Guitars designed by luthier Ned Steinberger are some of the most eye-catching and polarising electric guitar and bass designs ever. The headless, minimalist designs saw the stage with everyone from Van Halen and Allan Holdsworth to Mark Knopfler and David Bowie in the brand’s 80s heyday.
Now however, for the first time in decades, Guitar.com can exclusively reveal that the Steinberger brand will debut a brand new model designed by Ned Steinberger, in collaboration with the company’s current owners, Gibson Brands.
While details are still under wraps for now, the new guitar will retain the headless design of the originals and boast a plethora of new, as yet unrevealed, innovations that build upon the iconic classic instruments Ned Steinberger designed over 40 years ago.
“The new guitar is an evolution of the Steinberger bass and guitar, and the result of an ongoing process of development that drives my work as a musical instrument designer,” Steinberger tells us. “I designed the first headless instrument back in the mid 70s when I was young and inexperienced. I have devoted my entire career since then to designing musical instruments, so as you can imagine, I’ve learned a few things along the way. The new Steinberger guitar and bass will incorporate features that I have come to better understand over the years.”
The original Steinberger models debuted back in 1978 – in fact the first one was a bass guitar and was sold to Tony Levin who still plays it to this day. Steinberger made the guitars himself until 1987 when he sold the company to Gibson – he stayed on for several years with Gibson but would ultimately embark on his own, starting a new company called NS Design in 1990. He’s continued building instruments under this banner – mostly bowed instruments like violins and cellos – for the past three decades.
Gibson continued to make Steinberger guitars until 1998, when production was halted, but the brand later returned, albeit with new designs that deviated from Ned’s originals in an attempt to make them easier to produce.
The original Steinberger designs remain some of the most cutting edge and innovative electric guitars of the last four decades, and were the first mass-produced headless instruments. They also utilised many unique innovations, including the TransTrem bridge, double ball-end strings, and construction from a unique mix of glass fiber and carbon fiber that’s referred to as ‘The Steinberger Blend’
The prospect of Steinberger teaming up with the reinvigorated Gibson company to produce new instruments that make use of these innovations, plus everything that Ned has learned in the ensuing decades since he left the brand, is an intriguing one for sure.
“The headless concept combines my natural inclination to design compact and efficient structures with my determination to correct the imbalance that is inherent in a conventional electric bass with a headstock,” Steinberger reflects on the original instrument. “ What I found is that the headless configuration was also of great value for the electric guitar, particularly due to the stable tuning that made the development of the TransTrem possible.”
Details of the new Steinberger model have yet to be confirmed publicly by Gibson, but stay tuned to Guitar.com for all the information as it arrives.