The ACTIVE NXT Omni Bass!
The CR-Model Omni Bass from NS Design has been a popular instrument for bassists looking for a portable, professional-grade gigging instrument where it is impractical (or impossible) to bring a larger-scale or "real" upright bass. With a comfortable 34" scale, incredible build quality, and excellent pickup/preamp setup, it's a great performer.
NS Design created the NXT line to bring the convenience and playability of the Omni Bass within the reach of even more players; and this new ACTIVE model makes it even better. A built-in active buffer circuit provides the impedance buffering that you'd normally need to use an external preamp to achieve; this makes the bass instantly compatible with most any bass amp.
The successful formula of the NXT Bass has been applied to the Omni Bass: take the design and styling from the high-end CR-Model bass, scale back some of its features, and create a more affordable, entry-level bass that is still "pro" enough to be used by real professionals. This is no toy!
The NXT OMNI Bass from NS Designs has a few distinct features which make it uniquely attractive to certain players - particularly those who play mostly electric bass and want a "crossover" instrument which bridges the gap between electric and upright bass. Based on a 34 inch scale, which is familiar to electric bassists, the instrument features an arched fingerboard for bowing, and dot markers on the fingerboard for ease of intonation. And its light weight and slim body make it a joy to play!
The bass features the great Polar™ Pickup System, just like the NXT Bass (and similar to the CR models) - the unique Polar mode switch allows you to optimize for pizz or bowed response at the flick of a switch. It does omit the fully active preamp that you get with the CR model - but it's not a required feature - and with the NXTa's built-in rechargeable buffer circuit active, you can simply use the controls on your amp, much like you'd do with a passive electric bass guitar.
You can play the NS Design OMNI Bass using the very cool Boomerang™ Strap System to "wear" the instrument just like a regular electric bass. It features two articulated arms and a pivoting hub (kind of looks like a "lazy S"); you simply attach a standard guitar strap to the ends of each arm, adjust the arms, and you can place the instrument in virtually any position in relation to your hands and body. You can even rotate the instrument on its hub into a horizontal playing position for playing it like an electric bass. It's a neat arrangement, you can adjust the pivot's tension so that you can quickly and easily rotate it to a vertical or horizontal position -- or anything in between!
I find the Omni Basses to to be perfect for a player who primarily plays electric bass but wishes to have a second instrument to capture that "upright vibe" with a modern twist. Obviously, it's a shorter scale instrument with a solid body, so it's not going to fool a purist... but it's a very well-made instrument with lots of tonal flexibility, incredible playability, and distinctive looks. It was especially rewarding to be able to dial in very URB-like sounds as well as a more solid rock flavor.
The NXT Omni Bass is available in either a transparent Amberburst or Black Satin finish. Each bass includes a Boomerang Strap System and a padded gig bag; it holds the bass and has a separate pocket for an optional stand; it also has a pocket for a bow. The Omni Bass is compatible with all of the same stands and straps that the other instruments from NS Design all share; tripod stand, endpin, etc.
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 system is passive, with just a single volume and tone control (Unlike the CR model Omni Bass, which has a fully active preamp built-in). If you are a tone-tweaker, I recommend that you consider a suitable outboard preamp to be able shape the tone to your preference.
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. The action is very low, as the basses are set up at NS Design's headquarters in the USA before being shipped to us. If you want even closer action - so you can get even more fretless bass guitar style "mwah" up and down the board - you might need tp reduce the amount of scoop in the fingerboard to make it a little "flatter." Though the chances are that you're gonna love it right out of the box.
The Tripod Stands, Endpin Stand, and Strap System for the CR/EU models (see below) are compatible with the NXT models as well. They make an ATA Rated flight case for the Omni bass, and we also have a lighter-weight hard case available which works well with this bass.
NXT STRING OMNI BASS SPECIFICATIONS: (four string model specs will be included when they become available)
- LENGTH: 113 cm (44")
- WIDTH: 15 cm (5.7")
- WEIGHT: 3.2 kg (7 lbs.)
- SCALE LENGTH: 86 cm (34")
- STRINGS: 4-string E,A,D,G; 5-string B,E,A,D,G
- 5 string bass can be easily re-strung for E,A,D,G,C by purchasing the full 5-string/high C set; no special adjustments or modifications to the instrument are needed to make that change.
- BODY/NECK: Solid, straight grain maple, with maple face (Black model) or flame maple face (Sunburst model) on body.
