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slap problems

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by axlblue, Apr 7, 2005.


  1. axlblue

    axlblue

    Mar 19, 2005
    I've recently launched a very poor attempt(it seems) to teach myself to play some slap. When I slap the strings I'm getting a very loud, ear piercing "pop" that sounds like I've taken the E string off the bass and whipped it against the pick-up. My drummer heard this and told me to stop before I damaged one of my horns. Can anyone tell me if this is a setting or a technique problem? I don't know any local slap players so I'm pretty much on my own with learning this. Just in case it helps, here's what I'm playing: Yamaha BB605 bass with a SWR Black Beauty combo/Goliath JR cab.
     
  2. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    You might just try lowering your gain or your bass volume. Since slap is a pretty aggressive way to play, you might just be overdoing it. Also, if your slapping from the elbow, try and keep your elbow straight and use your wrist instead. You dont want to come up too far from the strings before hitting them.

    Also, are you playing over the pickup, or over the end of the fingerboard? If over the pickup, simply move your hand to in front of it and use the end of your fingerboard to slap against.

    Hope that helps some...
     
  3. In addition to what Juneau said, your pickups might just be too high. Do this:

    Fret the 21st or 24th fret (whichever fret closest to the pickups) and look at the distance from the string to the pickup. If it's really close, then you are bound to whack the string into the pickup when you slap. You can screw down the pickups a little more and see if that fixes the problem.
     
  4. kidcharlemagne

    kidcharlemagne

    Mar 23, 2005
    London
    Yes, sound to me like the string you're slapping is actually hitting one of the exposed poles of your pick-up. It's a horrible noise, and yes, it'll damage your horns if you carry on.

    A coupla suggestions:
    1. Try moving the point at which your thumb hits the string as close as you can to the end of the neck - I actually slap over the last (24th) fret. It sounds as if you may be slapping directly over the pick up.

    2. Check you haven't got your action too low - most folks seem to think the action has to be murderously low to slap properly - in my experience, it can be too low, which adversely affects the tone (not enough movement in the string to get a good bass response) and can result in the string hitting the pick up.

    3. If all else fails, just try not to hit the thing so hard . . . again, there's a common misconception that you have to belt hell out of a bass to slap properly - instead, loosen up your wrist and let the thumb 'bounce' off the string rather than slamming it into the string as hard as you can . . .

    K.
    www.brokenangel.co.uk
    www.harambeuk.com (normal service will be resumed shortly)
     
  5. axlblue

    axlblue

    Mar 19, 2005
    I thought about lowering the volume but that brings me to my other problem, even at my current volume it seems that everything goes very thin when I attempt to slap. I tried a couple of slaps with the band the other night and it sounded as if I wasn't even there(except for the occasional 'pop' that I described. I checked my action and it doesn't appear to be too close to the pickups and I'm slapping it somewhere between the 23rd fret and the edge of the fretboard. Oh yea, I'm working this with my wrist also, I would be lucky to even hit the bass itself if I tried to do it from the elbow....hahaha
     
  6. axlblue

    axlblue

    Mar 19, 2005
    It's funny you say that about how hard to hit the strings because that's the impression I got. When everything got thin on me I immediately thought I wasn't going in hard enough so I started beating it like a theif. Now to think of it, I believe that's when I got the horrible pop
     
  7. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    As for thin, you might boost the bass and treble, and/or roll off the midrange some to get a better tone from slapping. Sounds like your doing it right (aside from too hard).

    You might also check out Ed Friedlands Slap Bass DVD. Its a good instructional one and should get you familiar with almost all the regularly used techniques, and get you doing them the best way possible.
     
  8. kidcharlemagne

    kidcharlemagne

    Mar 23, 2005
    London
    I think most folks find that there's a change in their sound, maybe not the volume, but the tone (it becomes less bassy, which can give the impression of less volume), when they move from fingerstyle/pick to slapping - mucho practice and honing your technique can reduce this to the point that you don't need to switch up the volume every time you want to start slappin' - every bass has a 'sweet spot' at which you'll find the best slap tone - maybe you just haven't found it yet. Sometimes among my students I'll come across guys with a similar problem to yours and in their case it's caused by the fact that their thumb just isn't 'bouncing' off the string - if the thumb doesn't bounce off immediately, you end up muting the string so you don't get much more than a dull thud.

    But it sounds like you've got a handle on what you're doing, so it may just be a case of raising the action a touch - as I mentioned above, if the action's too low, the string can't vibrate enough to get a good bass response, so it sounds quiet. This isn't a problem when you play finger style, because fingerstyle attack makes the string vibrate across the pickup (i.e. up and down if you look at it in a mirror as you play), but with slap, because you hit the string in towards the guitar, the string vibrates backwards and forwards as you look at it in the mirror, to and away from the pickup. Again, there's a 'sweet spot' for string action - just high enough that the string vibrates wide enough (without hitting the pickup) to give a good bass sound, and just low enough that you can still get the percussive attack.

    K.
     
  9. axlblue

    axlblue

    Mar 19, 2005
    Thanks to all for the help. Rolling off the mids is something I haven't done, I've been leaving my eq the same for both styles. I'll give that a try also. Again, mucho thanks!!!!!!!!!
     
  10. purelife

    purelife

    Apr 9, 2005
    :hyper: You might try going to....gazzbass.com he has instructual video on slapping techniques....free
     
  11. I had the same problem, so I glued a little strip of foam over the poles on the low side of my neck pickup (P-style). That fixed it pretty well. I had my pickups very high at the time; I don't know whether my bass would still do it.