My style's stuck in a time warp.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rockin John, Oct 3, 2001.

  1. Yawnsie's thread praising The Mock Turtle Regulator's playing made me realise that I'm stuck in the late 60s - early 70s.

    That's when I cut my musical teeth, playing guitar and later the bass covering the "heavy rock" tunes of that era. Not that there's anything wrong with that era. I love thrashing out 'Smoke on the Water' same as the next man.

    But bass playing has moved on such a tremendous amount since then. And, well...I've not. Musically and technique wise I'm 30-odd years out of date. Not so surprising because I've been out of 'it' for about that length of time.

    Tapping, slapping, popping.......what the hell are these things and do I need to know how to do them? Would it benefit me to learn?

    Do I need a video as per the thread above, or am I OK not playing these techniques with my present outfit who are knocking out the tunes from that era, too.

    Not expecting much in the way of replies. Just wanted a bit of a moan.....:(

  2. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    There are many great bassists who don't tap, slap or pop. Don't learn them because other people do them - if you want to learn them, learn them for yourself, to improve yourself as a bassist. If your band plays 60s music, and your style fits, don't change because of what you think others may think of you. Music is timeless - I wouldn't talk in terms of a "time warp".

    If you make great music, then be happy with that - that is always in fashion, and will never go out of date. :)
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Actually, these techniques are very much seen as "out of date" or an anachronism now. So if you start slapping/popping, people tend to say things like : that's so 80s man!! Or : Mark King yucchh! ;)

    Although I have tried tapping and actually wrote a couple of solo pieces, I have never found a use for this in band situations and in going to thousands of gigs and even more CDs have never heard this technique used in a band as opposed to a solo bass piece.

    So my answer would be NO if you are just looking to play in bands. The vast majority of bands want a solid bass player who has good time and feel, who can play something that fits the song without necessarily being "flashy".

    Nobody has ever said to me - throw in some flashy techniques. Many times though, I have been told I'm overplaying, or asked to play less notes or something more like a bassline than a bass solo.

    It's only amongst other bass players and in forums like this that people even talk about techniques like those you mention and your "average punter" is not usually impressed and just wants the band to have a good groove to dance to or tap their feet.
  4. Rockin - Having had Entwistle-on-the-brain since I saw him when I was 15, and having worshipped at the Tim Bogert altar many moons ago, my natural tendency is to slip into that very busy, lyrical, style that ruled back then.

    The slapping and popping are critical skills to play dance clubs, so there wasn't any choice to learn or not learn. Seriously, the first question I was asked the last time I was contacted about an audition was, "Do you slap and that kind of stuff?"

    But what I find has kept my playing from sounding like an anachronism are these;

    - getting an active 5 string and "modern" sounding amps
    - playing nu metal, trip hop, and drum n' bass, bass parts because they are beat-focused rather than note or line-focused like the Jack Bruce or fusion heydays. Many of them seem absolutely moronic compared to the stuff we cut our teeth on, but they help me stay relevant, stylistically, even though my club band doesn't play those styles. Unwavering consonance ain't cool today. Besides, simple can be complex sometimes. Being a pulse is more valued than virtuosity in today's popular marketplace. IMO, if you like to play those mega-note running lines, country is the place. Many of those guys are flat out rock n' roll animals!
    - growing up in St. Louis in the 60's and 70's, I was fed a heavy diet of Motown and Stax/Volt. If you are so inclined and haven't done so, I encourage you to lay into some of that, like Jamerson and any of James Brown's bassists. Those simple lines still sound fresh with something contemporary laid over the top of them.

    Without those elements, I doubt I'd get past an audition these days. could just wait, because you know it'll all come round again :D
  5. Hmm. OK.

    Y'know, part of the problem has to be that I just don't listen to music. I mean I just don't.

    I never have the radio on in the car, I never listen to it @ home, I don't go out to see bands, I don't etc etc.

    Rick, you mentioned a few musical styles. I've just no idea about the differences between them. I'd not heard of SKA until a few weeks ago, I can't distinguish between House, Garage, Hiphop, nu metal, and so on.

