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NSD CR4M (Took the plunge..again) - Setup tips and some thoughts

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by jharms80439, Apr 14, 2017.


  1. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    So, I recently purchased a very lightly used NSD CR4M and if my recollection is correct, this is my 5th NSD - and near 12 of the EUB's that I've owned. Oh, and I do have an acoustic upright too.

    My main purpose in having a EUB is to have an upright bass that I will go out with during Colorado winters or that I can play in outdoor settings without fear of large temp swings with my upright. Full sized acoustic uprights and slip-sliding around in the snow don't mix well... Not that anything has ever actually happened to my ply bass, but I'd hate it if something bad did happen. Indoors and nice weather, it's my acoustic. Bad weather or wide temp swings, I take the NSD.

    That said, for this CR, I've gone a slightly different route. Previously, I've always used the NS end pin stand to mirror my upright. FWIW, that option worked exceptionally well after I had two new bars made to extend the tummy bout a bit further. I've also used the CR neck heel in the past. That too worked well, but in the heat of summer, the double sided sticky tape allowed the heel to migrate a bit and I had to be really careful when it was hot outside and not be so ham-fisted. I even considered defacing several CR's, but I never had the guts to drill into the neck and "permanently" mount the neck heel.

    Mark Gollihur (of Gollihur Music) was so kind to sell/ship me a new neck heel. The problem is/was that it didn't fit so well. I will keep it though and perhaps scrape off the sticky-tape and wrap some sandpaper around the NS neck and lightly sand the heel in order to make it fit. I'll keep that one on the back burner for a bit though.

    For now, I've transitioned to primarily sitting (instead of standing) with both my acoustic and my NS. Amazon had some Crosley square 24" stools and I bought two - one for my office where I keep my NS and one for home and the acoustic. FWIW, I tried the 30" stools and it didn't work for me - even though I'm tall (~6'2") it just wasn't that comfortable for longer sessions.

    So, I just took the plunge to install a small brass nail into the neck. This is similar to what is installed on the NSD CR4T. To install, I cut the head off of one nail, chucked it in my drill and "drilled" into the neck about 1/8" to 1/4" inch only. Then cut another nail to be ~3/8" long and after putting a drop of super glue on the nail shaft, lightly tapped it into the drilled hole.

    Frankly, the "nail" is a terrific solution to the neck heel. It won't move during the summers and won't get inadvertently knocked around. Finally, if you weren't looking for it, you'd not really see it.

    Because the NS doesn't really have a body, like an acoustic, the sitting position with the NS really requires the NS stand. I've tried the end pin stand while sitting and it didn't really work as the angles and distances between the bass and the player aren't that suited for sitting.

    Anyway, the final report out is that sitting with the NS really does work. The stand's adjustability allows me to mirror the ergonomics of my upright. The brass nail mirrors the neck heel, replacement (Spirocore Stark B tuned to C, Belcanto GD&A - as I tune in Fifths/5ths - so Solo A and F#) strings (and some very light plate reverb) I can get to "almost" my acoustic upright's sound/tone, with a Realist, amplified - and I'm talking REALLY close!

    Though many DB players will lament that the NSD doesn't have the physical references or the movability of a true acoustic double bass. It's all true. However, with the endpin stand (if you are standing) along with the neck heel or with the brass nail, those factors are diminished significantly. When sitting, I'd prefer my acoustic to not move at all and it does shift a bit as you play. The inherent flex of the NS tripod does allow the bass to slightly shift a bit as I play, and moves back too. I find that I do need to have my left foot resting on on the tripod leg when I get gorilla, but that's not that often.

    So, if you haven't tried sitting with a NSD, give it a shot. If you haven't tried the neck heel, give that a shot too. For a more permanent solution to the neck heel, the nail is an awesome way to go...

    John
     
    Randy Ward and Mark Gollihur like this.
  2. John Burgess

    John Burgess

    Nov 28, 2011
    Australia
    Ive been using my NS in a seated position very much like a cello for almost 10 years now. Everytime I see a video of people playing them standing up using the tripod stand, it looks rather awkward to me, but each to their own. For starters the higher you have the stand, the more flex there will be. That, and I also have to use both hands and feet for controllers.

    It is very different from a double bass and so coming at it with a fresh mind and fresh ideas is a good approach.
     
    Randy Ward likes this.
  3. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    John B.,

    Thank you for your reply. I've likely seen every video that you've ever posted over the years. Terrific playing always.

