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Is slapping my thing?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by fingerguy, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    That only applies to bassists who do sub gigs or play with bands that have a very... uh, "fluid" employment policy, I guess.
  2. Is slapping your thing? I don't know. Only you can answer that. But let me tell you a cautionary tale...

    Back in 1984 I was in a band who wrote a bunch of original songs. On one of them, our saxophonist did this long, drawn-out, distorted note that we called "the hippopotamus fart". Nobody liked it except him, but he really wanted to keep it and had a bit of a childish pout over it, so in the end, we let him. I then started doing a little slappa-da-slappa-da-pop! thing on the third line of the chorus of another song. I hated it, and assumed they would hate it. My plan was to wait until they told me to stop, at which point I would mock the sax player's little tantrum. Unfortunately they all loved it. I got smiles, nods, thumbs up, and had to keep it in. I had never learned to slap properly. Sure, I had heard Strawberry Letter 23 and played around to see how Louis did that, but not seriously, so some nights I'd mess it up. Since 1984, that old song is the only one, cover or original, where I felt the need to slap. But 35 years later we still play that song and I still have to slap in the chorus.

    The moral of this story is: Think very carefully before you start down this road. If you start slapping now, you might be slapping for the rest of your life. Do you really want to be doing that @fingerguy? Well, do you?
    Flacco and mikewalker like this.
  3. Learning basic slap is not that hard and is great to have in the toolbox if you want it. I always chuckle a bit when people are so standoffish about it.
  4. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I'm kind of with OP.

    It's been one of those things on my plate for a couple years now and just can't get it to a useful form. Yeah, I know fretless doesn't really provide that proper foundation for slap, but I should still be able to get some thumpy sound. But essentially, I can't seem to get any consistent sound with the thumb. I have a few songs that I would like to be able to throw some slap on, but I'm kind of tired of chasing this technique that never seems to work for me.

    I can accept not being the best pass player in the world....
    retslock likes this.
  5. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Truth...even basic root/octave slap can impress venue patrons or bandmates when done tastefully. Just gotta remember to keep it to a minimum and don't exactly go early Flea on every.single.song.
  6. dbsfgyd1

    dbsfgyd1 Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2012
    Richmond , Va
    How often are you playing a song that actually requires it? Your job is to play what the songs call for, not inserting something that doesn’t belong there in the first place.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I know how. I even went through a Stu Hamm "phase" at one point.

    I rarely use it.

    That being said, if you have time, learn every way of playing your instrument. Learn how to pluck, pick and slap.... and any other way that is commonly used.
    JLY and Ryan6491 like this.
  8. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I think it's a fun technique, although the reality is that most bassists rarely have an opportunity to use it. Skip it for now if you are stretched too thin, but all it takes to practice is like 5-10 minutes a day. Easy skill to maintain once you get it down IMO, and i would hate to disappoint a band when that rare opportunity comes up to play a song that needs it. I want to be able to deliver.
  9. Robscott


    Mar 20, 2017
    Tonbridge UK
    I think that's called slop. That's what I do
    EddiePlaysBass, Vreten, JLY and 2 others like this.
  10. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Out of sheer bloodymindedness I learned it well enough to be able to say I could.

    Then I stopped doing it entirely since it really isn't my thing.

    And now that I haven't practiced slapping for some time, I can't creditably play slap anymore.

    I'm perfectly good with that.

    Bottom line: there's lots to learn and learning as much of it as you can is never a bad thing. But you have to be realistic since there's only so much time available. Especially when you'd need to work on something you're really not all that into in order to gain reasonable proficiency in it. And slap does take some work. So best bet is to keep an open mind, but pick your learning priorities. If slap isn't that important to you, don't worry about it. We'll still think you're a good person.
  11. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I have been working on my slap playing lately since I finally have a bass with good slaptone. It’s purely for show and S&Gs . In all the years I have played bass in many different bands not once was I asked to slap on bass.
  12. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    I guess it depends on the types of opportunities that you might regret missing as a result of being in the "no slap zone". Only you can answer that.
    Seanto likes this.
  13. EtoBb


    Nov 27, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    I think it applies to most things in life. People like when people can do things.
  14. I still wonder why Guitar Center does not have a "no slapping da bass" sign next to the "no staiway to heaven" one?
    TolerancEJ likes this.
  15. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
  16. Growing up, I was one of the first in my community to start playing bass so I had no options to learn about techniques. On VHS, I owned Stu Hamm's Slap, Pop & Tap for the Bass and Alexis Sklarevski's Slap Bass Program. Excellent to watch but no opportunity to ask questions.

    Until YouTube came along, I didn't know I was doing something fundamentally wrong the entire time I've attempted thumping. For my thumb, I had always attacked with the knuckle which added a strong percussive attack. But after I suddenly saw YouTubers from alternate angles, I noticed they were hitting with the "meat" of the thumb. Suddenly, I realized I could play stuff a lot faster than previously. It must have been a compromising angle or something like that.

    I think I'm still doing something wrong though. On TalkBass, a lot of players heavily into thumping, often post pictures of their basses and they seem to have a fair amount of wear around the pickguard and/or the body finish. I rarely come into contact with the pickguard or body whenever I try it. Am I still attacking at a wrong angle or something?
  17. TrevorG


    Nov 30, 2012
    I was quite good at slapping once. So good a pit player on a big show I was singing in asked me for lessons. This was back in the 90s when slap was new and exciting. Now it's one of a myriad of techniques that have evolved over the last three decades. People who just slap are missing out on a lot. People who don't slap are missing out on a little. As part of the musical language it's an expressive dialect. As a language on it's own it's in danger of being a little two dimensional(IMHO). I'd rather concentrate on sight reading and patterns but I get the metronome out once in a while to make sure I can still do what little I know. Don't feel bad about not wanting to do it - you're right - there are plenty of other things to be good at. But don't be a stranger to it. You can make a little go a long way.
    dBChad and bassbully like this.
  18. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    not on my list of priorities. I decided decades ago that it was a technique i simply wasn't interested enough in to get skilled at. That said, I can slap and pop a few notes here and there, and there are some tunes I'll do some slapping on, but not high speed slapping. I just never was able to get that high speed and dexterity out of my thumb.
  19. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it

    Is there slapping on that song? I didn't see the guy slapping in the live from '76 video. Great tune though!
  20. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I pop the g & d strings at the same time during the verse. Sounds just like the record. I also play it aggressively with a pick some times and it sounds 95% identical.

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