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: 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 (This Page): 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.
NXTa Model Bass Specifics
The NXT Bass is very much the same as the WAV4, but with some notable differences — and beyond the specification differences, it is a far more refined instrument than the WAV4...
Like the WAV4, the NXTa is a full (3/4 size) scale four string instrument featuring NS Design's proprietary PolarTM piezo pickup system. The NXTa Bass is available in either a transparent Amberburst or Black Satin finish. Each bass includes a collapsible tripod stand and a padded gig bag; it holds the bass, the stand, and also has a pocket for a bow.
The instruments have two differently-mounted transducers beneath the adjustable bridge for sound. There is a switch to toggle between them for bowing (arco) and plucking (pizzicato), because the strings vibrate differently under the bow than when plucked; each pickup in the "Polar Pickup" system is specialized for each task. To keep the price down, the preamp controls are passive, with just a single volume and tone control (Unlike the CR and EU basses, which have an active EQ preamp built-in). The NXTa does feature an active buffer, however, and this new feature takes about a minute to charge (with the included charger) and provides a much better interface to bass amps that are designed for lower impedance magnetic bass pickups. This improves the balance and tone of your instrument, and it's a welcome upgrade! The buffer can also be bypassed with a push-pull knob, if you don't need it (or forgot to charge it.)
This is a true electric upright bass, not a fretless bass guitar that you play vertically. The fingerboard is curved, so it can be bowed. While there is a truss rod, there is relief in the fingerboard for typical upright bass style play; if you want very close action for fretless bass guitar style "mwah" up and down the board, additional fingerboard work may be desired.
LEFT HANDED VERSIONS of the NXTa bass are available at the prices shown. We try to keep stock on left-handed basses, but they may be subject to extended timeframes for acquisition.
A page with NXT comments from Mark, such as what to expect and how to get the best results from it, is included with each bass.
- LENGTH: 132 cm (52")
- WEIGHT: exact weight not specified yet
- SCALE LENGTH: 106 cm (41.73")
- STRINGS: 4 or 5
- CONSTRUCTION: Solid maple
- COLORS: Transparent Amberburst Satin, Black Satin, Transparent Burgundy Satin
- FINGERBOARD: Richlite*;
- 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: Rock maple (dyed black); radius 7.9cm (3.1") string spacing 80 mm (3.14")
- NUT: Ebony; radius 7.9cm (3.1"); string spacing 31mm (1.22")
- POLAR™ PICKUP SYSTEM: The 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)
- BUILT-IN BUFFER CIRCUIT: Creates a better electronic "match" to low-impedance bass amps, providing a better overall tone and balance. Flash-recharge in 1 minute, for up to 18 hours of use. Bypassable by switch.
- ELECTRONICS: passive volume and tone control
- TRUSS ROD: Powerful rod design provides positive relief adjustment, accessible at nut. See text above outlining range, it cannot completely flatten the board.
- TUNING MACHINES: Fully encased worm gear tuners; black finish
- STRINGS: Light tension flatwound steel strings are standard. Accommodates all NS length strings and most long scale acoustic double bass strings.
- TRIPOD STAND: (standard) Black steel, fully adjustable, standing tripod design. Weight 3.2 kg (7 lbs.) Note: All basses come with the newest version stand with the redesigned head.
- END PIN STAND: (optional) Offers full freedom of movement. Height, tilt and "right bout" angle are fully adjustable providing a more conventional feel. Weight 2.3 kg (5 lbs)
- SHOULDER STRAP SYSTEM: (optional) guitar style shoulder strap for full mobility
- GIG BAG: (standard) Padded gig bag with integrated bow pocket, handle and backpack style strap. External pockets for stands and accessories
Comments from Mark, reproduced from our November 2009 newsletter:
The brand new NXT Electric Upright Bass from NS Design is really something! While on the surface it may seem that it's just a WAV4 bass with a higher price tag, a closer look reveals some key differences.
