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Components of Victor Wooten's sound.

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by fnsweeeet, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. I listen to him, and I can't figure out what the crap he is doing. I'm sure it is probably some combination of thousands of hours of practicing, mind-bending inventiveness, and a ridiculously expensive and a precisely set-up bass that allows him to do what.

    My question is, for his unique, particle-accelerator fast popping, which somehow is incredibly clear and usually unmuddled, there must be things about his bass -- the woods, the shape, the pickups, the strings, string height, the frets, surely something unmentioned in that non-exhaustive list -- that help him out. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't spend trillions of dollars on a Fedora.

    Disclaimer, I know he is incredibly gifted, intuitive, and dedicated. And that there are differences in a multi-thousand dollar rig and my $800 rig that also contribute.

    I guess this is a microcosm of a general question about basses -- what particulars make his Fedora better suited, and just better in general, for his sound than my Warwick thumb or my glorious (read: $100) Yamaha RBX 260?
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maybe you're confusing him with Marcus Miller? :bag: :D
    RaggaDruida likes this.
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Warwick thumb is an awesome bass. Check out Norwood Fisher of Fishbone for some sick slapping on a 'wick! I'm sure Victor would sound great on your bass, too.

    I think the most important thing about Vic's bass is probably that the action is set up nice and low. This lets him be economical about his hand and finger movements. If you watch him play, he is very relaxed.

    ps if you consider how long he's had his #1 Fodera--probably since the 80s, right?--his price per hour of playing time must be quite low. Therefore I would argue it is not a ridiculously expensive bass, but rather a very good investment. :)
  4. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    EMG P and J pickups. That's a major part of it.
  5. palm grease

    palm grease

    Dec 10, 2007
    1. fingers
    2. action and gauge (Tuned A-C, not E-G.... mostly)
    3. fingers
    4. practice, practice, practice

    I dont think his rig/bass/$$$ has much to do with his accuracy and ability.
  6. If you are asking if Victor's bass plays an integral role in his sound, I believe the answer is no. Victor's technique is what you are hearing.

    He could pick up your Thumb, Yamaha RBX 260, or my Jazz V or MusicMan SR5, or an $80 Squier and virtually duplicate what you are hearing (provided the components in the signal chain work properly and are not ridiculously out of whack in any way).

    So it's not this Fodera vs. your Warwick Thumb - it's his thumb vs. your thumb.

    Now having a top-notch bass and amp doesn't hurt his situation any, but as for what it is that's responsible for his sound; it's him, not his gear.

    By the way - look him up on Youtube. There are TONS of very informative videos where he demonstrates in very vivid detail how he does his thing. He's very generous when it comes to sharing his knowledge.
  7. DRay521


    Aug 2, 2007
    Tuscaloosa, AL
    I think the fact that he uses extra light gauge strings (.95-.45) has to help with the clarity, but I agree with everybody else, he could do the same stuff on a knockoff P-Bass strung with weedwacker wire.
  8. ihassiphilus


    Sep 30, 2008
    Your bass is fine. You're just like me a few months ago; I have the RBX 270 and I thought it was crap. It's not, it was just me sucking hardcore (not saying that about you, tho).

    Go get it set up and slap on a set of new strings (light gauge for more responsive tone). Focus on making your playing cleaner (play with a metronome reeeeeally slow 70 bpm and less). Lighten up your touch on the strings and just turn the volume up. Let the amp do it's job.

    Tap your foot on the backbeat to help you feel the groove. Stop tapping the drum pattern.

    Learn to play with a good pick; before anyone spazzes, think of it like this: playing with a pick is like playing with someone else's hand. If you can play clean and groove with a pick, your fingers will sound 10x better as it feels natural. Get a good, thick plectrum. At least 1 1/2 or 2 millimeters; it will sound like a sharper finger attack if you turn down your treble.

    Everyone associates picks with a trebly sound. Nope. It can sound like fingers if you want it to.
  9. You best hide behind that wall after the MM comment ! :eek: I've been playing for awhile and love VW's openness on the YouTube stuff, and the man himself is certainly a bigger part of his sound than everything else combined. Thanks for the insights on the bass, including the "investment" comment - how true. Peace.
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I dunno...back around 1975, he sounded pretty damn good on that $150 Univox violin bass.
  11. bassplayertom77


    Sep 24, 2008
    That made my day.:D
  12. DickyT


    Sep 23, 2008
    Hollyweird, FL
    I have watched them many times, does not help me suck less. It is all Victor, his bass is just the icing.
  13. Oric


    Feb 19, 2008
    Georgetown, Kentucky
    No matter what bass he plays, he still sounds like Victor Wooten. He's the first to admit it doesn't matter what instrument you're playing.
  14. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    It's not his gear that you're hearing. It certainly shapes the sonic characteristics of his tone, but he is just super super clean. Think of it this way-- If his technique is impeccable, then he can do his thing on any (most) bass(es). A good bass responds to good technique. An inexpensive bass responds the same. The key is to be as clean as possible. Walk before you run, you know. If you're not getting a good tone from a single thump, then focus on that first. I guarantee you that Victor sat for hours and hours working on quarter note thumps.
  15. victor wooten has been playing since he was three in a family where everyone was driven to play music, and to play it well. He is now 44, that's 41 years of intensive practicing and skill honeing that few can bear. oh yeah, and he's the next stage in human evolution
  16. JFace


    Apr 17, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    I've had an instance lately where gear has greatly enabled me to do the more flashy stuff with a clear tone. One, is changing the bridge on my bass, which in turn gave me super low action. I think this is a must. The other factor has been my use of compression. I am fairly confident that Vic uses this. You'd be amazed at how even it makes you sound, especially when doing extremely dynamic playing such as plucking, slapping, popping. Suffice to say, many hours of practice have enabled me to do such things (not extremely well...) and many more hours of practice are required for me to be even performance worthy.
  17. Me too - and me too!

    I was infatuated with his technique and wanted to incorporate it into my style so I studied his videos, read about him, listened to TONS of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones AND VW solo stuff...

    I am a firm believer that anyone can to anything they put their mind to - but each time I put my mind to it, I became more aware of how rarely I'd actually use that technique in my everyday playing.

    Cop out? Yeah. It makes me feel better about not spending the hours, days, weeks, months, even years getting that style under my fingers. I am amazed by it, but not to the point where I am willing to spend what I know I'd need to in order to get there myself.

    But I still find Victor to be an incredible player and a good citizen of the music world - and the world in general.
  18. palm grease

    palm grease

    Dec 10, 2007
    IMHO... after making mods to my own fleet, the result was....inspiration....with a bass tweaked to my liking I was inspired to play more, practice more and take more chances...resulting in better habits and better CHOPS... I excelled due to my new found determination... not because my strings were closer to the fretboard.

    Think of Jaco licks.... the dude had what some would consider very high and maybe even un-playable string height.... matching HIS set up would only hinder my skills. Jaco's technique however can be achieved (humbly) with my preferred set up........ to echo what has already been said (countless times), it has noting to do with your gear. If your inspired and determined, with proper habits and productive practicing (not giving yourself mini concerts) you can accomplish what you wish. If you fool yourself with gear illusions your going to hit many a plateau in your playing... rely on your abilities, be honest with yourself and find inspiration!
  19. T-MOST

    T-MOST Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2004
    NJ via NYC

    + 100

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