for Foxes Spring Tour from late March through May 2017.

 


NS Artist Jacob Collier recieves two Grammy Awards.

Congratulations to NS Artist Jacob Collier on his 2017 Grammy Awards.

Jacob was awarded 2017 Grammy Awards in the Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella category for “You And I” — Jacob Collier, arranger (Jacob Collier) and Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “Flintstones”  — Jacob Collier, arranger (Jacob Collier).

Here is what some of Jazz’s greatest legends are saying about Jacob and his amazing vision and gift!

“I’ve never heard anybody like that before, his talent is just frightening.”  – Quincy Jones

“Herbie Hancock says he’s an incredible pianist, Nathan East says he’s a fantastic bassist and Quincy says he’s an amazing singer who can it high notes like Michael Jackson but also has an incredible deep bass.”  – Billboard Magazine

“The 21-year-old’s one-man show defied both natural and long-established music laws, as he conjured any sound his imagination fancied on a variety of live-sampled percussion, keyboard and stringed instruments which were looped sonically and visually. This was topped by his multiplied vocals across a four-and-a-half octave range from bass to mezzo soprano creating a thick wall of layered rhythmic and melodic sound and images that swirled together to form an electrifying symphonic stew of breathless jazz, funk, pop, electronic, a cappella and more.” – Billboard

“The split screen YouTube videos that brought Jacob Collier to fame are feats of extraordinary talent and ambition. The byzantine arrangements, on which Collier plays every instrument and sings a choir’s worth of vocal parts, are astounding enough when delivered from his home studio in North London. So to attempt to recreate these arrangements live, seems near Icarus-like in aspiration. Yet in his solo show at the Brooklyn Bowl, Collier flies uninhibited to dizzying musical heights, delighting an audience attentive to his every note.” – London Jazz News – Review of Jacob Collier at the Brooklyn Bowl

Jacob Collier and his One-Man Live Show Creature is a truly amazing musical experience, performed live using looping and harmonizing technology.  Check out this live video from a performance of his original composition “Don’t You Know” Live @ Village Underground, London.

See more of Jacob’s amazing arrangements and videos and catch him on tour at http://www.jacobcollier.co.uk

Jacob plays the NXT Electric Upright Bass. NS Design’s new NXTa EUB is part of the eco-friendly NXTa active series instrument line. With many models and versions to choose from, the NXTa series is an extraordinary option for a variety of players in any performance setting.   thinkNS.com

 


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

 

 


NS Design announces the new NXTa Active series.

NXTa logo white large

72dpi NXT4-DB-SB SideBody c

The NXT Series Goes Active and Stays Green!

With the launch of the new NXTa series, Ned Steinberger and NS Design herald the introduction of battery-free, high performance active electronics for the full family of NXT instruments. These include the violin, viola, cello, Omni bass and double bass. The new capacitor-powered custom circuitry, designed for NS Design by Mi-Si Electronics Design, integrates with the NS Polar Pickup System to provide two distinct signal output modes, bringing the convenience, versatility and performance capability of the NXT to another level.

Operationally, for Active mode, the user plugs the supplied charger into an AC outlet for 60 seconds to power the circuit for up to 16 hours of performance time. The instrument can then plug straight into any amp, low or high impedance, no direct box necessary. Since there is no signal loss over the full frequency spectrum of the instrument, the fundamentals of every note remain clear and strong, even with extra-long cables.

In Passive mode, as with the original NXT series, the NXTa can be used with an amplifier with a high impedance input, or with any amplifier using a direct box. In either mode, an important facet of the NXTa circuitry is “eco-friendliness” and convenience. NXTa instruments are still “green” and battery-free, eliminating the hassle and cost of batteries while helping protect our environment.

 Michael Ioffe of Mi-Si with NS Design's Ned Steinberger and the new NXTa Active instruments

Michael Ioffe of Mi-Si with NS Design’s Ned Steinberger and the new NXTa Active instruments

Michael Ioffe, co-founder of Mi-Si (www.mi-si.com), comments “We are very honored to work with Ned Steinberger. We feel that we share the same design philosophy, it’s all about elegance and simplicity.” At the heart of all Mi-Si products is Mi-Si’s patented, battery-free technology which utilizes supercapacitors rather than conventional rechargeable batteries as energy storage elements. Mi-Si minimalistic design philosophy results in clean sound, high power efficiency, low weight, small dimensions, and elegant, environmentally friendly solution to onboard amplification.

72dpi NXT4-VN-SB Front Flat c

Created by Ned Steinberger, the NXT family of NS Design instruments, along with the advanced CR series, is crafted in the Czech Republic. Ned’s instruments are distributed worldwide and have become a mainstay for countless professional artists around the globe. For more information about our instruments and the players who use them, visit thinkNS.com.

The NXTa will be available in September 2016


NS iNSight – A Perfect Fit

 

RADIUS Users cover

Music instrument aesthetics are rarely, if ever, considered from a scientific point of view. Yet for industrial designers and architects, form must meet function. And there is a lot of science and technology to apply in this way.

While technique for playing bass is often the subject of passionate discussion, and there are varying theories (plectrum, fingers, slap, tap, Simandl method, one note per fret method, etc.) the design of the instrument itself has a lot to do with the overall playability of the bass and the ability of the player to successfully use those techniques. When the very first electric bass was created it was just a squared, slab of wood with no cuts or rounded/beveled edges. Ergonomics took a backseat to sound production. And while there were changes over the years, they were an answer to specific player issues and ideas rather than a look directly at design. Even today, most of the emphasis and science in the music instrument industry goes into the materials and electronics of the instruments. Guitar and bass aesthetics are merely a function of what is pleasing or challenging to the eye.

RADIUS blueprint cover

Ned Steinberger is synonymous with innovative headless instruments. Yet it is not as well known that Ned designed the body of one of the most iconic basses of all time, the Spector NS-2 bass. Yes, the NS stands for Ned Steinberger. As a furniture designer and builder specializing in chairs, Ned understood that function and form are all essential to an aesthetically pleasing, yet functional piece of furniture. And it was in that Brooklyn co-op that he shared with some up and coming guitar and bass builders where he first applied those principles to music instruments. In collaboration with Stuart Spector, he designed something radical for the time, a rounded, radiused bass body with cuts and carves that naturally fell against the body of the player, making the bass exponentially more comfortable and easier to play. His body shape has been copied numerous times over the years, by some of the world’s largest guitar manufacturers.

With the NS Design Radius Bass, Ned uses ergonomic science and technology and has taken the body contour to a whole new level. While maintaining and refining the back body curve cut so that the bass lies on the player’s body comfortably, the front of NS Diradial™ Body has a 20 inch radius, which, in combination with the general wedge shape of the body, shifts it into more comfortable orientation for the right and left hand. The slight wedge shape of the body tilts the body and neck slightly inward so the fingerboard is more visible to the player, and the concave curve on the back of the body creates a more stable platform. The radius of the bass is continued along the entire body, to include pickups and bridge, to optimize the playability and comfort of the bass.

 

CR RADIUS butt

The pictures show how the radius has been built into the bass. Built in based on technology.

Simple, yet intuitive. Form, science, and engineering meeting function.