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Need help with slapping

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ahhelpme, Aug 26, 2004.

  1. ahhelpme


    Aug 26, 2004
    Whenever Im looking on the internet for lessons on how to slap bass strings, they tell me what to do whilst slapping, but they never actually tell me how to slap the strings.
    Would someone be so kind as to tell me how to slap bass strings properly, and maybe even some excercises invlolved to assist me with it?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated
  2. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    strike your thumb against the desired string. don't do it too soft or else it will sound like you're plucking it.
  3. ahhelpme


    Aug 26, 2004
    Thanks for the help jazzin! If anyone else has any handy exercises or any other helpful hints feel free to post here.
  4. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    oh yah, hit the string with the left(if you slap with your right hand) side of your thumb knuckle.
  5. stu FORD

    stu FORD

    May 22, 2004
    there is no proper way to slap, if you watch 20 of the most famous slappers, you will see about 20 different styles. just hit the string however you want, with your toes, on your head, whatever it as aslong as it hits the last fret to make that zingy sound. do it however you want, create your own, copy someone else, just spank it like you love it.
  6. Joe Turski

    Joe Turski

    Jul 29, 2003
    Here are a few threads that you may find helpful.

    Other TB threads
    And another

    If you want to learn how to slap, either find a teacher, or get a home video.

    Please use the search function.
  7. Worshiper


    Aug 13, 2004
    New York
    The best advice I've gotten when I was learning how to slap is to keep your right hand (assuming you're right handed). And when you actually slap the string with your thumb, you want to do it quick and "retract" your thumb just as quick. Just start with this on one note repeatedly. Otherwise you'll get flustered. I know it can get frustrating when it doesn't sound right at first but it takes A LOT of practice. Good Luck
    and God Bless
  8. ahhelpme


    Aug 26, 2004
    A big thanks to all you guys! What should it sound like when I slap it properly? and is there anything that I have to with my left hand ( im right handed) on the fretboard whilst slapping?

    Thanks again guys I really appreciate it
  9. You should hear a metallic click as the string hits the fret, and you should hear the note sound. If the note doesn't sound, you're not getting your thumb off the string fast enough. Many people like to turn the mids way down on their amp to get a better slap sound.
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Q: What's the definition of a gentleman?

    A: Someone who can play slap bass, but doesn't.


    Best advice I can give for techniques learning a like this (or in fact any technique!) is listen to the players who you like using the technique and do your best to copy their sound precisely. Experiment, if you get a better sound playing softer, play softer, if you get a better sound with your thumb closer to the neck, move it closer to the neck. Try everything out and let your ears decide what sounds best.

    Also - as per any technique really - a good slap sound relies entirely on how you physically play, so instructional videos (slap bass programme with Alexis Slarveski is very good) and a teacher are great in that they allow you to see how the technique is used up close.

    Dont copy Flea's slap bass technique. He may be a truly great player, but his slap bass is pretty much the definition of the wrong way to do it and you will ultimately have to learn it all over again if you learn to slap like him! Keep your thumb parallel to the strings, not perpendicular.

    Oh and listen to Larry Graham in Sly & The Family Stone and Graham Central Station, awesome :)

  11. I wasn't really sure on how to slap, and at first fretting notes and slapping was pretty hopeless.

    Anyway, I learnt Antipop by Primus just playing with my fingers first of all, and then when I was confident with it I began slapping.
    The good thing about this, was that I was able to simply concentrate on my slapping, and I knew I was getting the right sort of sound because it sounded like the actual thing.

    From that day on, I've just kept on slapping and I could probably do it in my sleep now (as well as doing in inadvertantly on coffee tables, on the side of my leg while waiting in lines etc :D )
  12. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    I'll apologize to Howard up front -- I learned by trying to emulate Flea's playing...and I've enjoyed it quite a bit ;) But I'll back his basic point that it's not a very efficient way -- watching numerous great bassists who slap, you usually see them with the bass up high on their body, and their thumbs parallel to the strings -- which really makes sense because then there's virtually no chance for your slapping motion to hit any other strings.

    That said, you can adjust your form to this technique, or develop a technique that adjusts to your form.

    A pointer I received recently was very interesting and helpful to me: slap the strings over the fretboard, not over the space between the end of the fretboard and the first pickup. So basically your thumb is slapping at the 22 fret or so. Your popping fingers should still be in the gap, so they shouldn't have any problems. I like this for a few reasons -- it gives a really bright ring from the strings hitting the frets and the string stops when it hits the fretboard, so there's less of a trampoline effect on the thumb (something that was challenging to me early on). And as was said earlier, you hit and retract the thumb as fast as you can.

