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Rockabilly slap bass string height

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by HauntedDave, Aug 7, 2017.


  1. HauntedDave

    HauntedDave

    Mar 7, 2016
    Houston, TX
    What's a recommended string height for setting my bass up for rockabilly style slap? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Depends on what strings you like.
     
  3. Lazurus

    Lazurus

    Nov 17, 2016
    Norfolk, UK
    I have Innovation Silvers and go 10 - 7 mm E to G, suits me but its a personal thing
     
  4. jasonrp

    jasonrp

    Feb 19, 2015
    vt
    It really is what you prefer. I try to find a sweet spot for easier slapping and for me it's 6, 7, 8, 9mm from G to E on plain gut but I've got skinny fingers.
     
    Adam Booker likes this.
  5. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Laz and Jason,

    I'm curious about your answers, as your string heights don't seem much different than what many people have for 'regular' pizz playing.
    I've always heard that slapping requires getting your fingers "under" the strings easily. Are you managing to get under the strings with your setup? Or have you developed a technique that's a bit different than a conventional slap (if there is such a thing!).

    Just wondering, as I mostly avoid slapping cos I think it requires a different setup....

    Cheers,

    Paul
     
    BobKay likes this.
  6. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    I have the same question, Paul. Interested in the answer. I've never learned to slap; I assume I could if I tried, but who knows? Outside of a few very specific situations, I'm not a fan, but would like to understand the mechanics nonetheless.
     
  7. The technique isn't dissimilar to dribbling a basketball.

    Catch the strings with the balls of your fingertips, pull, release so the string slaps against the fingerboard.

    Insert palm and finger slaps as needed.
     
    Fretless55 likes this.
  8. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Well, I do know how to slap a bit and I can't see the balls of the fingertips working with a 6mm G string. Just wondering about the string heights people are claiming to use...
     
  9. jasonrp

    jasonrp

    Feb 19, 2015
    vt
    I'm sorry you doubt the string height I'm "claiming to use...". Like I said, I have real skinny fingers and (while my heights do fluctuate due to bridge tweaking) whenever I setup my height with a ruler, I start at those heights. Some times it seems low so I raise, others I lower.

    If there is a good reason to lie about my string heights, I'm afraid I can't think of it.
     
  10. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Hey Jason,

    No disrespect intended. There were two of you who gave slightly different measurements, and people sometimes have differing ways of measuring.

    I set up basses with 6, 7, 8 and 9 mm for regular pizz, and just can't see how to get under the strings with those measurements. Maybe you have a different technique that requires less work (and I may be overdoing the digging in for the slap, and working way too hard!).

    Just curious - do other TBers manage to slap with strings as low as this? Are there videos to demonstrate the "low string height slap"?

    Thanks,

    Paul
     
  11. jasonrp

    jasonrp

    Feb 19, 2015
    vt
    I think I slap normally, but I've never really had a good way to see how someone else digs in. I honestly wish I could play with higher strings (for volume) but it's too much effort for me to do it much longer than a song or two straight. For something faster like Milkcow Blues or Hot Rod Lincoln I can't even make it through the whole song with high strings. I started on a bumped set of wackers so even guts were a step up in tension and my stamina still isn't where it should be.

    I do curl my fingers very slightly as I'm pulling away from the fingerboard so maybe that's how I can play so low. Honestly, I've never really thought about it though.

    Sorry I growled at you
     
  12. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    It is not just a number an the end of your fingerboard. Equally important is the amount of relief in the fingerboard and the player's skill and desired volume. Someone who plays amplified can get away with much lower action while a straight up acoustic player may go 10-12 mm on the G string with medium guts and neck breaking volume pounding triplets all day. Lower action requires more finesse and accepting lower volume. A killer setup and a well adjusted player are everything.....

    www.kaybassrepair.com
    @kaybassrepair
     
  13. Lazurus

    Lazurus

    Nov 17, 2016
    Norfolk, UK
    I am way off any sort of expert, when I switched from orchestral steels to Innovation Silvers I did a bit of research on string heights and the height I use was suggested on several forums as a good starting place, so that's what I did I had to lower the bridge height a fair bit, and a little at the nut. I guess I have never used another setup to compare. I have had a couple of accomplished "slappers" try my bass since it was done, and they seemed quite comfortable with it, and certainly made it sound better than I can. Now I have fairly big hands and have not had a problem getting under the strings, perhaps that has as much to do with tension combined with the height, all part of the dark art I guess?
     

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