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One-handed "Tapping"

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by volt9stormrider, May 5, 2010.

  1. It's been awhile since I've been on TB, but I feel like I've got a few questions that need to be asked here.

    I've been playing bass in a band for awhile now, and I've just recently begun to take on the role of playing synth as well. I don't want to put down the bass and play "bass synth," but I also don't want to take my hands off the keys.

    I know that we should just get another member, but for now I've created some horrible kind of technique. Basically I'm playing my synth riffs with my left hand and playing one-handed tapping bass lines with my right (usually at the upper register of my bass (luckily it has 24 frets :D)). Anyways, I'm basically hammering on and pulling off to open strings on the bass.

    I wanted to know if there is actually a one-handed tapping technique I should work on, or a way to alter my basslines, while still being able to play synth. For now I want to multi-task and see how synth/bass work out, rather than looping the synth or bass.

    Also, I wanted to figure out how to get the right tones for tapping out of my bass. Right now the sound is just really poor and almost "choppy," with quite a bit of fret buzz. I'm using an Ibanez EDB600 bass with flatwounds (probably not the best for tapping).

    Any help is appreciated! Thanks!
  2. bluesbasshound


    Jan 31, 2006
    I play a trumpet and bass combination at times in my band, and I can tell you it is easier to tap notes with your fretting hand while using your other hand on the other instrument.
    Some tricks are using a mute of some sort to dampen sympathetic string ringing, and try using some octave divider to help fatten the notes in the upper register.
    The type of strings is no issue. It's all about technique and precision.
    I also tap on the strings using the force of three fingers. Keep basic lines and get the feel down for the tapping then you can concentrate more on what your other hand is doing with the keyboard.


  3. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    That's what I would suggest. Fret the bass with your left hand (assuming you're right-handed and that your left is your normal fretting hand) and play the synth with your right. You'll get better sound out of the bass I think.
  4. Agreed, I find that my left hand is all ready used to playing notes along from hammer on and pull offs, so it makes sense to use that hand. I also happen to be better at synth on my right hand, so it all works out pretty well.

    It might not work in your band, but usually we use a couple tricks to play synths an other instruments overlapping: the HOLD function on a Juno, or on another synth stick cards in the keys to hold them down.
    Also use lots of delay pedals and reverbs so the synth loops while you start the next instruments, this makes nice smooth transitions if done right.
  5. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    Another agreement on fretting with left hand. I do this one I play my one and only harmonica solo in Alanis Morrisette's 'Hand In Pocket'. It does help the bassline consists of about 2 notes in that section of the song.

    One of our guitarists double on keys too and he uses the afore mentioned 'hold' trick as well to keep a chord going with the sustain pedal whilst switching to guitar.

    As for 'tones' for tapping. I would think about introducing a little compression to help them leap out. I'd also recommend avoiding a scooped sound. The toppy zing might sound pleasant on it's own, but it has little note definition when tapping in a full band mix. A healthy dollop of warm mids and a tamer top end will help those tapped notes cut through. You might want to inject a little subtle overdrive too.

    Look at guys like Stu Hamm, Billy Sheehan and Vic Wooten and listen to their tones.

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