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Slap & pop: pickguard or not?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by JimS, Dec 5, 2000.

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  1. For slap & pop playing in the style of Will Lee, Marcus Miller, Victor Whooten, Larry Graham (attempts to emulate them), what are your thoughts on presence or absence of a pickguard on the bass?

    I switched from a 4 string Fender-style J bass w/ pickguard to a quilt top Sadowsky w/o pickguard and there is a difference in the way my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers attack, hit, and pop the D and G strings. I have to change my right hand position to avoid getting too much flesh under the D an G strings. I used to bounce my middle phalanx off the pickguard and use the pickguard as brace or backstop to catch my fingers. Now I have to keep the dorsum (back side) of my fingers in the air and not use the body of the bass where the pickguard used to be as a backstop or brace. This seem to require more discipline on my part...arguably because it's new. This is not better or worse but different and I'll adapt to it. I'm finding advantages and disadvantages but overall I think I'm a bit happier with my new setup's playability.
  2. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    I actually removed the pickguard of the Ibanez ATK300 i had, because I felt that the presence of it was disturbing the grip of my popping fingers.
  3. I've always found a pickguard an unwanted addittion to a bass. I think popping is easier without a pickguard.

  4. alx564


    Jul 31, 2000
    Emmaus, PA
  5. Steve S

    Steve S

    Jul 26, 2000
    Does anyone know Fender Jazz players who have removed the pickguard, besides Jaco, and did it make a difference in the slaps?
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    OK, I'm dense here...why does a pickguard inhibit popping? Are you guys saying that the fraction of an inch less clearance under the strings is an issue?
  7. It is an issue for me Brian. YMMV.

    Every J-bass I owned lost its pickguard. To avoid the ugly holes I now have a custon J-bass sans-pickguard. Besides why spoil the good looks of a very nice piece of wood with an ugly piece of vinyl?

  8. The fraction of an inch (I'm guessing 3/16) makes a huge difference for me and apparently for othes. While I seem to prefer it's absence, I know some folks have added clear pickguards to their exotic wood basses because they prefer the extra height bringing the surface of the bass closer to the slapping/popping fingers.
  9. Sofa King

    Sofa King

    Aug 20, 2000
    Rowlett, TX
    Maybe I haven't payed much attention when I've played other basses, but I've never noticed when a bass had a pickguard or not :confused:
  10. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    I can understand how having a pickguard might give you too little clearance, I think what some of us are trying to figure out is how can you have too MUCH??

    I'm still trying to figure how Jim is popping. Are you saying that instead of pulling up on the string by rotating your wrist away from the bass, you're using your knuckle as a lever and rotating your wrist towards it? I've been sitting here trying to figure it out, and I can do it, but I can't see any advantage to it (for me). Do the rest of you guys pop this way?

    Maybe I'm doing something wrong...
  11. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    I saw some people put 2 pick guard for slapping, stuart hamm put one one his kubiki that he use for slap.
  12. This is easy to demonstrate but difficult to communicate with the written word. To answer your question, I pop usually with my 2nd and occasionally with 3rd fingers, individually or rapidly in tandem, and sometimes 2nd through 4th in rapid succession. I rotate my wrist clockwise--so my pinky heads into the bass body and the fleshy base of my thumb goes away from the bass body

    As my pinky and adjacent 4th finger rotate toward the bass body and corner of the fingerboard, they used to hit and rebound off the pickguard. This helped drive my thumb back toward the bass for the next slap. I used brace and anchor my pinky on the bass so my hand wouldn't waver in the air. Also, only my fingertip(s) would get under the D & G.

    Without the pickguard, I initially was getting more of the fleshy part of my finger under and hung up on the strings; I'm now getting used to repositioning my hand to avoid that. It's harder to brace my pinky and anchor my right hand to the bass; it now free floats.

    Without the pickguard I think it's easier to pop with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th (need work) fingers. Despite what I said above, I think I'm a little quicker now. In the long run, I think (hope)this is better.

    Will Lee often plays sans pickguard as does Stanley Clarke on his Alembic and Victor Whooten on his Monarch. Clearly superlative pop and slap can be accomplished this way.

  13. alx564


    Jul 31, 2000
    Emmaus, PA
    Back on to the subject. For me the pickguard makes a pretty big difference. I have a bass without and another with one and after playing the one without slapping on the one with a pickguard was very uncomfortable. I can still play but it is just uncomfortable. I guess that small amount of clearance really does make a difference.
  14. Expert Village

    Expert Village

    Apr 24, 2006
    Bass Technique : Popping and Slapping

    Hi, my name is Dalton, and today we're going to learn how to pop and slap and get that funky sound we like to get out of our bass. The first thing is you got to get your thumb loose, and then you just slap it, slap it like you're mad at it. That gives you a slapping sound, and you can do that to any string. To get it's counterpart, the plucking sound which people call the pop, you take your finger just like you're playing regular, but you kind of pull it up hard. It kind of gives you a fierce popping sound. So when you mix the two, you get kind of a popping slapping noise. When you mix this with other chords, and other notes, you can do something cool like this.

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