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Which NS designs electric upright

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by sidonbass, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. sidonbass

    sidonbass Supporting Member

    May 27, 2006
    Asheville NC
    Thinking of diving in to the electric upright world.
    In the NS design line of EUB's, (they're priced pretty good, especially used ones)
    Which sounds the most acoustic? The videos I see sound like they all have too much treble dialed in. I dont know if that can be EQ'd out or thats the way they all sound.
  2. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    They won't sound terribly acoustic. I have an NXTa with old Bel Cantos on it, and it does sound good; the problem is that it has no acoustic resonance chamber to give that woody, hollow-body sound. The only EUB that I know of that really sounds somewhat acoustic is the Eminence because it has a large resonance chamber.
    sidonbass and equill like this.
  3. jdh3000


    May 16, 2016
    I just got an NXT4, it does not have an active pickup like the newer versions, but it sounds good.
    I'm looking at getting something along the lines of the Fishman Platinum Pro which has an upright setting, notch filter and eq, with the ability to save settings.

    I think with the right eq and being able to apply some pseudo resonance, I might be able to get close to an authentic DB sound, close though...
    Zbysek and sidonbass like this.
  4. Uncorked

    Uncorked Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2012
    If you decide new, check Gollihur site to see if he still has the wood fingerboard, the newest ones come with a man made material.
    sidonbass likes this.
  5. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    On my NXT5 I use Traditionals strings, the Arco setting always, and roll the treble all the way off.
    For the first year or so, I put a bit of open-cell foam at the bridge touching the strings to add damping and reduce sustain since there is no air pump action.
    Recently I ditched the foam since my finger-muting skills have improved. It's something you might try tho.
    It has also been suggested to raise the action at the bridge; evidently the 'standard setup' is fairly low, to make an easier transition from EBG users.
    As I was transitioning from EBG, I didn't mind the low action and haven't changed mine. Again - something to try, and at zero cost...
    Michael F Clef and Zbysek like this.
  6. They'll never sound like an acoustic instrument, but you can definitely change the strings and EQ it to increase the resemblance.
    Depends on your aim, really: if you want the sound of an upright bass with the convenience of an EUB, you'll never get a sound that makes you happy. If you're good with it being what it is, and just want to make it as "least unlike" an acoustic as you can, then you should be able to get a reasonable approximation - there was a thread on TB a while ago, in which somebody figured out an EQ configuration that seemed to get pretty close.

    FWIW, those demos will likely have been done with fresh strings. I replaced the G-string on my WAV4 a while ago, and it's still startlingly bright and zingy compared to the other three, which have been on it for years. The similarity should improve as the strings get older (and deader).

    ArtechnikA makes a good point about using the Traditionals. Personally, I use the GHS Crossovers and like them - but I don't want it to sound like an acoustic upright, so if they suit me they probably won't suit you.

    I've only ever used this one model, so can't advise on whether any of the others will get you closer.
    Michael F Clef, Zbysek and sidonbass like this.
  7. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I've heard that some people have had success getting an impulse controller pedal (like a Mooer Radar) and buying an impulse for an upright bass. These pedals are designed to act like amp/cab/ simulators, but you can also use them to get a more acoustic sound. I've never tried it, though. YMMV and all of that.
  8. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    None of them will sound particularly acoustic. I actually appreciate the NS line more because they're not trying to make a fake acoustic instrument; they're making proper electric ones.

    I have an NXT and a CRM. The CR eq is highly adjustable. You can really pump up the bass if that's what you're into. A quality amp will also help tremendously.

    Edit: from the NS Design website, quoting founder Ned Steinberger: "Bowed electric instruments have been made since the mid-thirties. Unfortunately, most of these instruments are the victims of the misplaced idea that an electric instrument should sound exactly like its acoustic predecessor. I want to take it a step further, I want to see what these instruments can do when they are set free."
  9. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    Good news: you don't need to spend too much. Higher models feature magnetic pick ups which you don't need...for acoustic sound, you need piezzo pick up which is available on cheaper models (like NXT).

    The treble can EQ'd out.

    There have been some good tips posted in this thread (especially by ArtechnikA).

    I will add one more: set your HPF between 40-70 Hz to cut off the fundemantal...
    Michael F Clef and Stumbo like this.
  10. This is why I got the CRT "traditional" model. No need for those magnetic pickups, but with the better build quality of the CR series. Plus, I like the cleaner look.
    rknea, equill and Zbysek like this.
  11. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    As many have said, put on a set of proper URB strings and it'll get "close enough." I use my CR-5M in a theatre pit setting all the time (lots of arco/pizz) and haven't had any complaints that I'm not playing the URB instead.

    I haven't experimented with it yet, but many players have had good luck with using either a delay or echo pedal on the NS to give the sound a little more "air" to approximate the full body of an URB. If you have one, it's worth playing around with and seeing how it works.
    Michael F Clef and Zbysek like this.
  12. It is rather a small room reverb and a bit of slow modulation on a short delay line.
    equill and Zbysek like this.
  13. Of course it is! And now I'm wondering how much closer you'd get by putting an EQ in front of the reverb, to simulate resonant peaks and dips in the acoustic chamber.

    I'm slow, but I get there eventually...
    Stumbo and Zbysek like this.
  14. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I think your comment is totally on the mark!

