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the best 24-fret 4 string basses? what's Fodera's current reputation?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rob_the_bassist, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. I'm looking to get a (beefy, but clear sounding) 24-fret 4 string bass to cover all bases from solo work to singer-songwriter gigs to jazz fusion.

    I'm looking into a custom Fodera Monarch but I'm not sure what Fodera's current reputation is, or if there are any particular luthiers out there that people recommend for this kind of instrument.
  2. styro


    Dec 22, 2011
    There s nothing beyond Fodera.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You really couldn't do much better than a Monarch with Duncan/Fodera dual coils for what you describe. Fodera's current reputation is that no one builds a better bass and they're a bit spendy. If you wanted a 5-string, I know where you could get your choice of whichever neck joint you prefer on a Monarch available for immediate delivery. You can't play jazz on a 4-string anyway.
  4. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    But you can play zzaj
  5. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    OK, then.
  6. Not the same type of bass, or price bracket, but a Musicman Bongo would would cover that ground.
  7. FileBass


    May 9, 2012
  8. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    I think Fodera can build very good instruments.
    Since there are quite a number of builders that can do that too, I strongly suggest, you try instruments from a number of builders to gain an overview on what's out there before you commit a large amount of money, to see what builder's work is most to your taste.

    Since you ask for possible alternatives, I would suggest you look into the marleaux votan . It is a versatile and very well designed/well made instrument, different to fodera but not lacking in terms of built quality.<http://www.marleaux-bass.com/marleaux-bass_votan.html>
    Lefay's singer or Herr Schwarz are yet a couple more you might want to check out. Lefay basses display an attention to detail the level of which I have not seen in any other builder's work and built quality is second to none. <http://www.lefay.de/english/bassmodelle.html>

    Between fodera marleaux and Lefay I'd say taste would be the deciding factor rather than built quality although Lefay might have a hair of an edge here in terms of built and attention to detail .

    But honestly...All three can make remarkable instruments.
  9. jmeyers44


    Sep 20, 2008
    Sadowsky 24F is a great instrument.
  10. pica


    Nov 26, 2009
    I have a 2005 Fender 24 fret Jazz Bass that kicks butt. Fender discontinued them but you can still find them out there.
  11. andreaska


    Mar 10, 2009
    Fodera was learned by Spector... ;)
  12. lucam


    Jun 6, 2010
  13. carlis


    Dec 28, 2005
    in terms of ... marketing promotion and price tags?
  14. Is the jazz comment sarcastic? I only ask because I do seem to notice that, even though four's the core, a lot of jazz / fusion players are using 5/6 string basses today.

    My issue with 5 string basses is that I can never seem to dig in. The low E seems compromised by adding the B...
  15. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Before this descends into the typical TB nonsense on price bashing from people who likely have never played, let alone owned a Fodera, a few words from someone who has.

    There is no perfect instrument in an absolute sense. Musical instruments are personal things to most people, and when you get to the point where you want or "need" something more than a relatively inexpensive production instrument provides, the waters get muddy quickly. A few things that are true imho:

    1. the law of diminishing returns is a reality. Once you get north of about $1-2K in an instrument, the extra money is paying for differences that can be subtle to many. But they are there - it merely depends on if they are important to the INDIVIDUAL.

    2. You are going to play your instrument, not the other people on TB. It can be great to ask here to get people's experiences but in the end we're back to the person and the bass. And what works for one might not work for another.

    3. There are a lot of great small builders out there. If you know what you want, you can get it built by a number of really talented luthiers. There is no single best person or shop. While some on TB will claim that, the builders themselves won't. They know that they have colleagues, some of which are on the same level.

    4. You need to decide what features are important to you. Beyond 24 fret 4-string, do you care about neck construction? What sounds are you going for and do you know what electronics can get you there? Do you know how your personal technique affects your sound? What amp systems do you tend to use? If *you* understand all of that (many don't - took me a long time to sort out), then a custom builder can help you realize that. But if you are still working through that (and to a certain extent, it is a lifetime process), then be prepared to have some misses. What you think will be "the one" might not be. Plus people's styles and tastes change over time. 5 years ago I never touched a 4-string. Now I don't play a bass with a B-string.

    5. wrt Fodera, they are on the top of their game right now, and are producing probably the best basses they ever had. Which is saying something because they are up there with the best of the best. That said, they may or may not be the best choice for you. It depends on the other factors above. People tend to focus on price, but if you keep a bass for 10 years and enjoy the hell out of it, that few extra $K is money well spent imho.

    There are lot's of great builders out there. But after going through a lot of different ones I've landed on Fodera (and Rob Allen) and stuck. Part of that is the construction (I have come to appreciate dovetail and neck-throughs from a playability standpoint), part of it is the sound (PJ with the Pope preamp is exactly what I want), and part of it is the people behind the instrument. And again, Fodera doesn't have a monopoly on this. Plenty of great guys out there (Sadowsky, Lawrence, Allen, etc). Hard to go wrong at this level of bass unless you don't know what you want and end up getting a bass that is perfect...but not perfect for you.

    And remember, price and value are two very different things, and the value of the bass is determined by you, not by someone else.
  16. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    btw, I spent the last two nights doing jazz gigs on a 4-string :D



  17. wow - is the black part of the yin-yang a separate piece of wood, or is it painted?
  18. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    It is ebony


  19. KwinS

    KwinS Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Dallas/Ft. Worth
    That's beautiful! I would like to own one of those someday. I have a few years left to "play the field" though. I absolutely love what I have now, too.
  20. j.kernodle

    j.kernodle Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    South Carolina
    ken smith still makes a great bass. the sound is a little more "baked in" to a smith though. the Spector comment above comes from the association of a bunch of the boutique NY builders with Stuart Spector around 30 years or so ago. Fodera was a Spector employee when Spector was a start up. fodera then went to work for Ken Smith before starting his own shop.

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