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Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by acexxxoasis, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. acexxxoasis


    Apr 12, 2005
    yes again it is I with another question I have always been interested in rockabilly/psychobilly and was wondering how one goes about slapping an upright? let alone as quick as some people do. I tried the Electric version of slap on an uppy and it sucked... so any suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You yank the string so it makes a snapping sound, then you smack your hand into the fingerboard. Go to www.rockabillybass.com to learn more. This board is more straight pizz and arco and for some reason doesn't generate much slap talk.
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    You might also get a copy of Lee Rocker's slap bass video, or Marshal Wilborn's (geared more towards bluegrass, but also a bit more "musical" IMO). Both of those demonstrate the method in detail. It's really not hard, but you almost have to set up your bass specifically for slapping or it'll be really hard on your hands.
  4. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    There is also "The Ungentle Art of Slap Bass" by Kevin Smith and Mark Rubin. Kevin plays gut, Mark plays metal. Do a websearch for the title, or try searching Ridgerunner Video. They are the publishers.... (Lemur Music carries this video, come to think of it.)

    There are many different slap techniques used all over the world. Cuba, Eastern Europe, Texas... Kevin Smith told me he is assembling some mp3s of unique slap styles. That should be some archive!
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Before you spend any money on videos, go to http://scotthinds.tripod.com/ and download his free instructional videos. He's a pretty good slapper and he knows a lot of different techniques and breaks down how to do them. I'm not big on the circular motion with the triplet slaps that he does, but otherwise his technique is really good.
  6. MarkRubin

    MarkRubin F L T

    Mar 14, 2005
    Austin TX
    Or you can check out the article I wrote for Bass Player a few years back. I'm pretty sure it's archived on line. If not, I can get you a copy.
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Yeah! and that's why we love Talkbass.
  8. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Hey Mark, I bought your video from Lemur Music. That's some serious playing you and your buddy are into. Funky as a bowed leg monkey! You are a wonderful and talented musician. The article in Bass Player is worth cheking out.

    Gotta say that the playing style you are promoting is really risky in terms of physical injury. I know you try to tell folks to be careful and all, but if you've seen the "playing injuries" threads over at the Hopped Up! rockabilly bassist's site.......well lets just say that the kids don't seem to be listening to your warnings. Some of these folks are friggin' crippling themselves!

    Maybe a slap bass forum here could help.
  9. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    You should check out a master of slap bass, Milt Hinton. There is a video put out by Ray Brown called "The Art of Playing the Bass." Volume 1 is Milt Hinton demonstrating his very cool slap bass technique.

    His slap style is also very economical because he doesn't use any extraneous motions. His hand stays close to the fingerboard the whole time. But, at the same time, he uses a tremendous amount of rhythmic variation that makes his slap solos unbelievable. (Check out his slap solo on "Three Little Words," from the Branford Marsalis record Trio Jeepy.)

    I didn't know you could hurt yourself by slapping the bass. That sounds really strange to me. I've been playing slap on the upright for a while now without any injury... :meh: ? Maybe someone can ellaborate....
  10. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Maybe guys just think they look cool with their arms flailing about. It sounds like nonsense to me. I'm not up on the bluegrass scene, but if you watch any great jazz musician, they always have the most economical movements. It's not about how you look (at least it shouldn't be), but it's about what your saying with your instrument.

    Anyway, most players I've seen who jump around a lot usually sound like a sloppy mess.
  11. Pete, I think you missed this. It came up before you joined us...You need to see this. It may change your life.

    Damn, it didn't work. Help me people...this is the all girl marimba band with Frank. that fabulous bassist!
    We'll getcha hooked up man...be patient.

    Pete...go down to the Humor Forum Heading and click on the first thread: The best bass player ever.
    You'll thank me!
  12. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Good post. Definitely, many slap newbs are over-eager to build skill and see instant results, often resulting in that tensed-up, "overpowered" approach. It's when they finally slow down - relax and concentrate on fluid movements that incorporate much more of the body than the hand, wrist and forearm - that the results start coming.

    Strings absolutely do NOT need to be jacked up to 10 or 12mm on the G to 14-16mm on the E. In fact, it requires a LOT more energy to cleanly slap at those heights, not what you want when you're looking for that economy of motion. I usually have my bass set around 8mm on the G to 10 or 11mm on the E, sometimes a hair lower. Not low jazz heights by any means, but very comfortable and allows me to still nab those strings.

    Speaking of which... I'm also a big proponent of advising folks to NOT to get under the strings with the classic claw hand while slapping. That precision you mention, Jason, will in time let the slapper almost glance off the strings, to a point where it's more like tapping and less like smacking, grabbing, pulling and releasing... I can hear the comments now on that one...
  13. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York

    Sorry, I just saw this post. I didn't realize you had left it! Yeah, I saw the best bassist ever. He is exactly what I aspire to be every day as a bass player! And the chics dig him! His technique, his grace, his effortless and fluidic motions...it's like a work of art! :D
  14. MarkRubin

    MarkRubin F L T

    Mar 14, 2005
    Austin TX
    Tell me about it.

