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Help! I'm white,have great rythm,above average solo's,but no funk.At all!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by str8bass69, Dec 4, 2004.

  1. I've been playing for about 13-14 years.I've got great rythm,straight,syncopated,and others.Drummers that I've played with say I'm really easy to sync with.I would have to say my solo's are above average for the style of rock that I have been playing(party rock,dance,light alternative,ect.).I have no problems doing 16th's or tripplets with my right hand,or any walking line or hammeron with my left.My problem is in the funk department!Everytime I try to incorperate my thumb in the mix,it just seems to screw everything up.I can use it on my E string and pop my D a little.But thats it.One of my good buddies is a phenominal progressive jazz-funk bassist and has tried to show me different techniques.I've even watched videos of Manring,Wooten,and Jaco,but I just cant make it sound smooth.My thumb seems to hit every other string except the one it's supposed to.My freind goes to this bass clinic in Penn.every year and is always trying to talk me into going.They even asked him to help instruct this year,but I think I would feel very intimidated.What do you think?I'm open to any suggestions.
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Funk doesn't require the "thumb" &/or slap 'n' pop techniques.

    You say "...I have no problems doing 1/16th's or triplets with my right hand..."
    Can you play finger-funk?
    ...meaning Jamerson, Bootsy, Bernard Odum, Chuck Rainey, Rocco, Jaco, Verdine White, George Porter Jr, Paul Jackson, Anthony Jackson, Will Lee, Gary Willis, Jeff Berlin, Oteil, etc.
  3. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    Are you being too agressive (i.e. hitting the strings with alot of force) when slapping? If so, back off a bit and use your wrist. Use (rotate) only your wrist, keeping your fore-arm relatively motionless.

    Check out the book Slap It, by Tony Oppenheim. It is loaded with great exercises to develop your thumb/slap/pop technique.

    Don't restrict yourself to "Funk=Thumb/Slap/Pop," either. Your fingers can bring the Funk, too. It is all about the feel.

    [EDIT - for line above] Ah, JimK, how dare you post while I had to step away. :)
  4. Jleonardbc


    Nov 12, 2004
    I agree, Slap It! is a great book for developing thumb technique. Another thing you can try to practice in order to get the groove is set your metronome to a very slow click (like a click every 2 or 4 seconds depending on how hard you want it to be) and try to pick, thumb, whatever, a note right on top of the click without tapping your foot, banging head, whatever...this is basically trying to internalize the rhythm/develop a better sense of the rhythm. I've heard it said that if you can walk with a consistent rhythm, then you can play that way..so it might be partially thumb technique, partially internal time? Don't worry, you'll get it.

    Also, can you tell me where/when that bass convention thing in PA is? Because I am probably close to it..thanks!
  5. (sigh)

    The color of your skin does not determine the funk in your heart.
  6. You have to hear it to know it and to know it to play it
  7. Best line ever.
  8. chimp


    Dec 4, 2004
    South Africa
    dont stress over it otherwise you will be as far from funk as you can be. funk is not quick so dont go in slapping at 300bpm or summin stupid just get someone to lay down a basic grove on drums and try work on that because funk locks with the drums alot funk basics would be to use the "box shape". just relax feel the beat and lay down a simple grove you dont want to be playing 16th's over funk unless you know what your doin.
  9. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Everything that's been said so far, + try Sklarevski's "Slap Bass Program" video. Funk ain't all about the thumb, but if you want to add the thumb to your toolbox, get that tape and work through it.


  10. MingusBass

    MingusBass Commercial User

    Sep 27, 2004
    Fort Wayne,Indiana
    Sweetwater Sound-Sales
    Some people just don't have it. You can't make yourself funky you just gotta be. I just do it.

  11. JohnnyA


    Aug 21, 2004
    I have nothing really important to add except this:

    "Don't you know funk's colour blind.
    I've created a funky crime,
    against a state of mind."
    -Anthony Keidis - Funky Crime


    I'm 10x more funky with my fingers, than with my thumb, it's just a different groove.

  12. Listen to as much funk as possible, and start learning the lines. The more funk lines you hear and learn the more it will start to seep into your playing. Granted, this may not make you the next George Porter Jr. or Larry Graham (or insert favorite funk hero), but its a start. Challenge yourself!

    It's all about timing, feel and note placement. You don't have to play alot of notes.
  13. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I was waiting patiently for someone to mention this, because it is the answer, really. Technique is secondary - Jamerson never slapped a string in his life, played mile high action, played with one finger, and still managed to help define funk.

    This endeavor is like learning a dialect of the English language. You can speak English fluently now, but we'd all stumble around a tiny bit were we to move to London, because the language has its own quirks and construct. Ultimately, immersion in the culture gets you assimilated and speaking like the natives. The same applies to music.

    Recently, I applied the same ideas I mentioned to improve my Latin playing. I grew up with Motown and the Beatles, but never heard any Latin music until I was around 25. As a result, my Latin playing sucked, even though I was accomplished in other styles. I started listening to and appreciating Latin music and my concept of the music got better.
  14. Thanks for the info.Here's the bass boot camp info I was talking about.By friend Demian said it's expensive but really thourough.He said he got alot out of it.I'm thinking about going in the spring.
    Not to mention,Its taught by the pros.
  15. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Best advice given.

    To authentically play any genre (i.e., to capture its unique essence), you must internalize the sound and feel of it by immersing yourself in the music - lots of it. Critically listen to a lot of funk - play along to a lot of funk, trying to emulate the feel.

    The funk lines that I like best (mostly mainstream/pop recordings from the 70s) feature black bassists - have the best feel IMO.
  16. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Your only real solution is to not be white. Pull an anti-Michael Jackson.. Few have ever done this successfully.

  17. If your hitting the other strings when you slap , then like guitarists in a bar chord, have a fingure dull the rest of the strings, its good to do that all the time so you end up with som pure tone. But just practice getting your thumbs aim down :)
  18. h_oudini


    Dec 7, 2004
    Funk is more about the space between the notes and not the notes you play.
  19. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    add me'shell, matt garrison, etc.

  20. Are you actually slapping it right? When I'm slapping, I'm generally in a sorta "thumbs up" style position with my thumb running up the strings, as opposed to perpendicular to the strings as I've seen lots of people who've been learning to slap do?

    I think it was Michael Dimin who suggested it, but there's an exercise you can do with a drum-stick to help build up your 'slapping muscles' and learn to rotate your wrist in the right way. Part of the mission is to get the tone right, and to do this you need to have a half-way decent technique. Check out www.michaeldimin.com for more.

    Recently, we've been doing more exploratory funky sorta stuff in our band, and I've found that I'm playing fewer notes in most songs. You've gotta remember that funk is something that makes you want to move, so it's best to have a clearly defined rhythm (definite emphasis on whichever beat grooves best), as opposed to just a stream of notes being fired out. The notes you don't play really are as important as the ones you do play. The best thing I started doing in terms of my playing was using rests properly. You don't have to play every beat of the bar, but that's not to say you should miss out huge chunks of a song - unless it calls for it.

    Anyhoo, just keep listening and absorbing information.

    Personally, I've hardly heard any funk by the bassists above - or, indeed many of the bassists above at all - so does anyone have some specific suggestions for songs/albums to pilfer?


    Edit: In terms of muting when slapping, I barely move my right hand at all nowadays, and I usually just mute it with my right if needs be, with the sorta more meaty part of my palm.