    It does seem that many players out there with the NS do approach the stick bass as an entirely different instrument than an upright. My goal was really to use it as a suitable substitute for my upright. As my playing skills have increased during the 10+ years that I've been playing upright, the physical references on my upright have become much less relevant - that is except for the neck heel transition.

    Over the years, at least on my NSD basses, string changes, the neck heel and an endpin stand really did it or me. Historically I really didn't ever want to "deface" the bass by drilling a permanent mount for the heel though. That and the heel looks sort of odd on a stick bass. However with the brass nail no one can really see it which suits the visuals a bit better and the player easily references the neck heel position to transition into thumb position which is sort of the best of both worlds.

    FWIW, I started with a 32" stool and ended with a 24" one. The 32" felt like I was standing and wasn't much different in end-pin length from when I stand with my acoustic - but I just couldn't get comfortable on a stool that high and my (old) knees and replacement hips didn't like it after about 30 minutes. Since I've transitioned to sitting on a lower stool, I am much more relaxed in playing position. I really got the idea for a much lower stool after watching Chris Fitzgerald's "Postures" video.

    When I watch your videos, I see that you are usually on a drum throne. I tried a drum throne but couldn't get it to work with my acoustic. My left leg really needed to be elevated a bit in order to "fit" inside the bout. My stool has two different rung heights - one of which just works for me.

    In my original post, I mentioned that I've tried many EUB's over the years. When I was working the corporate job, I traveled ~100k air miles each year. The NS bass was the most convenient to travel with and really sounded the best. While I don't travel that much any more (and now I usually fly myself wherever I'm going!) the NS is still the most portable in the smallest package.

    For those that think that the NS can't be used as a suitable acoustic sub, I'm here to tell you different. Even for those that want to approach the NS as a "different" instrument, the NS works for that too!

    John
     
  4. Thanks for the detailed observations. I went through two bsx uprights - they were very well made and beautiful looking - but just couldn't bond with them. I'm thinking a full size NS CR4M on a tripod would work for me. But I also like the idea of the NS Omni 5 string on the shoulder strap thing for maximum portability.
     
  5. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    Jason,

    I too had an Allegro and didn't bond with it either so I know how you feel. If you go with the NS CR series of basses, they really are a significant upgrade over the NXT/WAV models. Be sure to try before you buy though (they - the CRs that is - are expensive!)

    I did consider the Omni for a few days too. Sound is really close to the full size, but Arco strings are pretty limited. If you are a Pizz player only, the Omni may be just the ticket.

    FWIW, I've not tried the NS boomerang strap, but reviews are out there. I did buy the frame strap and it didn't work out for me either. Endpin was terrific though if I stood as it really moved like my upright did. Sitting, the tripod is definitely the way to go. Try it out with a drum throne to see if it works for you before buying a stool. I'd also suggest that you watch Chris' posture video to see what might work for you.

    John

     
    Jason Hollar likes this.
  6. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    Jason,

    FYI, here's a vid of a NXT on a frame strap. Tony Levin also used the frame strap when I saw him with Peter Gabriel.

    Jovan proves that Arco is "possible" with the frame, but for me there wasn't enough room...

     
  7. John Burgess

    John Burgess

    Nov 28, 2011
    Australia
    Thanks for the encouragement. Years ago when I communicated with Ned Steinberger he said that there were people saying that he should emulate the acoustic double bass in his design, but Ned being Ned, decided to make his own thing and I respect that. The drum throne has worked out for me, though there is a fine balance between the bass position, a comfortable seating position and being able to clear both legs with the bow (french has an advantage there over german). In my experience a full acoustic bass does require a larger specialised stool, which can get crazy expensive!
     
    jharms80439 likes this.
  8. jharms- I had similar intentions regarding an EUB. I lived in Ft Collins from '94-'04 and gigged all up & down the mountain circuit.

    I wonder - how much weight and size does the tripod add to the NS gig bag?

    When I bought the BSX, it was actually kind of heavy - and there was no way to set it down! You had to lug the tripod display stand which completely cancelled out the portability factor!
     
  9. PS - I also tried using a nice drum throne for a while. Although very comfortable on the bum, that kind of hardware is even heavier to lug around!
     
  10. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    Jason,

    Tripod weight is ~8 lbs. The end pin stand adds ~5 lbs. My bass, the case and stand is right at 23lbs without the end pin stand.

    The K&M stand (see the Gollihur Music website) weighs ~5.5lbs and seems a bit more compact. In my past experience however the end pin stand NS tripod both won't fit in the case side pocket though.

