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Slapping working the shoulder? Huh?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Jul 1, 2001.

  1. I like to do really fast slapping for certain songs--16th/32nd-notes and triplets (the Steve Harris influence shows through ;) ). However, I've noticed that I seem to be working my shoulder a lot harder than my forearm when I slap, and after playing something like RHCP's "Higher Ground" or King Crimson's "Sleepless," it's very tired. Is this normal? If not, what should I do to rectify the situation? If it helps, I have my bass (Dean Edge Custom 5) strapped so that the upper horn's strap button is right over my left nipple. I am 6'2".
  2. Well..

    I don't slap.. i play with a pick..

    I used to strike " from the wrist ", but i noticed that after 3..4 songs, my wrist began to hurt like hell..

    so i switched to playing with the whole arm, and it works great.. and you build arm-muscle too while playing.. ideal :)

    to answer your question " is it normal ? "... yes it's normal.And what if it's not normal ? if it helps you play better, it's ok by me :D

    for the tired arm : do to a gym once in a while and do some workout, i do it very often and it helps..
  3. sounds like you dig in pretty good when you slap. when i play technically challenging slap material i tend to feel some fatigue in my forearm more than anywhere else. what kind of position is your body in when your shoulder hurts? maybe try raising the bass up a little bit toward your chest?
  4. Allodox: maybe that's the problem. I haven't been to the gym since school got out and I keep forgetting to do pushups in the morning along with my 500 crunches. I'll try some strength training and see if that works.

    cephas: I'd consider hiking the bass up a bit, but it's just about as high as it can get for comfortable fingerstyle because of my history of tendinitis in the right wrist. My muting style does not agree with having the bass up high, either.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I'm betting that the real problem is that your shoulder is tightening up when you play. Proper relaxation will go further than strength training in this case (If I've guessed right). I went through this, too, and what I've noticed is that if I consciously try to relax the shoulder muscle, and play more "easily" (not softer or less intensly) that I don't have the problems. The rotating of the hand/wrist should be an easy, spring-like motion.
  6. wynnguitars


    Jun 20, 2001
    I believe that being fit and healthy will increase your stamina to play harder licks.Before I became a bass player full time I used to build houses and it seemed to me that I had more playing stamina all the time but like Pac said try and relax don't over due it you could get carpel tunnel and you don't want that.Afterall it works for Dave Larue,he plays tennis.
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I agree with Pacman, loosen up. Raising your bass will probably help too (there's a reason why most slapper wear their basses so high).
    Slapping is about momentum, not strength. The movement comes from twisting your lower arm, so that the hand rotates on an axis that goes through your lower arm. Upper arm and shoulder only move indirectly (as a result of your lower arm movement) - like 'inverse kinematics' so to speak (3D graphics guys will know what I mean).
    When you increase the strength/force you'll only cramp up and tire faster.
    Just watch Victor play, there's really not much strength involved, just dexterity and a fast motion with momentum.
  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    You know who tipped me off to this? I used to watch the Arsenio Hall show, just to see the band. One night during a play out to commercial they focused on John B. Williams and I noticed that he barely seemed to be moving while he was playing this terrific slap thing. It really made an impact on me, made me start thinking about relaxation, body control, and how athletes seemed to make things look easy. Then I read "the inner game of tennis", which put the idea further in my head. When I started doing Yoga it all crystalized and I realized exactly what it was I needed to do.
  9. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Exactly, like Pacman said, you are probably working TOO hard. Make sure you wrist is not pointing down, don't tighten your shoulders, relax. I used to tighten up and hit harder on songs I was shaky on until I learned (see above). Pacman--I used to watch the show for the same reason. Lenno has the best band now IMHO. Not that Dave's doesn't have an all star line up- but the Turtle keeps 'em under lock and key too much.
  10. OK, so when you say that my wrist shouldn't be pointing down, are you saying that my forearm should be running perfectly parallel to the strings? The way I normally slap, my forearm is at about a 60-degree angle WRT the strings.

    BTW, I've tried raising the bass, and it doesn't hurt my right hand much. Too much higher, though, and my muting will be affected.

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