Growing up outside of Boston, and never having lived outside state lines, my assumption has always been that if you wanted a quality, custom-built instrument you either had to hop on a plane to germany or head to a less hostile climate. Little did i know that Massachusetts is home to some seriously heavy hitters, as well as some start-up companies that are pushing the boundaries between art and instrument.
The first company I want to highlight is one of the better known local Luthiers who’s instruments have become a staple of the boutique bass world. Since 1975, Michael Pedulla has run his shop out of Rockland Ma. and for over 30 years been creating 100% hand-made instruments under the brand name M.V. Pedulla Guitars, Inc. The emphasis at Pedulla is that of quality over quantity:
“Unlike many other bass companies, we are in the business of making “instruments”, with the belief that an instrument is a tool which allows the artist to express their soul, their character, as their art, without limitation. If the instrument is rewarding and encouraging, it leads us to want more, learn more, express more, and play better. We do not believe that these qualities are found in mass production. Creative designs, solid tools, skilled hands, passion for what you do, and a big helping of whatever it is that makes us individuals, is what makes great instruments. It is the very same qualities that make great musicians”
This conjures up feelings of faith where it can be hard to find. When everything we are sold is meant to be temporary, there are still those of us who work not out of necessity, but out of the inexplicable passion to create. It is the unwillingness to compromise detail for the easy way out that creates Great lineage that not only stands the test of time, but tells a story as well.
Currently Pedulla carries 6 base models all of which can be specked to order.
One of the stand out models, the MVP/Buzz has distinct body shape but enough options to make each one stand out on its own. The Bass is available as the MVP (fretted) or the Buzz (fretless). The Pickups are Bartolini made specifically for Pedulla, and are available in PJ, JJ, or Soap Bar styles. the following specs are taken directly from the Pedulla site.
BODY WINGS: AA or AAA Flame maple, Optional Limited Edition 5A Flame or Quilt maple
NECK: Capillary (neck-through), 3 piece maple laminate
SCALE LENGTH: 34 inches
NUMBER OF FRETS: 24/24 inlaid white markers, (plus finish on the fretless Buzz fingerboard)
INLAY: Mother of Pearl, 5mm dots
TRUSS ROD: Single rod, double-acting adjustable with two stiffening bars
STRINGS: .030, .045, .065, .080, .100, .128
WEIGHT: range from 9 to 10 lbs
HARDWARE COLOR: Gold, Black, or Chrome
BRIDGE: ABM 3-way adjustable machined brass with roller saddles
MACHINE HEADS: M.V. Pedulla/Gotoh
STRAP PINS: Gotoh
PICKUPS: Made for M.V. Pedulla by Bartolini: PJ, JJ or SB
ELECTRONICS: Active, Bartolini
CONTROLS: volume, pan, bass boost/cut, treble boost/cut, mid boost/cut (toggle)
CONTROL KNOBS: Anodized aluminum (black with marker)
FINISH: Gloss polyester, including BUZZ fingerboard
Natural, Lt. Gold, Gold, Amber, Amber Sunburst, Cherry, Cherry Sunburst,
Vintage Cherry, Vintage Cherry Sunburst, Rose, Violet, Peacock Blue, Arctic Night, Emerald Green, Green/Blue Sunburst, Tobacco Sunburst and Charcoal.
Solid colors: Candy Red, Candy Cool Blue, Black.
The Starting Price for The MVP/Buzz 4 string model starts at $4,695.00
The following clip is Doug Johns playing his MVP, accompanied by Chris Ceja on drums, if you’ve never checked out this duo it is well worth the two minutes. Doug is what initially turned me on to Pedulla. Tone Monster is the only thing that comes to mind.
Pedulla’s other models consist of the Thunderbass, the Rapture (JB styling w/ more aggressive lines), the Thunderbolt, The Nuance, the newest edition to the line up, and numerous personalized creations each with a personalized touch.
If you are wondering if your favorite bassist plays a Pedulla it may take a bit of research. Pedulla, much like Alembic, does not give out promotional instruments to Artists. They have a list of players who have contacted/become involved with their Artist Program, although the list is by no means complete. Some players include…
The second company I’d like to profile is a custom guitar shop who in the past year paired with Ryan Martin, a Maine based Luthier. Together they are blending the line between art and instrument, creating completely original designs that challenge the status quo while retaining the playability one would expect from a custom. Becker Guitars and Ryan Martin Basses, together known as Electric Candy Land.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have played one of the retro-grad prototypes that was on tour with Umphrey’s Mcgee, whose members along with members of the Disco Biscuits, play from an assortment of Ryan Martin Basses, and Becker Guitars. Having models on stage with successful touring acts have helped give the two luthiers some much deserved recognition.
The Bloodwood LoRyder
Jake Cinninger’s Mother Earth Roller
The Last company I want to profile was brought to my attention by our friends over at notreble.com while they were highlighting the new HD line of cabinets. Reading on I discovered they were located in Whitinsville, MA. The makers of high-end speaker enclosures, Bergantino Audio Systems is an international enterprise with dealer locations in the U.S, Japan, Canada, Australia, the UK, and Germany. The cabinets range from 1×15 up to 6×10 and are renowned for their rock solid constructions and the custom phase coherent crossover circuit with tweeter level control providing a seem-less and adjustable blending of the high-end with the low-end. The cabinets range in price from around $500-$1600 depending on the model.