    Bruce, I never realised that slap and so on was now considered a bit :eek:

    Rick, why does a 5 help you? As for the amp I use an old HH combo (1X18) with this Bass Collection 4. To be honest the whole setup sounds a bit cr*p.

    Oooooh, dear, I'm not sure whether im now in more or less of a mess :confused: :confused:

  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Look at it this way:

    Are you gigging? If so, you have no call for that stuff because if you did, you would have learned it already.

    I can't do any of that stuff and I'm working 4 nights a week.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well we are talking about England here - which is as far as John narrows it down! ;)

    Over here there aren't anything like the variety of options that people from the US talk about.

    "Dance Clubs" if such a thing can be said to exist in the UK do not have live musicians - full stop end of story - they have DJs. I live in what is considered to be one of the liveliest places in Britain for clubs etc.

    Dance clubs and live venues are never mixed and the audiences are very distinct.

    As to playing slap/pop - in the UK this is defintely associated with the 80s and Level 42, Shakatak, Jazz Funk - even Jamiroquai get put down for this and is one of the reasons they ditched Stuart Zender - no live bass in Dance music.

    We don't have country or anything like this - live bands are invariably in the category of "Indie" - well as an old fart that what I call it. So there are loads of bands who think they are going to be the next Travis, Oasis, Verve, TopLoader etc. etc.
    The bassists in these bands are playing very simple rock lines - mostly roots and are quite dirgey!

    There is a sort of dance scene in that "World Music" and Latin is quite popular for dancing. So there is quite a big Salsa scene and bands with Brazilian, Spanish, Flamenco, Tango etc influences are quite popular for live music, to which people dance - I can tell you that two -handed tapping does not fit into this genre and you are probably better off with an electric upright (baby bass) than a modern bass !!

    Country is nowhere in the UK - there is line dancing, but again this is exclusively to records and there is no live scene .

    Basically there are no live opportunities for using these techniques in the UK unless you are going to form a "retro" or "ironic" covers band. I have seen a funk covers band - but they were playing outdoors for tips from the audience, on the seafront - one step away from busking I'm afraid! :rolleyes:
  8. Hello Brian.

    No. Not gigging.

    I was just trying to take some stock of where I am and where, if anywhere, I should be heading.

    I sorta thought there's a difference between improving on the stuff I'm already doing and attempting new stuff in the belief - mistaken or otherwise - that that's what I should be doing.

    Also, can't help occasionally admiring some bassist or other and trying to pull some of his methods into mine. Not that it hardy ever works out, mind you :D.

    Perhaps a bit silly of me really but I did kinda half believe that most gigging bassists slapped and popped their way through life and that there was perhaps nothing else that anybody wanted from bass players.


  9. Just play it how it sounds good to you, dont worry about whats fashionable. Alot of bassists dont slap or pop. I have learnt to play them, but in my band I would never use them in a song, I hate the sound of slapping and popping I think they sound absolutely ridiculous and it annoys the hell out of me when a bassist ruins a good song to go off on some popping, tapping, slapping tangent. To me, slapping and popping etc. totally defeats the purpose of playing BASS. To me, bass is all about that deep low bottem end, its all about the groove.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I know quite a few gigging bassists in the UK and none of them are slapping/popping their way through sets. I do hear that "nu-metal" in the US and bands like this get involved in slapping but this hasn't got to the UK yet (ever hopefully ;) )

    It depends on what you want to do - OK I do slap/pop on one song in my main band's current repertoire and will throw in some popping in solos.

    Most of the people I know are into Jazz, I suppose and walking lines are far more common in Jazz than anything else and in about 5 years of going to my local Jazz club every week, I have never seen a bass player do slap/pop. ;)

    I think you have to decide what you want to do and then start to find out about it by listening to recordings, going to see bands and find out what the bassist in thsi style do.

