The Realist acoustic transducer was designed by Ned Steinberger in collaboration with David Gage. The Realist is available for bass, cello, viola, violin, arch-top guitar, mandolin, banjo, and other acoustic instruments, including the kora.
David Gage on the development of The Realist:
"Recognizing the limitations of microphones and traditional piezo transducers, Ned and I decided that for the working musician things could and should be better. We felt a transducer should be equal in it's ability to recreate an acoustic pizzicato and arco sound through commonly used amplifiers.
Furthermore, this pick-up had to be simple, dependable, and affordable. After years of consideration and tests, we have come up with a system that achieves all of these goals.
We understand the hours of practice it takes to draw your sound out of your instrument, and with this pick-up we feel your voice can be heard more accurately through an amplifier. Both recording engineers and professional musicians have been startled by the great tone and even response when playing pizzicato and arco. Finally, you can play both pizz and arco without having to play with your controls."
Ned Steinberg on the development of The Realist:
"This pickup is the result of an intensive collaboration between myself and luthier David Gage. He is one of the first people from the acoustic bass scene to reach out and support my work on the electric upright. It was the piezo bridge pickup in particular that caught his interest because of the full, rich tonality, especially when bowed, that seemed to be missing in other electric instruments. We got to talking about the dissatisfaction so many acoustic string players have with the sound of the pickups that are available. The next thing I know, I've got one of David's prize instruments in my studio, and we are testing all kinds of old and new variations of pickup designs. The result is The Realist, which is an evolution of the original pickup in the NS Double Bass. Three elements combine to give The Realist the exciting tone that has so many players raving. The first is finding the right structure within and around the piezo crystal to respond optimally to the acoustic resonance of the instrument itself. This involves endless comparisons that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, and we have David's sensitivity and patience to thank for the excellent result. We owe a debt also to the many fine players who were corralled into helping evaluate the various options. Second, placing the transducer under the foot of the bridge puts it exactly where the sound is transferred from the strings to the sound board. This is definitely where the action is, and the rich, powerful response, both pizzicato and bowed, testifies to this simple fact. The output level directly from the pickup is unusually high, and as a result the signal to noise ratio is also very high, so no pre-amp or other active, battery powered gear is necessary. Just plug it in! The copper foil sandwich construction is the third key element in the system. It provides total shielding to eliminate hum from light fixtures and other electrical or radio interference. It is flexible enough to conform to the curve of the top of the instrument, so that the full pressure of the bridge is concentrated evenly onto the piezo surface. But all this technical stuff is beside the point when you are on stage or in the studio, the pressure is mounting, and you need your sound to be there. As both luthier and musician, David has plenty of field experience in the ongoing battle for tone. "