Full Scale • 4 and 5 String
As you may already know, the NS Design Electric String Instruments have a long history. Their electric upright basses have been made and refined for decades, and are in the hands of famous (and not-so-famous) players all over the globe. Beautifully crafted, with a distinctive shape that is instantly recognizable, the basses are sure to impress.
NS Design makes several distinct "grades" of their instruments.
Here is a quick description of the functional differences between the three grades of bass.
- CR Bass (THIS PAGE): The CR series are their top-line version made in the Czech Republic, at a dedicated facility. It is available in standard transparent amber finish over solid top. Other custom finishes are available by special order. Includes heavy-duty, more adjustable tripod stand. German-made Schaller tuning machines. Adds active EMG-made magnetic pickups to the Polar Pickup. Active electronics (Volume, Bass, Treble, Pickup Blend, Polar Mode Blend). Outstanding fit and finish.
- NXTa Bass: The NXT series are made in the same facility as the CR, but with more common woods and components, and simpler electronics. It is available in Amber Burst and Trans Black semi-gloss finish. Features a veneer figured top. Includes the same lightweight tripod stand as the WAV model. Asian-made tuning machines. Active electronics circuit includes a flash-rechargeable buffer circuit for optimal use with a wider range of amplifiers; can be bypassed for passive mode. Passive treble roll-off, and volume controls, and Polar Pickup switch (to change between arco and pizz mode). Notably better fit and finish than the WAV series.
- WAV Bass: The WAV series provides another option at a remarkably low price, high quality instruments made - to Ned Steinberger's strict quality standards - in Asia. It is available in four colors (Transparent Red, Amber Burst, Piano Black, Gloss White). Features a veneer flame (or opaque) top and gloss finish. Includes lightweight tripod stand. Asian-made tuning machines. Passive electronics (treble roll-off, volume) and Polar Pickup switch (to change between arco and pizz mode). Its high impedance output requires an amp or preamp with 1-10 megohm input impedance for the best sound (will work with any bass amp). Very nice fit and finish.
All models are available in 4 and 5 string options. Each of the models features easy adjustability, excellent playability, and Ned's timeless design - and all are inspected and set up by the NS Design crew in Maine before they're sent to us. All include a padded gig bag and a tripod stand which securely holds the instrument in playing position. All have the "Polar Pickup" - a piezo-based pickup mated with the bridge with both arco (bowing) and pizzicato (plucking) modes. Every grade of these basses is cross-compatible with the various accessories (stands, strap systems, strings, cases, etc.) However, the CR/EU Stand Conversion Kit, which enables the docking of the Endpin Stand to the CR/EU Tripod Stand, will not work with the NXT/WAV tripod stand (ask us for more info, it can get a little confusing).
The stock strings (Original Equipment on all three models) are a light gauge steel, made by D'Addario (the NS Electric "Contemporary" set) that serve as a reasonably decent hybrid sort of sound, but the instrument responds well and can handle most standard 3/4 size upright bass strings. They also make the NS Electric "Traditional" set, and I and others report good success with strings such as the Pirastro Obligatos, which are a popular, string that delivers a more traditional sound, with less sustain and more body than the stock strings. Keep in mind, however, that the tuning machines are similar to bass guitar tuners, so very heavy gauge strings (like the Eurosonics) typically cannot be accommodated. However, since the pickups are piezo-based, which sense vibration, most any 3/4 size upright bass string can be a candidate, though non-ferrous (magnet-attracting) strings won't get response from the magnetic pickups on the CR-M basses. They designed the rear control cover that allows you route the excess string around the bottom of the bass and anchor them in keyholes to take up the additional length.
CR Model Bass Specifics
These beautifully designed basses are crafted in the Czech Republic, a country with a long-standing reputation for quality upright bass building. It features a full-scale fingerboard with adjustable relief to suit varying players' preferences; the bridge height is also adjustable. The dark ebony-look fingerboard and amber-stained maple combine to make a very attractive instrument - it's obvious that a great deal of care goes into its creation.
Out of the box, the bass begs to be played, with comfortable action and great playability. Acoustically, the instrument vibrates well, and projects a surprising amount of sound for a solid-body. In fact, I found myself playing it for quite some time before I even plugged it in - it's that much fun to play!
Once I did plug it in, I had a lot of fun tweaking the amplified sound; the piezo pickup sounds very good (more on that later) and the EMG magnetic pickups give you the option for a more "electric" sound. And of course, the two pickup systems can be blended together to suit your particular taste. Please note that these basses are also available without the EMG magnetic pickups, I can get these as well. Personally, I think the magnetic pickups are a wonderful addition even if only blended in to support the piezo system.
The tone-shaping options on this bass are pretty impressive. Aside from a traditional two-band (bass and treble) EQ and the balance control to blend the magnetic and the piezo pickups, there is a special "PolarTM" control for the pickup. This control actually selectively changes the piezo pickup's response to either vertical vibration (for the sustained plucked sound, like an electric bass guitar), or lateral vibration (for dynamic bowing, and a percussive plucked sound) - and is sweepable between these two settings to allow you to dial in the perfect blend to achieve your sound. I actually got a fairly convincing upright pizz sound by fiddling with an in-between setting on that control and by rolling back the treble a bit.
