expensive, but awesome!

To bass players, the name Fodera can ring so many bells. Victor Wooten might come to mind, or Anthony Wellington, or the great Anthony Jackson. Either way, the name is synonymous with greatness and that’s been proven over a 25+ year career of building some of the finest basses the world has ever seen. Joey Lauricella and Vinny Fodera began making basses back in the early 80’s after Vinny left the shop of the legendary Ken Smith, of Smith basses. In 1983, they sold one of their first basses ever, a “monarch” model, to a young and unknown talent by the name of Victor Wooten for something like $1200. From what I remember of the story he couldn’t even afford it so his brother Regi put down $800 and the rest is history….literally! Today, custom orders start around $12-13,000 and the wait list can easily exceed 2 years. A new order today won’t be seen until 2013! Now I can’t say I’ve been impressed with every Fodera I’ve ever played, and I’ve had enough negative experiences with them to personally say they may just not be my thing. However, I just can’t get the thought of owning a Fodera Anthony Jackson Presentation 6 out of my head these days! Now my first thought when I see a bass with a price tag of $25,000 and it’s NOT a pre-CBS Fender in a custom color is, “Whaaaa???”. But in the case of the AJ6 Presentation I can understand. 35″ scale, 400 year old wood dug up from under the ocean, and NO onboard controls. That’s right, not even a volume knob. AJ apparently believes that even a single potentiometer between the pickup and output jack can affect the basses tone in a negative way. And I have to agree with him. Obviously it’s quite handy to be able to adjust ones volume and timbre right there on the guitar, but if you think about the way a pot works, it’s creating resistance in the signal chain. In other words, the more intricate our onboard pre-amps get, the farther we gravitate away from the bass’s natural tone. I made this realization about 4 years ago and if you look at the basses I play these days you’ll notice most of them are passive, meaning they have no onboard pre-amp, just a volume knob and a tone knob. But even THAT’S too much for AJ! Half of the Fodera “sound” to me is the Mike Pope/Fodera 18 volt circuit that can be found in just about EVERY Fodera out there (minus the early models and the NYC Empire basses). But not in the AJ6 Presentation. ALL passive baby. Now to most electric players this could be a serious nightmare. Maybe it’s the upright player in me, but there’s something almost comforting in the fact of knowing there’s literally nothing between you and the raw tone you’re getting out of your bass. Any inflection of sound you want has to come from your touch, your strings, and your amp. Simplicity, brought back to us in this modern world of complicated EQs and active onboard pre-amps. Looking at my bank account I realize I’m a ways away from dropping an order for my future AJ6 Presentation, but you never know, I may just find one in the trash tomorrow….

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