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Slap/Funk bass playing: Just a gimmick?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Jumping_Bomb_Angel, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. Woooo, bet I get flamed..

    I have a theory. Slap bass is just a gimmick.

    We never really hear it in modern songs [top 40]except for the odd 'pop'. In my opinion, its a thing of the seventies and early 80s that appears to have done its dash. Sure, it sounds good, but is this technique actually any good, or any use in your average band?

    Im interested to hear whether you guys write songs around a slap riff or where in music you use this technique.

    Should make for some intersting replies.
  2. ARA punk

    ARA punk

    Jul 11, 2001
    USA, Shelby, NC
    Three words:

    Rage Against the Machine

    wait... thats four. Anyway! Alot of their music is centered around slaping riffs. Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers slaps all the time. Victor Wooten Victor Wooten Victor Wooten Victor Wooten
  3. John Davis

    John Davis Guest

    Mar 27, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    What about the over-popularized Les Claypool?
  4. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    OK I'm first-but its OK, 'cause not only am I always on the mark, I'm way cool:D

    Slapping goes back a loooong way-Slam Stewart & others were doing it on upright bass years ago, also in a style called "doghouse" bass.

    On the Fender, Chuck Rainey is considered to be one of the first to implement & integrate the technique into contemporary "pop" R/B.
    Larry Graham pushed it to the front, etc.

    Personally, I don't think of it as a gimmick- its a valid technique, used for color, emphasis, rhythmic
    variety and tone. There are players who do it extremely well- Louis Johnson makes it an art form
    e.g. Double slapper/tappers (Stu Hamm, etc) also
    exhibit a lot of creative technique-There are many others.

    I do think one of the problems is that it can be over-used, and done to death-I hear a lot of players beating on the neck, all cool; do what you gotta do; but IMO sometimes I find it done in place of an intelligent & musical passage-too much thought on shredding- Less equals more= maturity.
    Anthony Jackson has talked about his "resistance"
    to using this style in his work for example.

    It's here to stay, that's a good thing-Best is when used in a musical context, and not as an entire approach.

    See? I'm easy
  5. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    Slap is just another great technique for the bass, many like it, many don't... just like pick (although i dont personally use pick), tapping and oh all the posibilities...

    i personally like it and i actually use it on my band... i like to write some slap riffs.

    so please be more open minded, you are missing something good.
  6. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Dude, you need to pop into this thread for a minute.


    I'm sure there's a real interesting story tied to your screen name.

    As for slap / funk bass: It's waaaay more than a gimmick when done right and not overdone. A lot of the better smooth jazz tunes have just a touch of thumpin' and poppin' goin' on. There's also a pretty decent ground swell these days in contemporary gospel. Listen to Fred Hammond, Maurice Fitzsgerald, and the guys who play with Kurt Carr or Donnie McClurkin and you'll hear some real nice rhythmic bassin' with some tight thumpin' poppin' fills.


    James Martin
  7. Well thanks guys.

    I like to think of myself as pretty open minded - I like slap/funk bass and can do it myself, but I again raise the point - nothing in the top 40 really has this technique in it. I love Louis Johnson [gotta love 'STOMP!':)] and ol Flea is a great example - but does he slap in more than one of the Peppers top 40 hits?

    Slap isnt something your average Joe Sixpac can recognise. Us bass players do, because we look for people to emulate and learn from. Ahh....I dont really know what im saying any more.

    I still reckon its more of a gimmick than a technique - great for soloing live etc, writing your own music.
  8. Oh, and thanks Malthumb...I posted on the thread you suggested.

    Thank you and goodnight.
  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I myself like slap and pop too. But I also think its also a bit over-rated, seems alot of people (at leastquite a few people and some ex band mates I know) determine a bass players worth by how well he can slap and pop. Especially if your in a top-40/pop environment.

    Ive played in quite a few top-40 bands, and IMO?IME there is very little need to actually have to slap and pop. And the bulk of slaping and poping that I hear is pretty much just a slap here or to quite the thread started, "the odd 'pop'" there. So I can kinda see why Jumping_Bomb_Angel would say it's kinda "gimicky" Note I said kinda gimicky.

    Few songs Ive heard are based entirly around a slap/pop riff. But the one's I have are definatly great tunes.

    Especially one called Smokin' With Superman.
  10. nanook


    Feb 9, 2000
    Slap is not new but it pretty much sux. Some string poping is a good thing though.
  11. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    It's a technique. It's used well, it's used poorly, just like every other technique. I would hate to use the top 40 as a barometer for what has value, but hey, maybe I'm weird. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :confused:
  12. Julien


    Dec 29, 2001
    personnaly i think slap is the best way to play a bass.it's even better than the classic finger style.
  13. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    It's just a gimmick if you utilize it as such. If the technique helps you perform the song, rather than write the song for you, it's all good. Thinking in the ways of "I just gotta put sum c00l slap stuff in this", is a different thing.

    I admit I have written a song based on a simple slap riff because I wanted to hear the hard attack slap/pop gives in the song - I didn't do it because it was cool. For it wasn't cool at all, in fact, the song was pretty bad.
  14. I'll admit that when Im just mucking around by myself I'll slap and pop just because its fun, but IMO, there arent many sounds that are more annoying then a bass guitar being slapped and popped.

    After all it is a BASS guitar, not a 'high pitched popping guitar'.
    Just my feelings towards it, take no offense.
  15. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Slapping is neither good nor bad per se.

    It's all in how you utilize it. But honestly, what do you expect of Top 40 music? Most of it hasn't even real bass on it. Sheesh! :rolleyes:

    Oh, and for the record, someone like Marcus Miller could apply slap bass to any hit single, it still would make the charts AND sound cool!

    Some examples of Top 40 hits with slap bass:
    Joe Cocker - Unchain My Heart (T.M. Stevens)

    Simply Red - Something Got Me Started, The Right Thing, It's Only Love, Stars, etc.

    Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity

  16. For me it's just another technique. But it's been abused so badly (see GC bass section) that it's becoming kind of hated. My friend's bassist had a little slap in one of their songs, he was asked not to do it just because it was a slap.
  17. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Yup. Slapping is a gimmick. Just like the bass guitar. :)
  18. craigers2


    Sep 26, 2001
    it just seems like everytime i see a live band and the bass player takes a solo, he/she has to start slapping.

    this has to stop!

  19. :rolleyes:
    The reason you don't hear it in modern songs is because mainstream music, well, in a word, BLOWS!!!!!!!!!!

    I agree. It's just another technique. But it has been abused horribly. I think slapping is a beautiful thing IF IT IS DONE CORRECTLY, but it still has a time and place. It is not a thing you do on like 30 minutes of an 60 min album IMO.
  20. WordIsBorn79


    Jan 10, 2001
    Phoenix, AZ
    2 words...Victor Wooten!

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