Calgary musician writes biography of one of the world’s most influential musical instrument designers
A Calgary musician and author has written the biography of one of the world’s most influential musical instrument designers.
American Ned Steinberger is said to have revolutionized the sound of ’80s music. His headless electric bass, the “Steinberger”, was played by artists like Sting and the Rolling Stones and even featured on the album. Double Fantasy by John Lennon.
The biography of his career, Steinberger: a story of creativity and design, was written by Calgarian Jim Reilly.
Reilly said The stretch that he bonded with Steinberger 15 years ago while doing promotional work in the music industry.
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“The more I got to know him as a person and his story, the more I kind of put in my back pocket that one day I would like to write this book, tell this story,” he said. .
About five years ago, that goal led to hours of conversations between Steinberger and his network.
“It’s a fun musical story and it’s fun talking to these big rock stars and things, but I really wanted to dive into that a little bit,” he said.
“So it’s also kind of an exploration of this relationship between the builder, the player and then the music.”
Reilly explains that Steinberger’s experience was particularly compelling since he started out as a carpenter, not as a musician.
“This Steinberger bass was his first design… So he didn’t start out as an instrument maker and had a very interesting and fortuitous way of entering this world,” he said.
“He approached it with comfort and ergonomics and sort of looking at what was really essential to making an instrument comfortable and playable and engaging with the musician.”
The instrument became instantly popular, which Reilly says helped define the video era of the 1980s.
“He’s doing that with this new instrument, this new design that immediately catches the eye and is visually appealing,” he said.
“They really became a sort of favorite instrument for the time.”
Steinberger instruments are still in great demand today. He turned to making electric bow instruments, basses and guitars.
“They haven’t achieved iconic status for Steinberger instruments, but they’re still played by the best players in the business,” said Reilly.
Reilly’s book, Steinberger: a story of creativity and design, is available online and in stores.
With files from The Homestretch.