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Slapping thumb down

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Chris K, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
    Some of us (a minority I suppose) of us slap with their thumb pointing downward, elbow held high, like this lady:

    Until now I slap the regular way, thumb up etc. However, there seem to be some advantages to the method showed in the video, mostly having to do with switching between plucking and slapping or integrating the two.
    Especially if you use floating thumb, this might be a good approach.

    Your comments, please...
    (only on her slapping technique, you buggers ;) )
  2. TheDarkReaver

    TheDarkReaver Banned

    Mar 20, 2006
    Lincolnshire, UK
    Personally I don't see why people do. That position has never come naturally to me and I just tried it and it was very uncomfortable to hold my arm like that. It also seems harder to pop from that position.

    I suppose whatever floats your boat. What advantages do you see in that position over the more traditional slap technique?
  3. guroove


    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I think my slapping technique is similar to hers. I don't think I stick my elbow out like that, but I also don't hold my thumb up like a lot of other people to. I just let my thumb hang freely and it hits the string like a jazz drummer's drum stick hits a drum. It was never something that I did consciously, it just came about from me being lazy or "relaxed," depending on your point of view.
  4. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    I just realized I slap like that.:bag:

    I am working on more of a horizontal slap style, but I think all thouse years of playing basic RHCP stuff has changed my style from horizontal thumb to thumb down.
  5. guroove


    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I think that's where I learned it too. If there's anything wrong with slapping like that, tell Flea he's slapping wrong.
  6. MooseLumps

    MooseLumps Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    I play horizontal when I slap. it think that it works well to transition to different techniques, especially plucking. I suppose it's a little Flea influenced, but i cannot master this whole thumb up thing. it physically hurts. My thumb is never pointed down liker hers, as I feel that you are less accurate (I suppose that you could practice and get better aim) and that she looses the heel of her right hand for muting.

    It sorts looks like she is slapping further toward the tip of her thumb than I do, but to each their own.
  7. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I've always thought of thumb-down being a rock player's way of playing, and thumb-up (or parallel) being more of a funk player's method (Flea notwithstanding, he comes from rock roots anyway). Both the tone and the technique seem to make it feel that way to me.

    Blanket statement (not always applicable obviously):
    I think thumb-down is good for more legato, droney lines. Thumb-up seems to lend itself to stacatto lines with lots of muting and dead notes. I also think you get more dynamic range with thumb-up, whereas thumb-down is a more "always loud" kind of a technique.

    When I slap I almost always use thumb-up, unless it's a couple of slapped notes in the middle of a fingerstyle passage, where thumb-down makes it easier to switch back and forth.
  8. Mayers

    Mayers Guest

    Sep 28, 2007
    I slapped like that when I started slapping. But I switched to 5 strings bass at that time and this position didn't work. So I play horizontaly now ( almost 7 years ) and I think it makes more sense because you can do the double thumb technic.

    When you look at all to pros like Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, Alain Caron and Larry Graham ... thay all play horizontaly ( thumb up ).

    I also think that the position with the thumb up offer the opportunity to use slap for more musical line ( check Victor Wooten or Alain Caron slap the theme of Donna Lee ) instead of only do root 5th or root octave like many RHCP slap line.
  9. acid bass

    acid bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2010
    I also have my thumb horizontal (ie; parallel to the string), but I learned this from watching Les Claypool. Incorporating Victor Wooten's technique reinforced this positioning for me.
  10. hry_glb


    Jun 14, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    I wonder if slapping position has anything to do with how low you hang your bass. If you put it so low that it almost touch the floor, it's gonna be real hard to slap with thumb up (unless you're bending your back with extreme angle LOL.)
  11. Moiez


    Apr 25, 2010
    actually, flea is slapping wrong but he's done it so much, he's really good at it. check out victor wooten, and marcus miller. that's proper slapping as they are very relaxed and poised.

    Don't get me wrong, flea's my inspiration for playing bass but he's very raw and unorthodox so properly slapping style wouldn't work with him jumping all around. rock music doesn't work as well with slapping as jazz and funk.
  12. I'm a thumb down guy, like in the video. It's just what has always felt natural to me. The thumb up or parallel never felt right. The only thing I've noticed I really can't do with thumb down is the double thump. It seems pretty much impossible to do thumb down.

    Of course I say that in the hope someone will post a video proving you CAN do the double thump with thumb down.
  13. MooseLumps

    MooseLumps Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    Topper, there are a lot of ladies in your band. Fact.

    for you guys who slap wrong (wink) what do you do to compensate for the loss of the heel of your slapping hand as a mute? It boggles my mind.

    Also, are there any of you who play with your thumb pointed to the ceiling who aren't double jointed? There are some cats who do this, and it freaks me right out.
  14. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Interesting. This is *exactly* how I slap. I could never get my thumb to point up, so I just did it the way my body would let me. And I slap just fine.
  15. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    It pains me to see people play that way...
  16. SpamBot


    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    +1. Not that it's "wrong" or anything, it would just be very uncomfortable for me to slap that way.
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    flea slaps that way:

    he once said that he doesn't recommend it for everyone, but it works for him. me, i slap the traditional way.
  18. I used to slap that way, but now I've gone for the more traditional approach as I find it's more comfortable to double thumb. There are a few people that slap like that, Flea, Robert Trujillo, TM Stevens... I always thought they did it cos they liked to have their bass slung real low.
  19. I thought I heard somewhere that slapping with thumb down was in the past, outdated, something like that...


  20. NoahKnapp


    Jul 13, 2009
    I slap with my thumb up towards the ceiling, and mute with the bottom of my forearm, with my thumb slapping the fretboard. I think I do it that way because It's comfortable for me to wear my bass at my chin.

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