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DiMarco

Fodera N.Y.C. series - let's get the full story

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I pulled the trigger on one that's for sale here on the forum, made a deal to pay and have it transported when the money train arrives in two weeks time (and arrive it will).

You see these for sale from time to time, price ranging so far between 2300 euro up to 3k for really nice ones.
Now I don't know a lot about the series so went digging around on the world wide web and found ... contradicting stories on forums. What a surprise!

Some say these weren't built by Fodera at all, some say the parts were sawn in Japan and the basses assembled and set up in Brooklyn where all the Foderas are made.
There's also those who say they were built in series of the exact same woods and configuration to keep costs low, in Brooklyn.

Have you heard of the wayback machine? It is a website that archives pretty much all of the internet.
On there, while scourging through many incarnations of www.fodera.com throughout the years I found this information in the 2009 and 2010 versions of the Fodera website:

Deluxe-Series-1.jpg.6dd9f8be267b4fff49cc8ffd086d19a5.jpg

Deluxe-Series-2.jpg.36e6162123d8226ff717610681d63554.jpg

Nice find, no? In 2011 they were gone from the site and replaced by the Standard series.

Apparently there was a Deluxe series and a Standard series.
The info from Fodera's own website tells us these were made from woods that were selected from their own aged stock. Does this rule out the Japan story?

There was also a 24 fret model, but not much more was mentioned on the versions of the website crawled.

Has anyone got the full story on the N.Y.C. series? Thanks for any extra info!

 

Edited by DiMarco
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Here's more... Sadly some images of the 24 fret deluxe version have gone missing.

NYC-Series-Standard.jpg.690276e90049495d511df42bea7bd682.jpg

NYC-Series-24-fret-Standard.jpg.8a50c52e66b7f9cbb2774644a081a708.jpg

NYC-Series-24-fret-Deluxe.jpg.269e26dadc628179e56ae7cb7b4ab5b4.jpg

NYC-Series-Artists.jpg.b9ea05aa2120f3aa91da09427dc3364c.jpg

 

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So. N.Y.C. Empire by Fodera came in 4 different flavors: Standard, Standard 24 fret, Deluxe, Deluxe 24 fret.

Oh and uncle Vic used to play one of the regular Deluxe with SD pups installed. How rare! Must be a proper bass then. Not that I have ever seen him play a five string...

Edited by DiMarco
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As far as I remember the deal was this: Fodera would send some woods to a custom shop in Japan. The same shop also had some links with F Clef and Bottomwave early on, but apparently in later years they were only building Fodera NYCs. The actual NYC model was designed (or more like refined, as it's basically a Jazz clone) by Vinnie Fodera, and the Japanese luthiers in question were trained at the Fodera shop. When the bodies and necks were carved, they would send then back to Brooklyn where Fodera would install the hardware, pickups and electronics, inspect the fit and finish and do the final setups.

They mostly have Seymour Duncan Jazz pickups (probably the same models that go into the customs), although some seem to have dual coils, which I presume would also be Seymour Duncans from the custom series and would almost certainly have been an upcharge. They had a two band version of the Pope preamp.

They seem to mostly be ash body/maple fingerboard and '70s pickup spacing, or alder body/rosewood fingerboard and '60s pickup spacing.

They made both 4 and 5 string versions but the 5 strings seem to be more common.They are fine basses, although at that price point they were competing with Sadowsky, Mike Lull and the Fender custom shop.  Victor does indeed have one. Also, I believe that Jamareo Artis played one on the recording of Uptown Funk, so no arguments about how good they sound in a track

IMG_0161.jpg

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Aha, so that basically would make them the Fodera equivalent of Sadowsky's MetroLine series (from before Warwick started manufacturing them).
Less options, far more friendly priced and still very good instruments.

Somehow though, I find it hard to cope with the idea of sending wood from the US to Japan to have it worked on and then send it back to have hardware, frets and electronics installed. More logical would be to purchase quantities of wood and have parts of it sent straight to both Japan and the US. The key thing here is what's "our aged stock" supposed to mean.

