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Best way to slap??

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Dragon_of_kaos, Sep 24, 2003.

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  1. Dragon_of_kaos


    Sep 18, 2003
    I am a beginning/moderate bassist, and I was wondering if anyone could help me with any ways to make slapping easier, for some reason I just can't pick it up???
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Take your thumb and slap it against a string.

    that's about it. :p
  3. mcmurphy


    Sep 24, 2003
    Slap the side of your knuckle against the string on the last fret, using a pivot motion with your wrist.

    Keep your thumb loose, like a bouncing ball. The moment you hit the string, bounce your thumb off the string, so you don't accidentally mute the note.

    The problems that most beginning bass players have are:
    1. They try to get their thumbs to move independently. Use your wrist rather than your thumb to get enough speed when slapping the string.
    2. Their thumbs are too stiff. Make sure it is limp enough so that it instantly bounces back off the string.

    Hope this helps. The most important thing is to practice. The callous that develops on your thumb knuckle eventually starts working as a hammer to get a crisper sound.
  4. Dragon_of_kaos


    Sep 18, 2003
    Alright, thanks alot,
    I think my main problem was i was just kinda slapping it and not bouncing it back so I'll practice that. Any advice on popping, I know it may sound kinda pitiful, but is there a set position like what you said with the bouncing thumb??
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Hehehe...that's funny, we have totally different approaches.

    I slap with a stiff(but relaxed) thumb, and I use my thumb more than my wrist.

    and I can slap very fast, hasn't inhibited me a bit, of course the faster I go the less thumb I use. I only use a lot of thumb sometimes for really syncopated and slower grooves.

    The reason I do this is because I do a lot of double thumb stuff, and it's a lot easier to move from a non-double thumb line into a double thumb line if your thumb hasn't bounced away from the strings ;)

    Dragon, do a search, this topic has been beaten to death. :)
  6. fallon


    Jul 6, 2003
    > I slap very fast< Man,I thought you said you
    had stopped the slapping thing? I just love
    the American ego thing.Anything you can do I can do better? Bigger is better and so on? I can play
    Teen Town at one million beats per second!! What is the story with Americans? Not all of you, mind you,but
    I cannot understand this 'I'm faster than you' attitude,when in fact the contrary may well be true.Loud..loud conversations seem inherent in the 'American way';is it insecurity that dictates this massive,inflated persona? I remember one time,when travelling in Scotland,on booking into a well-known hotel,the receptionist informed me that a party of American tourists were arriving that night.Fine I said,but the receptionist then told me that breakfast the following morning would be served in a separate room from the American party,for 'obvious reasons'.Even some of the Reality T.V. shows we get now,with some super-human ex-cop guy presenting the show,just makes me sick.Probably I'm wrong and no insult is intended,however,that is the way most of us portray 'Americans'.I have never visited America and have no intention to.Stay cool nonetheless.
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    whoa....talk about an extrapolation.

    I wasn't saying "I can slap fast...therefore I am better than you"

    I was merely stating I can slap fast, because my techniques differed from those that mcmurphy suggested, and one of his points was that things that I do can inhibit speed, I was just clarifying that that is not always the case, because I CAN slap fast, using questionable techniques.

    From your assessment it sounds as though YOU are the one putting all these values to speed, not me.

    As for me getting out of slap? yes...I am pretty much out of it, lately I've had a MINOR rekindled interest in it again, but I still don't do it as much as I used to.

