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Muting Slap Technique, which do yo do?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by KayXero, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. KayXero


    Apr 3, 2007
    Preface: Im right handed, and use a P bass special primarily

    So I was goofing off the other day playing Cant Stop by the RHCP. I normally dont much listen to them, but they are playing in the area soon, so I hear that song a lot in the radio ads for their concert.

    So I start playing the slap verse part, and I play it on ADG strings. When slapping anything on ADG, I normally mute the E with my left thumb reaching over the top of the neck. My buddy took notice and said he normally mutes with his right palm, to sort of rest on the E string.

    What do you guys normally do in that situation? Just curious because I never studied much technique, and I basically just learn a song by lots of practice. Is one method more popular or "right"? I find doing it the way I do, allows me to pull my right hand further away from the bass and strike it more firmly for more thump. Plus muting with my left thumb allows me to cover up some slap inaccuracy of my right thumb.

    Plus since my hands arent the biggest, I feel like I started wrapping my thumb around the top of the neck because it made it easier for the rest of my fingers to fret the D and G strings. And thus the left thumb muting came naturally with it.

    However I do also remember another friend of mine who plays guitar, trying to get out of the habit of thumb wrapping. He said he felt like he was cheating on chords when he did it. *shrugs*

    Thoughts? Im just curious is all.
  2. LagBox


    Mar 3, 2013
    I use the tip of my left index finger to mute the E string when I play that song.
  3. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    thumb over the neck is really not that great ...it looks very amateurish to me

    sometimes one of my unused fingers mute the unused string or my palm slightly mute the strings...

    and well ... practice so you don't have inacuracy

  4. +1 to this. Thumb control is a big plus.
  5. KayXero


    Apr 3, 2007
    Im not trying to be a pro =). Plus tbh, none of the music I really like to play or write requires slap. But your advice is noted.
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    First and foremost, slap techniques are extremely personal. Find 50 different famous bassists and you will find at least 20 different techniques used, none of which are right or wrong. Both right and left handed muting are required to do extreme slapping but most players only do one or the other (and can still shred at it.)

    In this instance, both you and your friend are right, but I would teach his method over yours as well as left handed muting, which is generally not done by bringing your thumb over the neck but by muting with other available fingers, I do not know the line in particular so this may not be possible. I would honestly practice several other techniques and see if you still prefer your method, I imagine you won't but I am not you.

    Lastly, how does Flea do it? Granted Flea has fairly sloppy technique, but he is the one who wrote the line, so I would probably just cop it that way. I learned by watching RCHP videos, so I used to slap sloppy like Flea does. I have since switched to following through with my thumb instead of bouncing off the string, I find it to have a lot more control.
  8. Mister_argentum


    Aug 30, 2011
    I usually mute with my right hand palm so to have more freedom with the left hand.

    Good luck!
  9. KayXero


    Apr 3, 2007
    What did I just say? :rollno:
    You know, Ive never quite taken much of a gander at Flea's technique. But I will look up some videos and reply back on that.
  10. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Look up Louis Johnson as well. He would play over the neck and I would hardly call him a bad slapper. So if you feel right over the neck after trying other styles just keep doing it.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I use whatever fingers of my left hand that I'm not using to fret to mute unused strings.
  12. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I figure the muting technique of choice depends on the angle at which the thumb strikes the strings.

    With the bass slung low, rock style, the thumb is at an angle to the strings. Seems like that way of slapping prevents the right hand from doing much muting since it's mostly coming up off the strings, so the fretting hand has to do the work. I don't do it that way; basing that comment on watching vids and seeing people live. Obviously, some guys can do it very well, though!

    I have the bass up higher, the classic funk position; the thumb is pretty much parallel to the strings. I mute the lower strings mostly with the other (pinky side) edge of the palm. And I keep my fretting fingers on the strings higher than the one I'm thumping. If you watch vids of Victor Wooten and Anthony Wellington you'll see something like that. Might sound strange, but when you slap and pop by rotating the wrist just a bit (not lifting off the strings much; economy of motion and all), it turns out the butt and far edge of the palm are in a pretty good position to damp the unused strings and cut off thumped notes.

    I figure the trick is just to experiment to find out what works for your personal anatomy and the shape and balance of your bass. It took me while to find a sweet spot on the strap length where I could switch between thumping with the thumb parallel to the strings and plucking (fingerstyle) back near the bridge pup. Works best for me, given my forearm length and preference for J basses, to keep the bass up fairly high. And the palm muting works pretty well with that.

    Reread the thread starter. To clarify: I play fivers, so above I was talking about slapping on a five string. My hand just ain't big enough to wrap my left thumb around a neck that wide--but on a four string I'd prolly do that if it worked for the line I was playing.
  13. basskal77


    Jan 14, 2014
    The regular mute bass is based on putting your palm close to the bridge, to apply it on the slap just move the hand close to the neck pickup and try it!
  14. I really want to post something useful, my 7 has two strings lower than e i have to worry about that sorta thing. But i can't really describe because i don't really think about it while playing. It's just muscle memory at this point. i do know i never wrap my left thumb around the the top of the fingerboard. Heck with the 7 string i doubt i could do that and still fret notes with my fingers if i tried
  15. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Wow--what gauge are those two lowest strings? They tuned B and F#?

    Based on my experience with my fiver's B, you'd really have to pay attention to keeping them damped when you were playing on the upper strings.
  16. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Yeah, my right hand position is similar to yours, Whousedtoplay, in the pic above. The axis of the thumb is close to but not quite parallel to the strings, as I mentioned. That allows me to keep the butt of my hand in contact with the lower strings when I'm not playing them.

    I do find it useful to dampen strings (especially on a fiver) with the edge of the right hand by the pinky. I pop only with index and middle, so I'm not worried about having the ring finger available.

    And I like being to able to do a dead pop with just the right hand. I just lay that side of the hand across the strings and pull up with the index or middle finger enough to get the string to snap onto the frets. Just takes a small rotation of the wrist to do it.

    (Edit: Was just woodshedding, and paid more attention to what I was doing instinctively. Actually, I more often use that palm mute for a dead thump than for a dead pop. Never stopped to notice, before!)

    Hey, there are lots of ways to do the slap thing. The big thing for me, slapping on a fiver with that big ol' B string just waiting to rumble sympathetically, is to keep the strings damped that I'm not playing. Pretty much that means combining left hand and right hand muting, in the course of most lines.
  17. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    I'm not sure what I do... I've been playing for so long now that the hands take care of business without any input from the brain. Let me see....

    (wank, wank, wank, wank :bassist:)

    Ah, yes, thumb over. Though at different times for different licks / riffs I do use most of the other aforementioned techniques.