help: five string basses and slapping

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by toshiya, Sep 5, 2002.

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  1. toshiya


    Jun 14, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    i have the esp f-205 5 string bass, and although I can slap pretty well on a 4 string bass, I have a hard time slapping on the 5 stringer. On a four string I slap the two low (E A) strings and pop the two high string (D G), but now complications arise with this new bass (I bought it at a bargain, about 400 dollars off normal price + case). Any tips on how to slap with a five string? Also, is there any problem with me just changing the tuning from BEADG to EADGB? Will the tension warp the neck? Thank you.
  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Practice. That is the simple answer. When I first got my Peavey Cirrus 6 string, I had difficulty slapping due to the fact that it has narrower string spacing than my 5 strings. And of course, muting problems with the extra string. Now, almost a year later, I'm getting a lot cleaner. The other night at a gig with the oldies band, I had to slap a line on a pretty fast song that I had never played before, a request from the audience. I was actually more at home slapping the Cirrus than I am on my Pedulla 5, which has wide string spacing.

    As far as changing the tuning to EADGB, as long as you use the correct strings(the top 5 strings from a 6 string set) it will not harm the neck. There is a chance that you will have to adjust the truss rod, due to the slightly different tension on the neck, and you may have to get a new nut cut, if the strings rattle around in the slots, which will be too big for them. But you may not have to do anything other than changing the strings and retuning.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    What string spacing do you have on the five string? What were you used to on the four string? (measure from the centre of one bridge saddle to the centre of the next).

    My previous main bass was a six string Washburn XB-600 which had 15mm spacing (very tight). I could get somewhere with slapping but it was awkward - in the end I got a four string bass (with 18mm spacing) so stuck flatwounds on the six string and didn't try to develop my slap technique on it any more.

    My current main bass is a six string Sei bass which has 18mm spacing and that's cool for slapping.

    String spacing isn't the only issue - factors such as freshness of the strings (to the right zing) and pickups also play a part. However, in my experience, string spacing does make a major difference and my personal preference, even on six string, is to go wide.

  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    What sort of "complications" - if you can say what these are then it will be easier to give specific help to address these issues?

    I think the string spacing is an issue, but depends on how thick your fingers are - so I know that to pop, I need to get my fingers between and under the strings - some basses I've tried in shops have been too narrow for me to do this - I have fairly thick fingers - others with skinny fingers may find it no problem.

    This is one of the many reasons why I would never buy a bass without trying it extensively first. I started off on the very wide spacing thing - TRB6P - but by trying various basses in shops I was able to get the ideal. That is, wide enough to to get my fingers between the strings but not any wider and therefore bulkier, heavier etc.

    So my Tobias feels about half the weight of the TRB - I've tried the Sei's as Wulf mentions and these are great for that compromise - light and fast as well as wide enough to pop or do whatever you want - great basses - but I can only afford basses on interest-free credit! ;)
  5. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Embellisher hit it on the nead. Practice is your answer. When I started playing 5's 4 years ago, it took some getting used to, but I learned to "clean up" my technique. Take the stuff that you normally slap, and play it at half speed. The hardest thing for me was trying to kill the ringing of the B string.

    Maybe this thread goes in "Technique"?
  6. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    Yup.. practice..... I have a Zon 5 and if memory serves me right, the strings spacing on the ZOn 5 is like 16mm or 17mm... compared to a 19mm 4 string spacing...

    it just takes time... don't quit

  7. I've got an F205 as well and the string spacing is very tight. The bass is ideal for fast fingerstyle or pick playing, but not great for slapping.

    You could re-string it EADGC, but you'll have a harder time popping the top strings than slapping the bottom ones.

    You'll get used to it eventually, but it's not designed for slapping.
  8. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I agree with Embellisher to a point, but Bruce brings up a very important point. Yes, practice practice practice is the simple answer, but if the string spacing is too tight for your fingers there's only so much you'll ever be able to get away with.

    I have basic survival skills at slapping/popping. I don't like the style much, but occasionally it serves the music so I know a little bit about how to do it. I used to have a Peavey Dyna-Bass 5 which had narrow string spacing. I found it much much harder to slap on that than on my four strings. Granted I didn't practice the technique a huge amount... :) Remember that caveat.

    When I got rid of the Peavey Dyna-Bass 5 and replaced it with a Fender American Standard Jazz V I found that amazingly I could actually slap and pop on the V much easier and cleaner than ever before. My skill set was the same, but the different string spacing really did the trick.