    I have only played a 6-String US Series NS Design. The Current EU series is supposed to be made to the same spec. I thought the bass was incredible, but it was absolutely nothing like a real acoustic string bass.

    -The NSD had very little attack. Overall the tone was more like fretless electric, but I found it impossible to get punch or thump on the front end of the notes. The notes sort of bloom out of the instrument.
    - The instrument also has really long sustain, which makes it sound even less like an acoustic bass. I am talking the sort of sustain that requires a compressor with most instruments.
    - Due to the long strings, the NS Design produced an exceptionally strong fundamental that few bass players are likely to experience. I thought the B-string was especially noteworthy....BWAAAAAAAH.

    I tried using an EQ boost in the low mids to produce some thump, and also tried using foam and cloth under the strings to dampen some of the sustain. IMHO both degraded the instruments natural voice.

    In my experience, mutes tend to only work across a limited range. So if you get the mutes dialed in so the low end is enhanced, the high end of the instrument will sound bad. The was really obvious on the instrument I had since it was a 6-string.

    After some experimentation I decided to accept the instrument for what it was. I sometimes used it for jazz combo, but to be honest it felt really weird playing medium swing standards; even more weird than playing the tunes on my fretted Yamaha TRB6P.

    The place I used it most was in big band. We played a pretty wide mix of music, ranging from 40s era swing to modern compositions, and even threw in some fusiony Stevie Wonder vocal charts. When space allowed I would set up a real string bass, my TRB6P, and the NS Design. I used the TRB6P for more funky stuff and the NS Design for modern and fusiony stuff. The more traditional pieces were played in a string bass.

    On occasion when stage space was extremely limited, I would play the whole show on the NS Design. I didn't think it was ideal, but I got the impression that I am the only one that really cared. We sometimes had receptions after our shows and the everyone I spoke to thought the NS Design sounded fabulous. They were also very curious since it is sort of an unusual looking instrument.

    I was a military musian and the NS Design was the only bass I ever asked to be bought specifically for me. All of the bass guitars and string basses I played over the year were exising instruments that I checked out of supply. And of course when I retired I had to turn in all of my military gear. The piece I miss most is the NS Design bass. But IMHO it's not a very good substitue for a real string bass. I would say it had a voice that was unlike any other instrument I have ever played.

    Here's a video I found with an EU5.
  15. 210superair


    Sep 10, 2019
    Sounds just like an electric bass to me....
    Wasnex likes this.
  16. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    You make very valid points and I think I agree with all of them.

    I just happen to feel that there is a significant difference between the switch in arco and pizzicato positions. In pizzicato position, NXT sounds as a fretless bass.

    However, in arco position the sound is "close enough" to DB for my needs. There are tricks which can make it sound even a little closer. I have been experimenting with some of them, planning to use others.

    Of course, double bass player will know that the sound is different. Other people might not.
  17. TheDirtyLowDown


    Mar 8, 2014
    I own and have played an NS CR4M in small combos and with a country band in years past. I found that the project of getting it to sound like an acoustic DB is a futile one. It has its own sound, which I actually like a lot. I found the sound I liked best by dialing in some of the magnetic pickup to go with the piezo, and rolling off the treble. And I loved how easy it was to transport and set up and manage on stage. My bandmates loved it too. I've not really been able to make it work in my current funk/jazz/blues band project, so I'm playing fretless bass guitar for that. But from my perspective it is a wonderful instrument -- as long as you accept it for what it does and enjoy that.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  18. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    The Arco/Pizz switch did make a difference in the way the bass responded. I tried playing the bass with a bow a few times and found it was not to my liking. I ordered the bass with the strings that were made for the bass and never tried it with orchestral strings. If bowing was needed I used an upright.

    One trick that may have helped a bit is raising the string height. The string height comes fairly low from the factory, but I thought the instrument was sort of tight and required quite a bit of strength to play. Part of the issue may have been the unique neck shape on the US and EU series. It has a concave shape on the back that forces you to use different muscles than when playing on a standard string bass neck.

    Whether the sound is close enough to get the job done is entirely subjective. My position is the bass had a very unique an interesting voice but I would not consider it for any situation that I felt absolutely needed an authentic string bass sound. I have played bass guitar in big bands and jazz combos for decades so I am not much a purist when it comes to pizz, but there are definitely arrangements where I prefer to play and actual string bass if logistics allow. But when it comes to arco, I don't think it's close enough to even consider. Make room for the DB.
    Zbysek and TheDirtyLowDown like this.
  19. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I think it sounds closer to a BG, but if you were to play the bass in person through a good amp I think you would be floored by how strong and pure the fundamental is on the low notes. Also some BGs can be quite a bit more punchy and have a lot shorter decay than the bass I had. So I think a BG may dialed in to sound a bit more like a DB.
    TheDirtyLowDown likes this.
  20. TheDirtyLowDown


    Mar 8, 2014
    Exactly! I’ve played them side by side in rehearsals through the same amp/speakers and it’s a significant improvement in tone on low notes as compared to BG. But with that said, it sounds and feels like an electric instrument. I dig that, but the OP might not if they’re after an acoustic DB sound, and resonance and feel.
    210superair and Wasnex like this.

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