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Slap players: Best PUPS/Bass style for Slap?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by mrcbass, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I've been struggling with slap since I started playing bass (5 1/2 years) and recently discovered that some of my struggle was tone settings and strings. (I use flats exclusively and have preferred tone rolled off on my P.) I knew flats were not good for slap, so never really worked on it.

    But I put some rounds on one of my P basses and found that my technique wasn't all the blame and now I'd like to really start working on it.

    I've heard that, generally speaking, Jazz style basses tend to respond better to slap than Ps?

    Is this a valid qualification?

    Assuming this is true, I'm planning to pick up a fretted jazz style bass (both my current jazz styles are fretless). Do the type of PUPS matter or is it more the PUP position that brings out the slap tone?

    If it matters, which style pups react the best?


    (Mods: If this is in the wrong forum, please move to correct one.)
  2. bass12

    bass12 Have you seen my tonsils lately? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    It really depends what kind of tone you’re going for. Ps can sound great slapped but they do sound different from Js. Can you post some examples of the sound you’re wanting to get?
    jerry, red_rhino and birminghambass like this.
  3. Forget Me Nots (Patrice Rushen) has a slapped P bass.
  4. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I'd just like to be able to work on replicating a reliable slap pop sound. I guess Marcus Miller is a bit of an influence in that regard, but I also like the little subtle "chirps" that some players add with the pop stroke (I was watching a movie with a Stanley Clarke soundtrack last night and noticed he did a lot that chirping.) Sorry I can hear it in my head, just can't really describe it and don't really have a specific reference - I just know it when I hear it.
  5. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks - I'll check it out. Maybe the issue is still with my technique, but I don't feel like I'm able to get the slap pop to really sing on the P. Could be the strings I suppose...
    NOVAX likes this.
  6. bass12

    bass12 Have you seen my tonsils lately? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    String guage will definitely make a difference. Stanley Clarke uses pretty light strings (usually 40-90), whereas Marcus Miller is known for using 45-105. Steel vs nickel will also make a bit of a difference.

    Ps and Js will respond differently when slapped but it also comes down to the individual bass. I’ve played jazz basses that responded really well when slapped and others that didn’t - even when the specs were identical (electronics, hardware, wood type). It would be the same with Ps. The one Precision I owned (a 2007 Fender ‘62 reissue) sounded really weak when slapped (it didn’t sound that great in general though).
    HolmeBass, red_rhino and mrcbass like this.
  7. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    While I get what you're saying, it sure isn't the answer I want to hear: how does one go about determining if my issue is with technique if I don't have a bass that I know responds well to a technique I may not have? :meh:
    31HZ likes this.
  8. Ender_rpm


    Apr 18, 2004
    St. Louis MO
    your "generic" slap tone is likely a Jazz, ash body, fretted maple neck, possibly 70s pickup spacing (bridge pickup 1/2" closer to bridge), lowish action, into a fairly clean amp or pre amp with some mids pulled out and compressed. My MIJ Jazz does this sound naturally.

    But beyond MArcus and a couple others, you CAN play this style on any combo of pickups. woods, etc. It just comes down to what you want out of the sounds youre making.
    MYLOWFREQ, HolmeBass, Dabndug and 5 others like this.
  9. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    First of all, good call on trying some new round strings. (I de-fretted my first decent bass, thinking it was no good for slap, only to realize it was the strings that were super dead...)
    IME the "scooped" EQ curve plays a big role in a good slap sound. (Aggressive midrange response combined with that aggressive technique can be a bit much.) A lot of designs reflect this: the "classic" Music Man & Sadowsky preamps with boost-only bass & treble and the J which is naturally scooped with both pickups on (and that often gets augmented with an onboard preamp for the "modern" sound). My passive Dingwall bass has a "blue cube" circuit that dumps midrange to help compensate for the extra bark-y pickups.
    So while you are contemplating gear, you might also want to start experimenting with preamp settings.
    As far as J-basses are concerned, FWIW I found the DiMarzio "Ultra-Jazz" pickups to be extra exquisitely scooped, but have since settled on good single coils (for a good, raw neck pickup and ample scoop with both).
    Element Zero and mrcbass like this.
  10. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Mill Valley, CA
    You should be able to slap just fine on your P bass, especially with rounds. Might not be exactly the tone in your head, but should be plenty to tell whether your technique is there.
    jerry and dougjwray like this.
  11. Sean150


