Should I bother learning to slap if I only have a fretless bass?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by JacoLifeson, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. JacoLifeson


    Jan 9, 2020
    Basically the title. I got my action pretty low so I can slap it but I’m wondering if it’s important I learn on a fretted bass.
  2. Slapping can be done on fretless, it just sounds different, and it’s a little harder to control muting and note length.
  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    If you enjoy slapping then yes, otherwise no. Not sure what the question is I have to say.
    If you're looking for examples of fretless slap, Les Claypool is your most obvious candidate.
    Real Soon, Kyuuga, sonojono and 6 others like this.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I'm a big fan of having lots of tools in the bag. I'm not an amazing slapper. But I can do it. I learned how to so I could if I needed/wanted to. The same goes for tapping, picking, using the side of my thumb, palm muting, etc. They're all tools for coaxing more sounds out of the bass.

    So I would go ahead and play around with it. If (like me) you find that it won't be your primary technique, don't take a lot of practice time away from other things to "master" it.
  5. misterCRUSH

    misterCRUSH It's all's ALL jazz...

    Dec 27, 2015
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    it's totally a matter of what you like to play. if you are into funk then by all means, learn to slap. Although you can certainly play funk without slapping. for me personally, all of my basses are fretless, i am a dedicated jazzer, and therefore have never learned to slap. I am not a big fan of the way that it sounds anyway. but like i alluded to before, it's all a matter of personal preference.
    andruca and Mili like this.
  6. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    You never HAVE to learn something. What do want yourself? If you like it learn it, if you don't like it don't learn it!
    andruca and 123Nil like this.
  7. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020

    This is the only one I remember Pino predominantly using the thumb on. It wouldn't hurt to get it together.
    andruca likes this.
  8. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    Consider this:When you slap on a fretless,you are basically whipping the fingerboard with steel strings.
    That's all I'm going to say.
    bobyoung53, JRA, Runnerman and 5 others like this.
  9. Check out Gary Numan’s I Assassin for a fine example of slapped fretless. Pino on the fretless stringray.
  10. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    Of course. It’ll sound different than fretted and might wear the fingerboard a little bit but it’s always good to learn new things if you’re interested in them.
    Huw Phillips and Element Zero like this.
  11. eKay


    May 8, 2014
    Yeah it will wear the fingerboard a lot. I wouldn’t do it (again) with rosewood. Ebony would be better, or something synthetic. Honestly I cringe when I see people slapping a fretless. If you’re curious, go ahead and try it and see if you enjoy doing it and like the sound, but be gentle until you have a bass with a really durable fingerboard.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I was gonna +1 on "not necessarily" because you can slap on fretless if you want. But yeah, any excuse to agree with someone about anything Gary Numan. You can fix a lot of broken things with Tubeway Army.

    But I digress. I certainly think it is easier (opinion) to slap on fretted but I'll slap my fretlesses around too. You can get some really great dark tones slapping/popping on the wood.
    SteveCS likes this.
  13. Hounddog409


    Oct 27, 2015
    Only tools that you actually use are useful.
    lfmn16, Mili and ThickBassSteaks like this.
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I can't remember the last time I actually used a crowbar, a chalk line, a speed square, a sledge hammer, or a hacksaw. I own a crowbar, a chalk line, a speed square, a sledge hammer, and a hacksaw. I know exactly how to use all of them.
  15. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Go for it. If you’re heavy handed, slapping WILL wear your fingerboard out quicker especially near where the fingerboard meets the body as that’s the primary strike point. However, I slapped the crap out of my Pentabuzz and Fodera Fretless while I had them with minimal wear.

    You could always try tape wound strings and nearly eliminate the wear all together.
    gebass6 likes this.
  16. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Bakithi Kumalo. Graceland. Slapped fretless galore. Les Claypool. You absolutely can slap on a fretless. And you won’t mess up the fingerboard.

    If fretless fingerboards were as fragile as a lot of folks here claim, no one would play fretless.
  17. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    You can prematurely cause wear to ANY bass by slapping. It’s about how quickly you strike and release on the string..not how hard you hit it. If you’re going to learn to slap on any bass take the time to get your wrist movement and location together. Now, on a fretless you’ll tend to cause wear to a broader area of the end of the fretboard as apposed to just the last fret but you’re typically not fretting notes up there on the lower strings so it’s of little consequence aside from aesthetics...IMO of course.
  18. I don't slap (yet) but I bought this bass used. Rosewood board. It's an 80's bass so no idea how many nights a week it may have been slapped before I bought it.
  19. Mili


    Nov 14, 2015
    I'm a Funk addict and I don't care about slap. Generally I think learning techniques which you don't have any real use for them, is wasting of time and energy and they won't grow as a solid and reliable techniques.
    Do what you love.
  20. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum