NS Design NS WAV EUB Reviews 4

I've played bass professionally for 44 years. I currently play in a praise band in a local church and also do studio work. I favor rock but have played just about every style, even -- shame -- disco. Favorite players include Paul McCartney, James Jamerson, Tony Levin, Chris Squire, Joe Osborn, Bob Glaub and Sting. ------------------ ND Design WAV 4 Electric Upright Bass (EUB); Amberburst finish. Ned Steinberger (NS) made his mark in the 1980s with headless, graphite guitars and basses that featured a proprietary micro tuning system that still is one of the best ever and has been licensed to other manufacturers. The Chinese-made NS Design WAV was the first high-quality EUB by a major designer to come in with a street price under $1,000. It features a solid beech body and neck along with an ebony fingerboard (current models use rosewood), ebony nut, maple bridge and a piezo pickup system. Strings supplied are proprietary Steinberger EUB light gauge flats, but standard upright bass strings can be loaded by using a keyhole anchoring system on the back of the bass and wrapping the strings around the front of the body to the standard bass-guitar size tuning gears. Be aware that NS strings sell for around $60 a set. UB strings can easily cost over $125. Scale length is 42', same as an upright. The bass comes with a tripod stand and gigbag; optional endpin or strap systems can be purchased separately. Passive electronics with one tone, one volume, and a toggle switch that changes the piezo response from arco (bowed) to pizz (plucking).

MSRP: $1195. I paid $895 with stand and gigbag through Musiciansfriend in 2006.I bought this bass to use in a church setting where bowing was required for Christmas and Easter musicals, and to have it available for a few gigs where upright was preferable to bass guitar.

Position markers on the fingerboard help those transitioning from electric bass to find the right notes. The sound is not exactly like an upright bass -- less woody and resonant -- but also not exactly like a fretless bass guitar. As Tony Levin, who uses the USA-made NS EUBs, says: 'It has its own sound.' Although I play fretless infrequently and had never really played upright, I found the WAV easy to play and not at all hard to play in tune. Getting used to the extended scale and using correct left-hand position and fingering was the hardest part, but that came with practice. Bowing is easy with the arced bridge, but if you've never bowed before, expect to spend many hours learning the correct technique. Fiberglass bows run anywhere from $35 to $85.

Although I love this bass, it never sounded as much like an upright as I had in mind. That's to be expected from an instrument with no body, but I agree with comments made by other users that the supplied strings were part of the problem with the sound. I replaced them with heavier, standard Obligato UB strings and found the sound much more to my liking. The WAV is best used with an impedance matching preamp, which really improves the sound. Bowing is easy with the curved bridge.

Quality is top-notch. Very well made with a flawless flame-top finish that shows the woodgrain. Although many early buyers reported problems with the tripod stand, I experienced none. Since then, the company has changed and improved the stand. Early buyers also reported problems with the fretboard cracking, but I had none. I had some problems adapting the upright bass Obligatos strings to the small, Gotoh bass-guitar style tuners because the ends of UB strings are thicker than the Steinberger strings that come with the bass.

The NS WAV is a good first 'upright' if you are looking for quality workmanship but don't have $3,000 to spend and don't insist that your instrument replicate the sound of an acoustic instrument exactly. If you're merely looking for something to experiment with, there are a few lower-priced EUBs that will fit the bill better.

Laklander rated this unit 4 on 2009-11-30.

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