How good are you at thumping and plucking (slap)?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Fynn, Aug 12, 2022.

  1. Never tried it

    19 vote(s)
  2. Not very good at it (poor accuracy / consistency and such...)

    87 vote(s)
  3. Decent (can play basic lines, but struggle with certain aspects a little)

    51 vote(s)
  4. Good enough (given enough time can learn pretty much any line, but not without some mistakes)

    32 vote(s)
  5. Really good (mistakes happen rarely and it's easy to pick up new lines quickly, or even make own)

    21 vote(s)
  6. Master (can play pretty much anything that is humanly possible without breaking a sweat)

    8 vote(s)
  1. Fynn


    Jan 6, 2022
    I saw a youtube video of an SVT demo today and looked through the comments. There was the average amount of people commenting things like: "Thank you for actually playing riffs instead of slap..." (direct quote) and that made me wonder. I've seen quite frequently that many people (especially other bass players) will complain about that technique and how it doesn't sound musical, or how it's just flashy and useless. So I started to wonder. How many people actually know how to play slap properly and consistently. Is it just that many people don't like it and therefore don't care to learn it, or do most bassist actually know how to slap, they just prefer to play other ways.

    I personally learned finger, pick and slap all at the same time and pretty evenly too. I'm not asking for your opinion about slap and don't want to make this a discussion about that either. Meaning, beyond what you personally think about this technique, how proficient are you at it?
    jamro217 and DJ Bebop like this.
  2. YouTube comments are toxic and a breeding ground for jealousy and "experts" who have no clue what they are talking about.

    Slapping/thumping is just like any other technique: it can be done well or poorly, it takes practice and commitment to master, and it has to be appropriate to the music surrounding it.

    Slapping all over a 12-bar blues is just as inappropriate is playing your muddy P bass with a pick when the audience requests Brick House.

    Personally, I've spent a lot of time working on my technique. I've had a lot of guidance from Victor Wooten, who is not just a technical master but very good at knowing where and when to apply his chops. That being said, just because I can play his songs doesn't mean I am just going to barf those licks out across a gig. The best compliment I ever heard at a show came after I took a solo and someone said "Up until your solo I had no idea you could play all that stuff."
  3. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    Per your definitions, I marked Realy good. Can't do Mark King slap-sing-chew bubblegum, but most slap lines are not problem for me.
    Just one remark: it's not hard to get there, doesn't take more than like one year of practise.
    Element Zero, jre5, Eli_Kyiv and 4 others like this.
  4. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    For me I don’t like to see much slap or pick in a review because I don’t use either much. I like to hear a reflection of what I play. That’s all. I see a lot of reviews where the reviewer spends 80% on slap or pick and it tells me nothing about how that piece of equipment will respond when I get my hands on it.

    I don’t dislike slap. I use it but I’m not great at it (yet). Its not something Im too bothered about either way. I want to get good at it just like I want to be the best bass player I can be. Slap is part of that but not yet a priority for me.
    Fun Size Nick, Outtaseezun and Fynn like this.
  5. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I play covers, and the only songs I "need" slap for are RHCP tunes. Flea doing slap isn't nearly as tricky as his finger style often is. I used to do the Power Station version of Get it On, which was pretty much all slap, but again no crazy triple thumps or anything. I learned to slap mostly by trying to emulate Infectious Grooves tunes in high school, but I've never been in a band that wanted or needed anywhere near that level of funk. Most often when I see a youtube video of bass gear demoed, I get annoyed by the slap bass mostly because it has little to no bearing on the technique I would be using that gear for. Slap on bass is like sweeping on guitar. It's cool, but doesn't apply to 90% of music I'm playing.
  6. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I'm good enough for the parts that come up with some cover bands.
    The rhythmic flair with the more extended up-front solo stuff eludes me. (Much like funk drumming.)
    Groove Doctor and Fynn like this.
  7. Fynn


    Jan 6, 2022
    Well, one year is a long time, especially when you're younger. But yeah, when I started I got the gist of it quite quickly and only had to refine my accuracy over time. Some things just can't be rushed
  8. Fynn


    Jan 6, 2022
    It is suprisingly hard to find a good review of any piece of gear that isn't too long winded and has all the necessary information. Out of curiosity I tried to find a review where the new SVT VR heads di out is being tested. Haven't found one yet...
    Yonni likes this.
  9. Its easier to slap myself upside the head, but i will keep trying to get it one day.
    Fynn, Lo-E and Sub-Frequency like this.
  10. basslicks

    basslicks Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2015
    Slap, along with playing with a pick, are both the biggest holes in my playing currently. I've always been a finger player, and when I was young I was one of those whackadoodles that thought finger playing was the only "real" way to play (don't worry, I have since long grown up), but for some reason I never filled in the gaps, and it's one of those things I keep meaning to do.

