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Slapping and Ibanez BTB's

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Quinn Roberts, Dec 20, 2017.


  1. Recently I've been noodling around with my slap technique a little more on bass than usual. Trying to add the spice of slap triplets into my playing I began to notice a little problem in my tone when doing these. In practice I've been performing this "slap triplet" in the order of slap, muted hammeron, muted pluck. I've got the rhythm quite well, and fast too, and the slap and pluck sound just dandy. For some reason though, I'm unable to get any sound out of my muted hammeron. On top of that, I switched over to my Peavey Milestone III (an arguable downgrade from a BTB 675) and was able to get these to sound so lush right off the bat without even plugging in.
    This lead me to wonder if it was just my lack of finger strength when performing muted hammerons with a five string, or if it's just the sonic limits of the BTB. In research I came across a couple threads (most notably: Are BTB harder to slap on? ) saying that BTB's, especially those with Bartolini pickups (like mine), aren't at all ideal for slap bass playing.
    I'd like to think the problem lies in the player not in the instrument, but I'm so confused why I can get such a nice sound from a much cheaper instrument. I was wondering if an TB users had any similar experiences or any advice.
     
  2. Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon

    Dec 27, 2016
    Do you think string height and/or gauge is contributing to the difference between the BTB and the Peavey?
     
    MichaelT, Steve-Mo and Maxdusty like this.
  3. This is what I was going to assume the problem to be. The BTB is quite high, in fact I adjusted it last night to get rid of a little fret buzz, then did the Peavey afterwards. The difference is quite substantial.
    That being said, I'm still making contact to the fretboard when I hammeron with the BTB. Maybe not as much as with the Peavey per se, but isn't that what the active pickups are supposed to do? Sculpt the sound, but also give it a boost?
     
  4. What's the action like on the BTB? If the action is too high it can prevent the string from traveling, especially on left hand moves like a ghost note or a slurred hammer on. My brother's basses always feel like that to me, he likes a higher action than I do that almost makes then unslappable!

    It's worth noting that with the BTB being, I assume, a 35" scale, the string is naturally under more tension than on a 34" scale bass and so won't be as 'free' or easy to slap, like for like when the gauge and action are the same. I used to have a 35" scale BTB405QM that was perfectly slappable, but never felt really light and easy to slap on. Competitively, I had a Series II Status a few years ago that you could really race around on.
     
  5. Here's a pretty crummy comparison of the two for reference also.
    I do like my action pretty high too, feel like it gives me my notes a bit more definition and clarity. I might just need to keep the Peavey around me for some slap play every now and again I suppose.
    IMG_20171220_120433. IMG_20171220_120409.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Would a regular sized scale be recommended over an extended two octave length for slap then? I'm mostly a finger-style jazz player, so this is sorta new territory for me.
     
  7. Maxdusty

    Maxdusty

    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    this is the biggest factor. Case in point, I bought an Ibanez Iceman bass- not a bass particularly known as a slap monster. Action was high when I first got it as the previous owner was primarily a pick player, you could hardly slap on the thing, the strings felt tight and just too high. I tweaked it to the point where it's actually a wonderful bass to play funk on - not the best pickups mind you, but the action is great. Putting lighter strings on it with the adjustments certainly helped. I had the string height lowered not too low, but enough to make a big difference. Lighter strings helped a lot.
    If you like to keep the action high, that with the 35" scale length of the BTB is enough to make it less conducive for slapping-you know, that slinky feel. Try changing to a lighter gauge string and lower the action a tad.
     
    Quinn Roberts likes this.
  8. Thanks for the info! I never actually thought to take string slack into consideration. This makes too much sense though! I figure for the time being I'll just stick to the Peavey for slap, it has Ernie Ball Super Slinky's on it (which I've always wondered why so much slink?) so it seems best suited out of my two choices at the moment. I've also really begun to enjoy some of the tones I'm getting out of it as well the more I play it. Kinda is turning into a forgotten relic for me.
     
  9. Maxdusty

    Maxdusty

    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I had a Schecter 5 string up until recently which was 35" scale and you could slap on it, strings on it were light gauge, action was pretty low - even then, you could still feel enough of the added tightness in all the strings to notice it (same gauge/brand of strings as two of my primary 34" scale basses). It wasn't bad at all but it didn't have that inviting slinky feel of my 34" basses- however, that being said, the little bit of tightness made for better finger playing style.
     
