1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Keeping a slap tone's fundamental over distance...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Devo-lution, Apr 26, 2010.


  1. Devo-lution

    Devo-lution

    Jun 24, 2009
    Okay, so I am not absolutely sure whether this is the correct place for this topic, since it involves the bass as well as the amp as well as the strings...

    I have been practicing a lot of slap for the last two years, but there's one thing that's bugging me... The slap tone always sounded good when I wasstanding directly in front of my amplifier... but lately I have been using longer cables and I started noticing that at a distance of more than 2 meters (or when standing next to or behind my amp), the tone sounds incredibly weak and dry when slapping...

    It's like the slap tone does not survive the distance and falls apart...

    Are there any hints on what to do, to make it sound better over distance and how will this present itself live (as I am yet to use the slapping technique live)... Be it advice concerning technique, gear, whatever... as long as it fits the bill..

    my gear:

    MM Stingray II EQ w GHS Boomers
    Markbass LMII + 4*10 markbass cab
     
  2. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Based on this, I can tell you that it definitely isn't the gear - that bass into that rig should be slap heaven. :bassist:

    The main thing I've noticed with guys that are getting started with slapping having problems with live tone is the thumb technique. Are you bouncing your thumb off of the strings or are you slapping through the string and landing on the next string? Bouncing your thumb ends up giving you a thinner slap sound that will have problems projecting out into the audience. When you slap through the string, you hit the string with more of the meat of your thumb and get a much more solid tone.
     
  3. RFord04

    RFord04

    Apr 8, 2009
    Flint, Michigan
    You might want to give some thought to trying out a compressor. My slap tone went from okay to great when I started using my EBS MultiComp.
     
  4. Devo-lution

    Devo-lution

    Jun 24, 2009
    I do the bouncing thing, as the other one limits me in speed... two of the three teachers that I studied under were kinda impressed by my slap technique... So I guess technique-wise it should be OK...

    the other one thought the technique I used was "ok"... but he is generally considered to be the best jazz bassist of the province and not as one who is easily impressed...
     
  5. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Bouncing will give you more speed only if you haven't implemented the "down-up" thumb technique used by guys like Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller. They slap through the string which allows them to hit the string on an upstroke which will give you WAY more speed than bouncing will.

    The other technique issue is with keeping your thumps, plucks, and fingerstyle playing all at the same volume. This comes with experience in gigging - your right hand gets more sensitive as far as knowing how hard you need to hit the strings to keep the tone even. This goes a long way when it comes to cutting through a live mix while slapping.
     
  6. Devo-lution

    Devo-lution

    Jun 24, 2009
    So this technique you described? is that the one known als double thumbing?
     
  7. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Yep...there's tons of youtube clips teaching the technique if you do a search for it. It's a technique that I learned soon after I started playing and used to do often, but at this point I rarely ever use it. But one thing that stuck is slapping through the string which IMO gives you a much better tone on a gig than bouncing off of the string.
     
  8. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    1) Feh to a compressor. I think they are a crutch - tried 'em, didn't like 'em.
    2) Boost your mids. I have experienced the same problem, and if I give it a touch more low-mid EQ, it seems to solve it.
     
  9. RFord04

    RFord04

    Apr 8, 2009
    Flint, Michigan
    I guess a lot of "great" players need crutches then.
     
  10. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    I had the same response to that remark.

    Vision, I've been trying to explain how to get a better thumbed note to people for while now, only for them to keep telling me "no, no, no... you have to slap directly at the
    fretboard and bounce off the string". I've been slapping exactly how you've described, forever. HA! Finally, someone else who does it the same way.

    As far as speed goes, to me, there are audible notes and percussive thumps. A quick slap line is made up of both. So, a line with a triplet thump (like a three round machine gun burst) might be played like this: thud, thud, note--with only the last of the three following through to make something a bit more musical than a thud. I haven't learned the up down stroke, Vision wrote of.

    Now, I'm no slap guru, by any sense. I do know how to get a good thumbed note out.
     
  11. Gaetano Paul

    Gaetano Paul

    Nov 25, 2009
    Sarasota, FL
    I have been studying the double thump technique recently. What a paradigm shift. You slap one way all your life, the way your teacher taught you, then you try this. I totally see the value in the technique though. I am struggling getting a good percussive flow with the double thump. Also my thumb nail gets a little scratched up while doing it.
     
  12. Devo-lution

    Devo-lution

    Jun 24, 2009
    started practicing double thumn too, although I get the best flow from combininig it with bouncing (depending on what I wish it to sound like) now and then...

    With me, it scratches the skin right under my nail ("under" when I point my thumb upwards)

    But there has to be a way of getting the bouncing to sound great over a distance... Think I'll try some EQ'ing on the bass/amp and switching to steel strings.
     
  13. Actually theres nothing wrong with the bounce technique, just ask Louis Johnson and Marcus Miller :). The thing is, you have to get proficient at getting a good note out, which takes time and focus. My thump is just as loud as my pop, but thats because 1.) I transcribed alot of MM's melodic thump/slap tunes, which most of the tune is just thumb, and 2.) sometimes I just practice scales and melodies using nothing but thumb, concentrating on getting the biggest, fullest note I can. Not necessarily hitting harder, but just a more focused note. Sometimes just slow a metronome or beat down and work on the funkdamental sound of it, then gradually speed it up to where you want it at.

