Yin Yang StandardFODERA BASSES HAVE LONG BEEN THE stuff of dreams for most bass players—their reputation as exquisite instruments and their association with some of the bass world’s baddest players (Anthony Jackson, Victor Wooten, and Matt Garrison among them) make them among the most coveted basses on the market. But their hefty price tags—up to $20,000 for some models—and the time it takes for Fodera’s small crew of builders to crank out custom creations are major obstacles keeping the basses out of the hands of would-be Foderaphiles. [For more on team Fodera, flip back to Meet Your Maker, Holiday ’11 issue.] With its Standard series of basses, Fodera seeks to chip away at that barrier from both sides; Standard basses are far less expensive than their custom counterparts, and customers can take delivery of their basses faster than ever before. After launching the newest bass in the series—the Emperor 5 Standard—at Bass Player LIVE!, Fodera sent its two Standard demo instruments up to the BP offices for closer inspection.
Emperor 5 StandardVIC’S PIC
The Yin Yang Standard is a somewhat more modest take on Victor Wooten’s instrument of choice, the Yin Yang Deluxe, which features a meticulously inlaid two-piece holly and ebony top and dovetail neck construction. Aside from the Standard’s painted top and bolt-on neck, there’s not a whole lot that separates the two models—aside from a price cut of close to $8,000. Admittedly, I was initially wary of slinging a bass so closely connected with a player of Wooten’s stature; I can’t double-thumb my way out of a wet paper bag. But once I cut myself enough slack to try to play like myself on the Yin Yang, I instantly understood its appeal. The slim satin neck felt perfectly proportioned, and the fretwork was flawless. The combination of the P/J pickups and Fodera/ Pope preamp offers a huge range of sounds, from beefy and big-bottomed to throaty and taut. The 3-band EQ is voiced well, and the preamp’s passive tone option made it easy to flip the vibe from hi-fi to old school. The control cavity itself was tidy, but it required one minor tweak: after hearing one of the preamp’s two 9-volt batteries knocking around when I shook the bass, I had to go in and bend a bracket back in place for a tighter fit. With its light-gauge Wooten signature strings, the Yin Yang Standard is a slapper’s delight, but its versatile pickup and preamp configuration make it a righteous bass for just about any kind of gig.
The Fodera/Pope Standard 3-band preamp (from left): Midrange, active/passive switch, concentric bass/treble, coil-tap switch, pickup blend, volume/passive tone Since its introduction in 1984, the Emperor has been one of Fodera’s most popular models. Outfitted with two dual-coil pickups, the Emperor 5 Standard has all the versatility of the Yin Yang Standard, but has the added bonus of a coil tap. In humbucking mode, the Emperor sounds smooth and creamy, with a buttery midrange bump. Flipping the coil tap engages just the outer coils of each pickup (neck-side on the neck pickup, bridge-side on the bridge pickup), giving the bass a more raw sound and adding sparkle to the high end. The Emperor 5 Standard’s shallow neck profile felt great down low, but the string spacing in the upper register is a bit wider than I’m accustomed to. Ergonomic preferences aside, I found the Emperor 5 Standard’s sound pretty magnificent.
By eliminating customization from the equation— both these Standard models come as they are—Fodera has found a way to allow more people into its elite cadre of players. To be sure, the Standards aren’t cheap by any stretch. But these Brooklyn-built beauties are every bit as hip as any Fodera I’ve played, and cost about half as much. If you’re looking to drop a chunk of change on a bass that’s a cut above, start saving those ducats and consider a Standard. It just might become the way you measure a bass from there on out.
FODERA YIN YANG STANDARD AND EMPEROR 5 STANDARD
FODERA YIN YANG STANDARD
Pros Versatile P/J pickup configuration
Fodera gives you wings!FODERA EMPEROR 5 STANDARD
Pros Smooth like butta
YIN YANG STANDARD
Fingerboard inlay Pearloid
Pickups EMG P/J
Electronics Fodera/Pope 3-band
Controls Volume, passive tone, pickup blend, preamp on/off switch, bass, treble, midrange
Strings Fodera Victor Wooten signature (.040, .055, .075, .095)
EMPEROR 5 STANDARD
Fingerboard Pau ferro
Fingerboard inlay Mother-of-pearl
Pickups Fodera Dual Coil
Electronics Fodera/Pope Standard 3-band
Controls Volume, passive tone, pickup blend, preamp on/off switch, coil tap switch, bass, treble, midrange
Made in U.S.A.