Slap Bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mdsmith, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. mdsmith


    Jan 31, 2008
    When playing slap bass, is it best to let you thumb follow through the string your striking and end up resting on the next string, or does you thumb bounce off the string your striking? I'm just starting and I don't want to pick up any bad habits
  2. mdsmith


    Jan 31, 2008
    Sorry, I just found the "Slap Bass Welcome Center"
  3. mdsmith


    Jan 31, 2008
    O.k. I'm still confused. I read one of the links from the Welcome Center and it said to aim between the strings so that the thumb ends up on the next string. I also just bought Ed Friedland's Slap Bass dvd and it looks like he's bouncing off the string. I'm sure there's more than one right way, but what do you guys prefer and why ?
  4. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    yea there's basically two ways to slap, one is to slap thru the string and the other is to bounce.

    i'm not in any place to give advice about slapping, but i'd recommend slapping thru the string. at first, its not really intuitive, and it may be awhile before it sounds as good as bouncing. but it is considered to be the more 'refined' and modern way of slapping. pros who slap like this make it look effortless, because its motion efficient. later on, it also lets you double thumb.
  5. fenderphil


    Sep 1, 2006
    Houston, TX
    sometimes you can mute slap with your thumb.

    or theres the other trick of muting w/ your left hand while your right acts like a drumset.

    thumb=bass drum.
  6. I play slap bass by bouncing of the strings, its just what came naturally to me really. I seem to get enough speed to be able to play what i want but in saying that i dont slap very often. Ive tried the double thumb technique but it frustrated me so i gave up haha. hope this helps you a bit :)
  7. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Inactive

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    Definately drive through the string. I learned the bounce method originally and regret it. It is much more efficient to drive through, landing between the strings. As another poster said, you are in the perfect set-up for an upward pluck, using the side-tip of your thumb (double thumbing, like Victor Wooten). Plus the sound is tighter and more controlled. You won't inadvertantly get as many pick-up popping sounds when you play a Fender. Bouncing is not as effective on the upper, thinner strings either. With playing through, you can snap the upper strings and have it sound similar to if you popped them by pulling on the upbeat. When I made the switch, a big thing I noticed was now my thumb was pointing up towards my shoulder, rather then down towards my knee. It's just a better technique.
  8. mdsmith


    Jan 31, 2008
    Thanks for the replies guys. It does seems easier to bounce, but after watching Victor Wooten's double thumbing video I can see that in the long run hitting through the string will pay off.I'm just excited to get started. This playing bass stuff sure is fun, I just wish I would have found out a while ago :D
  9. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    You've seen the light. Congrats, man. Enjoy!
  10. +1, I think i might start to learn the follow through way, just to set me up for when i need to slap really fast haha
  11. GKevinK


    May 23, 2008
    Glen Burnie, MD
    I'm also very early in the learning curve in this style, and had the same questions about bouncing (1) versus the 'just swipe the string with your thumb on the way down' (2) techniques. What I have observed so far is...

    - With (1), if you have the action on your setup a little on the high side (because you are more aggressive with regular finger style), there is a decent chance that your thumb won't bounce up fast enough and the string will rebound and mute against your (still rising) thumb. Depending on what you're fretting at the time, this often results in starting some harmonic (like you were tuning). This side-effect is also observable on some of the bounce-technique instructional videos out there if you watch and listen closely.

    - I was able to vastly reduce the extent of that unintentional thumb-mute by lowering the action on my setup.

    - The (2) technique does produce a good sound, but sometimes it is almost just a strum if you don't catch enough of the string to get it to slap off the frets. You also have to get pretty skilled with aiming your slap motion, because the difference between hitting the string just right and hitting it too heavy or too thin is probably between 1 and 2 millimeters.

    - (2) is also more sensitive to string spacing, depending on how wide your thumb is and how much the first joint in your thumb bends back. The bounce (1) technique will work with most string spacings. String spacing will also impact the pluck side of the equation, but we're not really talking about that here.

    - I've noticed that the players that seem to favor (2) and use the double-thumb 'hit the string also on the way back up' technique (e.g. Vic Wooten, Chuck Rainey) look like they have thumb joints that bend back quite a bit, giving them a little bit of a 'hook' to catch the string. Mine just doesn't do that, so I wonder whether I'll ever be really effective with the 'upstroke' option of (2).

  12. mdsmith


    Jan 31, 2008
    Very good points. I was finding the same thing with the follow through. Sometimes once my thumb lands on the next string, the tip of it deadens the string I just struck. I also noticed the fact that if I don't hit it hard enough it sounds like a strum. However, I believe these are my fault, and not the fault of the style.
  13. GKevinK


    May 23, 2008
    Glen Burnie, MD
    No doubt. My point was that the margin for error is way less with the 'follow through' technique to produce consistent results. For me, I think it's likely that I'll endeavor to become reasonably competent with the first technique to have that to use sooner rather than later, and then keep working on the follow-through technique for use in the future.

    It wouldn't surprise me if some years from now I find myself using both techniques in different situations, and depending on the setup of the bass I'm using on the particular song.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I'll do both because they both have a different sound and attack.
  15. I'm a very big "economy of motion" type of player, but when it comes to slapping, sometimes it's fun to play on a bass with higher action and just swing that arm around to beat the hell out of the bass ala Louis Johnson. That low action "through thumping" [Wooten] is more of a refined technique and sound.

    Like Jimmy says, both is good.
  16. I bounce off the E all the time and the A most of the time, I slap through the D, and I try to go through the G
  17. Mr_Krinkle


    Apr 28, 2008
    I always viewed these as two different styles of playing. I'm reasonably competent in both, and really recommend learning to both bounce-slap and slap-through because they both give such different sounds and tones. If I'm going for more of a hard-rock/metal feel, I bounce slap, whereas if your going for something funky, I like going through. Plus, on the funky side of things, going through on the slap really gets you ready for double thumbing.
  18. +1, learn both! I don't consider myself a slapping know it all but I've tried to practice and learn both methods. It just depends on the style and feel I'm going for, which method I wind up using for a song. Learning both will make you a more versatile player.

    My only gripe is what seems to be what caused you to ask the question in the first place which was the same problem I had when I first starting learning to slap ... There is simply very little info out there (instructional books, videos, etc.) that talks about or teaches the slapping through method. I don't quite understand why but it makes it a bit confusing at first.

    Good luck!
  19. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Amen to that. I don't understand why people look at it is an either/or thing. The two sounds are completely different and useful.
  20. Is is normal to get blisters (and hopefully a callous) on the flesh part of the thumb when learning the double thump technique. I've been trying it and I'm feeling the pain.