How much it all matters I don't really know, they are fine instruments no doubt. Just a lot of noise about the subject exists online.

Edited by DiMarco

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11 hours ago, DiMarco said:

Deluxe-Series-1.jpg.6dd9f8be267b4fff49cc8ffd086d19a5.jpg

that teal one is nice

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I've always had a hankering for one of the 24 fret, 5 string versions but they seem as rare as the proverbial rocking horse doo-doo 🙂

Edited by Acebassmusic

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10 hours ago, DiMarco said:

Aha, so that basically would make them the Fodera equivalent of Sadowsky's MetroLine series (from before Warwick started manufacturing them).
Less options, far more friendly priced and still very good instruments.

Somehow though, I find it hard to cope with the idea of sending wood from the US to Japan to have it worked on and then send it back to have hardware, frets and electronics installed. More logical would be to purchase quantities of wood and have parts of it sent straight to both Japan and the US. The key thing here is what's "our aged stock" supposed to mean.

How much it all matters I don't really know, they are fine instruments no doubt. Just a lot of noise about the subject exists online.

Yes, sending the wood there and back does sound odd, and I'm sure there is plenty of high quality wood in Japan, but Fodera take their wood stock very seriously (I've actually seen it) and I have no reason to doubt them. They inspect and select, and age all the wood they buy so purchasing and shipping directly to Japan wouldn't be an option. Back when the NYCs were being made, their shop was a lot smaller than it is now, with maybe only 4 or 5 people building there, and they had horrendous (2-3 year) waiting times for instruments, so it made sense to build them separately I suppose. 

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3 hours ago, LukeFRC said:

the copy from the website @DiMarco doesn't meantion Japan at all though... 

Maybe that's because a large portion of Americans are VERY sensitive to the term "made in USA".

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Okay so what we have established so far

  • The N.Y.C. series came to be in 1993, when Grunge was also a thing.
  • They are made from properly dried and often beautiful Fodera owned wood, wherever that may have been stacked to dry.
  • Assembly, fretwork, electronics and hardware was applied in Brooklyn, NY by the boys at Fodera.
  • There are four different versions in total, and of these versions there's mainly ash body+maple fingerboard with 70's pickup placement and alder body+rosewood fingerboard with 60's pickup placement copies, although different variations may exist. The versions are 21 fret standard, 21 fret deluxe, 24 fret standard, 24 fret deluxe.
  • The Deluxe have angled pegheads, Fodera brass bridges, three piece maple necks, natural, sunburst or custom transparent colour finishes.
  • Standards have flat pegheads, Gotoh brass bridges, one piece maple necks, classic opaque colour finishes.
  • All have a three band Pope pre onboard and by default Fodera designed Seymour Duncan pickups, sometimes Aero's instead.
  • Japan is indeed a country.
  • Woodwork on the N.Y.C. series which funny enough is not named the Kimono series was certainly done in Japan, even though Fodera themselves do not seem to feel like talking about this much.
  • The N.Y.C. weighs more then a Sadowsky Metroline does.
  • Fodera is the Italian word for lining.
  • Belka knows stuff.
  • Some N.Y.C. Empire basses are very sexy.
    SomeOfThem.jpg.d71ac9b9ad30581224a3751bee39f7d0.jpg

 

Edited by DiMarco
Adding more info as it comes

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Still open:

We want to know more about Japan. Were CNC machines involved? Were they lacquered there or in Brooklyn?
This will be tricky to find out.

 

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Got this info from Aero: Between 1999 and 2008 Aero was one of two pickups suppliers for the majority of Fodera USA basses, and the exclusive supplier to the Fodera NYC/Bottom Wave instruments from Japan.

Does this mean all NYC between 1999 and 2008 sported Aero pickups? It just might. They also say that thing again: "from Japan".

