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I just don't get "slapping".

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by OmNomNom, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. OmNomNom


    Jul 10, 2011
    Wilmington, DE
    I am pretty new to double bass.. pizz comes naturally and I am a jazz player on bass guitar, so most of the time I am inclined to that method. I have grown an interest in the slap technique thanks to guys like Joe Fick. I really just don't understand what is done! Every description I see for a basic slap mentions just pulling the string back and releasing to get the slap, but every time I do this it sounds like complete chaotic crap.. it's more of a volatile cluttering vibration, like when one's finger slips off of a string on BG. Anyone have any ideas? It seems every video is looking head-on to the player, too, as opposed to a vertical perspective from the player.

    I'm sorry if this is covered in any stickies, by the way.
  2. I found the Lee Rocker video, but it still shows pretty much face on. There used to be a series that showed a 'down the fingerboard angle so you could see the form of the right hand better, but I can't find them now.

  3. PaulKing


    Apr 17, 2004
    London, UK
    You should concentrate first on achieving the slap between plucks, rather than the snap-back click. So pluck a note then slap your palm back down over the strings.

    Doing this once or twice between notes gives you that essential rockabilly boom-chicka-boom-chicka sound.

    As you get better at it, you'll be able to add the extra click you get from pulling the string out and letting it snap back against the board (like a bass guitar pop).

    But perhaps more essential is that you have appropriate strings and set up for slap.

    Steel / high tension / high action strings can all make slapping harder to do, with the effect that when you do get the strings to snap back they make an awful clatter. Whereas gut or nylon and lower tension mean you can get the desired effect with a vwery easy action, producing a lovely gentle thunk and click.
    BRITHULHU BLACK likes this.
  4. Scott Hinds was who I was thinking of, but his videos are no longer available.
  5. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    Keep searching...there's a couple good ones out there!
  6. Florian666


    Mar 23, 2011
    Dijon, France

    I play in a neo-rockabilly band (Liquor and Poker - France) and a psychobilly band (Manor Freaks) and country/punk band. I'm not a great player, I'm very rythmic, been playing for 20 years, love mixing it with the drummer, but not very melodic. Here's a couple of little hints that I hope will help you.

    Simple slap- Hold your hand flat, wack (slap) the string down against the finger board (1st click) and hold it pressed, hook your fingers slightly to grip the string and pull back (2nd click/boom)

    Double slap- Wack the string down twice (click x2), pull back (click boom)

    Nothing new here, but the hardest part is to do it SLOWLY, to learn the correct most direct/simplest mouvement, you'll be doing it millions of times so get comfi. Learn it right and then you can go faster.

    And learn to slap with a "light hand", good for the fingers, good for controlling a heavy or light slap action, good for speed ( the fastest slappers aren't body builders, they have technique) good for endurance because you save energy.

    Most people have an open hand when slapping, but will pull the strings with only 2 sometimes 3 fingers.
    Do it a million times until it's a reflex. That way you think only of the music and the slap just happens.
    Practice right hand separately from left so you can focus entirelly on the slap/rythm.
    Some people slap with their forearm low / pointing down often, because the bass is set very low.
    That position didn't work for me because i have long fingers and when you play low, they work the string on an angle and that puts a lot of pressure on the finger joints. (sometimes i could'nt shake hands after a concert because my middle finger joint was sore) Ive re-learned to slap with my arm more parallel to the floor, that way my fingers work at 90° to the strings, my fingers work in a straight line when pulling and no more pain. (but that's just me..)

    Get the right strings for your style.

    While my fingers were recovering and while i was relearning my slap, i got real low tension Weed wacker pros, and now, Ive gone back to rotosound rs4000 and no more pain. I've tried eurosonics and silver slaps and weed wackers but the roto's work best for me.

    I gotta go, dinner's ready
  7. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    Great tips!
  8. Florian666 offers good advice.

    I'll add that you don't need to hook your fingers under the string so much as get just enough of your fingertip pad on the side of the string that when you pull your hand away from the fingerboard the string comes with it until its own tension pulls itself back – overcoming the friction/tension of your fingertips.

    Not sure if that makes sense or not. HOwev errrr... You can see what I'm talking about in Memphis Evil's demonstration of a drag triplet at 0:05 - 0:06. He uses a scroll cam, not the usual across the room perspective.

    Look for his other vids, too. Great stuff.

    When I first started I was severely hooking my finger under the string and yanking the string way out and then releasing it like it was a bow and arrow situation. Klunky, slow, and too much friction equalled blister city and horrible sound.

    It requires only the lightest of touch, more of a stroke than a yank.

    Lastly, check out Rockabilly Bass nee doublebasschat.com as there is a wealth of info there from a largely slappin' community of players.

    Also check out The Art of Slap Bass website, another great slapper's resource.

    Keep at it and you'll go from klunky to finesse, guaranteed. Good luck with it.

    PS: Forgot to add that I'm using solo strings (Evah / Obligatos) tuned down to standard for the lower tension. Can still bow and pizz with them.
  9. Found these:

  10. OmNomNom


    Jul 10, 2011
    Wilmington, DE
    Thanks for the tips, fellas.. I find the "inbetween notes" slap comes way more naturally to me than the pull. I'm working on it! I do have a high action setup ( I like the sustain and sound) but would like to find a medium between all three styles (slap, arco, pizz). I know you can't have your cake and eat it too, but I will be playing pizz the most (followed by arco, then slap).
  11. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    I do all three like you and I found I've had to compromise a little with the more high action I like and getting the strings to respond. Too high an action will "choke" the strings a little. Finding the sweet spot height wise will make it easier to execute.

    I also agree with the poster who suggested you start by getting the in between clicks first. Then you can add double slap, then combining that with the pulling of the string so it slaps back against fingerboard. It does sound chaotic at first and with a less heavy hand you can incorporate it nicely once you are comfortable with the inbetween clicks.