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Ned Steinberger

Release Date: 01/17/02
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 12 - Jan. 2002
DCRNS (TransAction)

Martin is proud to introduce the new TransAction™ System, a patented (U.S. Patent Nos: 6265648, 5786539, 5679910) concept that may turn out to be one of the most significant breakthroughs in acoustic guitar design in decades. Invented by respected instrument designer Ned Steinberger, the TransAction™ system allows the player to instantly adjust the neck angle on an acoustic guitar, regulating string action. A threaded screw assembly allows for a steady gradation of neck angle change, up or down. The invention of this simple, lightweight mechanism maintains the stability and acoustic integrity of conventional glued necks, yet pivots precisely to whatever action height is desired, and all adjustments can be made without loosening the strings.

This first TransAction™ offering by Martin is designated as a DCRNS, a Dreadnought Venetian cutaway with solid East Indian rosewood sides and 2-piece back. The solid book-matched gloss-finished spruce top is braced with a hybrid scalloped X-braced array. The DCRNS employs a state-of-the-art Martin/Fishman Prefix Stereo On-board Blender System for professional sound reinforcement on stage or in the studio.

The heart of the TransAction™ system is the innovative neck to body joint, situated in a flat body mortise that runs parallel to the top. Though the TransAction™ system eliminates the traditional neck heel in favor of a top loading neck attachment seen more commonly on cutaway electric guitars, there is no cosmetic alteration to the back of the guitar. Adjustment is made simply by turning an easily accessible wheel which resides just inside the soundhole. The TransAction™ System can also shift neck position for precise intonation throughout the life of the guitar by means of an Allen wrench adjustment just inside the soundhole.

For the dealer, the TransAction™ system allows instant action adjustment and ensures ideal playability at point of sale, showcasing a truly new design with functional innovation. For the player, the TransAction™ system satisfies all playing styles instantly on one instrument. No more need for two (or more!) guitars with varying setups. To top it off, the DCRNS features Ned Steinberger’s innovative AutoTrim™ tuning machine design that automatically cuts excess string length as the string is tuned.

Ned Steinberger, who brought this design to Martin, is known for his innovations in the musical instrument industry. The son of an artist mother and a flute-playing Nobel Prize-winning physicist father, Ned majored in sculpture at Maryland Institute College of Art. In the 1970s, Ned designed for luthier Stuart Spector (and in 1976, introduced) the Spector NS bass guitar, an instrument that is popular to this day. Steinberger’s "headless bass" soon followed. These were a mainstay of the 1980s with artists Sting, John Entwistle (The Who), Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Phil Collins) and Geddy Lee (Rush) among those who embraced the design.

Ned also introduced the headless GL Guitar and the TransTrem™ – a unique transposing vibrato unit that allowed strings to remain in tune with each other. Following the sale of Steinberger Sound in 1986, Ned returned to instrument design and innovation. His current firm, NS Design (, was founded in 1990 to develop innovative stringed instruments including the double bass, cello and violin (a viola is currently in design). His design work continues on acoustic and electric guitars, basses, and accessories. Among his many awards are Industrial Designers Society of America Award of Excellence, Time Magazine’s "Best of 1981," Materials Engineering Design Excellence Award, and Industrial Designers Society of America "Design of the Decade" Award.

The TransAction™ System is an exciting and novel departure from traditional guitar construction. Martin is pleased to introduce this simple but extraordinary solution to an age-old design challenge. This first collaborative edition will be limited to no more that 100 special instruments, each personally signed by Ned Steinberger and Chris Martin and numbered in sequence with the edition total. C.F. Martin & Co., steeped in tradition and known for product excellence, is also respected for innovations. Through its more than 160-year history, the Company has been responsible for many changes in the industry including the 14-fret guitar and the Dreadnought size acoustic, among many others. C. F. Martin & Co. is pleased to join in this adjustable acoustic guitar neck collaboration.

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