 

 

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This is an excerpt from doctorbass.net and is about the Yin Yang standard:

The bodies are completely built in Fodera Brooklyn’s workshop by the same skilled craftsmen that work on the Custom instruments. The basic neck shaping and initial finishing is done by the skilled Japanese craftsmen that make the excellent Fodera NYC range. The wood for the necks is shipped from the Fodera shop in Brooklyn, NY to Japan and then the partially finished necks are sent back to Brooklyn where there’s still extensive work to be done: final hand-rubbed finish, hand made nut, fretwork, assembling the body and neck, hardware and electronics installation and then the same painstaking set-up and checkk.out process that all Fodera basses go through.

Skilled japanese craftsmen that make the excellent Fodera NYC range... And the wood IS indeed shipped back and forth. From and back to Brooklyn. Belka is correct.

 

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This is a quote from Mike Pope on another forum, January 2009:

NYC basses are made in Japan in a small shop by two guys who have been trained by Joey and Vinny. I know one of them personally. I met him at the shop in NY once when I was there. The basses are hand built. There's no CNC. The top woods, neck woods/fingerboards, and I THINK the body woods are shipped over from Fodera's aged stock. The fingerboards are even slotted by Fodera first..

..The guys in the shop in Japan use many of the same machines to build the basses that Fodera uses and they are built by the same processes that Vinny and Joey use. They are real craftsmen. Japan is NOT CHINA. You guys need to understand that. Japan is much more like the US than China from the standpoint of craftsmanship. This is not cookie cutter crap. These are nice basses. The preamps in a lot of them are based on my design, but they are not my products. I'm building a new preamp for the NYC's that will show up shortly which will vastly improve their performance sonically.

Then later on in that thread:

The NYC parts are fabricated in Japan from Fodera's stock of wood, and assembled and set up in Brooklyn. I've never known anyone from Fodera to say anything to the contrary.

So that clears up things to somewhat full extent.

  • Two guys in Japan that were trained by Joey and Vinny are building the parts for the NYC series.
  • No CNC machines are involved, these are hand made instruments.
  • The wood comes from Brooklyn, bass parts (bodies, necks) are built in Japan by these very skilled people for Fodera.
  • Finished products are shipped back to Brooklyn, where the basses are assembled and set up.
  • The preamps in the NYC from before 2009 are based on Pope's design, but are not his product.

Source: https://www.talkbass.com/threads/fodera-and-f-clef-basses-the-real-deal.509433/#post-6868719

 

Edited by DiMarco
TYPO

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3 hours ago, DiMarco said:

Okay so what we have established so far

Good stuff and a good summary. Sorry to be a pedant, but I might just comment on a few of these:

  • The N.Y.C. series came to be in 1993, when Grunge was also a thing. 

Yep.

  • They are made from properly dried and often beautiful Fodera owned wood, wherever that may have been stacked to dry.

Apparently so.

  • Assembly, fretwork, electronics and hardware was applied in Brooklyn, NY by the boys at Fodera.

That's what they say.

  • There are four different versions in total, and of these versions there's mainly ash body+maple fingerboard with 70's pickup placement and alder body+rosewood fingerboard with 60's pickup placement copies, although different variations may exist. The versions are 21 fret standard, 21 fret deluxe, 24 fret standard, 24 fret deluxe.

Yep.

  • The Deluxe have angled pegheads, Fodera brass bridges, three piece maple necks, natural, sunburst or custom transparent colour finishes.

Yes, although this info is true about the later editions, I'd imagine that between 1993-2010 there was quite a bit of crossover. I've seen Schaller roller bridges on early models.

  • Standards have flat pegheads, Gotoh brass bridges, one piece maple necks, classic opaque colour finishes.

See above

  • All have a three band Pope pre onboard and by default Fodera designed Seymour Duncan pickups, sometimes Aero's instead.

I think this is a typo in Fodera's advertising; I'm sure I heard it's a two band with a passive tone. Let us know when you receive your bass.

There are probably some NYC basses with Aeros installed, either by accident or design. Back in the day they would get them mixed up ; guys who ordered Duncans would have their bass arrive with Aeros, and vice versa.. 

