Slapping A string

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by spectorrebop, Jun 3, 2005.

  1. I was recently learning the verse to the song aeroplane by the chili peppers, and in it, it switches from the A string to the G string quikly. At first, when I tried useing my thumb, sometimes i would accidently also hit the E string. So after quite a bit of tries I went to just trying to pop the two strings with my two main fingers. Not only do I have to slow the tempo down to do it this way, it doesn't feel comfortable. Does any one have any ideas on how to not hit the E string?
  2. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    Practice. I'm still not 100% on avoiding the E string when slapping the A.
  3. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    There are two ways about it, and you should technically do both:

    - Keep your thumb fairly straight. This helps if you slap up near the neck

    - Work on muting other strings with your left hand. It's hard to explain, but when slapping the A, mute the E. Do a search on muting, other people can explain that better than I.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Matt is 100% right. Slapping accuracy is important, but muting is even more important.

    When slapping, I use any left hand finger not involved in fretting a note to mute the strings on either side of the one being slapped.

    If I do accidentally slap an adjacent string(which does happen occasionally when playing live, due to adrenaline, nerves, etc) it doesn't ring out like an unmuted string.
  5. If all else fails, you could use the Wooten approach:


    put a hair scrunchee on the neck to reduce unwanted noise. Continue to practice without it, though. You don't want to practice being sloppy. The scrunchee really helps live, though, like Jeff was saying.
  6. I like to have my thumb nearly parallel to the string. It takes practice but it's a better technique than the thumb pointing down, perpendicular to the strings.

    EDIT: To better illustrate my point:

  7. +1 on the thump parallel to the strings
  8. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    Curl your left thumb over the top of the neck to mute the E string when you can.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sorry, but that's not a good way to do it. Curling your thumb over the top of the neck cuts drastically down on your reach and dexterity. You have to either train the RH thumb to hit only the string you want, or you have to use the fingers on your left hand that you're not using to mute the string you don't want to hear.
  10. -(assuming that you usually play 4), by comparison, the 4 will feel much easier to mute. Works for me.
  11. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV
    Seems funny to me that you ask that. As I feel far, far more comfortable slapping riffs on my A string than on my E. At least as when doing double thumping or playing quadruplets(three slaps one pop...triple thumping? there an actual term for that usage?)

    But I suggest the old practice approach.....take what you're wanting to work on and just do it slow and then slower and then pick up the speed gradually.
  12. I agree 100% with everything you wrote. A string slapping doesn't feel as "rewarding" on a grooving, slower slap riff but it's definitely more comfortable double thumping on the A as opposed to the E. And the only way to master a technique is to make sure you have the proper position and method, and go with it until you can play it without fault. Take your time and practice, eventually picking up the speed.

    Personally, Time Divider, I don't like using my left thumb as a mute. Let's say you're slapping a typical octave riff or something. I tend to use my index on the root and pinky on the octave. My middle finger and ring finger wouldn't just float doing nothing, they would mute the E and D, for example, as I slap and pop the A and G. I find that using your thumb can be cumbersome and just doesn't feel good for me.
  13. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I'm sorry, but this just isn't good advice. This *will* hurt your technique in the long run, and unless you've got monster hands, could cause some injuries to your wrist and hand.

    Slap with your thumb parallel to the strings, not pointing down. This is a FAR more accurate method, and you can later break into things like double thumbing and MG 4 pluck technique later on if you feel a desire to do so. When you're slapping the A, you can actually rest a part of your right forearm (behind the wrist) on the E string to mute. That said, using the technique where your thumb is parallel to the string, with time, that muting technique will not only become automatic and unconscious, but sometimes altogether unnecessary.
  14. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    I guess you guys missed the last three words of my advice: when you can.
  15. I think another good thing to know when you're slapping is to not have your thumb just bounce off the desired string you want to slap. Your thumb should graze the string and then land on the one below it. As for muting, use a combination of your left hand and your forearm to mute strings. Slapping is a techique all about feel, eventually you'll sit down one day and it'll all come to you :)
  16. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    ...that you are all correct: accuracy is the key. Thumb parallel to the strings and then plenty of target practice. Watch closely at first, then eventually you'll be able to do it with your eyes closed.

    But sometimes curling your left thumb over the top as a mute is helpful. Keyword: sometimes.
  17. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV

    Is this common practice? I just bounce directly on the string I'm using. I'll have to give it a try and see how it feels/sounds for me.
  18. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    That's the way i play too! I started out with my thumb pointing down, but i think thumb/parallel the best way to slap..
  19. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Your thumb was pointing down? Hmmm. Do you wear your bass down low like some bassists I've seen in punk rock bands? This might have something to do with it.

  20. Yeah it seems to be pretty common. Slapping this way is cool because then you can easily string other techniques into slapping, like doublethumbing. Its a lot harder to double thumb if your thumb is already bounced off the string. Claypool mentions it in an article, and a couple of books on slap bass say to do it this way.