Several interchangeable support systems are available for the bass: including the self supporting tripod stand, more conventional end pin stand, and shoulder strap assembly for full mobility. The bass comes with the Tripod stand, but other options can be added on - and we discount when purchased together with the bass! It also comes with a very nice gig bag with a separate compartment for the stand, as well as a bow pocket and accessory pocket.
- MAPLE BODY AND NECK: The body and neck of the CR Series Double Bass are crafted of solid European hard maple, with a flame maple face. The neck has a traditional upright shape, but with extended access to the upper register of the fingerboard. The solid-body body design enhances sustain and clarity, and is resistant to the effect of changes in temperature and humidity.
- Richlite FINGERBOARD: The Richlite fingerboard is hand graduated to insure that each note is even and buzz free. An adjustable truss rod allows for precise relief adjustment for different strings and playing style. Small dots across the neck provide accurate position markers.
- POLAR BRIDGE PICKUP SYSTEM: The Polar pickups can sense either lateral or vertical string vibration - or both! Set in the lateral mode, the pickup has unparalleled sensitivity in the direction of the bow. In the vertical mode, plucked notes are remarkably even and sustained.
- EMG MAGNETIC PICKUPS: The low-impedance EMG pickups incorporate individually-adjustable coils and neodymium magnets. Each coil is buffered separately for a full sound quality with very low noise.
- ACTIVE EQ AND MIXER: Controls include volume, a blend control for magnetic and piezo pickups, a blend knob to alter the tone of the Polar pickup, and individual bass EQ & treble EQ controls. The 18 volt power supply insures plenty of reserve overhead for full dynamics.
- ADJUSTABLE BRIDGE: Two screws in the back of the body are used to adjust the bridge up and down. This allows the instrument to be set up to meet the requirements of many different playing styles.
- THREE STAND OPTIONS:
- Tripod Stand - Supplied as standard equipment, the Tripod Stand provides stable support, with full height and tilt adjustment. The stand folds down to fit in the gig bag.
- End Pin Stand - An optional End Pin Stand offers the upright bassist a more traditional position, similar to that of an acoustic instrument.
- Shoulder Strap System - A light frame structure is supported by a single guitar style strap extending over the left shoulder. This holds the bass in the correct position for both pizz. and arco styles. With the Strap System to you can achieve full mobility with amazing comfort.
- PORTABILITY: The padded tubular gig bag is only 137 cm (54") long and 18 cm (7") in diameter, and weighs 8.2 kg (18 lbs) with the instrument and stand. A storage area inside the gig bag has room for accessories. The loaded gig bag will fit in the overhead compartment of most commercial aircraft. An optional flight case measures 145 x 25 x 25 cm (57" x 10" x 10").
- LENGTH: 132 cm (52")
- WEIGHT: 4.8 kg (10.5 lbs.)
- SCALE LENGTH: 106 cm (41.73")
- STRINGS 4 or 5 (Low B or high C)
- CONSTRUCTION: Solid rock maple neck and body, flame maple face
- FINISH: Traditional amber stain with clear semi-gloss polymer coating.
- FINGERBOARD: Richlite (a high-tech, sustainable composite that looks, feels, sounds, and machines like ebony);
- 4 string: 43.1mm (1.7") wide at nut; 89.0mm (3.5") max. width
- 5 string: 47.6mm (1.875") wide at nut; 101.6mm (4.0") max. width
- BRIDGE: Black phenolic; radius 7.9cm (3.1") string spacing 81mm (3.19").
- NUT: Macassar Ebony; radius 7.9cm (3.1"); string spacing 30mm (1.19").
- BRIDGE: The Polar™ directional piezo pick-up system responds selectively to either vertical vibration (for the sustained plucked sound, like an electric bass guitar), or lateral vibration (for dynamic bowing, and a percussive plucked sound).
- MAGNETIC (for CR4M and CR5M only): Low impedance EMG™ magnetic pick-up system, with individually adjustable coils, and low-noise, hum-canceling pre-amp.
- ELECTRONICS: 18 volt active circuit by EMG. Mono output.
- TRUSS ROD: Double rod design. Accessible at nut.
- TUNING MACHINES: Schaller 20:1 ratio, fully encased worm gear tuners; black finish.
- STRINGS: Compatible with most standard upright bass strings. D'Addario stainless steel flatwound strings standard.
- TRIPOD STAND (standard): Chrome-plated steel, fully adjustable, standing tripod design. Weight 3.2 kg (7 lbs.)
- GIG BAG: (standard) Padded tube with handle and shoulder strap, 137 cm (54") long; 18 cm (7") in diameter. Loaded weight is 8.2 kg (18 Ibs.), including stand. Fits in the overhead luggage compartment of most commercial aircraft.
CR Model Manual
Need to figure out some of the more in-depth features of this product? Here's a copy of the manual, in PDF format, here.
You may wish to visit the manufacturer's website to see if a more recent version is available.