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"Slap is overused"

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Traynor, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. Traynor


    Feb 13, 2014
    Broomall, PA
    every time i hear someone complain about slapping it's because it's "overused." yet, you could make the same argument with picking or fingerstyle. why is it that fingerstyle and picking are not considered overused, despite being the most overused technique?
    gebass6 likes this.
  2. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    No technique that was tastefully implemented has ever been called "overused".
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  3. radioface


    May 2, 2013
    Only in G.Cs. is slap over used.
  4. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    1) Slap is an effect.

    2) It's most often very poorly executed.

    3) It's most often attempted in the over-used key center of E Minor - rather actually, E Dorian. (This is the 2nd strike against it). Slappers, for the most part, are unfamiliar with any other Tonal Center.

    4) It's most often used inappropriately - musically and location (i.e., Guitar Center)

    5) There are many more reasons...

    twinjet likes this.
  5. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    I wouldn't call it over-used but it does sound very dated.

    That's not necessarily a bad thing if you're going for the sound of a certain era, but most people who I see slap are doing it for the admiration of other, equally naive bass players. There's pretty much nobody doing it tastefully now, just for the sound of it.
    el_Bajo_Verde and unbridled like this.
  6. lancimouspitt


    Dec 10, 2008
    dayton Ohio

    I have to agree. I think it's all a matter of perspective here.
    Granted slapping can become a "wank" fest or purely a show of (or a lack of) technical skills,I don't get all the hate it gets all the time.

    I think the biggest problem with slap bass is that many young players feel that since it's flashy it highlights the pinnacle of musicianship for us leaders of the low end. Likewise i'm sure many young,aspiring guitar players want to shred leads like theirs no tomorrow. The fact that many people look at the bass as being easy doesn't help either. So in turn you get players that can slap sixteenth notes all day long but can't hold a groove to save their life and they look down on other bass players who can't slap. Or that's at least the impression that gets left.
    codycon96 likes this.
  7. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    Shoot, I like to slap because it's fun to do. Until I showed up here, I never realized how negatively some view the technique. To each their own I guess.
    Lo end PUNCH and Brazilfunk like this.
  8. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Slapping is fun for the bassist but roughly zero people in the audience wants to hear it.
    organworthyplayer337 likes this.
  9. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    I tend to equate slap technique to the use of exclamation points !!! in writing or spice in culinary. Great when used tastefully but either one can be used to the extent that they either don't mean anything (in the case of exclamation points) or they completely ruin the sauce (in the case of too much spice in food).
    I have a friend that is a book publisher/editor and I have heard him say on more than one occasion..., "That wanker uses exclamation points more than a thirteen year old girl."
    Just sayin'!!!!!
    Matt Dean and Jah Wobble Fan like this.
  10. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    We're in the Bass Guitar section, nobody has a problem with slap on the upright I don't think.

    Maybe we just need to take slap back from the trade show clowns and the guitar shop attention whores, and use it to make music for a change. Y'know the sort of slap where you can hear the notes and there are rests in there and stuff. I bet most people can't even imagine that.
    Brazilfunk likes this.
  11. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Dead wrong. I get compliments on it all the time.
    gebass6, Lo end PUNCH and Brazilfunk like this.
  12. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Here's one more reason, nobody's using it in LA! I guess if ur playing in a Level 42 tribute band and wanna tape up ur thumb like Mark King, or wanna play some smooooooth jazz...otherwise its a very dated technique. Who uses it? Mark King, Victor Wooten, Marcus, Alain Caron on "Slam the Clown"....and of course Flea and Les Claypool. I never ever see it or hear it here...just saying...well I guess Ive seen Jimmy Haslip throw it in for a second....
  13. For all the people that say this online, I actually haven't heard too much slapping, albeit I might be listening to the wrong style but I kinda wish slap was more prevalent in modern rock (if there's a tasteful way to do that) although I do like the slap (half-slap?) line in Muse's Panic Station but that's the only fairly recent example I can think of besides the obvious GC kids
    codycon96 and Brazilfunk like this.
  14. Its not overused, but it is misused all the time from my experience to show off. As someone else here said, you get people who do it a lot but can't hold down a simple groove.
    Ladybirdprecision and Brazilfunk like this.
  15. +1
    Brazilfunk likes this.
  16. Yeah, "roughly", because you weren't able to poll every member of every audience everywhere. Keep working at it though.

    It should be noted that the aforementioned players are able to use slapping to great [sarcasm]"effect"[/sarcasm] and do so in any bloody key center they want, including E Dorian.

    It still boils down to the music, is it any good? And it can be good, but whether someone likes it or not will always be subjective. If you're predisposed/prejudiced to dislike slap, then having somebody play slap all the way through a song will only irritate you, even if that player is making the right note choices and technique choice (in that player's opinion) to serve the song.

    I've heard songs slapped all the way through that I enjoyed, and I've heard songs slapped all the way through that I thought "aww, give it a rest". Same goes for every other technique: harmonics, tapping, picking, fingerstyle, thumb-plucking, sweeping, fretless slides, etc... (okay, I have to say I've never heard an entire song where every note was glissed into.)

    I slap upright, and if I could slap slab, I'd do that too.

    Slap on, slappers...
    Brazilfunk likes this.
  17. Don't let Fat Steve's avatar misguide you, according to his profile he also plays bass guitar. FYI, in the TB Double Bass forums slap on upright is only marginally more accepted than slap on BG – at least from my perspective. Maybe not vilified, but certainly more than a few there seem to look down their noses and see slap DB as "quaint" at best.


    I agree, take the technique back into the realm of making music.
  18. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Slapping is pushing the bass into the foreground as a percussion instrument that also does melody and takes up a lot of the available tonal space. For that reason, it should be applied with care. Slapping is also hard to learn for most bassists and the technique gets rusty quite quick if you push it of your training schedule.

    So it is the number one way to show off, especially to bassists who have not yet mastered the way of the thumb.

    If you're not playing in a band that leaves massive room for slapping parts, you'll find that you'll be using slap techniques quite seldom on stage. And since it's a lot of work to keep that technique up to par, lots of players drop it.

    It's hard to say 'Yay, that's nice, but for me it's too hard to keep up my slapping technique between the regular bass playing and life in general'
    and much easier to claim that it is overused.

    I quit slapping after putting a lot of time and effort in it and focused on other stuff to practice when i joined a reggae band and i have not taken it up again ever since. I was not especially good at it, even when i practiced it regularly, though.
    Brazilfunk likes this.
  19. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    All of these and:

    Too many people are doing it because they think it sounds cool without really understanding how it relates to the song.

    It has become to bassists what "Smoke On The Water" is to guitarists.
  20. I'm waiting for slap bass to come back. It's about that time anyways for that mid-90s music revival. Everyday I hope that someone wants to make an Infectious Grooves tribute band.

    I just saw their 2013 concert at Whiskey-A-Go-Go on Youtube. I miss that stuff. Funk-metal. C'mon, man!
    And of course if I was testing a bass at Guitar Center, I'm going to slap the worst songs I can think of (Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Higher Ground"... yep). I need to know every tonal possibility from that bass and/or amp.