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Does slapping require a high action?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Cambass, Apr 20, 2001.

  1. I've been trying to slap but I've found that I can't get the sound. Does slapping require a high setup (I have mine low) or am I not doing this right?
  2. Don't quote me on this, but I thought it was the other way around.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Low action, typically. If you're having trouble, it could be your neck relief.
  4. low action. because if you're slapping, chances are you're popping as well, and doing that with high action is not pretty. take my bass for example. great for fingerstyle, but the action just makes popping a real strain.
  5. C_Flat


    Jan 29, 2001
    I just rec'd the "Slap Bass Program" video and reached the same conclusion - the instructor's bass appears to have a pretty low action because he's lapping & popping without much effort at all.

    I'm relatively new to playing bass - what sort of string heights should I shoot for on a Jazz Bass Deluxe? Most of my playing consists of walking lines for blues & bluesey Jazz tunes, but it'd be nice to learn a bit of slap technique for some of the funkier stuff we do.

    Does anyone know of a good FAQ on JB setups (E string, G string, pickup heights, neck relief, etc)

    Once I get my setup squared away- any recommendations on a starting point for dialing a decent slap tone? Neck/bridge p'up, settings for my JBD's 3-band EQ?

    Any help is appreciated - thanks,

  6. BassDude24


    Sep 12, 2000
    Yo, generally playing slap takes a little bit of practice, not only do you have to get the theories down, but you have to be able to put the practices to use, and you have to know what to play.

    With all of that aside, a low action is better, it takes a lot less effort.

    If you aren't getting the sound you want, try turning down the bass on your amp, and up the highs and mids. If you have an active bass that you can turn off and go passive, try that, I generally find that it is better for slapping. Also, to get a better "punch" try slapping on the fingerboard near the 24th fret, like make the strings hit the frets with your thumb, and pull the strings up right where your fingerboard ends.

    One more thing, a lot of bass players use up too much energy lifting the strings really high, and pulling their thumb back really high to hit the strings harder, if you keep your fingers low you can get a lot faster.

    I hope that helps.
  7. Firstly,I don`t know how to slap and don`t pretend to.I think you have to have a lower action since the action on my ergodyne was a bit high and I could`nt get any sound,so to speak,off of it.My P bass,on the other hand,has a lower action and man!I just barly tap/slap her and get TONE FOR DAYS!Maybe it has something to do with string tension too?
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Cam - One other thing I forgot to mention -compression, the slapper's friend. I don't think your amp has a compressor or that you are using a compressor unit?
  9. C_Flat


    Jan 29, 2001
    I don't think my amp has a compressor - its an old Peavey Combo 300.

    I lowered my action until it started buzzing when I play fingerstyle, then I rauised it back a smidgeon. Slapping the E & A are much easier now, and I think I just need to get the hang of popping the D & G strings consistently.

    I've got a Jazz Bass Deluxe - any recommendations ion a starting point for dialing n a decent slap tone? Neck, bridge, both pickups?


  10. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    This is a link on Fender bass setups:


    I don't use standardized setups really. I may use them as a starting point, but I always defer to experience and feel when making adjustments.

    A lower action will favor slap styles.
  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i've played victor wooten's main 4 string, the flame maple fodera, and the action was so low and the strings so light as to be practically unplayable to my rough mits. :D

    he can definitely make it play, and then some.
  12. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Cool. I don't think I'm ready for that low action though. -did you have to adjust your fingerstyle playing too?
  13. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    If you do any left-hand slapping, you should make sure that the action isn't so low that you wind up tapping pitched notes in place of left-hand slaps. Personally, I prefer higher action for slapping, as there seems to be more room for my right hand to go crazy. YMMV.
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Higher action can afford more dynamic range, without external processing. Low action can make it less physically demanding.

    The trick is in figuring out what kind of slap sound you want. I guess my setup would be considered medium low, not as low as Vic's but still very easy to play. OTOH I'd guess Flea would have his setup higher than mine, to allow for striking the strings harder, a-la Louis Johnson.
  15. Yes, I have heard Flea has a high action.
    I have to have a high action on my Rickenbacker otherwise the strings vibrate against the pickup surround, even when not slapping.
    What measurement is considered normal? (I believe this may be taken at 12th fret?)
    What is the typical range?
  16. I have also played Vic's bass, its setup well for slapping for Vic's stlye and attack. Most of what he plays is slapping and tapping. He rarely uses fingerstyle on it.
    I have heard Jaco's action was fairly high yet he appeared to play with a rather light touch? Any thoughts on this?
  17. Ok, let me as a stupid question first so that I can pretend I know what I am talking about! I have a Fender Jazz Bass 5 string which is made in mexico, is this what everyone refers to as MIM? What I have found is that when I slap on my fender I get alot of imact noise from the picj-ups as if I was hitting them instead of the strings. On my Yamaha rbx260 which has a covered P style pick-up I get a good slap tone even though the action is almost the same, I have them both set fairly low. One difference between the yamaha and the fender is I have to set the pickups at the same volumne otherwise I get major humming through the amp. So if you need the action set low, how do I get good tone without the impact noise, I don't slap the crap out of them like I have seen some people do, but I still get the noise, and it over clips my pre-amp on my ampeg. I hope you guys can help...
  18. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    The humming through the amp on your Jazz is electromagnetic noise and it is inherent to the Jazz design as it has single coil pickups (some newer single coils have designs that don't do this). Single coil pups intercept magnetic fields and they can't separate the strings' signals from anything in the area that is producing hum.

    The only way to be totally rid of it is to use humbucking pickups. But, that's not what people who like the Jazz sound want to do, because your single coil pickups have sonic qualities that humbuckers can't get. The reason you don't get hum when you balance the pups is that they are acting together as one, giant, humbucker.

    As for the noise you hear when you slap, have you tried setting your pickups very low? A string does not vibrate evenly at all along its length, although, to our eyes it looks like it does. You could go very low and raise them to just before the height where the noise begins

    The other thing you can try is slapping up by the highest fret of your bass. I usually play one of mine there because the bass tends to make noise like a string hitting a pup when I play directly over the pickups, (however, this bass is known as being noisy, unlike your Fender). If you find the noise is less when you play by the last fret, then the noise you hear when you play over the pickups may be because your strings are hitting the fretwire on the highest frets. If you know how to adjust your truss rod and bridge saddles, that can end it or at least reduce it considerably, (there may be too much or too little bow in your neck, depending on which gauge strings you are using).
  19. bofadeez


    May 5, 2001
    This practically goes without saying, but if you're having problems slapping you probably need thinner strings. I got into bass on my own and didn't know this, so it took me a while to figure this out. Anyway, Wooten uses D'Addario EXL-220's (.095 E string), and I've found that these are great for slapping indeed. What do the rest of you slappers and poppers use?

  20. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    DR "Marcus" Signatures, .045-.125, (hopefully they'll catch on and DR will offer custom sets like their others - thinner B,E, and A, thicker D & G).

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