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Should I change my technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by birdsg, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. birdsg


    Dec 18, 2003
    Birmingham England
    When I slap at the moment I wear the middle of the bass level with my navel and slap with the thumb pointing slightly downwards and I get some reasonably good grooves going from this. I want to move up a level and have been checking out www.gazzbass.com (great site) and he recommends wearing bass really high and thumb pointing upwards. To do this would be relearning - should I attempt this or just try and play his examples as I currently do?

  2. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I think you shouldn't have your bass at a height you don't really want to... I have my strap pretty long and slap with my thumb out parallel to the strings: http://www.railgun.co.uk/pennyroyal/photos/albums/2003-10-29 Rehearsal/2003-10-29-Rehearsal-08.jpg

    so I don't see why you couldn't alter your thumb angle and still keep your bass at the height you're familar with

    I couldn't wear my bass high even if I wanted to because my right arm won't bend at the elbow at an angle of less than about 90 degrees because of a bike accident I had... I was really thankful I hadn't spent years using a 'bass under the chin' technique
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    If it's working for you, and not causing you discomfort, I wouldn't worry about it. Marcus Miller wears his bass pretty low, and he does ok...
  4. birdsg


    Dec 18, 2003
    Birmingham England
    Thanks Guys, Yea I guess it is working for me as it is. I cant bend my thumb upwards with bass where it is now. I have tried when seated to wear bass really high and it does seem like a whole new technique (such as on gazzbass site) and i wonder if there are technically things I could do better of faster if I adopted that style.

    Are you guys saying you can do all the douple thumping, triplets, fancy chops stuff with your thumb parallel to the strings and bass reasonably low?

  5. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    my slapping is more what you'd call 'functional' if you were being polite :) I really don't know how feasible the more technically advanced stuff would be down there, but i'm always astounded by how talented musicians can make the the impossible look easy... e.g. Robert Trujillo has his bass pretty darn low & he's no slappin'-slouch :)
  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm just starting to forsee getting proficient at slapping and thumb techniques, but I'm excited about my progress - it's working out real well. The first song that I'm planning on really featuring a thump solo in(or groovin' bass break or whatever you'd call it - uh.. if the guys will go for it, of course) is Eyes Without a Face, in that rockin' part.

    I wear my bass about the same height as you, Birdsg. There seems to be an optimal height where the left OR the right elbow OR wrist isn't bent too sharply.

    It's important to me to be able to 'pick' with my thumb - like up-down-up-down strokes (Wooten-inpired) - so to me it's pretty important to have the thumb fairly parallel with the strings, but I find things to go a little easier with the thumb pointing slightly up. A downward-pointing thumb would be awkward I'd think because you'd be sort of jabbing the tip of the thumb into the string. Wait a sec... OK - what I'm doing is starting a stroke with the thumb pointing up, but that's so that on a down-stroke, it ends up parallel with the string as it passes through the string. I'm not bouncing off the string, I'm 'following through', like a fast pluck. So I guess you'd say that it's all rest strokes on down-strokes, and free strokes on up-strokes. Another Wooten-inspired thing that seems so valuable to me is to be able to pop on the same string you thump - with the index finger crossed under the thumb.

    I'm going to think about this more later, when I'm practicing at the studio.

  7. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    You should be slapping with you hand in a "thumbs up" position. If you look at all the pros it's the way they slap and I believe it's easier for double thumbing too. (btw Victor didn't invent double thumb... he popularized it)
  8. birdsg


    Dec 18, 2003
    Birmingham England
  9. I'm wondering this as well - I've been slapping with my thumb pointing down and I'm pretty comfortable with it. I've only recently been told that playing with my thumb pointing upwards is better and gives more flexibility.

    It feels like quite a lot of re-learning is needed to adapt to the "other" way of slapping.

    Now, I know one shouldn't imitate famous people for the sake of it. But I know Flea slaps has his bass too low to slap with his thumb up, still he's pretty good at it. On the other hand, most funk/jazz bassists have their basses high up, like Marcus Miller. Is there any real significance?
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    A guy in-town here does really well in the manner you're describing.
    ...he's been doing like that since the late '70s, too.
  11. Andy Cleaver

    Andy Cleaver A show of hands....

    Dec 16, 2004
    England, Midlands
    Ed Friedland (Bass Player Columnist, etc) has one of the cleanest and best slapping techniques I've seen. He has his thumb parallel!