    I ended up buying two 24" stools -one each for home and practice space. Not sure how I'll handle playing out sitting yet though. I'm still contemplating. :)

    Larger stages will use equipment that I already own. I'll likely be playing more pit stuff pretty soon though. I've thought seriously about contacting Don Oatman at LDS to build a stool sized combo for me to sit on. Working a cramped pit with an upright, stool, amp & cab won't likely work out well.

    My old PJB Bass Cub was great because it actually fit in the open area under my stool - bit it was light in the volume department- especially without FOH support. A small sit-on combo in the 200+ watt range might be just the ticket.

    John
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
    Randy Ward likes this.
  11. I'm enjoying this discussion, jharms, could you post a photo of the pin/brass nail on the back of the neck? Thanks in advance.
     
  12. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    Randy,

    Here you go.

    Before I drilled the pilot hole, I put a paint "dot" on the fingerboard in order to align the already inlayed dots as I couldn't really see them from the side to align the nail.

    I also cut off nail head and put it just under the edge of a piece of tape to check where my thumb landed in relation to the fingerboard dot and my intonation spot on the fingerboard.

    Through trial and error I figured out for me that pretty much just up a bit from straight across from the fingerboard dot was the right spot. My thumb is oriented horizontal to ground when I transition to thumb position. If I was more vertical, the nail may need to moved slightly up or down for an individual player. Essentially, when my thumb rotates horizontal as I move towards thumb position, the nail head just touches under the curvature of my thumb and my index finger is in my intonation spot on the fingerboard.

    Finally, I also didn't really "pound" in the nail. The head is "just" flush with the neck wood. My particular nail has a bit of material under the head too. I will likely pull it and put another nail in after I've filed under the nail head in order for it to be flush. That or I could just lightly hit it again with a hammer to fully seat the nail. Right now, the nail head being up just a bit is great.

    John

    IMG_2241.JPG IMG_2244.JPG
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
    MDrost1 and Randy Ward like this.
  13. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    John B.,

    You keep making music and videos and I'll keep dreaming that I can be that good!

    Not so sure on the specialized chair route though. I tried several adjustable bass chairs and couldn't really get comfortable with them. I finally followed Chris Fitzgerald's advice on a 24" stool (without a back) - though mine came from Amazon instead of Lowes - and the no-back 24" works great. Now I can get a solid two hour plus of practice in without being even a bit uncomfortable.

    Although lately I've really been focused on practicing and performing in a much less tense playing position. I found that when I stood with my upright, my hips weren't square/balanced (often more weight on one leg) and my shoulders were sort of rotated & hunched a bit even after adjusting/readjusting the endpin length. After a performance (standing) I was physically tired and I was also more than a bit stiff afterwards. On a stool (playing acoustic and EUB) I've better adjusted the instrument(s) to fit me and not me to the instrument. Now I find that my shoulders aren't rotated/hunched or tense in the slightest, my hips are much more square - and overall I'm much more relaxed when I play. I'm not really that tired after a practice/performance and I'm not at all a bit stiff afterwards.

    As for bows, I have both German and French. I was formally taught with a French bow (by Richard Neizen, Music Director at the Aurora Symphony), but wanted to try a German bow (long ago) and found a deal on a great Pernambuco German bow through a local dealer. I really now only use a French bow on both acoustic and EUB (though I do use a much nicer and a bit heavier Snakewood bow for use on the EUB than on the acoustic). Though I do see how sitting low will impact the "room" for a German bow, though I've done it (not much mind you and it ain't pretty) just by extending my right foot out a bit in order for my hand to miss my now dropped knee and leg. But I do agree, with a French bow there is just more room!

    John
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
    Randy Ward likes this.
  14. Thanks for the shot of the 'nail stop' jharms. I know that there is a pin on the back of the CRT version and I could never figure out why people didn't do this to the other versions as a mod. I read somewhere (can't find it now) that Red Mitchell had a tack on the back of the neck of his bass after he switched to fifth tuning as a marker. The CR neck heel sold by NS seems like a good idea in theory, but I've yet to read a post where someone was not impressed by the fact that it is applied with 3M sticky tape.

    BTW speaking of sitting while playing, I've been really happy with the folding stool I got from Gollihur. It can be set lower than a chair and up to 32 inches and anywhere in between. Very portable and solid, check it out:

    Lightweight Folding Performance Chair / Stool for Upright Bass at Gollihur Music - Double Bass, Upright Bass, String Bass Specialists
     
  15. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    Randy,

    Ironically, those were my impressions of the neck heel too - but understandably it's likely smart too to sell the heel with the sticky tape. My real issue is the neck heel in the Summer when it's hot outside - moves a bit as the tape gets warm and gummy.

