How long did it take you to learn slap?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by artdrtr, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. artdrtr


    Jan 24, 2008
    Redondo Beach, CA
    I'm totally frustrated trying to learn to slap. I'm a converted guitarist now self taught on bass for almost 7 years and have played in classic rock cover bands for the past 6 (finger style).

    I really want to learn slap bass but find it hard and its not coming naturally. I can't get clean tones, popping or slapping notes so I give up easy after 10-15 mins and just go back to learning and playing songs... I've tried books and youtube vids but still hasn't clicked and I'm in a rut.

    Q: How long did it take you to become competent and confident to slap?

    Q: Did you take lessons or self taught?

    Q: I play a fender P, but I've heard active basses are better for slapping tone?

    I know I'll never be Flea or Zender, but really want to play funk
  2. Grissle


    May 17, 2009
    I can do Berlin, Jaco, Jameson but can't slap to save my life😆

    I'm not sayin give up, but just that your not alone here.
  3. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    About as long as it took me to forget. :)
    It's cool and a nice effect to have in your technique quiver. Yet....
    I knew things had gone too far when John Tesh's bassist (at Red Rocks) gets a solo space and proceeds to slap & pop!! :):):)
    Is Breakdancing always appropriate?

    Of course for your music, band & audience mileage may vary.

    I've had very competent slappers hand me their basses to find the volume control, pickup selection and tone roll offs to be far off for low end support in a tune.
  4. Bass Fund

    Bass Fund Banned

    Nov 30, 2013
    I faked it for a while by pulling with my thumb and fingers, and kinda came up with something I thought was unique.

    Then a few years later, my bass instructor told me to learn "Higher Ground" because it could be played using hammer-ons, and would teach me that new technique. You just take it from there, playing similar patterns on the rest of the neck, then getting out of the octave box.
  5. GretschBassist


    Nov 11, 2012
  6. Kmrumedy


    May 12, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    Get this and work it. One of the oldest and still best on the market for learning slap quick and clean.
  7. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Well, as worded the question is unanswerable. I mean, there's no upper limit on how good you can get at any technique, so learning the style is a process and not a destination.

    But I think I understand what you're trying to ask, OP! You're frustrated because you feel like you're not getting anywhere with practicing it.

    Scott Devine (ScottsBassLessons) has a great tutorial in which he explains the basics of striking the strings percussively. I'm sure that will be very helpful.

    And I'd suggest spending time first on getting the sounds: the thump, the pop, the left hand slap. You can always work on speed later, but it will motivate you to continue if you can slap a simple passage and enjoy the way it sounds.
  8. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I wouldn't recommend wasting time with books or videos on the subject aside from getting the basics of the technique down. Everything after that is feel. It will take you a while to master the dynamic aspect of it, which to me was the hardest part...keeping all the notes even. It's just another tool in the bag and as you get more adept at touch, timing and feel, I think you'll find your slap technique improving as well. I'm no master at it, far from it. But I actually got better at it by NOT focusing on slap itself, but dynamics and timing. After that, it's a flick of the wrist, IMO.
  9. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    2 things:

    1) Look at your bass like a drum kit (E = kick drum, A= floor tom, D= rack tom, muted G = hi hat, open G = cymbal). Try to play drum patterns to get an idea of how to groove using slap.

    2) Slap is not Funk, slap is just another technique. Funk is a feel, and the "1" is your anchor. ;)
  10. Andii Syckz

    Andii Syckz

    Jan 2, 2011
    Couple weeks maybe. Self taught. But im no where near as good of a slapper as my other friends. They've been doing it since they started learning bass guitar cause they wanted to be like flea and whoever else. Although it's not a technique i use a lot, it's still handy to know. Motown stuff is pretty good and you could slap the bass even if it's played fingerstyle.
  11. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Please don't do that. :scowl:

  12. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Oct 29, 2013
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    A while. I was put off, mostly, by Youtube tutorials. Some people clearly take well to instruction like "make as if your right hand is opening a door by the handle", but I couldn't figure that out. I still cannot get my right hand thumb to park itself, post slap, on the string below the one I struck.

    The good news is that I can hit the E string pretty hard, the A string to a lesser degree, and on my 5er I can hit B - E - A quite well. The band I'm in at the moment has very little capacity for slap bass, so this is purely a home practice concept for the time being.

