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Slap motion/direction

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Davidoc, Feb 13, 2001.

  1. Is slapping a sideways motion, or downward one, or a little bit of both? Neither? Thanks!
  2. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    I think there are diffrent ways of doing it, I know some people will say you should swing your wrist in a sideways motion away from the bass and then let it hit the string and bounce back. I belive this is how Flea slaps and a whole lot of other guys.

    Some other people slappers kinda hit the string from above and let the thumb lightly touch the string under the string you're slapping (the A string if you're slapping the E string). The thumb should just touch the string enough to get that click sound. I read somewhere that this is how Claypool slaps.

    I'm sure there are other ways to slap as well, but I sure aint no expert soooo...
    cathca later,
  3. The most effective method of playing slap is to use a twisting motion of the forearm. You should hold your arm a slight distance above the strings with your wrist "locked" straight (no bend in relation to your forearm). Make a loose fist with your fingers, and extend your thumb slightly away from your palm. Then you just use a motion that I would describe as "turning a door knob, REAL FAST" to play, twisting your thumb towards to body of the bass to strike with a thumb, and away allows you to stick a finger under a string to "pop" it. This is pretty efficient if you think about it, the thumb slap motion sets up the finger pop motion and vice versa.
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Think of it as a piano hammer hitting the string and bouncing right off. That's the basic thing. Direction is mostly from the side, except maybe if you wear your bass really low and do what I call heavy-metal-slapping...
  5. Slapping is mostly in the wrist, of course the forearm will twist along with your wrist, but anyway...

    When I slap I usually keep my thumb horizontal. It gives my fingers a good position for popping the strings. Another reason is that I wear my bass fairly high (above my waist). So it's the most comfortable for me. But then again, that's just me.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    The classic explanation I've seen is "hold your wrist either parallel or perpendicular to the strings." Personally, I don't see how people can do it effectively with the parallel position. Gard's door knob analogy is the best description I've seen.

    Then again, I don't see how people can pole vault either.
  7. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    You mean "perpendicular", right?
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    That's it, Oyster. (Lemmesee, the shoe with the gravel in it is, is, my r-i-i-i-ght foot and the, um, one with the sand in it is, now don't tell me, my....)
  9. Phee


    Jan 2, 2001
    yeah, as other people have said, lock your wrist straight to your forearm and make a loose fist (although i usually keep my hand open, what ever's more comfortable for you) as for deciding whether you should bounce off the strings (like flea) or go through the strings (like claypool) experiment and see what your prefere. remember when you slap to hit the neck, not over the pick-ups, so you get a clean, bright sound. another thing to do is play with your strap short so the strings are at your waist (or higher), not below the waist. people earlier mentioned keeping your forearm either parallel or perpendicular to the strings, i don't do either. my forearm is about 45 degrees to the strings
  10. eric atkinson

    eric atkinson "Is our children learning "Is our teachers teachin

    Feb 4, 2001
    I keep my thumb very loose to slap! Its kinda like drums in the way that you dont want to be to stiff when doin it! The best way is to just loosen up and chill out and try it! I mainly play with my thumb all the time because i use so much funk in are songs!
  11. mmm ... how do you slap the a e and g strings without smacking the neighbouring strings? sorry, i've posted this question elsewhere, but no-one's responded yet and if i was more patient i'd have worked it out by now anyway.
  12. Fretgrinder -

    The only way is to practice slapping on the string in question over and over. Do it until it's accurate and clean, and the tone satisfies your ear. Don't worry about doing it fast either, just slow and even. Work on the accuracy and tone first, once you get that down, then worry about doing it faster. Oh, and you should use the same positioning of the wrist and thumb for all your strings, just move your forearm from the elbow to reposition your hand for each string.
  13. eric atkinson

    eric atkinson "Is our children learning "Is our teachers teachin

    Feb 4, 2001
    You will find after doing it for a long time that there is a special place on youre thumb that you hit with! Kind of right before the joint! After years of slapping ive grown a funky asss bumb there! You will get use to it and ont hit other strings as often!
    Plus you will learn when and were you have to muffle the strings when it is a problem! Slapping takes a very long time to master! Ive been doing it for 15 years and still dont have it like i want it!
  14. Huna Funk

    Huna Funk

    Dec 5, 2000
    One of my previous bass instructors had me practice slapping while wearing a bowling glove, I forget what they're really called. It helped me to keep my wrist locked tight when I slapped so I had to rely on a twisting motion of the forearm. It worked very well for me, maybe something you could experiment with.
  15. Thanks for your feedback Eric and Gard.

    I'll take your advice and get the basics sweet before i try for speed - i like your attitude, Gard.
  16. Glad to help Fretgrinder, hope it points you in the right direction. I learned about slapping slowly the hard way, started out on a 6 string bass! :eek: The suggestion of the bowling glove/wrist brace is good too, if you're still flailing about when you slap, hadn't thought of that one before...
  17. My big prob right now is all i have is an epiphone EB-copy with heavy guage strings, woofy pickups and high action, and a 25w no-name combo to play through until i get my other bass back from the repair man - and my 600W valve amp :D :) :D

    But i'll see if i cant get a little better slap tone ...
  18. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I figured that is why Beaver Felton is pictured with wrist sweatbands. I've never seen him play though.

    I get all this damn crosstalk on my 5 when tapping Stu Hamm-style and all I can do is use the underside of my forearm.
  19. Rick, actually those sweatbands you see Beaver using are just that - sweatbands. I've seen him play live plenty of times (I was just in Bass Central yesterday with him for 9 hrs, gonna do the same today ;) ). Trust me, he's one guy who has no need for corrective prosthetics when it comes to good technique!!! :eek: Damn scary player, but even nicer guy.

    As for the crosstalk problem when tapping, steal Vic Wooten's trick. Go to a Eckerd's (or similar type place), and get a hair scrunchy. Put it around the headstock of your bass, just above the nut, when you get ready to tap, just slip it past the nut, and viola', no more ringing open strings. :D
  20. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Though I haven't seen, I've heard Felton and he certainly isn't lacking in the talent dept. I was reading somewhere the other day about using sweatbands for muting and I thought, maybe......

    DAAYaam! Scrunchies, huh? I'll have to see if I can find one that looks like cherry sunburst quilted maple. ;) Thanks, Gard!

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