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Need help with funky lines

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jgasser27, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. Jgasser27


    Sep 13, 2016
    Hey fellow bassists, long time lurker here, and basically what I'm trying to work on lately is my funk playing, definitely directed mostly at slap too. I'm 25 and have been playing since 14, but my style is heavily influenced by bass players like jack bruce of cream, mel Schacher of grand funk railroad (G.O.A.T in my opinion) John Paul jones, Roger waters (but let's be real that's David Gilmour lol). So I listen to these bands like vulfpeck and snarky puppy and am absolutely blown away by these amazing basslines. For the life of me I just cannot get the hang of slapping fast paced dead notes or double thumping at all. I play a fender jazz bass so I'm certain it's not my bass holding me back, its just me haha. So does anybody have tips for practicing these skills?
  2. Thumb. Should ricochet off strings, not a dead thunk. To make the note short, just lift the fretting finger.
    Fingers. Get the fingertip slightly under the string, pull away from the bass, then release. To make the note short, just lift the fretting finger.
    Coordinate. Get the motion down to a single down-up by rotating the wrist. The thumb strikes on the down; the finger snaps on the up. Start with simple octave patterns to get the basics down.
    Listen to funk lines and learn to play them.
    RyanOh likes this.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...and don't forget about the fretting hand "slap".
    Some of those "slapped fast-paced dead notes" may be played by the fretting hand.

    Some ABCs-
    T = Thumb
    LHS = Left-Hand Slap
    P = Pop

    2 examples-
    Play 1/4 notes
    |T-LHS-T-LHS-| repeat

    Play 1/4 notes
    |T-LHS-T-P-| repeat

    Muscle memory...
    RyanOh likes this.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Most important skill for funk music is to feel the "subdivisions" of the beat. If the song has a 16th note groove, then really feel each 16th note. If it has a 12/8 groove, then really feel the triplets. And so on. It's not enough to "fudge" the rhythms based on approximate "feel."

    The best way to master subdivisions, in my opinion, is by transcribing funk tunes into standard notation. This will really force you to hear the exact rhythmic subdivisions, for example whether the rhythm is eighth/eighth vs. dotted-eighth/sixteenth.

    Therefore my practice advice to you is to transcribe Vulfpeck and Snarky Puppy bass lines. (Bonus points if you also transcribe the drum parts, to see how they fit together with the bass lines to create the groove.)
    LeeNunn likes this.
  5. Jgasser27


    Sep 13, 2016
    thank you everyone for your replies! i knew the basics already of the slap and pop but i honestly never once though of using my fretting hand to slap haha. and mushroo i think your right too, that is exactly what i need to do, just to really force myself to focus on those bass parts.
  6. symbolic_acts


    May 24, 2004
    if you ever get gigs, flashy slapping is so unlikely to be required.
    I would focus on perfecting your fingerstyle technique, with a focus on time and muting while maintaining accented rhythmic pulses with your right hand.

    like accented dead notes on 2+4 with your right hand

    I've only heard a few vulfpeck songs but i dont remember that guy slapping, just fingerstyle bridge pickup playing with funky accented dead notes and perfect time.
    LeeNunn likes this.
  7. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    My recommendation is to go back to the classic funk recordings and learn some of those lines. Hit up some James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton/Parliament, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, The Meters, Tower of Power...

    You'll see that slap lines are actually few and far between, and more importantly will learn a bit of funk finger style. If you can hang playing along to these recordings you are in good shape.

    To practice slap specifically, you need to practice it just like finger style playing. Run scales and string crossing exercises but slapping the notes with your thumb. Work in some pops too. Vary the note subdivisions in these exercises against a metronome click. At that point you can pretty much slap any line you would normally play finger style and vice versa. I think the only thing that enabled me to do thumps in quick succession was practice and gaining further efficiency of technique through exercising the skill.
  8. tshapiro

    tshapiro Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2015
    Jax Florida
    There are many different ways or styles to accomplishlish fast patterns. For me personally, I can do pretty much most of the popular techniques, but, there is one that works really well for me for funk. For me it’s the typical funk guitar style muted a 16 strumming but applied to bass:

    With dampened notes, I play Thumb pluck thumb pluck. Think of these as the typical ‘1 e & ah’ sixthteenth notes. A simple riff to get you started would be:

    Over 2 typical 4-beat funk drum beat measures, try the muted ‘4 e & ah’:
    Measure 1
    Beat1 Thumb slap
    Beat2 Muted pluck
    Beat3 Thumb slap
    Beat4 Muted pluck
    Measure 2
    Beat1 Thumb slap
    Beat2 Muted pluck
    Beat3 Thumb slap
    Beat4 Thumb pluck Thumb pluck (All muted)(Beat4 timing: (‘4 e & ah’)
    <Repeat all>

    Variation: Do the 4 e & ah with all thumbs (not double thumbs). Lots of great funk players use this style.

    Note: I sometimes do the Thumb plucks on your typical octaves but sometimes do it on a single string. It’s important to practice both ways. The single string method allows you to ‘chug’

    Once you get the hang of these muted 16th notes you’ll naturally start throwing them in all over the place. Also experiment putting accents on different beats.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  9. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    With those influence you could check out Flea of Red Hot Chillipeppers, they were a rock type funk band back in the day. Today they are in their 50s and their music has developed into their own style. Funk is a style much like the blues music that influenced you. In that you need to feel the music vs just listening to it. Once it gets into your soul then you'll feel the bass lines and where it fits in the groove. From there, you're on your way to Funky town to play any funk you like. But also trace the influences of your new funk style, learn what they learned in terms of influence and style and technique. It will help speed up the adaptation process when you know where the roots are and how it grew.
  10. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I would learn finger style funk. If you like vulfpeck, Joe Dart's playing has very little slap involved...almost none. His timing and groove is excellent imo. Slap is a good technique to have, but some players beat it to death.
  11. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I think his slap playing is pretty much summed up in Skymall. Can't think of another track, but may be one more i am forgetting.
    RyanOh likes this.
  12. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I've seen him slap in a live performance for about 10 seconds, then went on to his usual thing. I forgot about Skymall.

    I think his ratio of slap to fingers is about right.:thumbsup:
    Hambone70 and Seanto like this.
  13. Hambone70


    Jan 31, 2018
    Tucson, AZ
    Any techniques for this? It's the quick octave-up note I'm having trouble with. I can't seem to make it happen fast enough! I'm reaching for the G-string note with my middle finger.

    Attached Files:

  14. I personally wouldn't play any notes on the G string until I got to the high D in bar 3.
    Practise it extremely slowly with a click, say around 40BPM.
  15. Hambone70


    Jan 31, 2018
    Tucson, AZ
    Oops... you're right. I'm playing the high A and G on the D string.
  16. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    There's a pinned post in the technique section "slap bass welcome center". Check it out. Don't make the mistake of thinking slap=funk though. If you like funk check out the Funk 101 and Funk 102 threads. Lots of great basslines to learn.

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