In this post, I will subjectively compare two high end basses.
One of them is a Fodera Emperor Standard Classic 5 with an alder body and rosewood fingerboard – everything is stock. The other one is a (discontinued) Fender Custom Classic Jazz Bass V with an alder body, rosewood fingerboard and noiseless Bartolini 57J1 L/S pickups.
Before reading further, you might want to check the following posts for some technical details:
Versatility: Fodera enables me to switch between humbucker / single coil and active / passive modes. It also has a passive cut control which works in both active / passive modes. Therefore, it has more onboard tonal versatility than the Fender.
Noise: Fodera has 60-cycle hum in single coil mode; which can be eliminated in humbucker mode. Fender is totally noiseless. Therefore, Fender has an advantage in cases I need to play in soloed single coil mode. For the record; stacked noiseless pickups are notorious for being weaker – that’s why I keep split coil Bartolini’s on my Fender.
Articulation: Overall; single coil articulation of Fodera is clearer than the Fender.
Effects: Fender has ceramic pickups, which (in my subjective opinion) work better than Fodera’s alnico pickups in case I need to use high gain. The advantage intensifies in single coil mode due to the hum of the Fodera.
Sound: I mainly use 4 sounds.
- P-bass sound: Fender nails this sound better because I must use the Fodera in humbucker mode when I solo the neck pickup (due to hum).
- J-bass sound: I would say that Fodera and Fender go head-to-head producing an acceptable J-bass sound.
- Jaco sound: Emphasizing the bridge humbucker, the Jaco sound of the Fodera pleases me better than the Fender.
- Solo sound: Single coil bridge pickup of the Fodera is more articulate and preferable than the Fender. However, it will hum. Therefore; Fender takes the lead in case noise would be a problem.
Neck: Fodera has the most comfortable neck I have ever played.
Price: Fodera is more expensive than the Fender – I think that it is worth it though. Having said that; I should add that they belong to the same price segment.
The Fodera is more versatile, articulate, comfortable and has the edge on bridge sounds. The Fender is completely noiseless, works better with effects, can be carried around insouciantly and has the edge on neck sounds.
As you see, none of the basses is absolutely better than the other. They are simply different. As discussed in Diminishing Returns on Bass Prices ; this would be the case in most situations where you compare two basses from the same price segment.
Frankly; I could pick either of them as my desert island bass. So how would I pick the bass to leave home with?
Currently, my decision mostly depends on the following question: “Can I keep my bass with me all the time today?” If the answer is yes, I pick the Fodera. Otherwise, I pick the Fender. Me being a Fodera artist, this may seem like an obvious choice. However; since the Fodera is harder to replace, I’m holding on to it.
I hope to play them both for many years though. Thus; I keep a spare nameless stunt bass for obviously dangerous situations, such as gigs on the beach.