Rockabilly slap tips?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Mennie, Mar 29, 2021.

  1. Mennie


    Aug 20, 2018
    Hey guys im a bassist who just made the switch from electric to upright. i mainly play jazz but i need to learn rockabilly slap for an upcoming session. i currently have high tension orchestral steel strings on (came with the bass). any suggestions on new strings or just general advice that could help me out? Thanks in advance
  2. I just asked the moderator to move this to the "Double Bass" side for you. ;)
  3. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Some people use gut strings or Eurosonics but I'll let the upright guys help you, I haven't played upright for some years although I do plan on getting back into it.
    Strings: Choices for Rockabilly/Psychobilly Slap
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2021
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  4. Mennie


    Aug 20, 2018
  5. Innovation Silver or Golden Slaps if gut strings are too expensive or need too much maintenance for you.
    Personally I wouldn’t use steel core strings for slap (but I hardly do any slap playing myself) like Eurosonics, but some people even slap Spiro Solo 4/4 downtuned to orchestral tuning.
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  6. mtto

    mtto Supporting Member

    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you mostly play jazz and only need to slap for this one session, my suggestion is Evah Pirrazzi, probably weich gauge. I used to play a fair amount of slap in a klezmer band and Evahs worked for me in that context as well as jazz and classical. If you want something cheaper, there are other synthetic strings. Double bass strings are expensive. I wouldn’t buy a special set of strings for one gig unless it paid really well.
  7. mtto

    mtto Supporting Member

    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    For technique, I worked through Mark Ruben and Kevin Smith’s “Slap Bass” DVD. Plus the usual: start extremely slow, first out of time, then with a metronome, and gradually build up speed.
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  8. + 1 for the Innovation Silver or Golden Slaps

    but also

    + 1 for the Evah Pirazzis

    I've enjoyed all of them. They are great for slap and have a good tone for pizz.

    In addition to starting slow...also focus on keeping that right hand relaxed as you speed up.
  9. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    Get you a set of the Evah Pirazzi Slap Strings if you want to play primarily slap. This is the set with the synthetic flat wound E and A and the plain gut D and G; or go with the all synthetic set. These are great strings to slap with. If you’re on a budget you can get a set of La Bella Supernils for about $80 that are decent to slap on. I recorded two albums playing primarily slap on Supernils.

    Secondly get you some Johnson & Johnson Coach tape. This stuff is your friend if you’re going to slap exclusively for several hours at a time (at least until you build up calluses). Tear a half sized strip the length of your finger from knuckle up and over the tip and back down to the palm. Then tear three half strips and circle each of your three finger segments so you can still bend and flex your fingers for slap and pizz. I still occasionally tape up my ring finger in this manner as it’s typically my slap attack finger. It works very well. The Kevin Smith video is very helpful as are many other slap vids on YouTube.

    Good luck and enjoy the world of slap! I feel like every double bassist should have slap techniques in their arsenal.
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  10. HateyMcAmp

    HateyMcAmp Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Krivo Pickups
    How do you like the tone of your current strings? Could you handle more midrange and sustain? IME strings like eurosonic/innovation slaps/ downtuned spiro solo can be a bit twangy, at least at first. Definitely brighter than well-used ocherstral strings.

    Is this session going to be 100% slap or a mix?
  11. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Welcome to the DB side, and at the same time, to the many rabbit holes that are part of getting setup and up to speed...

    Unless your hands are really used to slapping for a whole 3-hour session, those high tension steel strings are going to be a problem. Innovation Silver or Golden Slaps have been mentioned, as have Eurosonics, both are good directions, as are the Slap versions that are available from a number of other synthetic or synth/gut combo string makers...

    For true high-volume rockabilly you're also going to need amplification or you won't be heard. It's another rabbit hole, but one you may want to consider pretty quickly because it's a good idea to practice amp'ed if your going to perform amp'ed. There are lots of great threads about rockabilly-quality piezo pickups here in TB/DB, i'd suggest doing a search to bring yourself up to speed.

    We haven't talked about slapping technique yet. Another rabbit hole. There are lots of YouTube slap presentations that are of enormous value to learn from, I'd suggest doing a YouTube search for double bass slap and start getting that up to speed...

    And of course normal double bass left hand technique is also a huge consideration -- the double bass may have strings tuned the same, but it is not the same as an electric bass from the technique standpoint, it's really a completely different instrument. This is a life-time study and to just begin scratching the surface you can do a search here in TB/DB for the many, many threads about starting out on the double bass.

    The easy way to get started well and fast is to find a qualified teacher. Since you already have sessions planned, I'd very highly recommend finding a teacher, or at least finding someone who plays the way you want to, that you can mentor with on a regular basis. Otherwise you're going to be severely challenged trying to come up to speed on your own.

    Just as an example -- and not at all to suggest these are the only directions you can go -- here is my string and amplification setup...

    Innovation SilverSlaps E and A, Superior BassWorks Deluxe "Dirty Guts" D and G.

    Vic's Model C bridge wing and fingerboard piezo set feeding into an onboard mounted K&K Dual Channel Pro ST pre-amp.

    Onboard mounted Sennheiser e 604 dynamic mic (clear).

    I also use wireless TX/RC sets so my double bass is completely wireless to my amp and/or to a FOH (highly recommended).

    Good luck with all this. Don't be intimidated by all there is to learn, once you get over the hump, the DB is hugely fun to play.
  12. cacio


    Apr 24, 2005
    For those who slaps with evah weich solo downtuned regular.
    Are they stiffer than evah slap?
  13. If you are only going to do this occasionally and you play amplified try the Superior Bassworks Dirty Guts for $60. you get off cheap but only if you play amplified or you face a corner their acoustic volume is low. Eurosonic light is a nice string for slap or pizz. If your bass has an adjustable bridge you will need to raise it you need enough height 9 or 10 mm at least
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