How to Slap (Milt Hinton style)

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by hdiddy, Jan 20, 2007.


  1. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    We all know there's tons of video's out there, including those on YouTube, but I don't care about how Lee Rocker or anybody else does it, just the Judge. I like his style for the melodic and rhythmic complexity that you don't see in many other slappers.

    Here's a lesson off of YouTube from the Judge Himself(he slaps at the very end):
     
  2. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    well, fellas ,just remember, IT DON'T MEAN A THING IF IT AIN'T GOT THAT SWING! :p
     
  3. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Hey diddy I just noticed the Bluegrass and Rockabilly thread and then your kind words above, thanks! I posted that video recently but it is a few years old. I will try and put some new ones up soon, maybe I'll do an instructional type slap video if anyone is interested. I've also thrown around the idea of writing a slap method book, but I've been really busy lately.

    I find that higher action always works better for slapping, but there is a good middle ground you can achieve without making it too hard to play the bass pizz. It depends on each person and each instrument.

    Also, I don't think there is one "Simandl" of slap bass methods. In other words, different slap methods seem to work equally as well depending on the individual. The way I slap is kind of an adaptation of Milt's technique, but I also don't have his sort of side-handed approach.

    I think the best way to get better slap chops is to slowly develop muscle memory. To do this, take one slap pattern and meticulously practice it at slow tempos, gradually increasing it until it becomes automatic. Then, take a different rhythmic pattern and do the same thing. Then, combine them. Usually, I practice different rhythms with major or other scales, sometimes I just play over the form of a tune, slapping a solo-ish bass line.

    Again, I don't think there is one surefire method, but I do think there are certain techniques and practice methods that can really help. They seem to work well with my students, anyways.:)

    Pete

    PS. This new Bluegrass and Rockabilly thread is an awesome idea!
     
  4. not much of a lesson, but great vids of technique. I enjoyed them, thanks!

    I would like to see more of those Milt vids and possible even see a lesson where he breaks it down on coming in sideways like that.

    Coco's vid was really good. great sound and form. I think that's probably more how a lot of rockabillys slap and learn to slap. I use that method alot! when doing single and double slapping.

    When I'm doing triplets I like to pulll the string to let it smack back, then use the heal of my palm to smack the fingerboard, roll the wrist and smack with the part of the palm meets the fingers and repeat.
     
  5. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Thanks for the compliment.
    I'm working on a similar technique right now as well, trying to use the hand to slap the bass twice in one motion.
     
  6. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    Cambridge MA
    Great timing with this stuff. I've been asked to play with a rockabilly band and have been working on learning how to slap. How high do you guys have your strings raised up off the finger board? Or how low? I'm having a hard time getting ahold of the g string.
     
  7. Do you use gut or steel strings? My action is just high enough to get my fingers underneath the strings on the high end of the fingerboard.But action is a tricky thing,high enough to make the "poping" easy,and make the volume increase,but not so high that just playing is difficult.Do you have a luthier that you use?

    Many pyschobilly bassist use steel strings,magnetic pickups,and low action.What style are you playing? Think about the way you are slapping and try and adapt your set up to make it easier.There are MANY different ways of slapping a bass.Find what works for you is my advise.Good luck!
     
  8. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    Cambridge MA
    I use steel strings. I usually play jazz so the action is lower. 5mm on the g. If you mean what style slap the answer is I didn't know there was more than one. I watched a couple of vids on youtube. They're hands are moving so fast that it's difficult to see a difference .
     
  9. jsbach1982

    jsbach1982

    Feb 11, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    One trick you can do, if you can't actually get your finger under the string, is to pluck right where the fingerboard ends. Plenty of room to grab the strings, no matter how low your action is. :D



    -Jono
     
  10. Geoff Firebaugh

    Geoff Firebaugh

    Apr 1, 2004
    Nashville TN
    Endorsing artist:Blast Cult, BNA Audio, Fender, Innovation Stings, K&K
    Be very very careful with this. I dislocated the first knuckle on my index finger doing this on borrowed bass with a very low action.

    As for string height, there is no formula. I play with my strings really low, but I also play 3-5 nights a week for 2-4 hours at a time, and alot of this is slapping.

    what I suggest, is to raise your strings up to the point where you can fit the tip of your index finger under the string where the high 'c' would be on your g string. It's alot easier to learn to slap with high action, as you get more comfortable and competent you can lower it to suit. As for the side hand technique that milt uses, that seems to be fairly exclusive to him, but you can get the same results holding your hand semi-perpendicular to the FB. The most important thing is to keep you hand relaxed. When you slap down on the string, your fingertips will naturally curl around the string. Don't 'grab' the string, this will lead to you wearing out your forearm in no time at all. If you can find it, get a copy of 'the ungentle art' video featuring Kevin Smith and Mark Rubin. It is a great primer for learning the basics of slap.