    Now, remember, I'm only a casual slapper - I don't use the technique a whole lot and haven't devoted a lot of practice time to it. If you're more serious than I about the technique then you may, like Jeff, do very well with a whole lot of practice and a narrow spaced bass. As a hack/hobbyist I find it easier to deal with the wider strings on my Jazz.

    But I have to admit as good as the Jazz V sounds, the Dyna-Bass had a better slap tone. :)
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think the point still stands that - OK you may be able to Slap however narrow the spacing, given practice - but if you want to pop on say the D string, then you have to get your finger between the D and G strings. It is therefore quite possible that a bass's string spacing is too narrow to pop!

    I have seen Ibanez 5s and 6s where the neck is so narrow that it is basically impossible for me to pop the D string given the thickness of my fingers.
  10. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Think "nimble" not "athletic" on the 5. Lower the action a bit so you don't have to really raise your right hand off the strings so much while slapping. Relax your shoulder, loesen up your wrist, and just rotate your forarm. Your hand shouldn't really have to move that much at is about control on the 5'er and even more on teh 6'ers.

    Make sure the curvature is smooth (how the strings follow the necks curve). Learn how to damp with your left hand, which is used a lot with the little extra ghost notes that you should be using to funkify your slap lines.

    One thing I like to do a lot is to allocate my index finger to the A and D strings, and my middle for the G strings for popping. (or, when I am slapping on the A string, my index is on the D and middle is on the G) This lets me basically rest my hand in one spot without a lot of string hopping (which is an opportunity for missing) and also allows for "double popping."

    I truly believe that if you are having problems slapping on the 5 it is a technique related issue, not an issue as it relates to having 5 strings. Once you learn how to do it on a 5, you will be a much better player overall with reagards to the technique.
  11. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    I doubt this very much, unless you are king kong.

    Ibanez's have supremely narrow string spacing and I never had a problem slapping on them.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - you're just wrong - I've tried some basses and this is what happened - what's the point in saying "you doubt it", apart from to be disrespectful of me -basically calling me a liar!! :mad:

    And as I was very careful to point out (read it again!!) it is not the slap but the pop - keep up!! :rolleyes:

    Anyway - here is the proof/facts - my middle finger is very close to 19 mm across - looking at Ibanez home page, their Soundgear 6er has a neck width at the 24th fret of 83mm. Now there must be 5 spaces and the thicknesses of the strings - if the strings had no thickness, that means a spacing of 83/5 = 16.6 mm - so allowing for an average thickness string set, ths is way too narrow to accommodate my 19mm finger!! QED ;)
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So from the Ibanez homepage on their soundgear basses :

  14. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i agree, and so off to technique it goes...
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I'm not worried where it sits, but I trust you will allow me to respectfully disagree with you and say that while it is likely, the narrow spacing of the bass can also make it very difficult and maybe impossible to pop strings? ;)

    (See above)
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I agree, Bruce.

    You can put more flexible strings on and rip up your cuticles on a narrow spaced bass but that's hardly conducive to slapping. You don't need gigantic hands for this to be a problem.

    It's not strictly a technique issue, it's a physical issue with some basses.
  17. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    sounds to me like a physical problem with some fingers. :D i've been able to slap on a jerry jones baritone guitar. i guess skinny fingers come in handy (har har) some times. :D
  18. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Nice graphic BUT, this is as the 24th fret and that isn't where you slap/pop, and you aren't popping with the full width of your finger trying to get between and under the strings. It is a finger TIP technique, so this is probably why you have problems.

    Besides, Reggie Wooten (Vic's brother) slaps on his strat, which has MUCH narrower spacing then a bass. It is a technique thing, not an impossibility on some 5 strings, and any string spacing between say 15mm and 20mm is certainly doable.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's rubbish - to get the best sound you really need to pull under the strings - finger tip is not good enough! You must get a very poor sound doing this!

    Besides I don't have any problems as I would never buy a bass like this and my own bass is fine for slap/pop - you can hear me on a recording if you like? Just click on "Member's MP3s"on the main forum page.

    Although the graphic shows the 24th fret this is pretty close to where most sensible people would pop and the strings still don't widen out that much - we're still looking at 14-16mm string spacing and 19mm finger - even if it's close as Brad mentions, you are going to struggle!

    Face it - you're just wrong!
  20. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings

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