Ned Steinberger’s place in music history was guaranteed when he collaborated with Stuart Spector on headless basses. From 1979 Steinberger went out on his own with Steinberger Sound to further refine his ideas for what headless guitars and basses could be. The benefits are many, including less tension in the neck, an absence of dead spots on the fretboard and increased portability. But like all great creators, Steinberger didn’t stop there. After selling his company to Gibson in 1987, he created NS Design, a place where he could yet further refine his vision for what a headless instrument could be. NS instruments are currently being used by artists such as Laurie Anderson, Les Claypool, David Darling, Tony Levin, Rob Wasserman, and many others. The primary focus of NS Design are bowed instruments such as violins, violas, cellos and double basses.
“Bowed electric instruments have been made since the mid-thirties,” says Steinberger. “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.”
Steinberger has new patents on his double bass and violin, state of the art takes on the instrument, and he uses a unique Polar pickup system for unparalleled response, control, and richness of tone for both bow and pizzicato technique. His instruments feature extensive on-board electronics and interchangeable support structures for the bass and cello, and they’re incredibly playable. Like his guitars and basses, they don’t look traditional and that’s exactly the point - Steinberger is fascinated by the idea of looking at how things have previously been done and thinking ‘why? And what can be done better?’
A case in point is the NS Radius Bass Guitar. It carries forward the heritage of the headless design that he pioneered with his 80’s guitars and basses, but kicks it up several notches. The instrument uses integrated magnetic and piezo pickup systems to expand the tonal palette, while the concave Diradial body design provides enhanced contact and stability against the torso. This ergonomic design, combined with the reduced and redistributed weight, reduces the constant burden on the player’s left shoulder, arm, and hand for greatly enhanced ease and comfort. And there’s a patented self-clamping tuning system for precise tuning and stability with conventional strings, eliminating the need for double-ball-end strings, while speeding up the process of changing strings.
The NS Radius line includes the two-pickup CR Series and the one-pickup WAV Series. At a recent NAMM Show, NS Design also showed off a prototype six-string guitar version of the Radius as well, featuring Seymour Duncan passive pickups and the NS piezo system for combined electric and acoustic sounds. There’s no word yet on whether this guitar will make it into production, but there’s no doubt that if it does, it’ll be just as groundbreaking as the rest of Steinberger’s creations.
NS Design are distributed throughout Australia by EGM Distribution. For more information visit egm.net.au.