  • Japan is indeed a country.
  • Woodwork on the N.Y.C. series which funny enough is not named the Kimono series was certainly done in Japan, even though Fodera themselves do not seem to feel like talking about this much.
  • The N.Y.C. weighs more then a Sadowsky Metroline does.

Most Foderas are fairly hefty. They believe it adds to the tone. You'll find the Pope preamp is actually pretty transparent and what you hear is the sound of the wood/strings/pickups. With Sadowsky I think the preamp is an essential part of the recipe.

  • Fodera is the Italian word for lining.

I think it means moth/butterfly in the Sicilian dialect, hence the butterflies.

  • Belka knows stuff.

Been a fan boy since around 2005.

  • Some N.Y.C. Empire basses are very sexy.

Yes. Yes, they are.

Couple of pictures to show what I mean. Here's one with the dual coils, and an early looking 4 string with the Schaller roller bridge and what look like Lane Poor pickups. There are probably quite a few exceptions to the standard and custom soecs.
SomeOfThem.jpg.d71ac9b9ad30581224a3751bee39f7d0.jpg

 

 

Edited by Belka
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imagAux1_Fodera-NYC-Trans-grape-entero-II.jpg

IMG_2417.jpg.6d8339dfee16097e5f4c8b213abcf430.jpgCouple of pictures to show what I mean. Here's one with the dual coils, and an early looking 4 string with the Schaller roller bridge and what look like Lane Poor pickups. There are probably quite a few exceptions to the standard and custom specs.

Edited by Belka

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About the three vs two band pre: Maybe Mike Pope was referring to this when he said early in 2009 that he was designing a new preamp for the NYC series, which would improve their sound. The info on the website stating the three band eq was up there from june 2009 until late 2010...

I must also admit I never really touch the mid dial on any of my threeband eq basses. I do imagine they can be a lifesaver though when playing through a crappy backline that sounds overly scooped or very honky (like those awful Peavy combo's we used to see a lot in the early nineties).

 

Edited by DiMarco
Typo

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Two band EQ with a passive tone control on this 2007.
Marius is on Patreon, if you like his videos do consider giving the guy some love.

 

Edited by DiMarco
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So what do you make of this @Belka?

Looks like Fodera pickups and tuning mechanisms. The sprayed logo and cheap looking body are yelling FAKE though.
Also, it was advertised as a carbon neck. The neck looks more like a carbon color lacquered neck to me though.

Thoughts?

Oddling.thumb.jpg.12691e0f3ee7235bd07f1076c06e6aa7.jpg

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Marius switched his videos to private. Guess I was lucky to have checked his review.
Now you can only watch through Patreon, for a fee... Such is life I guess.

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7 hours ago, DiMarco said:

So what do you make of this @Belka?

Looks like Fodera pickups and tuning mechanisms. The sprayed logo and cheap looking body are yelling FAKE though.
Also, it was advertised as a carbon neck. The neck looks more like a carbon color lacquered neck to me though.

Thoughts?

Oddling.thumb.jpg.12691e0f3ee7235bd07f1076c06e6aa7.jpg

No idea. I'd guess it's probably real but has been refinished by an owner or perhaps the Japanese shop.The body doesn't look cheap to me, it doesn't have the neck heel carve but not all of them did. I just don't think the finish is particularly attractive.

 I don't think it's a carbon fibre neck either, just carbon effect lacquer as you say. 

I honestly don't think anyone would fake an NYC. Contrary to what some people believe, the vast majority of Fodera copies are poorly executed Chinese jobs that no-one would ever confuse with the real thing. If someone had access to Fodera pickups/hardware and the luthiery skills and wanted to fake a bass they'd probably do a custom, not an NYC, as they could charge a lot more money for it. 

So, it's almost certainly the real thing, with an unconventional refinish. The pickups with the Fodera butterfly on them are Lane Poors. 

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Maybe one of the more early versions. Body looks rather plain and flat, much more like a jazz bass then the 2007-2010 models I have so far seen.
 

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Chiming back in to report I have received the bass and it is very, very awesome.
Very happy to have taken the plunge!

Big-Red.jpg

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