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Slap Bass - Low Action?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by cica, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. cica


    Sep 18, 2012

    I've been struggling with the slap bass technique. I can't say I've spent a lot of time on it, but it's not coming to me as easily as other techniques. I recently got a chance to play a different bass and while I was noodling, I tried to slap the E string. To my surprise, I was getting a decent tone out of it. The main difference between my bass and the one I was test driving was that the action was set much lower on the new bass, leading me to believe I have the action up too high on mine.

    Is it easier to slap if the action is set lower?

  2. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
  3. Dragan


    Oct 5, 2009
    ofcourse. set it low and as you progress,adjust your action.
  4. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead!

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Eventually you will be able to get a "slap tone" from nearly any bass, but you have to build your strength and coordination up to get there. In the meantime, you should definitely lower your action on your bass :bassist:
  5. cica


    Sep 18, 2012
    Thanks. I'll give it a shot on my current bass.
  6. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    Well it depend what kind of slap grooves your are going to play, simple grooves doesn't require a particular low action.
    It's a different story if you wanna get more speed and easy feel when you're going to play more complex stuff.
    But your thought about the E string sound is right, indeed the low action has an unavailable influence on the tone of the bass when you're going to slap (in my opinion also on the other techniques) because the tension and the distance, especially for the big strings is much less and let you having a nice tone.
  7. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    man, just set it low. I cant imagine anyone slapping decently with very high action.
  8. cica


    Sep 18, 2012
    Tried lowering the action and got fret buzz :mad:
  9. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    It's pretty normal, if the rest of the action is well set you have to get used to play with different dynamic!
  10. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    You can't dig in as much on a low action unless you're going for a percussive sound like metal bassists or John Entwistle. You also can't pluck the strings "outward" as much as straight up and down. You'll get a feel for it. When I lowered my action, I hated it because it sounded more like an electric razor than a bass, but I eventually found "the spot" for plucking that produced great tone, volume, and no buzz.

    That is, of course, not accounting for any idiosyncrasies your bass might have (improperly installed or poorly made frets, a worn/improperly filed nut).
  11. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    low action and fret buzz are my friends. buzz adds some grit to my tone. Different strokes fo differnt folks obviously.
  12. Yup. Billy Sheehan loves a bit of string buzz, for example. Lots of fretless players like just a tiny bit since it gives 'em an extra bit of mid/upper range tone. I personally don't, so I try to get the action as low as possible without buzzing. If I do want buzz, I can just fret it a bit softer and pluck more vertically (parallel to the bass body). Different strokes for different folks for sure.
  13. GKevinK


    May 23, 2008
    Glen Burnie, MD
    I'll never forget having the opportunity to listen to a raw bass track of one of Chris Squire's early 70's (or possibly even late 60's) bass tracks from a Yes cut. I'd heard all about the effects he used and the dual output Ric being fed to different amps, etc. Turns out that at least 80% of that grindy Ric tone that was instrumental in persuading me at a young age that I wanted to play bass was in fact... fret buzz.

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