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Funk techinque

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jacob Bartfield, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. slap most of the time (or all the time)

    18 vote(s)
  2. fingerstyle most of the time (or all the time)

    102 vote(s)
  3. both equally

    89 vote(s)
  1. I was curious how everyboy approaches playing funk. What I mean is, if someone asks you to play a funk groove of some sort, are you more likely to use your thumb or your fingers?
  2. Both
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Difficult question - depends what you mean by funk and what songs you're doing.

    However, in my present band, Lovesjones, a lot of stuff is what I'd call 'funky' and most of it is done more with fingers than the thumb.

    One trick I find works quite well is to mix the two up. For example, one of the songs we do has a very repetitive bassline (okay... most of the songs we do have very repetitive basslines ;) ), alternating between two variants of the same riff for the entire song. To make it interesting I move between playing very softly in the verses and louder as we move towards the chorus. However, later on in the song I want to pick things up a bit more so I move from fingers for the first part of each riff to slap style for snapping out the second half.

    That way, I keep a certain measure of consistency with the rest of the song, while still getting the guttaral dynamic of thumb playing - and in funk soup, the key is getting the consistency just right :cool:

  4. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Rocco Prestia and Jaco. Both play(ed) funky shizzy so bad that it hurts and there is nary a slap in there. Bootsy and Jamerson, tons of slap, but some fingerstyle too. Just because you're slapping, doesn't mean you're being funky. There is a time and place for both styles, but it really, REALLY depends on the musical context. Play for the tune, don't play a particular style because you think that one is funky and the other is not.
  5. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Jamerson? Slap? Presumably, you're not thinking of James "Mr Motown Bass" Jamerson?

    Who do you mean... or did you mean someone else?

  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think he probably means Larry Graham - Jamerson never slapped and is famous for using one finger on his right hand and playing fingerstyle.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    On the more general question - I think there are very few opportunities for slapping and being thought of as "funky" nowadays - I think anybody in the UK will say - that's so 80s - it's a really "dated" style, now.

    Whereas a bit of funky fingerstyle can fit in to any genre and doesn't sound so 'stuck in the 80s'.

    Of course slap is just a technique and doesn't have to be funky - so it seems to be popular with US nu-metal bands - fair enough, but no way is it funky - they can think it's a "cool" technique, but just because you're slapping, doesn't mean it is funk!! :rolleyes:

    So - you hear people in music shops slapping with no sense of time or groove and looking really pleased with themselves - ha - I realy wacked that bass!! That is nothing whatsoever to do with funk or funky.

    So - a lot of Larry Graham's lines are very simple - a few notes - but they are funky !

    Whereas - trying to get as many notes in as you can, is not funky in any way!

    So - 70s funk is great and as a listener, it always gets me dancing - but unless you're in a 70s covers band, then as a player, there are very few opportunities to use this kind of simple but funky slap technique.

    So - I would say that in playing in bands over 20 years - there have been one or two songs where I could use slap - but more than 90% of the time it was just wildy inappropriate - whereas adding a funky fingerstyle line, can be much more subtle/tasteful and fit with a lot more genres and styles of music.
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I think you've nailed it there Bruce.

    Personally, I'm not a big fan of slap - and I would always default to fingerstyle.
  9. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    I know the feeling, I enjoy to play it on my own but wouldn't dream of putting it in a song, even if we wern't metal.

    You should come to some local gigs here then if you think the US nu metallers have it bad for slap :bag:
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Maybe I should have said "US Style" nu-metal?

    I would like to bet that none of them are funky, though!! ;)
  11. Once again, I agree totally with BREWPANZEE. He summed up the truth like a pro who has been there and done that, and knows what works.
  12. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Good god I'm retarded. Posting late at night when you're tired is not wise or advised. Yes, I meant to put Larry Graham as a slapper. I remembering thinking, 'maybe I should mention Jamerson when giving finger style examples...' Then my head went somewhere else apparently.
  13. Wow. I'm surprised at how many of you prefer fingerstyle over slap. That's too bad. I thought I was special. :(

    I'm strictly a fingerstyle guy. Whenever I'm in a situation where many people might play a slap line, I ask myself: Would slapping really sound good hear? Annd the answer is always the same: Nope. Fingerstyle just always sounds better to me. (That's not to say that slap hasn't been put to good use by many people.)
  14. Bruce, I agree with you on the whole but you'd be surprised that a few heavier bands do actually have genuine funk sections in their songs. Sure, most Nu-metal bands slap because it 'looks cool' and have a negative rating on the funk scale, but there are some that can do it with fantastic effect and skill. My favourite example is pre-famous Slipknot, with "Do Nothing". Obviously it is a very rare occurance but I just felt obliged to defend my favourite genre of music. Ok, I've done being argumentative...

  15. chris griffiths

    chris griffiths

    Aug 20, 2002
    nashville tn
    Endorsing artist: Gallien Krueger
    Man, sometimes I get done reading these posts and feel like I'm performing a parlor trick everytime I play slap. Both Techniques can be appropriate. I have found that I don't Slap as much as I used too because I'm not trying to impress as much. It all depends on what sound I'm going for I guess. Sometimes I don't even play fingerstyle. I just mute the strings near the bridge and get right down to plucking with my thumb for some funky stuff. Thats how I play superstition and Maybe your baby.
  16. Mandobass


    Nov 12, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Funk technique???

    Funk is a feeling, not a technique. You can play funk by slapping, or fingerstyle, or pick, or even with a toothbrush.

    It's all about the feeling.
  17. empty_zed

    empty_zed Guest

    Feb 28, 2003
    hamburg, germany
    i'd like to see someone playing funky with a toothbrush (i dont denie it's possible but its funny to imagine :D )
  18. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    I love this one:
    I too always thought Funk was a style / feeling.
  19. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Have a look at the definitions of funk on dictionary.com.

    You'll see that even the wacka-wacka slap-weenies could be called funky... albeit with one of the definitions that isn't about a grooving musical style ;)

  20. I use fingers all of the time for two reasons:

    1. I suck at slap.
    2. I think something can sound just as good fingerstyle, and I think sometimes people slap for the sake of slapping.;)

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