Pros - Quality construction, great sound. Easily adjustable for personal player preference. Can use many types of upright bass strings.
Cons - Support system is rather heavy. Lacks conventional points of reference for experienced upright bass players.
I've had this instrument for a while now, and I've had a chance to perform with it in different situations, so I thought it's time to give it a review. I really wasn't interested in the next model up, as I don't have any use for the magnetic pickup. I have a number of EUBs, including a Baby Bass, an Eminence and a Clevinger, so I have some basis of comparison with this one. I found that it can drive a big band or work subtly with a singer in a cabaret setting.
This is a versatile instrument at a reasonable price that sounds very good. There's really nothing wrong with the stock tuners, but I replaced them with heavier ones, as the first thing I did was replace the contemporary strings, which I didn't like at all, with some Spirocore orchestra gauge strings. I later tried the NS classic strings which I found I really liked.
I contacted NS about what makes the Traditional model on their web site "traditional", and basically, it's their classic strings and ...drum roll ... what appears to be a little brass carpet tack that they were kind enough to send me. This nail is embedded in the neck where the D on the G string would fall in order to feel where the heel of the neck would be. At least that's the theory.
I really like the sound of this instrument. What I don't like personally, are the lack of traditional reference points if, like me, you've been playing the bass for almost 50 some years. As a professional, I've lived and died by good intonation, and anything that inhibits that makes me cross. Some of the things that make it unique can also make it a pain, as far as knowing where you are on bigger shifts (the dots are useless, as far as I'm concerned) and where you need to shift into thumb position. The good news is that you can play higher up the neck before going into thumb position, and this may be a positive for some folks.
The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars across the board is that, and the weight of both the tripod and end pin. The bass in it's bag seems almost weightless, but the tripod weighs quite a bit more than the bass itself. The overall quality of the stand is top notch. What I would really have preferred is perhaps a light aluminum end pin that could remain attached, like many other USBs.
String height adjustment is a breeze, and it's nifty to have a truss rod to adjust for different string tensions. The tone control is moderately functional, and I liked the volume control being able to lock on. The bowing switch is a little inconvenient (spoiled by the Realist on the upright) but does a good job. It sounds OK with the bow.
It's a quality, well constructed instrument, and whatever NS is making the fingerboards out of now seems like great stuff, especially if it's environmentally friendly. Made in the Czech Republic, where they have a centuries old tradition of making great string instruments.
Most importantly, it has a sound that audiences seems to like, and other musicians also seem to enjoy playing with, which is the most important thing.