NS Design CR6 Electric Cello Review

The electric cello is an intriguing instrument with several different possible applications. The market for them is large and dominated by two companies, Yamaha and NS Design. In this post we will review the CR6 from NS Design and compare it to some of its peers.

What To Consider Before Buying An Electric Cello

Electric cellos don't generate sound the way acoustic ones do, which is by vibrating strings and creating resonant tones that project out the sound hole. Instead they use electronic pickups that convert the vibrations into a digital signal. This means the electronics they use and the ports and plugs they have are of utmost importance, as are their shape and weight.

The NS Design CR6

The electric cellos from NS Design have an iconic look that uses a thin profile and generally does not include bouts. This makes them a little harder to learn for someone with experience playing acoustic cello because the place to grip with the knees and hands is different. The CR6 is one of the upper-level cellos from NS Design, so it comes loaded with special electronics and quality materials. In addition to that, the CR6 is a 6-string cello rather than the usual 4 strings. This creates some new opportunities especially when it comes to playing the cello as a lead instrument. The CR6 is fretless and comes with a gig bag and optional hard case, endpoint mount, and strap. It has a headphone jack but does not come with a set of headphones.

Pros

  • Excellent electronics
  • Six strings
  • Pleasing design

Cons

  • High price
  • No bouts
  • Gig bag is not sturdy

Features and Benefits

Electronics

NS Design CR6 Electric Cello

The CR6 has a switch for the pickup to read vertical or horizontal movements, volume control, a bass knob, and a treble knob. All this is powered by an active preamp to ensure enough power to drive an amp. The electronics come from EMG, a powerhouse in electronics and pickups for string instruments. The setup provides enough control to allow for creativity but not so much as to create confusion or wasted time. The preamp is especially welcome because it increases the number of possible amps the CR6 can drive without needing more equipment.

Build Quality

From the six enclosed worm gear tuners to the bright amber finish, the CR6 is a well-built cello that looks as good as it plays. The simple amber and black color scheme emphasizes the connection to acoustic cellos while the slender shape sets it apart. The CR6 uses maple for the body and ebony for the fingerboard, which includes a white dot inlay to mark key notes.

Upgrades

The three main possible upgrades for the CR6 are adding a hardshell case, adding an end point stand, and adding a strap. The CR6 weighs about 17 pounds so the strap can help with standing play. The same goes for the end point stand, which might feel more natural to acoustic players than the original tripod. The hard case is essential for extended travel, especially when it comes to planes or buses.

Six Strings

Having this many strings is unusual, although not completely unique. It creates new ways to create chords and progressions as well as easier fingerings for some familiar passages. It takes some getting used to but the upside is significant for those with the patience to stick with it and master the larger toolkit.

Ratings

Design

5

Performance

5

Construction

4

Value for the Money

5

User Satisfaction

5

Alternatives

Yamaha SVC-210SK Silent Cello

Yamaha SVC-210SK Silent Cello

The SVC-210SK is a Yamaha model of electric cello. It comes with four strings instead of six and costs about $750 less. The Yamaha also has bouts to make it look and feel more like an acoustic instrument. These bouts are actually collapsible for travel or storage. The electronics are not quite as good and there is no preamp, but there are 3 different kinds of reverb that you can add.

Comparison

Yamaha SVC-210SK Silent Cello

Price: $2770

Preamp: No

Features: Main and headphone out, aux in, collapsible bouts, reverb

NS Design CR6

Price: $3500

Preamp: Yes

Features: Six strings, EMG electronics, upgrades

NS Design CR5 Cello

NS Design CR5 Cello

As the name indicates, the CR5 uses the same basic design as the CR6 but it only comes with five strings instead of six. If six seems like too many strings to manage then five still offers more than the typical cello but there is less to learn and you can save yourself about $500.

Comparison

NS Design CR5

Price: $3100

Preamp: Yes

Features: Five strings, EMG electronics, upgrades

NS Design CR6

Price: $3500

Preamp: Yes

Features: Six strings, EMG electronics, upgrades

Stagg ECL 4/4 WH Cello

Stagg ECL 4/4 WH Cello

If these NS Design and Yamaha models seem too expensive, the Stagg ECL is a significant savings at just $700. That's one fifth of the cost of the CR6. It only has four strings, but it does have an active preamp with EQ. It comes with a gig bag and a bow, although the bow is not likely to be particularly useful unless you don't have any at home.

Comparison

Stagg ECL 4/4

Price: $700

Preamp: Yes

Features: Four strings, headphone out, aux in, gig bag, bow

NS Design CR6

Price: $3500

Preamp: Yes

Features: Six strings, EMG electronics, upgrades

Final Thoughts

There are many different electric cellos that can all provide some very different playing experiences. Depending on what you want and how much you can afford to spend, you should be able to find at least one that fits your needs. Don't be tempted to buy one that is priced higher than your budget, especially if you have never gotten a chance to play it yourself. It's an exciting time for electric cellos so keep searching for the ideal match! Also make sure to read our reviews and guide for other cello.

Stephanie Su
 

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