    When I first started, without any supervison mind you, I beat my hand into a pulp nightly. The resultant damage has lead to severe case of "crepitis" a condition that none of my doctors, and I been to see plenty, can explain to my satisfaction. Carpenters slinging hammers and construction mooks on jack hammers get it mostly, so that tells you how hard you can damage yourself. Lets just say you don't want it.

    In my video, I thought it was vitally important to advise against "playing through the pain." With hindsight, not enough it seems. With my students today, I spend a lot of time discussing scretching, warming up and down, ect..

    Thanks for the kind words, BTW.
  15. MarkRubin

    MarkRubin F L T

    Mar 14, 2005
    Austin TX
    Like this one, Brent? You're nuts. Respectfully.

    No really, Pops Foster said it best. "them dicty players just can't get a sound. You gotta get under those strings and get them popping." (His autobiography has been reprinted BTW and I recommend you seek it out. My got loaned out years ago..)

    I'm sure a "tapping" style technique works well for the amplified string bassist, or somebody working with a drummer, which to my mind makes slap technique completely redundant. Big Sandy's original bassist, whos name escapes me, was quite proficient in that manner.

    But the light touch won't cut the mustard in an acoustic setting. The top of the bass can't make volume without tension across the bridge, which requires a higher than normal action. Especially important on plywood basses that tend to be quieter.

    Further, it's not about looks or machismo. It's about being the drummer and properly acessing the booty motivator. You walk out on a concert stage after the 22 piece East African drum and dance ensemble has just whipped up 9 thousand Frenchmen into a frenzy, armed only with a trio of accordion, bajo sexto and string bass, believe you me, you'll want to get a little more pop out of your instrument. That 1/8th inch could be the difference between "keep 'em rockin" or "suck."

    At least in the situations I play in.
  16. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    I'm still having trouble understanding how guys hurt themselves so much by slapping. I learned how to slap by studying Milt Hinton, but technically, I don't really slap the way he did. But I've never had any pain in my hand or wrist at all, other than just building up callouses. It seems like you'd really have to contort your hand to do that kind of irreparable damage.

    Does anyone know any good websites to check out some bluegrass slappers? I'd like to see the difference between how a jazz guy approaches slapping to a bluegrass guy.
  17. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm not sure it's too profitable to come at this with a bluegrass vs. jazz slant. Last weekend, for example, I saw Jerry McNeely from the James King band step out for a slap break, and his right hand motion is very economical and relaxed. Looked like fine technique to me and the sound was poppin'... He says he doesn't consider himself a slapper but he's a fine one.

    Good technique is good technique and it doesn't involve a death struggle with the instrument, not in any genre.

    Bluegrass probably has more lesser-skilled players playing more often in more places than jazz does. Bluegrass bass players are encouraged to slap the thang. Putting those two together: you may be more likely to see bad or under-developed slap technique in bluegrass than anywhere else, but you've gotta look in the festival campgrounds, not on pro player websites.
  18. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Good point, Damon. I wasn't trying to make a jazz vs bluegrass argument but I was just wondering if bluegrass guys have an established slap technique that most adhere to. To my knowledge, jazz guys do not. But I wouldn't get into a "jazz snob" argument with anyone. I don't think that playing jazz automatically makes someone a better musician than someone who doesn't. In fact, I personally hate the elitist attitude you find with some jazz and classical guys...

    Also, it seems to me that bluegrass and rockabilly guys are the obvious masters when it comes to slap bass (not including my man Milt ;) ).
  19. MarkRubin

    MarkRubin F L T

    Mar 14, 2005
    Austin TX
    Milt was one of the greats to be sure, with a smooth understated mastery of the style. But my favorite "slap" bassists are dance musicians and have neither bluegrass or jazz backrounds, both diciplines seem to reserve the technique just for solos for instance.

    I'd seek out recordings of the great Juan Viesca of San Antonio TX. He was the driving force of Don Santiago Jimenez's early recordings and there's a great reissue of his own Trio de San Antonio recently in print. He tends to fall under the flashy showman side, being best know for lighting his bass on fire at gigs (in the 30's, on a carved 7/8th Bohemian flatback!) But his recordings show a wide palate of sounds and rythmns, as well as a solid foundation.

    My favorite present day practicioner of the technique is Vlad Virorel, bassist with the Taraf de Haidouks of Romania. Like most Rroma musicians from Eastern Europe, Vlad plays effortlessly, very agressively and I watched him drive a 12 piece band through a 90 minute dance set on a half size 3 string bass without breaking a sweat. All after a 2 hour concert gig. (Who needs an E anyway?) They have many CDs available in the US and tour here every couple of years, so you can even see him play (or tale a lesson or 2, which he'll give gladly.)

    Cast around a bit and you will hear amazing slap playing in Trinidadian Calypsos, Cuban Son, Creole Beguine, and anyplace else that you had a bass, no amplificaion and a packed dance floor.
  20. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Cool...thanks for the tip Mark. I'll check those guys out.

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