slap troubles

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by myk d., Dec 8, 2000.

  1. myk d.

    myk d.

    Dec 8, 2000
    hi, im still pretty new at bass, and am still developing techniques. not that slapping is the most musical thing done to a bass, but i still really wnat to learn how to do it. my main problem is that i always end up hitting multiple strings with my thumb. also, i have trouble when slap/popping, i always get a trot, never a steady rythem. i know practice is the key, but i would greatly appreciate any tips that might help me out along the way. thanx a lot.
  2. kcm


    Jun 17, 2000
    Woking, Surrey.
    Although I am primarily a Rock/Blues player I love to play a bit of slap and found that the video called "The Slap Bass Program by Alex Sklarevski" helped my technique no end. It starts from very basic single note thumbing to machine gun triplets and beyond. It has the music written too, and shows both hands working together in great detail.
    Costs about £18 in the UK so probably $12 or so, depending on where you are.
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The most important thing to do is relax. Keep your wrist, forearm and elbow loose; let your hand lead and the rest of your arm will follow. The slap motion comes from the counterclockwise rotation of the hand about the wrist, which brings your thumb to the string. That's it; no arm movement is necessary. (If this is confusing, imagine turning a doorknob.) Once your thumb contacts the string, let it bounce off; don't keep it there. Like a trampoline, the tension in the string should provide sufficient force to return your thumb to its starting position for another slap; you shouldn't have to expend any muscle effort to get the thumb off of the string.

    During the return, you can add a pop, which should also be made with a minimum of muscular effort. As your hand rotates clockwise back to its starting position, your (slightly) hooked index and/or middle finger should pull the string and release naturally. Don't exaggerate the hook and don't hold it too rigid; you need only enough force to get the proper sound. Once you have the proper right hand motions down, you can work on developing your left hand slap technique. These three elements--slap, pop and left hand slap--comprise the rudiments necessary to come up with a compelling slap line.

    Note: hitting several strings inadvertently is a common (often intractible) problem for 5+ string instruments with narrow spacing. If, after practice, this still poses a problem, look into getting a good 4 string or a wide-spaced 5.

    In general, successful slap/pop technique is achieved through economy of motion. Flea looks impressive flinging his hands around, but if most of us played like him, we'd be in traction.
  4. myk d.

    myk d.

    Dec 8, 2000
    thanks so much guys! i wasn't able to find the video, but i just read christophers advice and it sounds like its really gonna help. thanx chris. if anyone reads this and has anything to add, please do. later all, myk
  5. After you become more familiar with the basic techniques,you should check out videos by Louis Johnson and Larry Graham (Larry probably has some videos available,if my memory serves me well.)From these masters you can hear and see genuine groove delivered with conviction and passion.
  6. Chris, You're spot on but could you tell me more on the left hand slap thing you were talking about??
  7. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Left hand slap refers to a technique wherein you bring one or more fingers of your left hand quickly down onto the strings to create a percussive, unpitched sound. Using this in conjunction with right hand slap and pop, you can generate rapid-fire slap and pop lines with greater ease than you could with your right hand alone. I personally get good results by using the first knuckles of my left hand fingers (the strongest and fastest) and by keeping the fingers relatively straight. Using two or more fingers helps to keep fretted notes and harmonics from sounding inadvertently. If you're integrating fretted notes with LH slaps, it helps to lift the fretting finger off of the fret before LH slapping; you use a pivot or rolling motion to move between the two, eg. fret a note with index finger, then roll your left hand towards the body to slap with middle, ring and pinky. Alternately, fret note a with pinky, then roll your left hand towards the headstock to slap with index, middle and ring. You get the idea.

    Some people pick up on this technique intuitively. I did not, and had to struggle with it for a couple of weeks before I could get it to sound like something more than a half-arsed hammer on. If you want a musical example, you can listen to "Love Games" by Level 42. Dave LaRue and the Libster have a couple of lessons and licks on their website that incorporate LH slaps.
  8. MuNkEy


    Jul 4, 2000
    utica, ny
    if you really want to get better at slapping...i would suggest victor wootens video: live at bass day 98. i got the video a while is 18 dollars and it helped me a lot, especially with my technique-it shows his double thumb slap technique, as well as some good popping skills.
  9. Yertle The Turtle

    Yertle The Turtle

    Nov 15, 2000
    I say just keep working at it and it'll get better over time.
  10. Random Bob

    Random Bob

    Dec 17, 2000
    To slap, hold your thumb about an inch from the string, and parallel to it. Now, just hit the string fairly hard, and allow your thumb to bounce back up. When you hit, remember to move your wrist, not your thumb: your wrist'll give it a good twang, your thumb'll just mute the string-not much good unless you're in Primus.

    To pop, put your thumb or forefinger- or both: I find this gives a more aggressive sound but is harder to do at speed- lift the string about a quarter of an inch, then jerk your hand away and let it slap back into the fingerboard and P/Us.

    That's about all my wisdom imparted. See ya in the pit.

  11. halo_fourteen


    Jan 26, 2001
    OK, I self-taught myslef 2 different styles.

    The 1st, was where you get your forearm parrallel to the strings. This is sort of a jazzy style (i think. lol) This means (well, for me) you should be slapping around where the neck starts. Just sorta rotate your wrist so your thumb goes away from the string and the towards the string, giveing it a good wack and then moveing your thumb away from the string quick enough so you dont deaden it. Because your thumb is parrallel to the string this should eliminate you hitting multiple stings. BUT! This style makes it harder to hit dead notes. Popping is easy this way, when your thumb is on the way up, get your pinky under the G (or whatever) and give a small pull and release. Enough to hit the fret board (or it wont really POP) but not too much or it'l start boucing around on your fret board and/or pickups.

    The 2nd style i progressed onto was still the twisting of the wrist but get your forearm vertical, your hand round the pick ups area, with your elbow sticking out in the air. Now your upper arm should be parrallel to the strings. This allows you to use the other side of your hand, the bit above the pinky when you start twisting, makeing dead notes a breeze. This took a lot longer to get used to. This is where i was hitting more than one string. But when you get used to it it seems to flow much better and my speed increased and i could finerly play dead notes without fret rattle and other un-wanted noises.
    The 1st style showed results fast, but when i got to a certain level i stopped progressing. So i started from the begining with the 2nd style and i havent looked back. :)

    [Edited by halo_fourteen on 01-26-2001 at 06:02 AM]
  12. halo_fourteen


    Jan 26, 2001
    Yes, im here again...

    I suggest this site;

    At the bottem of the page it has a few lessons on slap. And heaps on tapping which i found very usefull.

    Have fun!