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Question about slapping on a 6 string bass

Discussion in 'Ask Adam Nitti' started by giantimi, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. Hello Adam,

    I recently bought a 6 string bass and I realized even before I purchased it that I had to change my finger style muting technique. I was able to make those changes however whenever I try to play slap, the B string ( or which strings I am not slapping or popping ) will ring out and I can't seem to find a way to mute it. I also can't seem to find a way to mute the strings ( the ones I'm not playing) when I do two hand tapping.

    How did you approach this problem when you started playing 6 string basses?
  2. I can't speak for Adam, but when I got my six string I had the same problems. The key for me was to start playing slowly, and deliberately focusing on keeping the strings from ringing. I use my whole fretting hand to keep the strings ringing (my index finger does alot of work, here). I don't play slap, but this has worked for me in normal playing and when I tap. I try and keep my left hand barred, and my right hand mutes the lower strings that aren't being used.

    Like I said, this is just some things that I've noticed since getting my six, and I don't have much to say about slap bass. Anxious to hear what Adam has to say on the subject!
  3. So, if you're playing some melodic on the g and c strings, you're muting the B, E, A and D strings with your index finger?
  4. If I am tapping something focused on the G and C strings, I will use my index finger as much as I can to control the strings that are closest to it (D, G and C). I will also use the palm of my right hand to keep the strings from ringing if the tapping lick allows me to stay in that position (i.e. not going into more of a full neck tapping pattern or lick). The way I reach over the fret board (I'm sure it's not that special,) and keep my thumb on the top of the fret board, it facilitates this a little easier. Generally speaking though, I will try and use my fretting hand to do most of the muting.

    I can't speak for slap bass, because that is certainly not my forte, but when I do slap, I find my fretting hand doing much of the same things when it comes to string muting, YMMV.
  5. bump
  6. adamnitti


    Nov 29, 2001
    hi giantimi!

    thanks for your post. (also thanks to metalinthenight for your help and insight!)

    this is a great question. different techniques that we use on the bass require different approaches for the management of muting and extraneous noise.

    when i started working more on my slap playing on 5 and 6 string bass, i ran into the same problems, so i started delving more into it to see how i might be able to have more control.

    what i discovered was that for myself, and for the majority of slap players i have observed, we seem to rely on our fretting hand mostly to take care of the muting tasks. the problem with exclusively relying on the fretting hand is that it is already pretty well-occupied by having to fret and select notes and muted note positions on the fingerboard already. that makes it a bit more challenging because we are leaning on it to both do that and cover the strings that aren't supposed to be ringing...

    my solution was to divide the muting tasks more evenly between the fretting AND plucking/slapping hands, so that the workload was more evenly balanced. here's the basic solution that i ended up adopting... i use the parts of my slapping hand that surround the thumb to also handle the muting. in other words, i worked up my slapping technique to the point of not even needing my fretting hand to mute at all. it is all carried out by the slapping hand.

    here's how i do it... when i slap a string with my plucking hand, i am striking using the side of the thumb joint, just like most players. however, i use the heel of the plucking hand and the knuckles from my closed hand position to 'surround' the string i'm slapping, which ends up muting the strings that surround it as well.

    by using this approach, i can actually target and slap any of the strings with my slapping thumb without needing my fretting hand to do any muting, whatsoever. this allows my fretting hand to have much more freedom, because it is not having to cover for any 'slop' in my slapping hand.

    hope that helps and makes sense!!!

    Reedt2000 likes this.
  7. chanson

    chanson Supporting Member

    I'd love to see a lesson series dealing with this muting technique for slap
  8. Mayers

    Mayers Guest

    Sep 28, 2007
    I'm not an expert on slap but when I do, I use a lot my plucking hand palm to mute strings. So in other words my plucking hand palm is glue to the lower string that my thumb is plucking. Doing so my fretting hand doesn,t have to do a lot of muting if at all.
  9. chanson

    chanson Supporting Member

    I can't figure out how to get this right hand muting slap thing down.
  10. adamnitti


    Nov 29, 2001
    imagine keeping your plucking (slapping) hand in a closed position, with your thumb extended, at a _slight_ angle downward (towards the higher-pitched strings...). when you go to strike the string, you will essentially make contact with the surrounding strings with the parts of your hand that aren't being used. it's kind of like an 'aim and fire' approach to slapping the string, but leaving the rest of your hand touching the surrounding strings.
  11. chanson

    chanson Supporting Member

    Thanks Adam. I guess I just need more practice, the explanations helps though
  12. denhou1974


    Mar 6, 2008
    I use my fret-hand thumb. Yes, it's bad technique but it works for me.
  13. chanson

    chanson Supporting Member

    If anyone has any tutorials out there on this issue, let me know. I'm having a hard time adjusting to this technique. It seems highly advantageous though.
  14. SkruffyTurner


    Dec 10, 2012
    Thanks this has helped I was having the same problem with slap.
    However I'm still having a similar problem with sweeping :/

    If I use the nail of my finger it sounds hollow and quite, the only way I can get a good sound is using my thumb. However when I use my thumb I can't use it to mute, so I have a really sloppy sound with some of the strings still ringing.
  15. adamnitti


    Nov 29, 2001
    hi skruffy-

    i actually use my plucking hand forearm to mute when sweeping. i essentially 'follow' my sweeping thumb motion with the forearm, effectively muting the lowest pitched strings as i'm ascending. it feels awkward at first, but becomes very natural over time.
  16. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    sorry to dig up this topic. But I am back to the six string after 15 years so I am practicing a lot of six string these days. Also I do a lot of slapping. I agree that it is much harder on the six string because of the muting.

    Adam had pointed out some good advice. The keys is to mute the string(s) with the right hand heel below the one you are playing with the thumb.
    Adam is doing this by using the heel of the hand. That means that your thumb will slap the string pointed in a downwards direction. Like how Flea is slapping.

    But I like to keep the thumb in a more straight position parallel to the strings like most slappers do. So now you can't mute with the heel of the hand. The solution (for me anyway) is to mute the B string with your forearm about 10 cm away from your hand. Somewhere above the bridge pickup the forearm will touch the B string.

    Another thing is that you might want to change your slapping patterns/habits and play more on the B string. Instead of the open E string you can use the E on 5th fret for example. This opens up possibilities if you want to play in another key also. But also you don't have to mute the B string as much that way.

    Hope that helps. Happy slapping!

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