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Slap bass sound

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by thefezz, May 7, 2005.

  1. thefezz


    May 7, 2005
    Hi All,

    I'm a starting out bass player. I've been playing for about two years. Unfortunately I know nothing about equipment at all. I know the difference between active and passive circuitry, and that is it.

    Like many bass players I have been seduced by the sounds of slap bass. I can definately play slap style bass, but i'm having trouble getting a decent sound. Probably due to my equipment and/or settings, I can only ever get a really muddy, thick low end sound, or an empty kind of almost flangey type of sound. I recently heard the perfect sound I wanted to achieve when playing slap. It is so clear and crisp, while at the same time being low and punchy. I heard it in a song called "Like The Way I Do" by Melissa Etheridge.

    I was wondering if anyone could tell me what equipment I would need or what settings i would need to use to get this sound. The equipment i use is as follows:

    Ibanez Soundgear SR-505 (Active P & J pickups)
    OLP Musicman Stingray clone (Passive 8 Pole pickups)


    Behringer Bx3000t Bass Head (300w)
    no name 4 x 10" quad box (4 x celestion speakers with horn).

    I also have a Korg Ampworks Bass amp modelling unit.

    Any help would be much appreciated! Please email me on john_st@tpg.com.au if anyone could be of any assistance. Or just reply to this :)

    Kind Regards,

  2. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    So that you're not being hung out to dry, let me give you some tips on slap tone. I can't tell you exactly what settings you need because I'm unfamiliar with your gear.

    First thing you need to do is set everything flat on your amp and your bass. You're gonna want to boost your bass up a few notches as well as treble. Do this on your bass if you have EQ knobs, or turn your tone knobs full on if you've got em. You might want to turn down the mids only slightly. Adjust the EQ and tone knobs slightly from these positions to find your desired tone. Mids have a lot to do with tonal character. You want bass and low mids to be thumpy, mids to not get in the way (at least), and high mids and treble to be snapping, but not harsh.

    I think you will get the best results from your OLP since it has a MM pickup and MMs are pretty much the definitive slap tone. You also need to check for Gain levels. When you are slapping as hard as you plan to, turn the gain up until it clips ever so slightly.

    Good Luck. Happy Slapping.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    Good advice...you're looking for somewhat of a "smiley face" if you have a graphic eq on your Behringer. In addition, I slap a quite a bit and found that something as simple as changing to a "slap friendly" string makes a HUGE difference. I started off using D'Addarios, switched to Bass Boomers, and I'm now hooked on DR Low-Beams...Marcus is coming out with a signature string Fat-Beams...and we know that brotha's got skillz, so this might be good as well.
  4. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    Definitely look into a set of roundwound strings. I'd recommend DR Hi-Beams. I had a set and they were great for slapping. The above suggestions of boosting bass/treble and cutting mids are right on. Some people like to have more mids in their slap tone, but this is usually a good place to start.
  5. I think it depends on the bass alot too. I'm surprised the OLP isnt workin for ya, since its modeled after one of the slapmasters, the Stingray. I think you really just have to play around with your sound a little bit. On my MIA dlx Jazz, I have treble all the way up, bass around 75-80% up, and mids just a tad bit on (not too much, but I found a sweet spot with my mid control that I love). Also you should play around with what pickups you have. There are two really good slap sounds that I like with my bass:1. Is both jazz pups equal, and the other 2. Is 25% neck, 75% bridge. I cant really remember what I have my amp settings on (slightly similar to my bass), but i dont really play with that as much as the settings on my bass anyways. You'll find a good sound, just take a few minutes and mess with it.
  6. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004

    I'm not a big popper and slapper, myself. I mean, I can do some basic stuff, but I'm no Stanley, Flea, etc. However...

    What I've found is choice of string and tone settings are more important than the choice of instrument. While I would agree that some basses are more suited to slapping than others (can you imagine slapping a Gibson Thunderbird? Neither can I.), string choice and how you set your tone controls counts more.

    Generally, I max out my controls on my SVT IV Pro, and use the graphic EQ to tweak the tone depending on the room. I use a lot of treble in my sound, so popping is never a problem. The slapping piece, e.g., what you do with your thumb is another matter. You need a good bit of bottom end to make it sound coherent. This is why I biamp my stuff ... separates the highs and the lows, with the each dedicated to certain frequencies.

    With your instruments, I'd recommend a good amount of bottom end, good amount of treble, and use the mids to tweak the sound to the room.

