Put off electric upright bass by the long scale and fretless fingerboard? Read on
NS Design‘s diminutive Bass Cello is designed to give ‘phenomenal acoustic and electric bass tones’, and comes with a bass guitar-style 34" scale. The amber-stained body has a flame maple top over a core and neck of rock maple; there’s a slotted headstock and an arched ebony fingerboard, plus NS Polar piezo pickups in the phenolic bridge and four low-impedance EMG pickups with adjustable coils and Volume, Blend, Balance, Bass and Treble. Set one way, Balance helps the piezos respond to the vertical string vibration of plucking; the other way, they respond to the lateral movement of bowing.
Once you’ve got used to the Boomerang strap system (fit the hub containing two steel arms, tighten, affix strap and rotate the bass to favoured vertical or horizontal position) and the highly cambered fingerboard, the fun begins. It may be fretted, but the EMG’s give a rich, clear, thuddy electric sound with a pleasing acoustic rasp. Piezos with the Balance set clockwise gives a fantastic plucked upright tone with tell-tale rapid decay and a springy, conga-like quality; reversing it increases sustain, and if you apply a bow you’ll get beautiful, rich overtones and beefy lows that’ll have you reaching for a Bach score before you can say ‘cello suite’.
If you're really interested in acoustic bass, the proximity of the BC's design to an electric makes this the ideal instrument. Expensive - but lovely