There is a great debate on the price segment of Fodera basses. Some people think that they are overpriced, some think that they can justify the price tag, and some people own multiple Fodera basses. Apparently, the only consensus is that they aren’t exactly the cheapest purchase option in the bass market. Being a former Fodera artist myself, I would like to talk about this matter.
Many other renowned custom builders work within the price range of Fodera as well; therefore, the title of this post could have been “Are custom basses worth the money?”. However; I didn’t want to talk about basses I’ve never played before, so I focused solely on Fodera.
First things first: Value is a subjective concept. Some people drive a Mercedes and can justify its high price with tangible or intangible factors; while others think that it is overpriced and any middle class vehicle can get them from point A to point B.
Same applies to the value of bass guitars; where Fodera can arguably be seen as the Bugatti of the market.
At Fodera, very talented luthiers hand-produce bass guitars using very high quality wood and hardware in a relatively expensive area of the world – NYC. Wage, material cost and overhead per instrument is probably much higher than a typical mass produced factory instrument. Add some profit on top of that. Add some customer service percentage too. Considering that Fodera has a backlog of 9 months on custom instruments, the demand – supply balance certainly seems to be favoring Fodera in terms of an increased price based on brand value as well.
The combination of those factors naturally lead us to the hefty price tags of instruments made by Fodera.
Is it worth it?
To some, yes. Some people enjoy the sound, playability, overall quality, image, etc. of a Fodera so much that they will find the instrument worth it. Some of those are financially fortunate enough to buy one, some not.
To some, no. Some people will find the instrument overpriced and claim that they find a similar sound, playability, overall quality, image, etc. in another instrument.
It all boils down to what you seek in an instrument, and where you can find it. Tangible or intangible; some people seem to find their criteria in a Fodera, and find the instrument worth it. The equation is that simple. Others might find their criteria in another brand (expensive or cheap), which is also totally fine.
Check my Fodera vs Fender Custom Shop comparison to see the reasons why a particular player might prefer the Fodera over a Fender CS or vice versa.
To be fair, we have to consider the law of diminishing marginal returns.
Assuming that a good production bass costs 2.000$ and an entry level Fodera costs 6.000$; some people will find the difference of Fodera worth the additional 4.000$ because this is what they are looking for. This is fine.
Some people will happily settle down with the 2.000$ bass and think that Fodera is overpriced because both sound & play almost identical for them – considering their own requirements. Those people will think that a Fodera is not worth it for them, personally. This is fine as well.
Some people will make a lucky purchase of a 500$ overseas instrument, where the perfect combination occurred; and be perfectly happy with it after a few modifications here and there. They will think that neither the Fodera nor the 2K bass is “worth it”. This is also perfectly fine.
My Subjective Opinion
Although I bought my Fodera second-hand, it cost me a small fortune. But was it worth it?
Fodera has always been the holy grail of bass guitars for me, and I felt privileged to possess one. The neck simply plays itself, the tone speaks to me, its versatility is very high, and I simply enjoyed having & playing a Fodera; it motivated me to play more and better. What more could I ask for, right?
Well, the equation is not that simple. A bass is not all about sound, you need to consider other factors as well.
Here are some pro’s of owning a Fodera:
- You get a perfectly built instrument which sounds and plays great
- Your GAS will probably be under control after owning a Fodera, other basses can’t easily attract you any more
- Despite its price; owning a Fodera in the first place can be cheaper than buying & selling many basses; looking for the perfect bass
- You may impress some other musicians, if that’s your goal
As you would expect, here are the con’s; mostly due to the Fodera being an expensive & irreplaceable instrument:
- If you lose it, you not only lose an instrument you love, but you also lose a great amount of hard earned money (monetary apprehension)
- You can’t travel with it insouciantly (damage apprehension)
- You can’t leave it on the stage / studio / trunk insouciantly (theft apprehension)
- You may find yourself gigging with your unaccustomed stunt guitar more
- Although the resell value is pretty high, you may have a hard time finding a customer due to its price
- If you got it second-hand, it might be an ad-hoc instrument and might not fit your own requirements perfectly
- Many people never heard of the brand Fodera before (unlike Fender); you might have some recognition issues
Although I enjoyed my Fodera a lot, I must say that the cons may outweigh the pros for you. Considering the diminishing returns on bass prices, I suggest considering that a well made production instrument can provide most of the pro’s and eliminate most of the con’s above.
Having said that, my production basses cost the fraction of a Fodera, and are still very good bass guitars I happen to enjoy playing a lot! Quality surplus of the Fodera is evident, but not dramatic.
One needs to make sure that your potential anxiety due to it’s price won’t overweigh the joy it would bring. After all, we make music to feel better, don’t we?
Fodera is a very well built instrument. But it is wood & electronics, not a magic wand. A Fodera will not make you sound or play dramatically better than a good production bass.
Is it worth it or not?
For the record; I ended up selling my Fodera because my production bass was good enough for me.
I recommend reading the following article and deciding for yourself: Do You Need An Expensive Guitar? .