    Without some sort of aim in mind it is very difficult to say whether a technique or style will ever be useful to learn. I know that two-handed tapping is something I will never use so I haven't spent much time on it and I know that I would be pretty pee'd off, if I had spent two solid years in my bedroom practising it!! :D
  11. As far as slap and that goes, I can't help thinking about the first time I saw Mark King on TV. I was honestly dazzled by his fingers. When, however, I listened to the music there didn't seem to be anything approaching (what I considered to be) a
    proper bass line anywhere in sight. Super speed, certainly, but no driving ooomph. That put me off the idea of slap.

    Generally, I guess it's possible to liken my enquiry to playing unfamiliar styles: jazz, classical, funk, etc. Other than broadening my musical knowledge, I wonder whether time spent on this would be productive. Time, incidentally, that's in very short supply.

    I guess the advice so far, is that learning to slap etc is not what I should be doing.

  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Unless you want to be in a Jazz funk band - but honestly, I think you'd probably get more out of learning how to construct walking basslines, for example.
  13. The B string helps because so much of "the public" have been cultivated to be low frequency junkies -ska, techno, hip-hop, trance, dance, et al.

    The last couple of weeks, courtesy of a distributor, our band used these things called Bass Shakers made by Sensaphonic -


    The rep took care of clearing their use with the club and the music store took care of mounting them. Basically, what these things do is take a feed off of my signal and/or the drummer's mic'd bass and use an amp to convert the signal into low freq energy, (like down to 5Hz's!). The picture is the radiator w/mounting bracket that transmits the energy into the dance floor, tables, the loo, you name it. I didn't get too knowledgeable because we only had them loaned for 2 nights. Creed and Fuel use them.

    Like you, I have an 18". I like it for it's ability to handle the B string and give the tactile bass many people like. Having 10"s and a tweeter gives the glassy highs produced by slap/pop technique.
  14. You'd be the authority there, Bruce. I only know what's going on in my speck of the planet.

    I didn't mean to infer that my experience is universal, if that is how it was seen. But my experience is all I have.
  15. One thing that never goes out of style: Banging out root notes with a pick and a Fender P.
  16. gbenner


    May 20, 2001
    ocean, new jersey
    john im in the same boat as old band from 25 years ago got back together about 8 months ago, so after a 25 year lay off i started again. my youngest son(21) has been playing for about 6 years or so doing all the new styles including slaping and poping. when he and his friends heard my 60's style they were blown away. play some who, or vanilla fudge(bogort) or even some zepplin, this stuff still rocks,even listen to the yardbirds or ron wood on bass with jeff beck. you can take any of these styles and use them in any of todays music. its not what style you play,but how much heart you play it with you can hear someone play a thousand miles an hour with no heart and someone else use one or two notes in the same space with heart ,and the latter sounds better everytime. good luck john
  17. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Bugger... sorry, John. I feel responsible for this now. :)

    In my opinion (not that it counts for much), I don't think that there's anything particularly wrong with being stuck in a timewarp, as you say. While it's true that I did like the Mock Turtle Regulator's bass solo, if I weren't a bassist myself it would probably mean very little to me. Bruce sums it up perfectly saying that the average punter generally isn't interested in technique for it's own sake.

    I suppose you could say that I'm a contemporary bass player (or a young upstart, depending on your point of view), and I have never intentionally learnt how to slap, pop, or tap, and generally I haven't wanted to. In fact, the same period that you're keen to get out of is the one I want to get into. Ironic, eh?
  18. hmmm, interesting.
    I never thought that anything I recorded would have the effect of making anyone feel their playing was "out of date".

    just today I was listening to Led Zeppelin's Presence album (£4.99 in the HMV sale), and admiring JPJ's playing.

