Head NSWAV Steinberger Bass

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The subject of electric ‘Stick’ basses often causes some consternation with those who work in the lower register. Needless to say, they’re more transportable and generally more easy to handle, but can they ever get near to the sound of the acoustic instrument, or will they forever be consigned to the realms of the convenient, but ultimately poor imitation. The Chinese NSWAV with it’s bolt on tripodian stand is a recent addition to the Steinberger line, offering a cheaper alternative to its cousins made in the Czech Republic. But just how good is this Far Eastern model? The answer is – very good!

Without even plugging the jack into the back, there is good sustain across the whole range. A fixed 42” scale length won’t of course suit every player, but the bridge position can be instantly raised or lowered by adjusting a couple of screws in the back of the body to give either a high or a low action.

The “flattened” bridge will be welcomed by many players, as it retains just enough angle to stop any string snag, while the ebony finger board on our sample was deliciously smooth, although we were surprised by the dot position markers - helpful though as they were in hitting top D/Eb! Plug this baby in with its single piezo pick up and it’s remarkable what level of volume can be achieved before feedback kicks in. Intonation was right on the button, harmonically it’s fine and there were no ‘wolf’ notes. Played straight without any tonal adjustment, the bass end of the NSWAV has a typical string bass sound, while the middle and treble are decidedly bass guitar.

By tweeking the tone knob and switch adjustment however, it is possible to get a very convincing string bass sound overall – indeed I failed the blindfold test! Well built, with solid machine heads and an even stronger stand, this is a great universal bass. However, we were left thinking how much better it might have been with a fitted pre-amp, so that you could don headphones and practice away to your heart’s content in complete privacy.