Bass of the Week: KIO Extraordinary String Instruments Design Waldeinsamkeit
We have featured a lot of unique and interesting basses over the eleven years since we started this column, but this extended range bass will certainly go down as one of the most amazing.
Japanese luthier Kio Okawa of the well-named KIO Extraordinary String Instruments Design recently finished this masterpiece, which he named the Waldeinsamkeit. The moniker is a German word that has no direct English translation but is loosely translated as “solitude of the forest.” Okawa’s design itself draws from nature as well as fantasy for a monstrous instrument.
“The concept of each bass I design can be summed up in one phrase: ‘one and only,’ and this new bass is one of the most intricate and beautiful basses I have ever designed, the builder shares. “Of course, it is not only about looks but also about design that does not interfere with playability, and the sound output is characterized by a profound and individual core to each note. This bass also has moving parts: an extra bar for connecting the body to the headstock and two upper horns that can be folded. These are not directly related to the sound, but since many extended range basses are too large to fit in a case, this was implemented as a solution to this challenge.”
The eleven-string bass has a mahogany neck with a flamed maple top. The bass is tuned in perfect fourths – C#, F#, B, E, A, D, G, C, F, Bb, Eb – with its low C# string having a .266 gauge, which Okawa says can theoretically can produce a very low note of about 17 Hz. Its nine-piece neck is made from nyatoh, walnut, maple, and purpleheart. The neck also has a multi-scale design with an incredible range from 36.5 inches to 25.5 inches, while its ebonol fingerboard has a compound radius of 21.5 inches to 24 inches.
“The inlay design represents the story of one man and woman’s destiny from the first fret side using shells and recycled woods,” Okawa explains. “The extended range bass has a wider fingerboard than a regular bass, so I use it as a canvas as well.”
The big picture of the bass is amazing, but closer inspection shows all the beautiful smaller details: the wooden gears, the oversized volume knob, the hole for your instrument cable to run through, and the elegant contouring. It’s really a feast for the senses.
Of course, the Waldeinsamkeit was made to be played. A pair of KIO custom pickups are housed in purpleheart covers and matched to a custom KIO preamp. The control set includes volume, three-band EQ, a passive/active switch, and a five-way pickup selector.
Hear this beauty in action with a cover of Jean Baudin’s “So Far, Yet So Close”:
KIO Extraordinary String Instruments Design Waldeinsamkeit Bass Specs:
|Strings:||11 (Custom made by Newtone Strings)|
|Neck:||9 piece laminated Nyatoh, Walnut, Maple, Purpleheart|
|Nut:||Zero fret with brass string guide|
|Inlays:||Avalon, Mother of pearl, Recycled wood chip|
|Bridge:||Custom 3D sculpted wooden bridge|
|Tuners:||GOTOH (SG381-07, GB707)|
|Pickups:||Custom KIO bass pickups in purpleheart housing|
|Preamp:||Custom KIO preamp|
|Controls:||Vol, Treble, Middle, Low), Mini-switch (Passive / Active), 5-way lever switch (Pickup Selector)|
|Other:||Extra bar for connecting body to headstock and two upper horns are movable and foldable|