NS Arco!

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by chris-piano, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. I have my NS CR5, I studied double bass for a while, for some reason the sonofabitch hates me when i bow it! the strings have no real 'stick' to the bow. Plenty of screeching and unwanted harmonics even afterthe hundredth rosin application.

    Is this problem solved by moving to helicores anyone? Its doing wonders for my bowing techniques but frankly im terrified of arco solos above the octave at the moment!
  2. If you're using the strings that come with the NS, bowing is hopeless, in my opinion. Those strings feel awful and sound awful when they're bowed.

    I got an NS CRM 4-string a few months ago and had the same experience with arco as you did. At the suggestion of some here on TB, I switched to a set of Thomastic Spirocore Weichs (lights). These work better, in fact much better for pizz, but for arco, while I like the feel of them better, I still don't like the sound of them very much.

    Being an electronic instrument, there is an electronic quality to the sound that isn't music to my ears when bowed. I'm still experimenting with this. Maybe I will find some combination of settings on the NS and my amp that will produce a better arco sound, but I haven't found it yet. Perhaps others have some advice on this, I'll be interested to find out.
  3. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    I've never played an NS, but I think any bass, or EUB, will bow better with orchestral strings.
    If you like a bright pizz tone at the same time, some orchestral strings do fit the bill. I'm thinking of the Corellis and Pirastro Permanents.
    Maybe Thomastik Superflexibles too. (blue ends)
    Also Super-Sensitive Supremes.
  4. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    I too switched my CRM5 to the Spirocore Weichs and found them much better for arco but still lacking in sound.

    - JansenW
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    On Francois' advice I switched to Pirastro Orchs on my NS CR5 and I really like the bowed sound - shame that I am so bad at playing arco!! ;)

    I agree with others that the original strings are hopeless for this kind of application and are more aimed at players crossing over from fretless BG...or just saving money!! ;)
  6. D.A.R.K.


    Aug 20, 2003
    i use the helicore hybrid mediums on my nscr5m and have no problem
    getting a nice arco response from them. great pizz too. i tried a light set as well but put the mediums back on within a week. the lights didn't do it for me, and although i never really broke them in fully, the mediums had a much more consistent sound string to string for me.... enough so for a quick change. what an expensive experiment that was!
    at least i have backups now.
  7. good work doug!

    Thats some SERIOUS cash spent on an experiment!!

    I think Hybrid mediums are probably the way to go, theres no way im spending the extra cash on the NS design hybrids though, i would imagine theres more resonance from contrabass strings that wrap around the body anyway. Anyone think this is true/balls?

    Has anyone tried thomastik spirocores on their NS?

    The more i bow the more i cry, the NS flatwounds are almost as bad as my elixir roundwounds on my 35" scale dearmond guitar!
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    There was a big difference in the quality of sound, when I swapped my strings to proper DB strings and I think basically, you get what you pay for...?

    The Pirastos were expensive compared to what I was used to in BG-land - but they were certainly worth the money and I can't see ever needing to change them...?
  9. After much experimenting I found I have to EQ out the "scratchiness" at about 1300 to 1600 Hz. This helps the arco sound a lot. I'm using D'Addario orchestra mediums on a BSX Allegro and the pizz sound is great. Arco is acceptable with EQ at -15db at 1300 Hz. This was also true on a Bugbass I had previously.


    Mar 1, 2005
    Brighton UK.

    OK here's another NS Arco question... you know theres that switch that selects between the pizz/arco/blend piezos? well when i have it set to Arco only (switch 'up' position), then there is a marked difference in the volume of the strings when i bow. The Low E string is fine, but the G string hardly makes a sound at all. I set it to 'blend' (middle position) and its much better. Not that I can bow at all, but i dont think its my crap technique which is responsible for the screeching cat strangling howl. Have any other NS users had the same problem?


  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I wouldn't be too sure....;)

    I can get it to make a screeching cat sound very easily - it requires much more concentration to get a decent sound!!

