Ned Steinberger created his electric upright bass many years ago, and the lower-cost NXT has been a excellent option for those with more modest budgets -- but he never truly intended for it to be a "replacement" for a real upright. Ever the innovator, his concept was to create a new instrument that bridged the gap between the upright and electric bass -- a sort of "hybrid" or "crossover" bass.
Be that as it may, many of my customers WANT it to be a more portable alternative to their big acoustic basses; whether for tight stages, small cars, traveling by plane, or what have you.
To make one of these solid-body beauties sound more like an "authentic" upright bass, we've often suggested getting the NS Electric Traditional strings. And to make it more reliable, we've suggested getting upgraded tuning machines (we carry the Hipshots here at Gollihur Music, but the Schaller tuners that NS Design installs on their more expensive "CR" basses are excellent too.)
So the strings and tuning machines are very common upgrades to the NXT series basses. Wouldn't it be great if there was an NXTa that's ready to go with the upgrades already done, so you don't have to do them yourself (or pay extra money for them)? On this SPECIAL EDITION bass, which you can ONLY get from Gollihur Music -- We've done the work for you. And it COSTS LESS than an NXTa + Trad strings + upgraded tuners. Win/win!
Our new exclusive "NXTa Traditional Model" bass has the following unique upgrades from the standard NXTa:
- Strung with NS Electric Traditional Strings for more "upright-timbred" tone
- Fitted with the high-quality Schaller tuners that come standard on the NS Design CR-grade basses
- Finished in a Gollihur-exclusive "traditional brown" finish for a more traditional appearance
- Removable "f-hole" cling decals included (but not pre-installed - and if you don't like them, they peel off with no residue) to complete the look
The bass is set up (and all upgraded features are installed) by the NS Design crew in Maine, USA, and the bass is ready-to-play out of the box. It includes the padded gig bag and tripod stand normally provided with the NXTa. And we cover shipping to the lower 48!
This bass is a very special, limited-quantity instrument. They take months to get, and we order them in small batches. But it has all of the special upgrades already done for you. You can even order it with the endpin stand substituted for the stock tripod stand, for a more traditional "address" of the instrument.
More about the NXTa
The NXTa is a full (3/4 size) scale four string instrument featuring NS Design's proprietary PolarTM piezo pickup system. 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 system's volume and tone controls are passive, with just a single volume and tone control. However, the NXTa also has a built-in buffering preamplifier, which takes the signal from the ultra-high-impedance pickups and buffers them to a level more palatable by a typical bass amp. This negates the need for a separate outboard preamp. The specially designed system needs no batteries, and can be recharged in about 60 seconds for many hours of continual play. It can also be bypassed for use like a traditional NXT.
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.
- LENGTH: 132 cm (52")
- SCALE LENGTH: 106 cm (41.73")
- STRINGS: 4
- CONSTRUCTION: Solid maple
- COLOR: EXCLUSIVE Traditional Brown
- FINGERBOARD: Richlite*;
- 4 strings: 43.1mm (1.7") wide at nut; 89.0mm (3.5") 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)
- ELECTRONICS: passive "jackpot" volume and tone control with rechargeable, bypass-able "ACTIVE" buffering preamp for maximum compatibility with all amplifiers.
- ACTIVE BUFFERING PREAMP: In Passive mode, as with the NXT, the NXTa can be played running to an amplifier with a high impedance (hi-Z) input, or into any amplifier or sound system using a preamp or direct box. For the Active mode, the user plugs the supplied charger into an AC outlet for 60 seconds. The system design is a low noise, low loss, low consumption circuit, allowing that 60 second charge to power the NXTa in active mode for up to 16 hours!
- 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: Schaller heavy-duty gear tuners; black finish
- STRINGS: D'Addario NS Electric Traditional Strings.
- TRIPOD STAND: (standard) Black, fully adjustable, standing tripod design. Weight 3.2 kg (7 lbs.) Note: All basses come with the newest version stand with the redesigned head.
- 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.
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 black rosewood, 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, it looks like 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.
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.
I've played basses with the original ebony boards, and I've played basses with the Richlite boards. I'm telling you, folks - if we didn't tell you they aren't ebony, you wouldn't have known. It's great stuff.
All of the special edition "Traditional" basses will feature a Richlite fingerboard. Also note that all model numbers and prices remain the same, regardless of fingerboard material.