    I use Rotosound RS66LC strings, and also DR High Beams. They're both light gauge (.40-.95 on the Rotos, .40-.100 on the DRs), and they're great for slapping and popping. I like them simply because I can't stand standard gauge strings ... they're like telephone wires to me, and you can't really bend them much. You might want to try a lighter gauge string of your choice as well. And definitely use roundwounds - half rounds and flats just won't do it.

    Hope this helps,

  7. thefezz


    May 7, 2005
    Hey all!

    Thanks for all the replies! I haven't yet had time to try them, but i surely will and i'll let you all know the results. If anyone wants to hear any recordings i've done go to:


    And download the track "Anywhere but here". That's a studio recording. The other two are recorded in a bedroom. When we recorded anywhere but here i'd been playing bass for about 6 months. The song was played on my first ever bass. It was a passive no-name brand with just a P pickup and nothing else. It had the ugliest sound in the world so i used a phaser pedal which made the slap bass solo sound pretty cool.

    I'll post some new recordings of my recent band when we finish on the cd.

    Anyhow, I'm going to ask another stupid question but before i'll ask it, I will attempt to justify it. Firstly with the OLP, while i think it has a musicman pickup, it is only passive and the sound is ugly. And there are only 3 knobs on there which when they are all turned onto full, I can control the output volume by turning each knob individually - so they all appear to be volume controls! Basically, I don't know which one is volume, which is treble and which is bass. There are two other knobs. One is closest to the bottom of the bass (near the lead jack) and the other closest to where the strap goes on. Or even if they are intended to function like that.

    ...I'm a moron i know. If this is any justification; i started out as a drummer...

    ...Anyhow, to continue...my Ibanez Sr505 (Soundgear/SDGR) is at the moment my bass of choice. Maybe because i haven't really unlocked the potential of the OLP. Again though, (here comes the moron) I am unsure about the knobs! From what i can gather, the knob closest to the neck is treble. The knob closest to the strings is volume, but i don't know which is bass or middle.

    In another attempt to justify my ignorance/lack of knowledge about equipment and tone, I pretty much just love playing bass. I don't really enjoy messing around with buttons, switches and knobs, so never really played with them much.

    And the strings i used on both basses are Rotosound RB-45 standard guage roundwound strings. Should they be suitable to get that beautiful slap kinda sound?

    Anyhow again; if anyone can provide further assistance on which knobs are which on the OLP and the Ibanez, please let me know Or if anyone has any feedback on the recordings.

    Again; if anyone wants to hear the exact bass sound i'm going for check out:

    "Like the way i do" - Melissa Etheridge
    or the intro of "Take the power back" by Rage Against the Machine. They are prime examples.

    Thanks everyone! You're all really great to have replied thus far! If anyone wants to rip into me for being a dumbass, feel free :)
  8. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    The standard SR-505 has the Bartolini pickups and preamp, like this:


    (is that like yours?) - the volume knob is the big one near the neck, and the pickup blend is the big one near the bridge, and the others are the tone controls.

    You can approximate the "smiley face" EQ by dialing down the midrange on the bass. One suggestion would be, try playing around with a graphic EQ pedal, and see which frequencies you like and dislike. For me, the 150-200 Hz range corresponds to "mud", which is great for JPJ sounds, but not so great for slapping.

    I like knobs - and more specifically, I like "useful" knobs - in other words, I'd prefer being able to control the EQ right from my bass, rather than having to walk over to the amp and start twiddling knobs in the middle of a song. :)
  9. alibloke


    Dec 17, 2004
    Bristol, England
    The OLP is passive as you rightly pointed out. However, if I remember, unlike in 'proper' rays, the OLPs humbucker wiring has been split into two halves.

    The control nearest the neck is the volume control for the neck facing half of the pickup. The middle control is the volume for the bridge facing half of the pickup.

    (Note: They will need to be set to the same volume if you want to achieve true humcancelling, similar to a jazz bass).

    More neck volume should give you more warmth and punch (bass frequencies), more bridge volume should give you more growl and bite (mid and treble frequencies).

    The third and final knob (near the bottom of the OLP) is your tone control. Turn it clockwise for more brightness (treble), and roll it anticlockwise for less.
  10. LoGruvz


    Apr 11, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    Turn your volume down a tad, then I use a Boss GE-7B bass eq pedal and dial in a smiley face (boost highs and lows and cut mids way down). That way you can turn your slap sound on and off as you need it without messing with your amp. I also use an EMMA Discombobulator wah pedal to funk it up for "Higher Ground" by Flea and the RHCP's.

    Best of luck with your sound it is a never ending storey.

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