    Besides, even if I had 100% gotten out of slap bass, I could still slap fast if I wanted to, it's not the type of thing you just up and forget after a couple months of inactivity.
  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
  9. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    Go to your nearest Guitar Center on a Saturday afternoon. In the bass section you'll see at least 10 "expert" slappers all biddybiddapop-pop'n away at the same time. Just look for the room with the sound coming from it that resembles a pop-corn cookoff. It's a most impressive sight! :rolleyes:
  10. fallon


    Jul 6, 2003
    Wrong robot,you refered to 'slapping fast' twice in your response to my post.If I recall the post on 'how fast you can play',you went on about playing Teen town at great speed.In an attempt to prove you could actually do this,you offered a small downloadable clip for all to listen to.Certainly,you made an effort to play this piece at speed and after a few days I also recall another post inwhich a poster commented on the quality and substance of your piece;it seems that you did admit to it being a bit untidy.So to my point;We are discussing various degrees of slackness,not how fast the piece can be played.Only when every note is played and sounded as Jaco did it,then played with absolute precision at speed can anyone really start to take it seriously.And after that then what is next? I personally feel that all that can be done with the electric bass guitar has been done and all anyone can expect from playing at supersonic speed is a second prize.Even if you take the likes of Bill Dickens,he has immense technique and great speed slapping with the palm,fingertips and thumb,he has not invited great comment or compliment on this messageboard if I recall recent posts...I think that the faster one plays up to a point,one will be respected...but play over a certain speed,I'm afraid there are too many cynics out there willing to dismiss this 'ability' as fret-wanking/showmanship and usually respond with notable and predictable rhetoric like "All flash and no thrash" (Flea?)
    As I said,I do not think the electric bass will ever be 're-invented' for a long time to come....it has all been done before by the likes of Jaco,Stanley,Entwhistle...the list is extensive.How many times can the North Pole be discovered? But one thing is important...if one is willing to shout off about how fast he/she can play,he/she had better make sure it is a perfect emulation at speed,because anything less makes a mockery of the piece and in Frank Zappa's words.."committing social suicide" Stay cool,Wrong Robot."Fallon".
  11. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Well, what you say is very true, I'd just like to point out that I spent no extra time getting teen town up to speed, actually I was fortunate I COULD pull it off, in a thread prior to the "how fast can you play" thread someone brought up speed, and I said "it doesn't matter that I can play teen town @ 180 BPMs" and went into a little stick about how speed isn't that important.

    and they instantly asked me to "prove it" so I plugged my bass into my computer, set that drum track at 180 and gave it a shot, that was what I got on my first try, I had never attempted to do that before, so I guess I just lucked out.

    you know my motto "take a good song, and ruin it by playing it too fast" :p

    I really don't think that speed is the pinnacle of playing, I just know that I CAN play fast, big whoop ya know? I honestly have a harder time being solid at really slow tempos(60 BPM and under) than at blisteringly fast ones.

    I also don't believe in making carbon copies of songs. So if I play teen town I don't want you to think "sounds just like jaco" I want you to think "that's an interesting take on jaco's song"

    I think that the electric bass has been reinvented in some respects, 9-string basses and stuff like that, really pushing the limits.

    BUT every note has been played and that will never change.

    all in all, speed isn't important in and of itself, as long as you can play to keep up with the song, you're fine.
  12. Exactly. Although, personally, I prefer to be able to play something faster than I'll ever have to play it in a band situation. If you've been practicing a tune that's normally played at 180 at around 230 you're not going to freak out if you have a dumb drummer that counts it off at 210 :)
  13. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    OooH, changed my mind. Pimp.
  14. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Additionally to what WR and others said, I like to place my pinky (and ring finger) on the bass as an anchor/pivot.

    This helps to minimize the slapping motion and thus increase speed (if necessary). But it's a flexible position, I can change to floating position and back in an instant.

    Marcus Miller does something similar, he anchors his palm on the pickup cover, Will Lee too IIRC[?].

    As for popping, use the slapping motion to already place your finger(s) between the strings, so it's (they're) already in position when you pop by moving the hand back.
  15. kcdbass


    Feb 27, 2002
    New Jersey
    Former Sales/Web, Sadowsky Guitars
    the right way to slap?

    hmmm ... THE MARCUS WAY! :D

    ... sorry i couldn't resist ... but MM is the reason i think twice before slapping ... YMMV
  16. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hey people, I need to jump in here and address a misconception that seems to be rampant in this thread (and many others too). And sorry for jumping in late, but hopefully some of you will catch my drift here.

