How to did you come to know Vinny, Joey, and the Fodera custom bass guitar brand?
- I met Vin and Joey at a NYC NAMM convention in late 1984. I was there to perform, but was also extremely excited to look at 5 string basses. I had been playing Fender and Music Man 4 string instruments for years, but feeling the need more and more for the “low B”. I remember trying out several instruments, but really not finding one that felt or sounded right for my style of playing. I had always had an idea of a more organic sound and feel, being an upright bass player from the beginning, It was actually on my way out of the convention that I happened by the Fodera booth, and there was something I still can’t explain about the feeling I had seeing that 5 string Fodera proudly on display…… like being drawn to it. And I’ll never be able to describe the feeling of playing the first few notes, but can honestly say that it was the first time I truly heard my playing on electric bass. Every note has such depth, clarity and growl, and was immediately comfortable in my hands….. as though I’d been playing it for years. I talked with Vin and Joey immediately about the possibility of representing their product, and 3 days later I was playing that amazing bass live in NYC……..I’ve never looked back!
What has the journey been in developing your various instruments? Tell us a little bit about what the process was like working with Vinny and Joey to develop them and your inspiration.
- I came along at the very early stages of development, so Vin and Joey were experimenting with all kinds of concepts…..pickup types and placement, body and neck shapes, wood combinations. And I had always experimented with bass parts, strings, pickups…… whatever I could get my hands on. The guys were always so receptive to new ideas, and we did come up with a few crazy ones. It was so great to have that constant inspiration of “nothing impossible”……. great things happen when there are no boundaries. This freedom, along with several years of playing that first 5 string Emperor, I began to establish a concept of what I would like a custom bass to represent.
What should bass players be thinking of when deciding to build a custom bass guitar?
- Both of my signature model Foderas were based largely on existing Fodera designs. I think it’s always important to be aware of things you DON’T want to change when moving up to a custom instrument. For example, I was always very comfortable with either Jazz Bass or Stingray pickup config, so we designed those into my Emperor 2 and Standard models. The neck and body shapes on both are purely Fodera. To me, It’s this combination of incorporating a few personal preferences into a strong basic design that creates the most practical and playable instrument.
What core values should every bass guitar player have in your opinion?
- Bass has evolved so much over the years, but being “the bottom” of the band never goes out of style! It’s so important to maintain that sensibility, especially in contemporary music that tends to be more technical, and harmonically advanced. Solid bass lines (in the bass range) will always clarify the music. It’s also (and equally) important to remember that the bass player is a time source, just as the drummer, and it’s crucial to have a solid communication and understanding between rhythm section players.
Tell us about your most memorable moment in your musical career.
- There are so many, but playing along side my brother, Pianist Ray Kennedy in our early years with jazz icons like Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt and James Moody are probably my most cherished.