Bass of the Week: KIO Extraordinary String Instruments Design Waldeinsamkeit

KIO Extraordinary String Instruments Design Waldeinsamkeit Bass 2We 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)
Top:Flame maple
Neck:9 piece laminated Nyatoh, Walnut, Maple, Purpleheart
Nut:Zero fret with brass string guide
Fingerboard Radius:21.5″-24.0″
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

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Share your thoughts

  1. Guy

    A C# below the low B !! That’s crazy style. Too bad they didn’t include much of any of the lower register strings in the demo. I play an 8 string Warr guitar and from the looks of it, those lower strings are largely out of reach for the left hand, which seems a bit counter productive, but anyone who can work a low C# into the design has got my attention and accolades! Perhaps if it was just the lowest 7-8 strings it might prove more managable, or even just the lowest four….
    “Yeah, I play sub-bass!”
    I gotta wonder how much a .266 string is gonna cost and just how available they are here in the states?

  2. Earle

    I’m sorry to be disparaging but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. This is very cumbersome in form and function and to me it is the opposite of the solitude of the forest. It is more like train wrecks into forest. Absurd.

  3. Jay Gerald

    Two words come to mind upon seeing this beast…..hideous and grotesque!

  4. David C Dezz

    Another strange contraption calling itself a bass when the song played on it is in the range of a guitar. No thanks (for me) for these strange instruments-I have no interest in them. Good for some people who have an interest for these sorts of things, but it is too off topic for me. They deserve a classification all their own like a Stick and I say it is not a bass. We don’t call a piano a bass keyboard, do we? Also, when you put skinny guitar strings on a bass it is no longer a bass (in my opinion). Do the gears grind out cheese? I hope to see articles on basses most of us play featured sometime on NT instead of the many exotic basses most of us never see and never play.

  5. Dutchwife

    Quite a lot of treble for a site with this name. Shame the 17Hz is only theoretical, that would be really useful…oh…wait there…I thought it was April.
    Skilful woodworking at least, and that blue’s a lovely colour.
    Next please.

  6. Kilgore Trautmann

    As sculpture? Dubious. As a bass guitar! Daffy Duck Done!

  7. Well let’s set the low range at safe low limit, shall we? Let’s set the upper range in bass and at most baritone. Now tell me how many strings of what gauge I need. Sheesh!

  8. Richard Jones

    If only I still had my Carvin LB20,solid Mahogany, lost her to comancharos, would of been your worthleyness, I still dream of her.

    • Richard Jones

      To all those negs, ya’ll need 2 open yor minds, look at it, like smoke through a sunbeam, that my friends is music of the soul, beauty iz all around, your missing out

  9. Rick

    Just to many haters, but that’s the problem with humans, they like to destroy. So so sad. Just started playing should have started.50+ years ago. I love the continued variety of anything I’ve gotten into. Stagnation is death