    In what I'm about to say, I'm speaking with reference to right handed bass playing, so if you're left handed just reverse everything...

    Okay, so slapping has very little to do with your right hand. Especially, the way you hit the strings with your thumb (or not, or whatever other right hand technique you use), has slmost nothing to do with it.

    Slapping is mainly a LEFT handed technique. "Slapping" refers to the sound that your left hand makes when it lightly hits the strings without defining a particular note. Good slap players lead with their LEFT hand, not the right.

    It's a considerable mental adjustment in terms of how you approach your playing, and in my case it took about 6 months of weekly lessons (and daily practice) to unlearn everything I thought I knew about bass playing (and all the lessons I'd learned over the previous 15 years).

    Lemme see if I can be more precise: in finger style, your right hand defines the rhythm, and your left hand just has to "be there" (on the particular note you want to play) when your right hand finger the string.

    In slapping, the concept is exactly the opposite. Your LEFT hand defines the rhythm, and your right hand just has to "be there" to pluck or pop the string at the appropriate moment.

    If you ever get to the NAMM show, check out Trevor Lindsay at the Alembic booth. He's one of the world's most amazing slap players, and I'm sure he'll be happy to show you how it's done.
  17. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Hm, that's left-hand slapping, pal. Slapping is commonly understood as "thumping" [sic] with the thumb.

    I agree to some extend though, both hands work together, but most novices have enough to do with getting the basic right-hand technique done, with more or less successful (left-hand) muting.

    Doing left-right paradiddls etc. comes later.
  18. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Well yeah. There's another current thread about this topic too. I still say slapping is done with the "flat of the hand". Like when you slap someone. You don't slap someone with your thumb, right?

    Historically, the term originated as a "pure" description of what people like Louis Johnson were doing. Then through the funk genre the term became confused because people identified the "sound" of slappin'-and-poppin' with the parts of the technique that were "obvious" (in other words, when you're watching a TV show and they do closeups of the bass player, they usually show you the right hand furiously working the pops and plucks because it's exciting to watch).

    So eventually the term crossed over to mean "any of that funky stuff that sounds like what those people are doing", without really referencing the precision of the technique.

    I'll accept the colloquial usage at face value, and I don't claim to be an authority in this area (except on the technique itself, which I've been doing for the better part of twenty years and I can confidently hold my own against ANYONE in this space).

    I just think we need to agree on a common vocabulary so we don't confuse the new people.

    As far as I understand, and this is just my undersanding based on what I've been taught over the years, "slapping" is a very specific technique, and it refers to a specific left hand activity that occurs "between" the pops and the plucks that your right hand is doing.

    If you can reference printed literature or training material that contains a different specific meaning for the action "to slap" then I'd love to hear about it.

    Again, not trying to be a contrarian here, just sharing my experience...

    - Brian
  19. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Even if you're right (which I think you're not), nomenclature is what is widely accepted and used, even if it's imprecise, misleading or even plain wrong.
  20. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Like said before, terms need not be precise to become accepted.

    Well I'd like to see some backup on that theory, since you're the only one who proposes it.

    I'm not questioning your abilities, but abilities do not necessarily make you right on a topic. Even Billy Sheehan made some theory mistakes in one of his videos (or admits he doesn't know what he's playing at some point) IIRC.

    This has already happened.

    Again, that's <b>commonly</b> (!) refered to as "left-hand slapping".

    OK, first of all, THE mother of all slap videos, The Slap Bass Programme by Alexis Sklarevski, any Wooten video/lesson, numerous German bass books (that use English terms), pretty much any online lesson I've ever seen, pretty much any magazine lesson or interview on that technique, 2-years-worth of Talkbass posts etc.

    Experience doesn't give you nomenclature, it's created by a community of people that deal with the same issues, e.g. scientists or people of any other profession. If you learned to play bass on a lonely island, you might have developed a complete set of terms for bass, bass playing and music, but they would not mean anything to the rest of the world.

    This is not to attack you, but there's no need to reinvent the wheel - this could really confuse novices.

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