    I did more or less say before that I did that MTR solo really so that I wouldn't get labelled as a root-note hogger judging from the other track of mine that was on the Talkbass station at the time- "Real" by The Now, the original band I'm in.
    also, for the record, that solo is a bit sloppy, and there is a bum note in it, but then I was playing at the limit of my ability.

    there's a fair bit of contrast between that solo and what I play and have played in bands.

    in a band it's all a case of playing for the song- I could throw in a lot more busy playing with them, but I feel it just doesn't need it.
    there's no tapping or slap playing at all, a bit of chordal playing sometimes, but that's all (and all done fingerstyle).

    my two favourite bassists as listed in my profile are Simon Gallup of The Cure and JJ Burnel of The Stranglers- no slap,pop or tap there (frequent use of chords though) but that's what I see playing bass in a rock band context is all about.
    sometimes it's minimalism, stripped down to pedalling the root á la Cliff Williams of AC/DC, sometimes playing melodic lines, depending on what's required.

    I suppose from the players I listed as influences in my profile I'd be labelled as "stuck in the 80's", although I also listed John Entwistle...

    as for slap, I've learnt to play quite fast, but aside from occasionally using it in a covers band for the songs where it was used on the record, I've never used it with a band- and I don't really like it, especially with rock music.
    I don't like Mark King, either...

    also, regarding gear and being stuck in a timewarp, I prefer passive 4 string basses - that solo was done on a Warmoth parts P bass.
  19. Err, sorry MTR, err didn't mean to imply that your playing take a bash at your work.


    Actually, he whispered, I've not heard your piece, MRT.:eek:

    No. It was just that if you compare Jones (L Zep) who's work I admire enormously and (say) Mark King, there's clearly a word of difference between the styles: one is more contemporary than the other, I suppose. [Mr King is not my favourite, either].

    Following on from that, I asked myself, did I ought to be modernising my playing?

    Well, from the generous input so far, "Not really" is the concensus.

    And to Yawnsie, all you're responsible for, m' friend, is getting me to question myself a bit more, purely for the sake of improvement. And that can't be bad, eh? :D

    I guess on that line of the old stuff still rocking, gbenner, it was interesting to watch the reaction of some school kids to various musical styles. My lad is 6, and I took his guitar and amp and my basses into his school at the invitation of the headmistress. We did a kinda music workshop with all 130 kids as it turned out.

    We listened to a few modern CD tracks and the kids jigged about a bit. Then I played a few chords - extreme disinterest. Then I cranked up the vol, added some fuzz and knocked out a few chunky 12 bar riffs (such as my skill would allow!!!).

    The whole lot just went wild: I mean absolutely crazy. The teachers joined in clapping and dancing about, the whole works.

    What an amazing scene it was. You know, the real reason why it was amazing was because these kids had almost certainly never heard a live, fuzzed guitar, a 12 bar, nor anything else similar. These young people are brought up on Steps, etc, yet the music I played grabbed them instantly and with such profound results.

    I'm in school fairly often and and I can guarantee there'll be 10 kids every visit who'll plead with me to bring the guitars in again.

    I bet there'd not be that reation to some of the slap bassists', bands'?

    Hmm. A long response. Sorry guys.

  20. if you take the bass lines of current popular rock bands in the UK, eg. Travis, Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, there's no slapping, and there's nothing really "modern" about the tones they use either, or the gear they use.
    there's no huge progression from 30yrs ago- hardly any progression at all- yet these are big sellers.

    the only acts that got in the UK top30 in the last 10yrs with slap bass I can think of are RHCP (Aeroplane) Jamiroquai, and, er, Korn.

    that said, amongst the nu-metal bands emerging here there are some that feature slap bass eg, a mate's band, Torna-K (6 string Status bass).
    both bands on the bill my originals band played with at The Garage a couple of weeks ago had slap bass on some songs (Fuzzy Logic and My Deaf Audio).

    as for tapping, I can't think of any band that got in the UK charts whose bass player used tapping, since Billy Sheehan with Dave Lee Roth, and then Mr Big- and Mr Big's only song that did well in UK charts "to be with you" didn't have any tapping in it.

    it's worth learning tap, slap and pop techniques, but my priority is fingerstyle playing.

    I find tapping useful for songwriting (maybe I should learn to play keyboards properly instead :))
    and for playing with a drummer only.

    those 2 Billy Sheehan videos have useful tips about conventional playing too (besides the comedy value of the 80's rock hairstyles and bleached jeans).