    I can't get any arco sound out of my real DB - but my teacher can make it sing!!

    All down to technique!! :meh:
  12. D.A.R.K.


    Aug 20, 2003
    there are internal volume controls for each sting, (outside of technique).
    i've never needed to mess with 'em, but i know they're there.
    on my ns, the arco position is all the way down, not up btw.
    there should be a pretty extreme increase in volume when bowing in the arco position. i have also had to do a bit of eq cut around 1.6k when using a bow, but with the ns it's much less than with the clevinger or carruthers i have owned previously.
    just wanted to add, on the ns each string has a separate piezo element.
    (thus the separate gain controls)
    hopefully, all the piezos are working properly.
    if you can't remedy the problem(check by playing the g in arco position with a pluck) you might want a tech to check out the instrument.
    i'm sure you can get full details on the electronics from ns via e-mail.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Having read Riko's post again - I think he might be mistaking the controls - so it's not a switch that goes between arco and pizz is it?

    Maybe he's switching between magnetic and piezo pickups and one string is less suitable for magnetic?

    I'm not sure as I bought the one with piezos only, as I didn't like the sound of the magnetic pickups....?


    Mar 1, 2005
    Brighton UK.
    I dont think i am mistaken, I have a CR4M and it has 2 piezo pickups. The magnetic/piezo blend is via one of the Pots. Its just that with the switch in the 'up' position (up for me anyway), i get hardly any amplified tone on the G string but the E string amplifies fine. Ive been told that one of the Piexos is for arco and the other for pizz and the 3 pole switch selects between them, with a 'blend' in the middle.

    any ideas NS lovers???
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I have played several of these, but none of them had a 'switch' as such - but rather knobs that you turn to blend the sound....?


    I'm not sure what this "switch" is ...:meh:


    Mar 1, 2005
    Brighton UK.
    Ok, mines got a 3 pole mini switch below all the pots... Cuz as i said before, i was told that there is a piezo for bowing and a piezo for pizz, and a switch to select between the 2 and a blend...

    oh and i meant to say earlier that my bowing technique WAS causing the howling cat murdering sound... i think i got confused with double negatives or something like that.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Err...I think you might have got one that has been "messed about with"....:meh:
  18. mburd


    Aug 20, 2004
    If I understand the "switch" question correctly, I think this snip from the older version's instructions may help shed some light:
    Knob 1 - Volume
    Knob 2 - Balance (for non-magnetic model) counterclockwise for optimal pizzicato (plucked,
    sustained) sound, clockwise for optimal arco (bowed and percussive plucked) sound, center for
    Knob 2 – Balance (for magnetic model) counterclockwise for magnetic pickup, clockwise for
    bridge pickup, center for both.
    Knob 3 - Treble; boost and cut.
    Knob 4 - Bass; boost and cut.
    Switch - Bridge Pickup Mode (for magnetic model only); up position for optimal pizzicato
    (plucked, sustained) sound, and down position for optimal arco (bowed and percussive plucked)
    sound. The center position combines the two.
    Note: For bowing, it is best to use the bridge pickup only in arco mode.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Ah well - I wouldn't use the magnetic pickup at all - I didn't like the sound at all when I tried them - it was about 3 years ago now though!! ;)
  20. D.A.R.K.


    Aug 20, 2003
    i personally love the ns magnetic pickups...
    i bought the eub to use in ways that you can't properly use a db...
    massive fx processing, extended subharmonics without the feedback,
    extreme volume levels... plus a hybrid playability.
    some of the main reasons i decided on the ns, besides a deep beautiful sound all it's own.
    for me, if i want an acoustic sound, i'll play acoustic db...imho i don't think any eub( that i've owned or tried) can come close to the sound of a real db, if that's what you're after.
    once you throw in a proper case and amplifier, i feel you really haven't saved yourself much trouble.
    the piezos are really great for arco, and i actually take back what i stated earlier about the eqing...today played through my f1-x pre, set flat, eq flat on the ns, it sounded fantastic!