Victor Wooten’s unique approach to the bass guitar caused shock waves when he first emerged in the late 80s. Today, he still manages to retain some of that youthful vitality in his live shows, and has became quite the showman. On one occasion, having broken a string mid-solo, reducing his four-string bass to three, he still found time to style it out and have a little fun with the crowd.
How? Well, first Victor establishes a new groove in the lower register before tearing through the rest of his solo, all with a string hanging loose, which he then throws into the front row. If you closed your eyes, you’d never know anything went wrong at all, a sign of how a true pro deals with the unexpected.
Victor's string breaks at 02:40 during this performance of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones' mercurial hit The Sinister Minister.
What makes Victor more vulnerable to string breakages than anyone else is that his technique is so out-there in terms of virtuosity.
“Whenever we play this song live there’s no telling where it will go,” says Victor. “It has a heavy bass feature that uses a lot of the thumb techniques I wrote for another song called Classical Thump. It's a technique that I call open hammer pluck. It’s probably the most requested song for me to play and explain at shows and clinics.”
Having first emerged with a beaten-up Fodera, its battle-scarred bodywork testimony to thousands of hours of playing, Victor’s bass displays have led to the Fodera Monarch becoming an increasingly familiar sight within the bass world. So much so that Fodera eventually released the Victor Wooten ’83 Classic Signature model, which is essentially a Monarch Deluxe modelled on Wooten’s first Fodera Monarch (serial number 037), purchased by Victor in 1983.
In 2011 Victor reunited with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to play the Mountain Jam VII music festival in upstate New York. The band closed their set with The Sinister Minister. Watch Victor entertain the crowd with another spellbinding solo at 03:17.