    My finger playing, and especially endurance, is my biggest strength. I can really dig in hard for extremely long lengths of time, but ask me to do a slap-pop line and I'll throw a few octave things here and there, sloppily, and gas out immediately because my skill level is quite low.

    Playing with a pick is another thing I'm wanting to improve, and I actually started playing guitar recently and have been using a pick, which I think will translate over a bit. I used to try it for short bursts and would have a terrible time with string skips, octaves, etc, and would go back to fingers where I feel safe, hah.
    Fynn likes this.
  11. TideSwing

    TideSwing Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2014
    Good enough but I don't do it often or practice it enough either. Slap is percussive, rhythmic and in your face - it's easy to hear when the timing is off... and that you hear alot. You're basically playing drums on your bass and I've heard skilled slappers get off the beat and it just messes up the whole groove. Respect to those who can play technical and in time.
    Fynn likes this.
  12. Katoosie

    Katoosie Chocolate is the best

    Jun 12, 2020
    I voted decent.

    I do not rely on slap for anything, if I do use it its because the song was played like that originally and so on.

    I struggle with muting the most and there are techniques I do not know how to do - but since I do not listen to/play a lot of music with slapping in it, I could not care less.

    Aggressive attack fast plucking with up to 4 fingers is where its at for me :p
    Fynn likes this.
  13. coy garcia

    coy garcia

    Jan 18, 2020
    I practice it sometimes at home but I have never been asked to perform a song that uses slap.
    Fynn likes this.
  14. Isaac_James


    May 20, 2021
    Eugene, OR
    At the moment, I'm a pretty poor slap player. My level of skill is right about "I can sort of play RATM's Take The Power Back but still going to flub some notes".

    It's sort of a self-reinforcing thing, as I don't sound good playing slap, so I don't slap, so I don't practice the technique enough to get any better. I'm certain I could learn it if I wanted/needed to, but slap doesn't really have a place in the music I'm playing now.
    Fynn likes this.
  15. FirewalZ


    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    Slapping is not really my thing, however, I can do the basics solid enough to add a little flavor to a line here and there. Victor Wooten stated that technique is only as important as it helps you to play the sounds and lines you hear in your head. If you think of a great line, but can’t pull it off, work on it. I don’t hear much slapping in my head when playing, but what little I do, I can pull off.
    JonathanPDX, Fynn and Katoosie like this.
  16. Katoosie

    Katoosie Chocolate is the best

    Jun 12, 2020
    That is so well said - every time that man speaks I sit there and just nod "Yes Sir!".
    Love listening to and watching him, such a joy :)
    bassb66 and JonathanPDX like this.
  17. Vic puts his technique to use in so many ways that most people don't even think about. He'll walk bebop lines with his thumb, which is a super handy thing to practice and can take the strain off your fingers during a long gig.

    I saw him subbing with Mike Stern once and he started walking with the left hand and flipping through the music book with his right, flipping to the right page without missing a beat in the middle of a very fast and tricky tune.

    Anyway, my point is once you put effort into really developing technique you find your hands can do all sorts of things outside of the standard application.
    jtg, bassb66, Eli_Kyiv and 1 other person like this.
  18. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    I would like to be competent at it. It's not a huge part of my thing, but... As a huge fan of McClintock Mashups, I think it'd be handy in some surprising places.
  19. Stewie


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    I’m working on upright slap. I get a kick out of people who can really kick up a storm with slap and pop stuff, but I’ve never played anything that it would fit with, so I’ve never tried :(
    Fynn likes this.
  20. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    I used to be really good at it
    At least really good at your standard funk styles (Larry Graham, Louis Johnson , Flea etc. )
    Powerful. Fast. Clean.
    as the years rolled on by I lost a lot of my skill at it after realizing that it just wasn’t needed very often and was very easily overused.
    I kind of suck now, comparatively
    I still have some decent licks in my bag and can do it believably, but no where near to the days when I was pissing everyone off all the time with it.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2022
    Fynn, jtg and SkylineFiver like this.