    Even if that's not the style of music you want to play, it will give you a good launching point. I've been playing slap for almost 8 years now, and I still have trouble working out some of Milt's parts.

    hope that helps.

    cheers
    geoff
     
  11. labravajazz

    labravajazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2006
    Sydney Australia
    I once had the privelege of being invited to Milt Hinton's house for a day. He cooked and showed me all around the area - down the street where Basie used to live Fats Waller, Babe Ruth etc ..... Down in the cellar was all his music stuff, basses included. He was the kindest and coolest guy, and showed me his ways of slapping and othere stuff. There was no set up issue at - all he could do it on any bass with any kind of strings and action so far as I could see. The most important thing was how the rhythm was always popping 110%.
     
  12. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Man I envy you so much! Milt is one of my heros, what a great story.
     
  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Hi guys, thanks for all the responses.

    Pete, I took your advice to heart about focusing on one particular rhythm and mastering that first. I'll try doing a straight (not swing) triplet as that seems to usually be the base rhythm for alot of styles. Lately, I've been able to get some of that "side" hand slap that Milt gets, but it seems difficult to get a fast or even moderate paced double. To be more descriptive, I'll do a pluck-slap-slap, pluck-slap-slap, etc. etc. I just lowered my strings but I think there's still too much spring in the strings to allow me to do the heel-palm double as SwampRocker describes above. I can get the palm, but never hit the heel hard enough to get it to click. This is why I was initially wondering if it's a setup issue.

    So Pete, how are you doing your doubles? I get the same problem watching videos - everybody's hands move too fast/subtle for me to tell what goes on.

    Also, LABRAVAJAZZ, it'd be nice if you could also chime in as to how Milt did it himself. From what I can tell from the footage of his playing, he just slaps it twice really fast and doesn't do a heel-palm thing.

    Speaking of which, if you haven't heard it already, go check out Milt playing "Fascinating Rhythm" on the album "The Trio-1994" with Bob Rosengarden and Derek Smith. He does a totally awesome slap solo that's unlike your typical slap playing. It's like Jazz slap. It's available on eMusic.com (that's where I got it). Check it out.
     
  14. labravajazz

    labravajazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2006
    Sydney Australia
    OK - he showed it to me and had me do some exercises in different rhythms and it was like 2 quick slaps not on the heel or palm but the side of the finger turned in towards the string. Hard to explain and it was one thing to see him do it effortlessly and then to try to do it like baby steps! he had it down so well he could incorporate melodic phrases and syncopations inside out and back to front. It was an amazing thing to spend a whole day there with him and he was just the kindest friendliest man you would ever meet. And whenever he played a big smile came on his face ........
     
  15. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Geez, this morning I was in the car just listening to a recording of Milt with Cab Calloway, "pluckin' the blues" and I damn near ran off the road in amazement at how great he sounded--complex time, tremendous swing feel, great intonation, great tone. And also realized i had NO idea how he did it. I mean I can fake the occasional Bill Black bluegrass 2 and 4 slap, but man o man...

    thanks for the thread and the great video clip
     
  16. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Hey diddy,

    I use the same motion for the doubles and triples. It's a slap using the same part of my hand. I hold my hand perpendicular to the strings and slap with one and two. I haven't had the time, but soon I'm gonna try to develop some new rhythms and try out some new techniques. I'll let you know if I find the secret.;)
    This is why Milt is my favorite. I got into slap bass through him, and his slap playing speaks more clearly to me than some other guys because it has jazz phrasing and harmonic content.

    Diddy, I'd also recommend you check out Roland Guerin if you haven't already. He's another jazz slapper and a monster player.
     
  17. labravajazz

    labravajazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2006
    Sydney Australia
    BTW The things The Judge showed me to practice were triplets and 16th notes ie note slap slap or note slap slap slap just all quick movements of inside of index finger/knuckle - thats as i recall it anyway - David
     
  18. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Well Pete and David, thanks a bunch. I guess I'll just have to try it and build up speed over time. Doesnt' seem like there's any secret about it at all. Oh well. Pete, I'm totally looking forward to your next video. :)

    Last question for either of you: Looks like Milt doesn't really focus on getting a string snap when he plucks that first note, or is my ears playing tricks on me? David, you said it's note-slap-slap, not note/snap-slap-slap like many slappers do, yes? Just want to be completely clear.
     
  19. Rickske

    Rickske

    Jan 4, 2007
    The Netherlands
    Man i got major blisters trying that for a couple of hours yesterday.. but it sure is fun!
    I found it real hard to get that first "Snap" as hdiddy call's it..
     
  20. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I didn't know why I didn't ask this earlier, but you guys have any recordings of Milt's playing you'd recommend, that'd be awesome if you could share it with us.

    Other than the one I mentioned earlier in this thread, there's a couple on a compilation called "The Judge At his Best". There's two slap tunes - "Momma dont' allow it in here" and "Slap Happy".
     
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