    I googled the heck out of the NS CR4T as I was thinking about the nail idea and I couldn't find any close-up pics of the nail. I've dealt with Ned's shop when I still had my EU6 and they were terrific. Likely I could have reached out and they could have supplied a pic. I ended up thinking it through pretty well and visiting Home Depot one day and found a true brass nail with a round head (they were in the hardware/nuts/bolts/screws isle). Most of the others were brass plated instead of solid brass - not that it would likely make a big difference but the plated nails are plain steel underneath. I bought a package (so if anyone needs one PM me and I'll work to send you a few). The package was only a couple of bucks but I'll likely never use the rest that I have.

    Also, I didn't order the Gollihur stool specifically, but tried several bass chairs while visiting the Aurora Symphony last Fall. Well, that and I have a former San Francisco Ballet and Symphony musician as my neighbor - Greg was terrific when I started asking questions. Anyway, I found that I really wanted a triangle facing forward and no back. The price is likely great for what it is, but I'd need two which puts it a bit out of my price range.

    The set of stools I found on Amazon (Amazon.com: Crosley Upholstered Square Seat Bar Stool in Vintage Mahogany Finish with 24 Inch Seat Height. (Set of Two): Kitchen & Dining) were a steal at $65 shipped (they were on sale when I looked and I didn't pay what Amazon currently lists them for) and couldn't really pass up the opportunity to check them out.

    BTW, these stools work great, but are only sold in sets of two. Luckily, I needed two so it was pretty much a no brainer for me. :)

    John
     
    Randy Ward likes this.
  16. Actually those stools look pretty darn comfortable! The price has gone up but it looks good enough that I think the purchase would win over a significant other. What I like about the folding stool is that it is easy to transport to a gig and serves double duty for use as a chair for practicing bass guitar. I just suggested it for anyone reading the thread for options other than 24 and 32 inches.


    I googled the heck out of the NS CR4T as I was thinking about the nail idea and I couldn't find any close-up pics of the nail.

    I did the same thing and finally found a shot that google couldn't find! Surprisingly it was on the thinkns.com site but hidden in a HTML slide show and not named in a searchable way. I'll post it here for other interested parties to see. And it looks very much like jharms handy work which is quite impressive in itself.

    (it was here):

    CRT Electric Upright Bass | Ultimate Form and Performance | NS Design


     

    Attached Files:

  17. Michael F Clef

    Michael F Clef Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2017
    NYC
    Nice thread Guys. Thank you. It's nice to hear from NS Design players , as I recently "switched" from my Rickenbacker EBG to my beautiful new NS Designs NXT5 (low B). If I may digress: Now I'm hooked on DB. Do you guys think I can learn proper UB technique on my NXT 5, so that when I can afford an UB it will be a natural progression? Or is it apples and oranges, and I should buy and learn on Double Bass the sooner the better? Thank you.
     
  18. For learning the "real thing" it's better to start with double bass.
    Just to make some things clear:
    A double bass has no tripod stand, it has a neck heel for tactical orientation, the upper bug of the double bass body has the right size and position to hold the instrument, there is nothing adjustable beyond the endpin length.
    So better start with a double bass, so you can adjust an EUB for the right feel. It doesn't work the other way.
     
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  19. John Burgess

    John Burgess

    Nov 28, 2011
    Australia
    You can use traditional left and right hand techniques across EDB and acoustic DB, but the physical feeling, and the method of holding and stabilising the instrument are going to be different.

    So yes, some skills are the same between instruments, however Ive never considered the instruments directly interchangeable. If you progress to an acoustic you will simply have to learn a new set of skills and acclimatise yourself to the new instrument. Having an understanding of the 3 finger left hand technique down low, and thumb position left hand technique will simply just give you a head start on what you need to know.
     
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  20. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I might be interested in a NS CR bass in the near future and have some questions. I want to use it with a bow a lot:
    1) What do think of the magnetic pickup? Is the CR4M version worth the extra money over the 'normal' CR4 version?
    2) Is the CR worth the extra money over other versions of the NS design? What is the next best model of this NS design? And how much difference will it be in terms of sound and playability with the CR series?
    3) what are your opinions on the CRT? also compared to the CR4.

    Hope you can help me.