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The luthier currently offers six base models, all boasting inspiration from the classic designs of the past century while incorporating D’Agostino’s ideas and the invaluable experience he acquired while apprenticing at Hamer.

“Persevere and perfect detail work. Think out your designs and trust your gut.” These are the words of advice Todd D’Agostino would give a budding luthier today. Though he might sound like a 40-year veteran of guitar building, it wasn’t that long ago the luthier was doing something else altogether.

As an electrician in New England, D’Agostino grew tired of the cycle of getting laid off and rehired in a wildly fluctuating construction industry. He wanted something stable that would keep him busy 40 hours a week, year-round, and something inside so he’d no longer have to deal with the “wicked cold” winters in the Northeast.

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The wide neck and contour-less body of the Teye La Gitana might not appeal to every bassist, but its warm tonal palette and beautiful looks will likely please a number of players.

Teye—the man who builds intricate guitars and basses that bear his name on their headstocks—is like so many of us: He’s a musician obsessed with finding the perfect instrument. From ornately etched aluminum plates to extravagant inlay work, the striking looks of a Teye (pronounced “tie-ya”) guitar or bass will please any musician who appreciates the combination of art and lutherie. One such instrument, the new R-Series La Gitana bass, is one of the more visually subdued examples of his still exquisite bass offerings.

Practical Elegance
With a body carved in a familiar style, one can easily see the influences in Teye’s La Gitana bass. The mildly figured mahogany body is topped with a padauk top that beautifully frames the ornamentation, hardware, and pickups. More than a third of the back of the La Gitana is covered by an aluminum plate in a shape that could be described as a mix between a psychedelic f-hole and a scimitar blade. With the exception of the tuners, the La Gitana’s hardware is proprietary and melds function and form, furthering Teye’s aesthetic vision and providing a durable alternative to aftermarket parts.

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The three partners: Vinny Fodera, Jason DeSalvo, and Joey Lauricella.
Left: The Buckeye Burl Monarch's matching pickup covers.

Shrewd bargaining, a little white lie, and a series of serendipitous connections paved the way for Vinny Fodera to rub shoulders with some of the most esteemed bass builders in the business. When he’d learned all he could from his mentors, he set out on his own and ended up being the luthier of choice for iconic players like Victor Wooten, Oteil Burbridge, and Anthony Jackson.

Just across the water from the Statue of Liberty and the picturesque Manhattan skyline sits an anonymous-looking warehouse where some of the most prestigious basses in the world are crafted by hand. At 6,000 square feet, it's a massive step up from the 1,000-square-foot shop on Avenue O where Fodera Guitars was born way back in 1983, but it does have its drawbacks.

“[Super storm] Sandy hit us hard up here, but luckily everyone in our factory and their families are okay," says Fodera partner Jason DeSalvo. “We just started production again after a week without power. Now we have power, but no heat—it's 36 degrees outside, 38 degrees inside!"

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