  10. Finger style playing is most of what I do, hence why I'm hesitant to adjust my BTB. Figure slapping is just a phase for the moment to see if I can get it. I will keep messing around with the setup on my Peavey however, and possibly keep an eye out for another 34' bass for slap playing.
    It has been making me look more into Wooten and Miller's playing though, and ironically their finger playing. Wooten's most of all. I can't understand how do they get such a poppy sound out what looks like straight finger style playing.
     
  11. I'm assuming there's some compression, major EQ on mids and treble, and some bridge pickup involved. As well as their attack on the string. Makes me almost think there's some fingernail in there like Nathan East
     
  12. Ampslut

    Ampslut

    May 15, 2017

     
    Quinn Roberts likes this.
  13. TheMaynorD

    TheMaynorD Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 28, 2013
    Oklahoma City
    Throw some lighter gauge strings on there and lower the action, but my EBMM bongo 6 which is a 34" scale slaps much more easily than any of my ibanez btbs ever did. Some basses just work better for slap due to scale length, pickups and overall construction. I for one cannot slap on a rickenbacker very well at all nor is that really what those basses are known for, whereas a stingray 5 or a nice J bass can get downright funky with little provocation. Though Im sure there is someone out there who has unleashed the funk on a BC rich warlock.
     
    Quinn Roberts likes this.
  14. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    Atlanta
    In addition to be a musical virtuoso - It probably helps him that his forearms are the size of tree trunks.
     
  15. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    That is directly related to a lower action, and the attack on the strings. You can get a thumb-slap tone playing fingerstyle pretty easily, just need the setup and the finger strike to be right. That is the thing that funk and rock/ metal bass can have in common, that percussive attack. With action as high as you are playing, it won't happen easily though.
     
  16. Maxdusty

    Maxdusty

    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I've turned my Ibanez Iceman into a funk machine. ha ha....I have to say it gives me a different sound with the mini humbucker pickups on it, it's unlike anything else I have. Lighter gauge strings definitely help.
     
  17. TheMaynorD

    TheMaynorD Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 28, 2013
    Oklahoma City
    The iceman is such a cool bass. You should get it refinished in sparkle purple with gold hardware. Hmm. Now i need to see how much a warmoth iceman 5 would cost in sparkle purple.......
     
    Maxdusty likes this.
  18. That's about what it comes down to I'm thinking, you just gotta dig.. and a lot.
    That would make sense, I'm sure there's some EQ and compression involved then too. I don't always give into the "it's in the fingers" attitude, but packhowitzer makes good sense with the strength aspect as well. I'll just have to experiment with some lower action setups and work on my technique some more.
     
    packhowitzer likes this.
  19. Maxdusty

    Maxdusty

    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Finding that right set up which works with your playing style is key. Part of it is mechanical as in the instrument that you use and adjusting it accordingly. The other part is your technique that will take advantage of said adjustment. I mean, you can adjust the instrument to compensate somewhat, but ideally it's a bit of both. I have been playing bass for over 30 years, even then, it took me a while and relatively recently to find the optimum way of setting up my instruments that would make it playable in the different playing styles I usually utilize. My fingers can adapt to most basses (I don't use a pick), but if I were to make an instrument mine and be comfortable with it, I have my preferred set up. A properly set up instrument suited to your style will work wonders, you're not going to be fighting the instrument but can get the kind of tones you want on it with minimal effort or thought. It's much like running a race in a pair of shoes. You can certainly wear ill-fitting platform shoes and be able to run, but you won't be able to run as fast as when you wear a pair of shoes that you never have to worry about or conscious about wearing. Everybody's hands are different, so I think once you find a neck width your hands are most comfortable with and the length of the bass, pretty much everything else can be adjusted.
     
    Quinn Roberts likes this.
  20. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    compression can smooth it out. if you like your slap tone, it's primarily the same thing happening. it's all how you attack the string. it's not difficult though. two ways can achieve this. 1. pluck down and strike through the string with the fingers. 2. curl around an tug/pluck the string like this video.



    or this one, forward to 35 mins if you like. (forgive the drive, with no grit it is more slap-like)



    much more finger motion than normal fingerstyle. the lower action causes the string to bounce of the frets near the end of the board giving that attack and "slap" style sound, even though you aren't necessarily slapping the strings into the end of the board with your thumb.
     

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