Waimea Paul has been an Alembic player for years. With a classic short scale Series I in Zebrawood and a Rogue 5 in his collection, the time was ripe for a bass that reflected his personality. We present to you Waimea, named for the beautiful canyon on the island of Kauai. It's a place that Paul visited (his photo is the background of the wallpaper this month) and its beauty stirred something inside him. Only fitting that those feelings should manifest into this musical instrument.
"My favorite thing is the frets," Paul told us. "The slippery smoothness that is felt when running my fingers over them really tells of the massive laborious effort that you folks put into every detail to make the most playable instrument possible. Then there's the breathiness of the electronics... heavenly! The vibrations of the semi-hollow Series II body are extraordinary. They provide enough volume to make it fun to play unplugged."
We didn't get everything right. "A 3+2 headstock would make this bass a little more manageable in tight places," Paul commented. "The 4+1 headstock on a 35 inch scale bass is too long!" Yeah, we never thought of that. "But that's what experiments are for, to find this kind of stuff out, right?"
wood Since the wood is the inspiration for the name, it seems as good as any place to start discussing the features of this lovely bass. When we talk about "Superb Walnut" around here, this is the stuff we mean. There's a wonderful alternating color-banding juxtaposed with an outrageous flame figure. It looks like the banded layers of rock that line Waimea Canyon. The flamey figure brings to mind the numerous waterfalls that dance along the ridge of the canyon.
peghead peghead
When the wood is this special, you've got to make your own veneers for the peghead faces. We slice a thin sheet from the same board on the bandsaw, then sand to the final thickness desired.
We've been told that it's amusing the wood, especially on the peghead, is so reminiscent of Koa, considering the Hawaiian name of the bass.
back view The warm colors of the Mahogany neck stream down the back view of Waimea. Three Ebony neck laminates make the tone from this bass solid and rich in fundamental response. Mahogany as the main neck wood keeps the overall tone round and full.
"I'm glad that I chose Mahogany instead of Maple in the neck," Paul reflected. "The notes on the G and D strings above the 12th fret have a real sweetness to them. Susan told me that about 80% of the 'Ebony effect' is accomplished with one stringer. I can hear that now. It's kind of bad that I hogged three of these rare stringers for Waimea's neck."
Don't worry, Paul, nobody can blame you for that :)
black hardware We wanted Waimea to have an understated beauty, so the choice to use blackened brass hardware was a natural one. An Alembic aficionado might note this hardware looks a tad more black than usual. The company that does our black plating now offers a clear ultra-hard powder coating over the black finish. It's still got a tinge of the steely gray color, but the result is a deeper, more black color.
Continuouswood backplate As a Series II bass, continuous wood backplates are a standard feature. Making these little objets d'art is rather time consuming (like we ever take the easy road). Before gluing the body laminations together, the location for the backplates is mapped out. Bob then uses his scroll saw and cuts the plates from the main bookmatch. Then, just like the peghead veneers, these reserved parts get resawn to make the facing veneers for the plates.
Stacked up 5 thick, with the Walnut on the outside and inside, we glue the plates to form some of the most exotic plywood you'll ever find. The plates are then shaped and fit to the routing on the back of the bass. Side by side in the finish department, plates and bass alike are coated with our polyester finish for maximum beauty and protection.
logo Black Tahitian mother of pearl keeps the understated theme going and matches with the fingerboard inlays.
"Thank you for bending over backwards to make Waimea. It's beauty beyond compare! You're the best!"
Paul's wonderful ever-positive attitude made it possible for us to create this instrument. He continues to be an absolute joy to work with. We're confident that next time, together, we'll get everything "just right."

Front Back


  • Series II 5-string bass
  • Superb Walnut top and back
  • Top bookmatched to center
  • Mahogany body core
  • Mahogany and Ebony accent pinstripes
  • Europa II body shape
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Coated blackened brass hardware
  • Black Tahitian mother of pearl oval inlays
  • 35" extra long scale Mahogany and Ebony neck
  • 4+1 Europa peghead
  • Inlaid Alembic logo with black Tahitian mother of pearl and abalone
featured custom

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Text and photos of bass by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2010 Alembic, Inc.
Photo of Waimea Canyon by Paul Danielson, © 2009.

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