Fodera basses enjoy a special reputation among many players. The reasons are two-fold: First, they have an unusually accomplished roster of endorsing artists, several of whom are among the most seminal of their generation, such as Anthony Jackson and Victor Wooten. Second, Fodera’s instruments are superbly constructed, thoughtfully designed, and aesthetically gorgeous, with a price to match. This high price makes Foderas cost-prohibitive to most, but with the release of Seymour Duncan Basslines Phase II NYC soapbar pickups, a significant ingredient in the Fodera tone recipe is available to all.
Fodera has been using Basslines pickups in its basses for years. Working in collaboration with Fodera’s Joey Lauricella, as well as several big-name artists on the Fodera roster, Basslines devised its Fodera pickup for maximum versatility, including legit vintage sounds that don’t come at the expense of modern full-bandwidth response. After politely turning down requests from players to buy the pickup alone, Basslines—with Fodera’s blessing— is now offering the pickup in an EMG DC40-sized cover.
The NYC soapbars use Alnico 2 rod magnets in a staggered pattern to match approximately a 15" fingerboard radius, although they’ll work just fine with a differently radiused neck. They’re available with standard string spacing, and a narrower spacing is available for an upcharge. Each dual-coil pickup’s four-conductor cabling allows for a wide variety of operational switching. As humbuckers, each pickup can be wired in series or parallel, and creative soldering/switching creates a bunch of coil-splitting and phase-shifting opportunities. Helpfully, Basslines includes clear diagrams for the myriad wiring schemes.
I installed the NYC’s in a Modulus Quantum 5-string, mostly because it’s one of the few basses I had on hand with the requisite EMG-sized pickup routs. This leads me to my one niggle with the NYC. Why not offer them in the classic Bartolini P2 soapbar size? This longer and narrower cover is much more ubiquitous than EMG DC40 size. One bonus with the Modulus: the graphite-necked bass is even sounding, with a naturally fast attack and broad frequency response. It’s a good neutral platform to hear the difference between pickups. Plus, the Modulus had Bartolini soapbars to begin with, giving a good frame of reference for the NYCs’ effect on tone.
I wired the NYCs in a parallel humbucking configuration and connected them to the Modulus’ 18-volt Bartolini NTMB-918 preamp and NTMB3 EQ. I chose parallel because it’s Basslines’ recommendation for the set. Once I fiddled with the pickups’ height (an oft-neglected spec that has a huge impact on output and tone), I listened to the pickups through a Millenia TD-1 preamp and a set of hi-fi Audio-Technica headphones, as well as several different amp/speaker combinations. With both pickups blended, the NYCs sonic footprint was gutsy with a fairly pronounced low-mid bark that at first recalled a vintage J-Bass, but with more detail and clarity. The NYCs have some of the texture and hairiness of the aggressive J-Bass vibe, but are less congested in the mids, with a glossier sheen to the topmost frequencies. Slapped with both pickups blended, a slight hollowness in the upper mids emerged—the perfectly scooped sound that benefits thumpy slaps and sizzly pops. The NYC’s soloed bridge pickup tone is majorly midrange-y and Jaco-ish, but without getting too nasal or offensively abrasive. The soloed neck pickup was a bit less woody and thumpy than I expected, although this is no doubt in part a consequence of the Modulus, which never seems quite comfortable in that context.
The NYCs are intriguing-sounding pickups, offering a goodly amount of classic texture and personality while remaining poised and balanced, top to bottom. They aren’t overly warm, nor are they notably hot and trebly. Rather, they occupy a legitimately different realm, one that’s marked by more versatility than the usual suspects in the humbucking soapbar category. Whether in a multi-thousand-dollar Fodera, or your sub-$500 entry-level bass, the NYC Phase II’s are excellent performers and worth a close listen.
BASSLINES NYC PHASE II PICKUPS
Street $129, each; $242, set
Pros Excellent full-spectrum frequency response with a vintage J-Bass texture; superb slap tone
Cons Only comes in EMG cover size
Cover size EMG DC40 style
Magnets Alnico 2 rod magnets arranged in a dual J-Bass pattern
DC Resistance Neck: Series, 18.72kΩ; Parallel, 4.68kΩ; Single-coil, 9.36kΩ; Bridge
Neck: Series, 21.43kΩ; Parallel, 5.36kΩ; Single-coil, 10.72kΩ
Made in U.S.A.
Warranty Lifetime limited