    Compressors, like other effects are good enhancements, but no replacement for bad/weak technique. I use compression to even it out sometimes, but alot of times, thats just for in the studio.
     
  14. I'm surely no slap expert, but do enjoy applying the technque on the rare cases any more where it is appropriate on the gig.

    No matter what technique you use (I'm a bit old school, as you can see/hear in my youtube clips), the KEY is that you should be able to switch from fingerstyle to slap without any sort of gadgets (compressors, slap scoop switches, changed in EQ, etc.) and keep the exact same volume, punch, and pretty much tone. As you get away from your amp, if your slap tone sounds significantly different in the low end and fullness versus your fingerstyle tone, than IMO one of three things is happening:

    1) Technique issues.... again, the best way to assess if your technique is 'OK' is to crank up your amp and do a nice C major scale with your fingers and then your thumb... both should be the same volume, same low end, and other than the initial attack, should sound pretty much identical.

    2) Gear.... the initial slap transients can really put a strain on both an amp and a cab. That is why you hear so many guys slapping when trying out gear in a music store. That initial 'thump' transient can bring both a power amp and a speaker cabinet to its knees at high volume if you don't have enough xmax/cone area and/or power. If the initial thump on your slap sounds compressed, you might not have enough power (i.e., the amp going into power amp limiting) or cone area (speakers going beyond xmax). Both of these things will result in your intitial slap thump to sound thin and 'compressed'. Given your rig (very similar to what I use), this should not be a problem unless you are playing really, really loud, or have a ton of bass in your EQ... which brings up the 3rd point....

    3) EQ.... if you are boosting low end and rolling out mids (especially with the Music Man pre), that can be death to off axis slap tone. Mids are directional, bass is omnidirectional. If you don't have enough 'meat' in your tone (i.e., due to using the VPF filter, contout controls, or turning up the bass and treble control on your bass preamp too much), the tone will sound 'OK' right in front of the amp, but will sound boomy and hollow off axis. With a cab as widely voiced as the Epi cab, you would NEVER, EVER want to engage the VPF/contour control on your head, and would never want to turn the bass or treble controls on your bass past 20% or so.

    Hope that helps. Just make sure you can pretty much switch from fingerstyle to slap and keep the same basic tone (again, after that initial thump attack) and volume, and you will be fine.
     
  15. +1 I bounced for years, then I went to Berklee and took a slap lab where Anthony Vitti taught me to slap through, it was slow at first, but now my speed is way up to an almost flamenco-esque rate and my tone is much fuller. Be patient, start slow, get a better result.
     
  16. RFord04

    RFord04

    Apr 8, 2009
    Flint, Michigan
    I guess I should have said to consider a compressor if technique isn't the issue, but EQ is probably a big part of it, like KJung mentioned.

    I guess the first question should have been "are you using either the VPF or VLE knobs?"

    I don't touch either of those. They may as well just lable those "Tone Suck," but thats just IMO.
     
  17. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Great point, especially with the VPF knob. I use the VLE sometimes, but rarely. But if you are running both of those at noon thinking that's flat (which I've seen a bunch of guys do when plugging into my LMII before I explain it to them) then you will definitely have tone issues, especially when slapping.

    The VPF knob specifically could be the issue here, be cause that knob will make slapping sound good at low volumes or close to the amp, but it will make you quickly disappear in a mix on stage.
     
  18. Devo-lution

    Devo-lution

    Jun 24, 2009
    I rarely/never use the VPF, with the VLE at about 7 o clock... so I do not think that will be the main problem...
     
  19. Devo-lution

    Devo-lution

    Jun 24, 2009

    I don't really EQ...
    Everything is running flat with the low mids boosted just a bit on the amp (1 'o clock)...

    funny part on what my teacher said...
    "Way too much highs in your sound"

    on that moment the cut and boost knob "treble" was at 10 'o clock. But there is some truth in what he says... I sound really bright, even with the treble fully turned off on my bass.

    And playing loud isn't my thang at all... :meh:
    I always try to play as soft as possible (just loud enough to make the note come through)
     
  20. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I had a Stingray once (with maple fingerboard) and I honestly thought it was a terrible bass for slap. I've noticed that, to a lot of folks, a good slap tone means crispy highs and present high mids and for that the Stingray was great, but for a nice thick slap tone - forget it. The problem for me with so many of the basses out there (when it comes to using them for slap) is a loss in bass frequencies when switching between fingers and thumb. I simply cannot tolerate a bass that drops out significantly when I make the switch. You can spend days working on your technique, but if the characteristic I'm describing is part of your bass' personality you're wasting your time (well, maybe not wasting it entirely - practice is always good!). Try some different basses and see which ones seem to have more consistency between fingerstyle and slap techniques. Try a couple of Fender Jazzes and see if that helps.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.