For one, the finishes are gorgeous; they're not glossy like the WAV, they're a matte finish, which is more like the high-end CR models. The black has a matte - rather than glossy - finish, it's super sharp. And the AmberBurst is nothing like the WAV's faux-flame; it's real wood with grain showing, and a traditional burst application (also with a very classy matte finish.) The Burgundy Satin was released in early 2022, and it's my favorite color to date. It's darker than the Amber, with warm red tones that give it a pretty strong connection to the "real" upright bass -- yet it's still distinctive. Very attractive!
What also strikes me is the acoustic resonance of the instrument - the construction is "tight" and the physical vibration throughout the entire instrument is quite apparent. This may also be wood choice; for the body and fingerboard, the NXT features maple and Richlite*, rather than the WAV4's poplar and Coform, respectively.
Plugged into the shop amp, an Acoustic Image Contra, it sounds quite good; it still needs some tone-shaping to get a more "real" URB sound, but it speaks well, even with the stock strings. Electronically, they're using better pots and switches on the NXT, too. I haven't opened up the cavity yet, but the switch is obviously different (bigger paddle, feels more substantial) and the knobs are different. The design, accessories, and stand are all essentially the same, so it's still compatible with the various stand and strap options, as well as the cool molded plastic case I found for the WAV4.
I still love the WAV4, but this new NXT bass is really slick, and I think the extra refinement is worth the difference in price. NS Design continues to impress. -- Mark
*What is Richlite?
NS Design is committed to the need and responsibility to do what we can to protect our environment. Certain materials which have for centuries been part of the tradition of instrument making, are under increasing environmental and regulatory pressure. Among these is ebony. NS Design has been on a quest to find an alternative to ebony, one which meets high standards for performance, appearance and durability.
Beginning in November, 2014, NS Design began equipping NXT series instruments with fingerboards made from Richlite™, a natural fiber composite that was originally developed for aerospace and industrial applications. They have found that Richlite's structural, visual, tactile and sonic characteristics rival those of ebony, and that this material is very "friendly" to traditional tools and techniques used by luthiers in the maintenance and care of ebony fingerboards.
NXTa 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.
2015 IBMA Double Bass Testimonials
NS Artists tell us what they love about NS Design upright bass...
NS Design's NXT5 Double Bass
GearZilla and Sean O'Bryan Smith check out NS Design's NXT5 do...
Anthony Cooperwood -- Cirque du Soleil -- NS bass
Anthony Cooperwoood performs in the orchestra pit at Cirque du...
Hi Mark, JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW I LOVE MY NXT UPRIGHT ELECTRICAL BASS, YOU GUYS WERE GREAT WITH THE TECH TALK AND HELPING ME DECIDE WHICH BASS WOULD BE GOOD FOR ME, SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS BUT I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW IT WAS A VERY SMOOTH TRANSACTION IN THE PURCHASE PROCESS, you guys offer great service for someone like me who has been playing bass guitar for 44 years, and now thanks to you I own a electric upright bass. Keep up the good work and love the web site.
Well, I've had a chance to play the instrument. It's beautiful, and in beautiful shape. I really like the setup on it as shipped, and the amount of tones that can be produced with the two piezo pups and the tone control is really outstanding. I'll be spending the weekend with my NXT thanks to Gollihur, and I'm sure it will be an enjoyable one!
Hi Mark.. The NXT has been fun and gigged heavily. Will be ordering some more gear from the Best Bass Place on Earth soon.
Just wanted to write you guys and tell you, I received my new NXT bass yesterday and I just love it. I've played electric bass guitar for many, many years and this is the first upright bass I've owned and played. I also have owned and played an NXT cello for a few years so I was already familiar with the NXT design. I have to say I'm very pleased with the NXT bass. I think I'll be looking to purchase an acoustic upright next, perhaps one of the Estle Louis models.
Last week I ordered a NXT 4 EUB sunburst. It arrived in New Zealand a couple of days ago in perfect condition. The responses are: what a beautiful 'thing', what great sound, and then from me - how much I am enjoying playing it. Thanks to all for the fast and trouble free service.