    Jul 18, 2018
    Boost your bass and treble on your amp and reduce mids a bit and your p bass will work fine, although I prefer a PJ for slap and J’s are the next best thing.
    mrcbass and landrybass like this.
  12. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I'm not a slapping expert.
    But I can venture to say that the most liked basses for slapping have historically been Music Man Stingrays and Fender Jazz Basses. The most popular combination has been round wound strings with a maple fingerboard.

    Stanley Clarke has always been associated with Alembic basses.

    People can slap on any bass, and get different sounds, but I don't think that's what you're asking.
    mrcbass likes this.
  13. bass12

    bass12 Have you seen my tonsils lately? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I understand. My first basses were not very good vehicles for slap but at the time I had no idea and figured it was just me doing something wrong. Short of trying different basses it can be difficult to know (you could always post examples of yourself playing if you want feedback).

    Something else I should have mentioned is set-up on your bass. The ideal string height for most heavy slappers is going to be fairly low (though not so low that the string chokes out when you strike or pop it).
    PlatoFunFactory and mrcbass like this.
  14. I get a good sound with a PJ, with half wounds that I polished before I put them on. I scoop out about 500hz. Yeah, light gauge gives that piano bass sound
    mrcbass likes this.
  15. IMO, JJ basses (like the Jazz Bass) with Stainless Steel/Hex core strings are the epitome of "slap tone". Sure you can get cool tones slapping almost any bass, but that pick up config just seems to bite really well.

    Dunlop Marcus Miller SS Super Bright strings are good to try out for this.
    westrock and mrcbass like this.
  16. 31HZ

    31HZ Supporting Member

    I have a Warwick FNA that I learned some slap fundamentals on, but found it challenging at the time and never made much progress -- it just didn't sound right, and I assumed that the technique was out of my grasp. Much later, I put DR Hi-Beams on it, and found that it just about would slap itself with those strings. That was a light-bulb moment for me.
    mrcbass likes this.
  17. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks all. For the record, I can somewhat get what I want on the P - I just feel like I really have to use very heavy "plucking" to get there which obviously makes consistency and speed difficult. When I see some guys doing it, it looks like a pretty light touch.

    I wouldn't have an issue using a P for slap - I prefer flats on my gigging basses and only have 2 Ps (go to and backup), so rather than having to swap string before every gig, I'm planning to get a bass to set up with rounds permanently - thus the initial question. I'm not finding really any used Jazz 5 string basses in my market at a price I'm willing to pay for used, so am looking at a couple of new basses. Any opinions on which might of these make me happier:
    SIRE V7 5 string
    Squire Contemporary Active Jazz HH

    Miller's association with Sire is making me consider the $100 price difference....

    I'll make sure to pick up some new bright strings as well.
  18. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Inactive

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody notices
    Quarter pound J set
    mrcbass likes this.
  19. Willie5String


    Dec 23, 2018
    I have 20 basses, yeah, I know, it’s a bunch. When I hear the good slap players with the tone I want to hear, it sounds just like the longhorn (boner) Jazz bass I am now playing with the mids and treble cranked a bit, changing the pickups to DiMarzio area J’s seemed to be the secret sauce
  20. You shouldn't have to pluck too hard. A common misconception about slap bass is that you need to play much harder when you really don't. Like any other technique, you can dig in, but shouldn't spend all that energy to just get that sound. I honestly think you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference the right bass and strings will make.

    Sires are nice, I want one myself!
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 4, 2021

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