    Most guys I encounter seem to think they are the bastion of slap once they can work an octave, but I think the advice above about treating strings like drums and working out patterns is far more accurate and useful. Most guys can bang their way through the intro of Higher Ground, but can you do When the Levee Breaks???
  13. It's a process. I'm sure there are those savants who just get it in short order, but I think for the majority of us, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk before you can run. I've been hacking away for about ten years now and I'm just starting to sound like I know what the hell I'm doing (well, my band mates and audiences are impressed, but I'm painfully aware how far I still have to go to sound anything like Wooten). Still learning, still progressing.

    A good primer or method book is a big help in this area. A good teacher-author can help you crawl before you walk and progress in a logical fashion. And I'm a bass teacher, so that answers your question about having some kind of method or instruction, even a good book or video, to help you along and get off the ground.

    Most any bass can be slapped. You have to decide if it has the slap tone you desire. Some multi-platinum-selling recordings feature a finely slapped Precision bass (it has a very characteristic flavor). If you can slap, you can do it on just about any bass, active or passive. I think most slappers have some set-up parameters that they shoot for, such as lower action, more emphasis on one of the pickups in your array, tone and sound processing choices, etc. You just gotta research, dig in, and keep adjusting and learning as you go. I've seen a wider variety of approaches getting great results with slap more than any other technique.
  14. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    The best thing I did to learn slap, actually helped me a GREAT deal with my technique overall. I set up all my basses as low of an action that I can get with an almost straight neck. Like so low that in order to get clean, buzz free finger noise I must play very light. Then I turned up the volume to give me the same "output" with the quieter playing. I then worked on playing everything as light as I can. Got me to figure out how very soft I thump and pluck, and get that nice slap bass sound.
  15. thirtyhz

    thirtyhz Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    Repitition repitition repitiion. And at the risk of sounding redundant, repitition.

    Technique isnt about talent, its about the discipline to stick to it through the sucky phase. Forget about the end game, break it down and set inremental goals. Then practice ptactice practice. And at the risk of sounding redundant, practice.
  16. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    That's exactly how I feel about slapping too.
    Repetition, redundant, repetition, redundant...etc etc etc etc.
    Slapsturbation can be a real problem and can lead to deafness.
  17. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    Great advice right here, for any style.
  18. I was frustrated too. I saw a lot of friends slap so well that I wanted. First, I made my assignment on the web a couple of years ago looking for a nice slap video. There are a lot of videos that the guys have a lot of talent but the don't now how to teach you. I recommend to you "Slap bass" by Ed Friedland. In this video, this guy start with very simple things and he add things later. He start with basic things that some of us really ignore or don't pay attention to this things and if you fix that things you will be a better bass player,, and then add difficulty. That's the best way to learn. He is an excellent teacher so you will not have any problems. He give you a lot of riffs to practice that can help you to incorporate and develop your own style. I recommend this to 5 to 6 of my friends and they are very happy with it now. It takes to me a couple of months to do all the things of the video but now I can do a lot of nice things. Second, is very important to have lot o patience and practice every day. For me the jazz bass works very well thanks to the neck and off course you will need a nice set of strings. I use DÁddario Pro steel 45-100 and put the action very low and my hands does the other.
  19. mancefine


    Jul 7, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Orange Amplifiers and Spector Basses
    It took me a while. Once I finally got a decent right hand technique down it took me a while to coordinate my left hand while slapping. Not sure if that's common but for some reason coordinating my fretting hand with my slapping hand was difficult. I play Sabbath esque rock, so rarely, if ever do I need to slap. For some reason, I've always felt less competent because I wasn't super awesome at slap. I kind of put slapping on this pedestal and told myself "once I can slap I can consider myself a professional caliber bassist" because I felt I had become proficient at most other bass techniques, besides tapping. Then I realized that Jaco never played slap, and I realized that slap is really not the top of the mountain for bass. I've also noticed that certain style basses seem alot easier to slap on. Passive Fenders seem to be more difficult to slap on (well, maybe not difficult, those basses just make you work for it a bit more) than a Spector or especially a Music Man. I remember picking up a Music Man and getting a slap tone by just hiting a string it seemed like.
  20. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL

    Start slow. One slap and pop the octive, work on the mutes with your left hand. then move up a string. Then do double slap single pop. Then single slap double pop, then go up a string. Work on muting with the left hand. And expand from there. Go slow and just keep working at it. You'll get it.