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Where's the next Ned ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Roland GR 88, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    I've been playing since 1979 and have seen the bass industry grow from a few manufacturers to the hundreds that now exist. I have always had an eye for the unique builders or those that think outside the box. Leo Fender got it started with a combination of practical electronics and a timeless aesthetic. Ron Wickersham pushed the idea further with cutting edge electronics and the idea that a bass could be a work of art as well. Ned Steinberger then took us into the 21st century with composites, beautifully thought out and executed machining and radical takes on tuning, trems and such. So, what happened to the last 30yrs ? Steinberger still makes nice guitars and Ned deserves a peaceful retirement. Fender makes Fenders and I wouldn't expect that to change. Alembic makes basses that are still worth more than my car but nobody has put out a really new and unique product for a generation.
    So I ask all of you, where's the next Ned and what will he bring with him ?
  2. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
  3. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Good question!
    Wild speculation: A composite instrument that you snap your iPhone into and it wirelessly transmits your sound (which can be dialed up to be any one of dozens of classic bass sounds) to your PA system.

    I love my bases, but technology is SOOO far beyond these wood, wire-and-magnet with mechanical pots circuitry, it's laughable. Antique technology.

    Unfortunately, most amps and sound systems aren't THAT much better, either!
  4. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    I'm not sure. However, I know the industry is only so accepting of "different", also. Headless basses, which are (IMO) asthetically similar enough to a "normal" bass, but still don't catch on. Alternate materials such as carbon fiber and graphite have only had limited success despite being around for decades and having high profile artist use. Going farther... look how minimal piezo's are even used.
    In all likelyhood, there's a person (or a bunch of them) that have ideas and want to shake things up, but entering the market is tough. Heck, I know I have had my own, and probably even still have drawings and tech diagrams somewhere, but I don't think I'll ever do anything with them.
  5. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    It will be interesting to how 3D Printing will change things.
  6. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    What's that line from the investment industry? "Past performance is no guarantee of future results", or something like that?

    You would think that a gradual but continuous improvement of instrument design would be guaranteed, right? I get that; on the surface, it seems almost predestined, as if that sort of evolution is inevitable.

    But there are forces fighting against that sort of evolution in musical instrument design, and the most powerful force seems to be personal taste.

    Objectively speaking it's hard to argue that an original Steinberger bass was a dramatic improvement over a stock Fender bass...and yet 30 years later, not only is every bass player on the planet not playing a Steinberger, but half of them are rushing out and buying those same Fender basses that sucked so bad they prompted Ned to design the L-2 in the first place!

    (I'm kidding. Well... I'm half-kidding. Maybe.)

    There's only so much "improvement" that people want. But when you've improved (sic) a product to the point where it no longer resembles the object it started out as, it has to appeal to people on its own merits rather than on the association that the object once had with individuals. Which is a long way of saying people like what's familiar.

    So if 10 or 20 or 100 years from now someone figures out a way to make an electric bass guitar that is dramatically and inarguably 100% better than a Fender, yeah, some bassists will buy it...but if it doesn't resemble a Fender, a lot of bassists won't buy it...and so unless "the next Ned" has his head in the sand and/or is independently wealthy so doesn't care about the market, what's the impetus to propel this evolution of the bass?
  7. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    I saw a couple of Fender Strats (made by Fender) that had bodies that were 3D printed material (some sort of composite plastic I think). Really cool technology, but I don't think it will replace wood anytime soon.
  8. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Its the wrong time in history for bass innovation. Look at the bass section of TB- mostly 4 string fenders, schecters, and MM basses.
    Ive seen very innovative bassses over the past 20 years- fretted that become.fretless with the flip of a lever, the game changer by EB...
    People just arent ready for innovation right now.
  9. therhodeo


    Feb 28, 2011
    Owasso OK
    Music instrument industry has always been about selling what is popular. Right now given the huge population of baby boomers most music manufacturers are spending their time making what "was" popular. Basically most people right now are looking backwards.
  10. I was just thinking this. I just didn't know how to word it without sounding like a pretentious ass.

    You managed to, though. :)
  11. therhodeo


    Feb 28, 2011
    Owasso OK
    If you mean I managed to sound like a pretentious ass you're probably right. :p
  12. How much has the violin changed? I think the bass has changed more in 70 years then the violin has changed in three hundred.
  13. pkstone

    pkstone Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Ned Steinberger is the next Ned: http://thinkns.com/instruments/radius.php.

    You can see in Ned's latest an affirmation of the traditional body shape; I hope it's as well-balanced and as much a joy to play as the old XL.

    I hope Ned keeps going strong and building beautiful, innovative basses.
  14. DrDAV14

    DrDAV14 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Two words "STATUS GRAPHITE"
    My Stealth is one piece graphite, full body, headless and only 7 lbs, but 20lbs of sound, with LED's for fun and function.
  15. jake3

    jake3 Guest

    Aug 23, 2013
    the next logical step is the bass helmet, where we just think the bass notes (including their tone) and they go straight into whatever system the band is using that night.
  16. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    If it ain't broke don't fix it?
    I'd love to see something new that makes sense. I love my NS electric upright, definitely a hybrid instrument. But it's hard to improve on something that does what it was intended to do in the case of the bass guitar. The violin analogy is a good one. Going beyond the limits of the instrument into extended ranges, pushing the boundaries that makes it more than a bass guitar seems like more of a natural progression. Headless and composite only improve things to a certain degree, but do not make the instrument sound better than a vintage p bass… at least, not enough to outmode the p bass… these changes are minute. More importantly to modern music, when will we come up with something better than paper cones in big boxes for sound reproduction? How about midi? That's something that technology should have replaced long ago...
  17. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    I took delivery of an NS Designs NXT electric upright bass yesterday, and I gotta agree.

    His "Omnibass" - a bodyless upright built to the bass guitar 34" scale, playable with fingers or a bow, supported by a stand or hung on a strap - is the most innovative bass instrument I can think of since his own L-series. Personally, I went for the more traditional double bass scale, but the choices of materials, technology, and esthetics for the whole NS product line are remarkably inspired.