    If you play with the bass low on your body, slapping the higher strings can be a pain, and even worse if you play a 5 (or more) string bass. But anything can be done if you put the work into it!

    The problem I always had was I couldn't come up with different slapping patterns to practice, so I always practiced a simple T-pause-T-P-T-P (with two octaves with the fret hand...like e3 - d5). But the guy I've been getting pointers from recently has started showing me new ones -- and since he can play them fast as the bejeezus, I can hear what the ultimate goal is -- which helps a LOT. One he gave me recently is really simple, but, obviously, takes a little practice to get the coordination down. All the tones are muted, so its really a bakitta-bakitta-bakitta kinda fill noise. I fret the g, d and a strings with my index finger, and get my other three fingers ready the slam down on the fret board one fret higher on the e string. Then the right hand motion is: Pop the d string - hammer the fretboard with fret hand, and leave the fingers down - Slap the e string. Done quickly, you get three percussive tones. But it's also a motion that you can get up to a very fast speed, and then it becomes very useful as a bridge pattern in the middle of a solo, or some fast riff, or just as a warm up exercise.

    Hope this helps! Cheers!

  13. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    This was the title of a column Fieldy (of the band Korn) wrote for Bass Guitar magazine. He suggested learning to slap by slapping the steering wheel of your car while driving. I tried it and it's a great way to get your aim down. (I use to only slap on the E string becuase I'd miss the otehr strings.)
  14. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Like some of the others have already stated, there's really no "right way" to do it. You have to experiment and figure out what's gonna work best for you. A couple of things to possbibly point you in the right direction and you can fine tune them later:

    Try to make it a motion of the wrist rather than a whole arm motion. I think one of the characterisics of Flea's style of slap playing is that he gets his whole arm in to the picture. If that works for you, fine, but my arm gets tired too quickly doing it that way whereas with the wrist motion I can go on longer without fatigue. Just relax your arm and make a "thumbs up" in front of you. Your thumb is now pointing up at 12 O'clock. Rotate your wrist so your thumb is at 9 O' clock and then rotate it so it's at 3 O' clock. Now apply that same motion to your slapping.

    Try to strike the string with the little bone at the joint of your thumb. That should be where the thumb makes contact with the string. It may hurt in the beginning but you will start to build up a caulous there eventually.

    When you pluck a string with your index finger try not to dig in too much. Just grab the string with enough of the meaty part of your finger so that you can get hold of the string but not so much that the string has to come in contact with too much of your finger before being released.

    The trickiest part about getting a good thumb sound is to get the bottom happening. At first it's difficult to not get a thinner sound but keep at it until you find a way to fatten up the sound. You can crank up the lows on your amp a little, which is cool, but if you play a tune where you have to switch between finger-style and thumb you're going to want to learn how to get that bottom without cranking up the lows.

    One last thing - the common way to teach slap (including some of the suggestions on this thread) is to have players slap over the bottom of the fingerboard. That's not necessarily incorrect but it's surely not the ONLY way to do it. I like to slap the strings about 1/2 " to 3/4 " away from the fingerboard toward the neck pickup. I feel like I get the best bottom by slapping there while the sound thins out more when I slap over the fingerboard. Marcus Miller is a cat that comes to mind that doesn't slap right over the fingerboard.

    You'll find what works for you with a lot of practice. Now get to it. :)

  15. AmplifyYourBass


    Dec 7, 2003
    When I first began to slap (with the aid of Stu Hamm's excellent instructional video), I began to use Flea's method of slapping without realizing it was distinct to him. I used the general method of slapping originally with my thumb parallel to the strings, but that was very uncomfortable for me. I ended up switching to Flea's method without knowing he was really the only famous bassist to use that technique. For me, it's the most comfortable way to slap and in the years I've used this technique, it has in no way been inefficient for me.
  16. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    I saw an old billboard for a rock radio station from the 70's that said - "Use an accordian . . . go to jail."

    That's how I feel about bass slapping in public (music stores, namm show etc...) Slap a bass string - got to jail.

    Geeze . . . how closed minded and provincial of me. I must be getting old.

    okay - it's reasonalbly safe to flame me now. :oops: :bag:
  17. Alright i need a little help with sumthin. when i play slap on my bass i get this horrible popping-like or almost a thud noise when i hit the string. it also makes the same noise louder when mute the strings and slap them. idk if its my technique thats making that noise or my gear. any suggestions will be well apprectiated. thank you