Slap Technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Murphbass, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. Murphbass


    Jun 12, 2005
    Sacramento, CA
    As a bassist who normally sticks to straight fingerstyle playing, I was wondering if anyone might have an insight to a problem I've encountered with slapping. When I practice slapping/popping, I feel that I get a good defined sound at a level equal to my fingerstyle playing. However, onstage my bandmates have mentioned that my volume drops a little, or at least there's a tonal shift which is perceived as 'less bottom.'

    I've thought of a couple reasons why this may be. First, sitting versus standing (though I try to keep the strap so that the bass rides at a similar height compared to sitting with it). Second, I learned to slap on a Fender 4-string while I now play a wider necked 5-string (a Lakland 55-94). 4-strings always feel more comfortable to me for slapping (fretboard radius?) Last, I know it's very popular to change the EQ curve for slapping. A scooped midrange gives more of the traditional slap tone. Do players also add gain when slapping? Or will the scooped curve naturally 'sit in the mix' better?

    I would like to improve my onstage slap technique even though out of a night's worth of music I may only slap one tune. Anyone encounter a similar problem? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


    Lakland 55-94 Fretted Birdseye Maple
    Lakland 55-94 Fretless Ebony
    Alembic F1X Preamp
    Crown Power Amp
    Eden 410XLT
  2. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Inactive

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Hmm..I had a different problem...when I first started slapping I was way too loud compared to my fingerstyle parts. It was all about dynamics, something I got better at as I learned to control my thumb.

    Although, if you feel that the bottom drops out when you slap, try maybe using a "bottom heavy" blend with the pickups, coming mainly from the neck pup but with a little bridge added in to keep the treble.

    For me, I don't go for the mid scoop 100% of the time. I do a lot of tapping and fingerstyle amidst my slapping (I play a wide range of stuff most of the time). I can go through Mark king, Stuart Hamm, Stanley Clarke, Vail Johnson and more in one I'm sure you'll agree, there is a hug amount of tone shaping to do there.

    Often, when I'm not tapping, I'll cut the mids, for a more "grooving" sound. I find that sits back better and kinda blends with the drums a little, and this is very effective for creating a "wall of sound" type thing. When I am doing tapped or chordal pieces, often I won't cut my mids back, to maintain a nice level of defintion.

    Adding gain is not a usual practive, but it can be great, I love playing around with my effects...maybe use a little chorus for the fingerstyle and then engage delay when you start to's all about being creative!
  3. When slapping try striking through the string as opposed to just hitting it. I have had a similar problem and this is what worked for me. It's a little awkward at first but after some practice it becomes more natural.
  4. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I have an onboard J-Retro preamp installed on my J bass. I usually add some bottom and some top for slap. Not too much, just a little. If it's a song where I have to slap and play finger style I'll add the top and bottom and play a little closer to the bridge with the left hand as needed to balance it out.

    I've always slapped about a 1/2" or so towards the bridge from the neck and not right over the fretboard like a lot of slappers do. I think that helps get a more full tone and it's always felt more natural for me to do it that way.