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Review: Fodera Victor Wooten Signature Strings

Most people know Fodera for making basses. Well, let’s be more precise. Most people know Fodera for making many of, if not THE best basses around. Full disclosure, I own a Fodera Emperor 5-string. However, I knew from the playing and performance development of friends and colleagues who had Fodera basses that they were very special instruments for a good while before I had mine. But….

Did you know they make strings?

Yes, friends, the Fodera Diamond Series and Signature Series bass strings are a real commodity, and not just “a little extra” for the company to work with. The strings are made by just three people in small batches and have been developed over the course of 15 years! Fodera makes their Diamond Series strings with many options; in 4, 5, and 6 string sets, plenty of gauge options, tapered B-string sets, XL sets for 35″ and 36″ scale lengths, and the Signature Series includes sets bearing the names of Anthony Jackson (a long-scale 6-string contrabass set), Matt Garrison (a set only available in E-A-D-G-C configuration, for those wanting that little bit of extra range on top), and Victor Wooten (in 4 and 5 string sets, these are the lightest gauge strings Fodera makes). The Victor Wooten set are what I’ll be covering.

As I just mentioned, the Victor Wooten Signature set is the lightest gauge set of strings that Fodera produces. The 5-string set comes in at a lean 40-55-75-95-120. This makes these strings extremely quick, expressive, and pliable. After having not played with these strings for a few years, I put a fresh set on my Fodera Emperor 5, and as not to be biased, I also put a set on my Acacia custom 5 (my first “good” bass).

Right away, I remembered why these strings were special. First of all, I love the feel of a nickel plated string. To me, you can just maneuver the fingerboard a lot better with a string that feels slick opposed to stainless steel, which to me, feels pretty sticky (Fodera does make stainless steel strings for those of you who disagree).

Dealing with a string gauge this light, you might easily think that they’re going to feel pretty tightly taut on the neck. While they very much feel that way (the 120 gauge B is especially tight), it is very easy to bend the strings, and execute quick and punchy hammer-ons and pull-offs accurately. The Victor Wooten Signature Series bass strings haven’t been around as long as Victor Wooten’s style, but it’s clear that since their institution, his playing has benefitted by the boatload by having strings that respond greatly to the touch, and produce a lot of different sounds.

Yes, slapping, popping, tapping, finger-style, and muted thumb playing are all the styles that I applied to these strings on both basses on gigs with country artist Brandi Thornton as well as masses at St. Henry’s Catholic Church here in Nashville. The Brandi Thornton gig is exactly what you’d expect out of a pop country gig, and I play accordingly. The St. Henry’s services afford me a lot more space to play melodically, using chords, and dynamics. The Fodera strings hold up extremely well in all these situations. One of the nicest things is that the light gauge gives a punchiness on the Brandi Thornton gig that cuts through so many large sound systems’ thick, muddy tendencies. You can really hear the nuance in a way that you definitely couldn’t when I was using some large name brand strings on the same stages and systems. All this, and the strings are just as strong and present across the entire neck and string to string.

One thing that got me a bit was that while I like to change my strings about every 6-7 weeks, I found myself needing to do just that with these strings. I hadn’t been keeping track very much with the strings I had been using previously, but I’m going to assume it’s been just about the same, keeping in mind that I perform 10-12 hours per week, as well as practice about 1.5x that. So, with my hands on these strings that much in a week, I suppose 6-7 weeks is a pretty good lifespan. I’m betting people that play less will see their string life last beyond what I’ve described here.

Overall, if you want to put a serious set of strings on your bass, then look no farther than the notorious name of Fodera. Their strings are made with just as much quality and standard as their basses are. I can’t recommend these enough.

Fodera strings are available at the Fodera online store.

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