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: 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 (This Page): 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.
WAV Model Bass Specifics
The WAV is the entry-level NS Bass, and I don't think that any other bass at this price point really compares. They've taken the popular design of the CR/NXT basses and had them constructed in Asia using strict quality controls implemented by NS Design, and the basses are then reinspected and adjusted for perfect playability by NS Design staff when they are received in the states.
The well-known and respected Ned Steinberger, designer of the WAV Series (and countless other instruments over the years), commented: "This is the part I love, where we can put a fine instrument in a players' hands at a price that makes them smile."
The basses in the WAV series are full (3/4 size) scale four- and five-string instruments featuring NS Design's proprietary PolarTM piezo pickup system. The WAV4 and WAV5 Bass is available in a choice of FOUR finishes, a transparent Black, Amberburst or Dark Cherry (Trans Red), and a new "Brilliant White" finish -- which is perfect for those playing in praise bands, with its clean, bright finish -- it looks really sharp in white! Each bass includes a foldable tripod stand and a padded gig bag that will hold the bass, the stand, and also has a pocket for a bow.
The instruments have two transducers beneath the adjustable bridge, and a switch to toggle between them for bowing (arco) and plucking (pizzicato), because the strings vibrate differently under the bow than when plucked. Unlike the CR and EU basses, to keep the price down the system is passive, with just a single volume and tone control. I recommend that you consider a suitable outboard preamp or be conscious of the fact that, like any instrument with a passive piezo-based pickup, some EQ work will be a good idea to 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; if you want very close action for fretless bass guitar style mwah up and down the board, additional fingerboard work may be needed.
A page with 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: 4.8 kg (10.5 lbs.)
- SCALE LENGTH: 106 cm (41.73")
- STRINGS: 4 or 5
- FINISH: Gloss polymer
- COLORS: beautiful shaded Amberburst, Dark Cherry Transparent, Trans Black, or Brilliant White. The Black, Amberburst and Trans Cherry show off the figured maple veneer tops, and the Brilliant White finish presents a very clean and professional look.
- BODY/NECK: Maple
- FINGERBOARD: Coform (a durable, wood-like composite); 43.1mm (1.7") wide at nut; 89.0mm (3.5") max. width. Assymetric relief for easy playability. Inlayed cascading dot markers on face.
- BRIDGE: Rock maple (dyed black); radius 7.9cm (3.1") string spacing 80 mm (3.14") - adjustable for height
- NUT: radius 7.9cm (3.1"); string spacing 31mm (1.22")
- POLAR™ PICKUP SYSTEM: Switch between Arco and Pizz modes; 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), with the flick of a switch
- CONTROLS: passive volume and tone control (treble roll-off), Polar Pickup Switch
- TRUSS ROD: Powerful rod design provides positive relief adjustment, accessible at nut.
- TUNING MACHINES: Fully encased worm gear tuners; black finish
- STRINGS: Light tension flatwound steel strings are standard. Accommodates all NS length strings and most 3/4 scale double bass strings.
- TRIPOD STAND: (standard) Black, adjustable, standing tripod design. Weight 3.2 kg (7 lbs.)
- 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
WAV 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.
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My WAV4 arrived today, much quicker than I expected, and it is beautiful. Mark’s information was very helpful and I have already set the bridge to my liking to give it the feel of my ‘73 Engelhart (the measurement suggestions were right on for a Bluegrass setup)! I play in a couple different Bluegrass bands and I also play Contemporary Christian music on the worship team at Church. Between having MS and back issues this will be much easier to tote around on a regular basis. I’ve been playing for 33 years on that old Engelhart and my dad bought it new and played it when I was a kid so I’ll still break it out for special occasions but my WAV4 is going to get plenty of work. Thanks again for the outstanding service!
Hi Mark. Got my bass in the mail last week...it sounds and looks terrific! I'm trying to track down a teacher near me to help with some bowing and fingering technique. I love that it has the dots on the fingerboard--maybe the ghost of Franz Simandl would not approve, but that feature alone probably saves me months and months of work just trying to figure out where the notes are. The tone is terrific, still getting used to playing with a bow. And the string replacement solution you came up with (for my unconventional tuning) seems to be working nicely. So thanks again for your help and for answering all my questions. Very excited to make music with this thing and I probably wouldn't have figured out what to get without your help!
Hello, Received the NXT4 EUB several weeks ago and been using it for our guitar group in church. Absolutely fabulous instrument. Many folks are coming to me after mass and commenting on the beautiful sound and unique look of the NXT4. I've been playing bass guitar (fretted and fretless) for 40+ years and had some reservations moving to an EUB ... But the desire to make the move was too great and after about 1 hour of practice, it felt totally comfortable to play...Many thanks.
Greetings all, Got the NXT and stuff today. It is all very fine...perfection is good enough. Thanks for your fantastic service and setup. 5 stars all the way folks.
Mark, many thanks for your help in the purchase of my NXT5. It arrived ahead of schedule and the last part arrived today. I am very pleased with the varity of sounds I am able to get out of the bass. Thanks again for your great customer service.
I just received my NXT bass today and it is spectacular. What an outstanding neck! Thank you for your effective and expedited support. When I can prepare a weather-controlled room with enough space in my house, I will plan a trip to NJ to see you about a good acoustic bass. Now I have the NS Design bass, so I'm not in much of a hurry. Thanks again...
Hi Mark, I want to offer my deepest and sincerest appreciation for your help in getting my NXT bass to me in time for my New York Trip. It arrived yesterday and exceeds my expectations. It is perfect for my travel needs and I am impressed with the tone and feel of this bass for such a great price. ( I just can't look at the neck because the position marks are a little unnerving) The plastic case is clever and I love that the soft case fits inside. It will make getting in and out of taxi's much easier. Once again, thank you for your help in getting this to me in time and relieving my stress level.
Hey Mark, just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with my purchase. After a couple weeks with my new cr5m I have to take a break because of "beginner blisters"! Again thanks for your advice and help in choosing my new instrument....you guys will be my bass shop for the rest of my career !