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slap/pop on fretless, what does it sound like?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jeff2287, May 28, 2002.

  1. Jeff2287


    May 4, 2002
    The title of this thread is self-explanitory. What does slap/pop sound like on a fretless bass? Would it sound drastically different considering there are no frets for the string to hit?
  2. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Primus - My Name is Mud

    Les plays slap on fretless a LOT,, but this song gives you a pretty good idea about what it sounds like. If you can imagine the sound of slap without the super sharp "attack" and brightness of the frets,, with a more mellow round sound to it and more fundamental,, thats kinda what its like.
  3. Paul Simon's bass player, Bakiti Kumalo, does it quite a bit as well. The slap solo on "You can Call me Al" for example is done on a fretless, as is the whole "Graceland" album. I always thought it didn't really work, but this guy sure proved me wrong.
  4. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Yeah, half the songs on Sailing the Seas of Cheese will do. EG "Tommy the Cat".
  5. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Depends entirely on the instrument. Michael Manring gets a pretty assertive slap tone out of the Hyperbass. If you've got a hard finish on the fingerboard, I imagine it'd sound pretty good.
  6. Mo' bass

    Mo' bass

    May 4, 2000
    It depends on the player too. I can't get any decent slap/pop from my fretless so I thought it couldn't be done. Then I heard my local stores sales man slap and pop on my fretless, wow, cool. Guess it's practice time for me.
  7. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    The type of strings and board you're using make a big difference here. Since many people use flats on fretli, they might find slapping to sound less articulate than with rounds. I use tapewounds on a few of mine, and slapping doesn't really cut thru with that setup. It can be done, but the tone is duller less focused than most would prefer.

    Now roundwounds on a poly-coated board, watch out! Almost as much highs/attack/percussion as a fretted. A Pedulla pentabuzz will slaps like a monster. I don't think there's any definition or articulation lost in this setup.

    Phenolic boards seem to me to be a bit brighter too, and they certainly handle the wear well.
    The Conklins & Zons I've tried with this setup were more than gratifying.

    I've used rounds on bare ebony for quite a while, without too much wear. Ebony is a nice tough wood for a fretless board. I'd like to try a coated maple though... anybody doing that?
  8. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    PS...those Hyperbasses are a bugger to slap!!!
    There's no room! Does he (MM) really slap them much? With that huge Bart bucker right at the end of the board and the bridge not far behind, it's really tricky to grab anything in between there.
    I was really surprized when I tried one.
  9. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I LOVE slapping on a fretless - almost moreso than on a fretted, believe it or not. Why?

    Because I like to combine it with tapping and sliding on the high end (I won't say ala Les, because that would be an insult to him). For some reason, I just feel that I can do more funky combos on a fretless.

    Of course, if you're trying to slap with flatwounds, you're probably not going to get a great tone, but that's another story.
  10. He does quite a bit of 'slap' on the Hyperbass...
    Because of the positioning of the pickup and the extended fingerboard he has developed a different approach to 'slap'. It is more of a strum with the thumb and pluck w/ the index and middle finger for the 'pop'. He does this technique in alot of tunes, such as ; Selene, Music for Armchair Funambulists, The Enormous Room, Monkey Businessman, Helios, Blue Orleans...to name a few.

    Slapping on fretless produces a nice fat tone, both fretted and fretless are good for this technique. However, unless your fretless fingerboard has been epoxied (or has a finish like the Zon) I would not recommend doing it as this will eat away (faster) at the fingerboard.
  11. J.S.


    May 2, 2002
    err... sorry to sound ignorant, but I heard somewhere that slapping on a fretless will damage the fingerboard, is that true?:confused:
  12. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Hell, even regular playing damages the fingerboard unless you have a tough coating on it. At least roundwound strings to tear it up a bit, don't know how hard flats are on the surface.
  13. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Ellicott City, MD
    Endorsing: Spector Bass Guitars
    it sounds like a typical slap, but with a bit more "muah" in the middle, and less metallicy

    (if that helps)
  14. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    i plan on doing that.
    what coating would i put on rosewood?

  15. you would need an epoxy based coating i think.. im not a luthier so dont take my statements as that... just what ive heard.
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    You don't have to coat the fretboard.

    If you play hard and/or bend the strings instead of using a parallel vibrato you can get wear. I keep my action low on my fretlesses, use Nickel roundwounds and have yet to require any fretboard maintenance other than wiping the neck off... the same as I do with my fretted basses. I've slapped on every fretless I've owned with the excetion of the Elrick which I don't slap on as a rule.

    Fretboard wear is simply not a "given".
  17. I've done some slapping on my Hanewinckel fretless and it sounds incredible! It's different from a fretted bass but it still sounds good. I have this one funk break from a band I was in a while back on tape and it just sounds punchy as hell. It freaked me out at the time because I hadn't tried aggressive slap funk on it much until then.

    here's a pic of the bass:


    - Dave
  18. i stand corrected....
    *bows out*
  19. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I'd agree. I've slapped with roundwounds on my Carvin ever since I got it in '86. Back then I even did the vibrato the wrong way, so I broke it in hard! Board is fine; a little visible 'discoloration', but no grooves that you can feel.

    My F has the slap plate at the end of the board and though I'm not sure if it makes a difference in the wear factor, the board is in really good shape.

    I've seen some ebony wear pretty quick, others don't seem phased by abuse at all.
    Wood be crazy.
  20. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mark, does that slap plate make a noticeable difference in the tone?

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