Michael Pedulla has been hand-crafting basses in Massachussetts for over 30 years, and is so confident in his creations – please let’s not demean them by calling them ‘products’ – he refuses to give them away to high-profile players to boost his sales.
Apparently every bassist you ever see playing a Pedulla bass bought that bass because they wanted it. And they wanted it pretty badly too, because these basses aren’t cheap, but then again not every bass is lovingly stroked into life by a luthier with the experience, skill and passion of Michael Pedulla. So, what do you get for your buck?
Well, for starters, this is a very nice, sleek, shiny sexy bass; that sassy spangly red finish is so bright and energetic, it really is invigorating, once you get over the arc-eye. You want to – need to – play it, and it just looks so damn cool hitting all those rockstar shapes in the mirror. Ahem. Less easy on the eye, however, is that white pearloid scratchplate, which is definitely an acquired taste, its aesthetics jarring with the opulence on offer elsewhere.
The stylishly compact body is superbly contoured and easy to handle and balances beautifully, being very comfortable to wear both sitting down or standing up, its dashing pointy headstock foisting itself confidently upon the beholder. Somewhere I’ve seen Pedulla basses described as – and I paraphrase, I’m sure – ‘modern vintages’, but that’s an apt description for the Rapture. It’s everything you’ve ever loved in a bass (that pesky scratchplate aside), plus a lot of what you’ve always dreamt about as well.
The slim C-profile neck is silky smooth and soft in the hand, fitting the palm like a glove, its tidy four-bolt join giving a tight finish. A bone nut segues tastefully into that racy headstock, and the result is a seamless flow usually reserved for through-bodies. The gold tuners and bridge are a nice touch, just the right side of extravagant, although they also highlight one of the minor design failings of this guitar (and there are very few of them, it has to be said). The silver controls are out of keeping with the gold machine heads and bridge, and an all-gold finish to the hardware would have been far more pleasing. You probably wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t pointed it out – sorry about that – but once it’s on your radar, it’s hard to overlook. For this sort of outlay it seems almost churlish to resort to mixing and matching.
Anyway, back to the good stuff. There’s a very clever fold-out battery compartment on the rear of the instrument, which is easily and quickly accessible, so you can throw away that pesky screwdriver once and for all. The burning question now is, why doesn’t every damn bass in the world have one of these? Me like this feature, me like it a lot, and yes, I’ve seen the future of bass guitar design and they all have a hinged battery box in the back of them.
Overall the RBJ is a classy piece of work, with everything designed and crafted to damn near perfection, but that’s just how it should be, given all the time and effort invested in it – and the money you may or may not have yet spent on it.
Sounds And Playability
Pedulla’s advertising strapline is ‘You never played better’, which is quite a claim, but not an idle boast either, with the Rapture being one of the more playable instruments this reviewer has ever had his mitts on. The neck is a one-piece flat-cut slice of hard maple – in pursuit of that classic Jazz sound, apparently – and sits beautifully in the hand of even the daintiest player. It really is excellent to play, with a wonderfully efficient action, and you can navigate around the neck quickly and easily, the generously deep cutaway allowing ample access to the upper reaches of the board. The frets felt a little sharp for a moment there, or did I imagine it? I must have done, because now it’s like having a manicure again. And it’s eerily quiet, not even the hint of a rattle to mention anywhere on the playing field. Serenity through noodling personified.
The controls are – thankfully for this Luddite – relatively simple to master, comprising a main volume, treble and bass, and a pan control to swing subtly between the two J-style pick-ups. There’s a lively throaty tone, with plenty of heaving power in the lower end, but also an abundance of range in the blending, giving a good overall mix of sounds.
It slaps really well, with a choppy percussive edge to its acoustics, and masses of prescient attack – but a minor tweak of the bass pot and hey presto, you have some immense deeper tones for those heavy dub vibes. And we are talking magnificent, thrumming, floorboard-wobbling sustain here, folks: it’s heavier than a bowl of rhinos. Actually, the Rapture responds aggressively to fingers full stop: you can dial in all sorts of really punchy tones when you’re flailing around with your digits, but then you struggle slightly to get the same attack from a pick, which might frustrate some thrash and punk players. That said, not many thrash and punk players will be able to afford such a high-end model anyway, so that may well be a moot point.
If you had to sum this bass up in one word, that word would be ‘sweet’ – and if you were given the luxury of two words, you could stick your expletive of choice in front of ‘sweet’. It’s a very desirable bass, despite that ugly scratchplate, but it is still overpriced at £2399. Even for a luscious hand-crafted instrument such as this, you’d need to be a hopeless romantic with slightly more money than sense, or at least prepared to sell one of your kidneys on the black market, to throw this much money at a bass guitar, right? That said, dispense with the damn scratchplate and I’ll make an appointment to see the surgeon.
Price | £2399
Body | Soft maple
Neck | Hard maple
Fretboard | Maple
Colour | Candy red
Frets | 22
Pickups | Pedulla/Bartolini J-style
Controls | Active EQ Volume, Bass, Treble, Pan
Bridge | Machined brass barrel
Tuners | Pedulla/Gotoh
Hardware | Gold/chrome
What We Think
Plus | Absolutely fabulous to play, darling, to the point of intoxication
Minus | More than a little pricey, it has to be said
Overall | You pays yer money and you makes yer choice, as they say round these parts. In this instance, your money will get you an exceptional bass guitar you may well never put down again. Ever.