mark king

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by jazzin-j, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. jazzin-j


    Jul 13, 2007
    hey i was just wonderin what is that black thing that mark king wears around his thumb becuase ive seen other players wearin them too but never knew what they were for :confused:
  2. It's electricians tape, used to prevent blisters.
  3. Thunderitter

    Thunderitter Bass - The Final Frontier.. Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2007
    I read somewhere that the tape was something he did in the early days to prevent blisters, but that it also contributed to his slap tone in a way he liked so he keeps it there today!
  4. bassandbeyond


    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    Forgive me for being an obsessive Mark King fanatic, but actually Mark has stated in interviews that slapping sounds better without the tape on the thumb, but that his skin still needs the protection and the tape has by now become somewhat of a visual trademark of his performances.
  5. Thunderitter

    Thunderitter Bass - The Final Frontier.. Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2007
    I bow to your knowledge, but I am sure I read somewhere about the tape helping with the compression of his slap, but as ever I stand to be corrected!
  6. you'd think the skin on his thumb would be as hard as rock from all that slapping...and if he said it sounded better without the tape i would have thought he'd only tape up his thumb when he rehearsed and practiced.

    Whats he up to now anyways?
  7. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Inactive

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Level 42 have reformed, released an album and toured in 2006. I saw them live, they were excellent!
  8. bassandbeyond


    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    I've tried to find the article where Mark is quoted as saying slap sounds better without tape, but I'm sorry I can no longer locate it (though I did find several other secondhand references to the same quote on the net). I am quite certain that he did mention that in at least one interview, but it is possible that he might have contradicted himself at another time, or changed his mind about it. I've never tried taping my own thumb, but I can't imagine that soft, rubbery electrical tape could possibly enhance the percussive sound of slap bass. I'll have to try it sometime to decide for myself.

    As for what Mark is currently up to, he keeps a pretty low profile these days. He usually only tours about 2 months out of the year, and last year's new CD was his first studio album in 8 years. Mark is one of those people who can pick up an instrument and still sound great after not playing for months at a stretch, so perhaps that is why he doesn't maintain adequate calluses to protect his thumb?
  9. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Inactive

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Well, he is definitely still playing, even if Level 42 are "inactive" at the moment. He recently recorded a solo piece which he sent to Rob Green (the owner os Status Graphite) to host on his website called "A Waltz for Dawn".
  10. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Huh...Mark told me that he had split open his thumb on a gig, and that the stitches needed protection the next night. After trying several different things (Band-Aids, gaffer's tape, etc.) settled on electrical tape, as it was the only thing that didn't:

    A) disintegrate

    B) muck up the strings with adhesive.

    The sonic benefits of the improved attack were completely incidental, it was originally to get him through an early gig (two nights in a row, the show must go on!). This was what he told me himself. Also, for those who are interested, it is four (4) wraps of said tape. :)
  11. bassandbeyond


    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    That's very interesting. Perhaps he has changed his mind about it over the years? Mark always seems to be experimenting with different equipment and such, so it wouldn't surprise me. I have noticed that he always uses the tape in concert (where he thrashes away quite violently at times!), but videos of him in the studio and in casual playing situations often show him without it. It all sounds great to me!
  12. bassandbeyond


    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    Thanks to Adee over at for digging up the quote I had been looking for. During a 1985 clinic in Holland, Mark said the following:

    "This fine man asked me why I use tape on my thumb. It's just because, uh, in fact it was when I came to Holland the first time and we were playing for you that the crowd were so good, and so aagh, up, that I was playing very very hard and I split my thumb. It's like a callous, you know a callous? ..... Like you get on your feet and things you know? And I used to get this, but now I put the tape on my thumb. The sound with the tape is not so good. It's better without tape. But, if your going to play really hard, you have to be sensible, cos if you have lots of shows to do you have to make sure that your thumb's OK."

    I actually have this recording, so I can verify it's authenticity. But that still doesn't discredit contradictory quotes from other occasions. So I decided to get out the test tubes, don my lab coat, and conduct my own mad scientist thumb tape experiment.

    I went to the local dollar store and picked up a roll of standard 3/4" black electrical tape. With fresh strings on my Tune bass (active bass similar to Alembic and Mark's other favored basses), I first played a few "control group" slaps without tape. Sounded good. Then I carefully applied 4 wraps of tape to my thumb (as Mark reportedly does) and thumped the same notes at the same volume.....


    It sounds the same. :smug:
  13. sicarium


    Dec 28, 2014
    and i thought it is for that back front thumb slap triplets technique so the string slides better with tape , But does having tape on your thumb not constrict your thumb? ,
  14. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Seems to be working fine for Mark. The guy is a slap machine.
  15. A slap machine for sure, he can rip it up on the fretboard fingerstyle as well.
  16. FA108208usat2

    FA108208usat2 Guest

    Mar 24, 2014
    Yeah, but he didn't recommend anyone to use it though, because he said you'll lose something like the "feel"
    Iv'e tried using it once and it was so-so, It's not comfortable, but It doesn't feel uncomfortable either

    See around 6:10 about this gaffer tape thing.
  17. murphy

    murphy Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004
    Wow great video
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    Primary TB Assistant

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