- FINGERBOARD: Hand-graduated ebony or Richlite*. Intonation referenced with cascading dot markers & side dots.
- FINISH: Amber Sunburst Flamed Maple or Satin Black over Maple
- BRIDGE PICKUP: The Polar™ directional piezo pickup system responds selectively to lateral string vibration, for bowing and for the percussive plucked response of a traditional acoustic instrument, or to vertical string vibration, for remarkable even and sustained plucked sound more like a guitar. A switch allows the player to choose the desired response.
- ELECTRONICS: Passive piezo-electric pickups circuit with high impedance output, into a bypassable, flash-rechargeable active buffer (uses capacitors, so no batteries required). Plug in charger included, takes 60 seconds to charge the bass for 18 hours of continuous use. Volume control and Tone control (treble roll off).
- GIG BAG: NXT Padded gig bag with integrated bow pocket, handle and backpack style strap. External pockets for stands and accessories.
- TRIPOD STAND: (optional) Black steel, fully adjustable, standing tripod design. Weight 3.2 kg (7 lbs.) Note: NXT/WAV full-size basses ship with the newest version stand with the redesigned head joint.
- 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
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, they will begin 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.
Please note that during the transition period, an NXT instrument you receive may have either an ebony or Richlite fingerboard. Also note that all model numbers and prices remain the same, regardless of fingerboard material.
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.
I have the 4 string NXT (the previous completely-passive generation). With a proper preamp, it sounds great. I use and love the Fire Eye Red Eye preamp for its fantastic sound, bombproof construction, flexible connectivity and simplicity/ease of use. I play it through an Ashdown OriginAL 1x12 combo, which has preamp gain, 5 band EQ (bass, 3 midrange bands, and treble) and master volume. The Polar Pickup works as advertised. It takes a little bit to dial in both but the learning curve isn't too steep, no more than dialing in an electric guitar amp for both bridge and neck pickups. I would say it sounds somewhere in between a fretless electric and an acoustic upright. The only thing that I think could make this better is if the arco/pizzicato switch were actually a blender pot. That is a possible modification I may do in the future, but not until I get completely familiar with the bass in its current iteration. I may also explore different strings, I am using the strings that came stock and they seem fine. I have only ever rarely played upright, so I can't really comment in any great detail on the differences. I feel mixed about the position markers. While they are good at first for intonation, the more I get into the instrument, the more I find them visually distracting. I bought this bass as I have chronic health issues that do not always let me "wear" an instrument, especially something as heavy as a bass. It is wonderful to be able to stand with such an instrument without putting any pressure or strain on my spine, neck, shoulders and arms. That said, this is a VERY physical instrument to play, much more like an upright than an electric. Except for the short (34" standard) scale length, it is more upright than it is fretless electric in right and left hand technique. It is great. 100% no regrets. Thanks to Mark for all his help with the purchase process! Was a wonderful experience. I use it with the endpin stand and the K&M stand. Oh, the gig bag: line the bow pocket with cardboard or something and you're golden. The only problem with this is that it makes the accessory pocket a little hard to get into.
I just bought a fiver fretless Omni from Gollihur Music on a whim that it might be cool to add to the collection. I'm having a hard time putting this bass down at night to go to bed. Actually, this is the first bass I can actually play while I lay in bed! The Boomerang Strap System works perfectly. Ergonomically the bass feels like its a part of my body and allows both hands to make smooth position transitions. The pickup system is brilliantly designed too and sounds great. The overall construction is perfect and everything is adjustable on the bass and easy to accomplish. The only thing I changed was the strings - I put on some Thomastic JazzBass flatwounds because I needed a little more tension. IMO the string change probably takes away a bit of the "traditional DB" flavor of the instrument, and the arco tone does suffer too. I own an Azola EUB that has a beautiful arco tone so I'm not wanting in that department . With the OmniBass I am looking for more crossover potential and experimentation. With the TI flatwound strings the tone I gain in the magnetic pickups is very expressive and blends well with the piezo side too. After tweaking the truss rod for the added tension and making some pickup and bridge adjustments the bass is singing in a very distinct way. RECOMMENDED!! UPDATE: I have toured with the omnibass for 3 weeks now and I am really happy with the bass. Feels and sounds great. I learned that if I play it with a pick it can get a nice p bass tone so I don't have to carry a bass guitar for my gig. Of course the fretless/upright tones are beautiful and right on the money. I also flew four times with this bass and it went in EVERY overhead luggage compartment, even a puddle jumper.