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ideal setup for slap?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Skinny85, Jan 29, 2006.


  1. Hello everyone, I've been doing my research and I was wondering what would be the best setup for someone who plays mostly slap bass, starting from the ground up.
     
  2. Rodriguez

    Rodriguez

    Nov 6, 2004
    NYC
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification & LaBella Strings
    Know the function of the instrument ....get a bass that feels good to you, active or passive ... many great records done before active tone circuits, a fresh set of strings ... back in the day, not many choices either, and the one thing you can't buy ... TASTE! Slap it wisely!

    Best,
    R
     
  3. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    umm... slap on upright or electric? I'm assuming upright since this is the upright side of talkbass...:meh:

    anyway, there is quite a bit of information about (upright) slap bass at www.rockabillybass.com Many beginners like the Supernil strings. They are cheap and produce an acceptable slap tone. A step up from that would be the Eurosonic Ultra-Lite string. Better fundamental note and easier to control. I prefer plain gut/steel, but this may not be suitable for the beginner.

    What experience with upright bass playing do you have?
     
  4. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    I slap on my bass a lot. My best advice is to get a good Double bass, get it well set up like a Double Bass, learn to play it like a Double Bass, then treat it like a doghouse;).

    I would be careful listening to most slap only players. I've yet to see a bass like that is setup in a way that I like...

    Jason
     
  5. I have little experience playing double bass, but Im picking it up. I've been a drummer for years but recently I have become infatuated with upright bass. Yeah, I agree with just getting a good setup and learning to play (not only slap) on it, but just from a reference standpoint I was wondering what would be the best of the best for the slap sound. Such as using hybrids, laminated, carved basses...flat or curved back...modifications to the fingerboard etc. I dont know if all that even matters when it comes down to it, but thats what Im trying to find out.

    I did check out the rockabilly bass site though, that has alot of great info on it, thanks for pointing that one out. And one last question, whats the word on those instructional videos I see everywhere on double bass and how bad of an idea is it to use those and teach yourself if you can't get a legitimate teacher. Thanks for the help!
     
  6. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    The "Ungentle Art" video rocks my socks. Mike Bub, one of the best bluegrass slappers around learned from it.

    I use TI Spirocore Orchestra. They're not the most forgiving, but they sound the best to me.

    Jason
     
  7. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    +1 for "The Ungentle Art" Mark and Kevin cover quite a bit of ground in that video. Think of instructional material as a good addition to private one-on-one instruction. The upright bass isn't easy... intonation, music theory, playing without pain, phrasing, fingering, setup... these are all things you need to have a teacher for. Even if you can't find a slap teacher per se, find a jazz/blues upright teacher in your area.

    Get a good plywood bass; something that costs more than $600. Rosewood or Ebony fingerboard. Supernils or Eurosonic Ultra-Lite strings, and a Realist/Underwood Pickup.
     
  8. STRONGBOW

    STRONGBOW

    Aug 26, 2005
    First, it would be useful to know which type of music you will be playing but either way, the setup's the same-- high strings; good strings. I've been incorporating the slap technique(s) in performance for a long time, and there are different slap rhythmic patterns for different kinds of music. For traditional jazz-- as in New Orleans style-- its based on eighth and quarter notes, usually, while for bluegrass its the triple slap which while more straighforward rhythmically, requires a pretty limber wrist. I learned to slap jazz style from Chester Zardis, the New Orleans master, but he's gone now and there are only a few recorded examples of his work. But Milt Hinton played in a very similar style, and there is a wonderful instructional video available through the ISB by Milt. I learned the triple slap from Louisiana bluegrass bassist Ben Williams, and I don't know of any instuctional material for that. I've listened to Bluegrass bassists like Marshall Wilborn and Tom Gray slap-- and they slap the living ---- out of the bass, but they sound more like a traditional jazz style than a triple slap. Rockabilly style sounds to me like a hybrid of these 2 styles....just my 2 cents worth. I think the main point is that there are different ways to slap, depending on the tempo and the repertoire. For me, the ideal set-up is having those strings quite high, make absolutely certain that the bridge is a good one and that it is in perfect alignment between the end of the fingerboard and the tail piece, cuz if its just slightly out of alignment it will mute the sound and affect the action. There is no set height for the strings, but you don't want them any higher than they have to be-- you will just have to experiment to see how high you personally need them in order to pull up and release them. Lots of strings will work. I used to use Thomastic reds for this and they respond great. But I switched to LaBella 7710s a few years ago because they sound like gut but respond quick like Thomastiks and have the feel of butter. Just listen a lot and dive in and practice, practice, practice.
     
  9. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    There are different styles of slap setup, and higher string height is not always better. Beginners should get an adjustable bridge and start with a string height of 7mm under the G and 10mm under the E. As your technique improves and you develop a sense of what sound you are going for, you can raise them up/tweak your setup. I slap quite a bit; many different styles, and use a lower string height. fwiw.
     
  10. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    I agree with you Nick. I general, I don't really like a bass with a high string height. I believe my bass has pretty much the setup that Nick specified.

    Jason
     
  11. STRONGBOW

    STRONGBOW

    Aug 26, 2005
    well when I say "HIGH STRINGS" I mean alot higher than I would normally have them for jazz, which for me is practically on the fingerboard. So a normal height for bowing the bass is quite high to me, but that "normal" height may be quite sufficient to slap as well. If you do bother to get ahold of Milt Hinton's slap video (available through the International Society of Bassists), you'll notice that Milt's strings are really very high (and he's playing a plywood bass). The great New Orleans slap bass master Chester Zardis was quite short in stature (they called him Little Bear) but his sound was huge. He played out his last years at Preservation Hall, a crowded little room in what was formerly a Blacksmith Shop on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter. This was a six and sometimes seven piece group, heavy on the brass and it gets really loud in there. Chester used gut strings. He kept them very high, both to increase his volume and to facilitate his slapping. He'd flip his bass around and face it into the wall and it would just boom in that place. If you can get that same sound with a lower setting, great...