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 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? To me, yes. Fodera has always been the holy grail of bass guitars for me, and I feel privileged to possess one. The neck simply plays itself, the tone speaks to me, its versatility is very high, and I simply enjoy having & playing a Fodera; it motivates me to play more and better. What more can I ask for?
On the other hand, my secondary bass Yamaha TRB 1005 costs the fraction of a Fodera, and is still a very good bass guitar I happen to enjoy playing a lot! If I can’t take my Fodera to some gig / practice for some reason, that’s where I play my Yamaha; but it also plays & pleases very nicely. The difference is evident, but not dramatic. Despite that, I subjectively think that Fodera is worth its price. Given the choice, I would take my Fodera for most gigs or sessions; and it is the first instrument I reach for when I’m at home.
I was notorious for buying & selling too many basses, seeking the instrument that speaks to me. My Fodera has been the final destination of my search; I wish that I could have one earlier. The cost of buying & selling too many instruments could be more than the difference between a decent production bass and a Fodera – another point of view in terms of value.
All in all, the world would be a boring place with only one brand and model, wouldn’t it? We are blessed to have so many alternatives corresponding to different needs and financial positions. The instrument that fulfills your subjective hygiene criteria will be “worth it”.