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Strings for learning how to slap???

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Sammy Camden, Jul 16, 2005.

  1. :cool: OK! I could use a little help, advice here.

    First, I'm an "old school" bass player. I've been playing electric bass since 1962. I've been using flatwounds for longer than I care to remember, and use them exclusively, except for my fretless, which has Fender filiament groundwounds on it.

    Now, here's the situation. I wish, after all of these years to learn how to play slap bass style. Why?? Why NOT!! However, I've been told, and I've read it here and other places, that one cannot play "slap bass" style with flatwounds. Especially the high tension jobs that I like to use.

    So, what would you experienced, those experienced at teaching bass and those experienced at performing in this style, bassists recommend that I string one of my basses with to learn this method? Realizing that I literally hate, detest, and despise roundwound strings.

    And, after I've learned how to do this style of playing well enough to actually use it sometimes when I'm playing in public, is it possible to transfer the learned skill to flatwounds or are they simply out of the question?

    Any and all help here would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your responses.
  2. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Hey Sammy, try a set of roundwounds. 40,60,80,100's. First off relax your wrist and hand, start with holding your thumb as it were pointing up the neck with the nail pointing to the top part of the neck. You will slowly strike the string with the boney part of the thumb (side). practice this slowly until you get a uniform sound out of all notes, don't hit the string hard it's not necessary. Once you slowly get command of this proceedure than start playing octave run's using the thumb and the index finger. It takes a lot of practice to get this style down so take yout time. People here also talk about videos that teach this style, it may be a good tool for you. Hope this helps! We oldtimers gotta stick together :)

    Btw I can play with flatwounds, larry Graham started it with flats :)
    It just sounds better with rounds. It's like the old you can't slap on a p-bass, Just listen to "Forget me nots" played by Freddie Washington.
  3. Like pryhor said, you actually can get a good slap tone on flatwounds, it is just that most bassists don't see it as good because it is not the orthodox or contemporary style of today.

    Also, two things about the technique: The first is that you do not necessarily have to have your nail pointing directly up the neck. While it definately is good to have it point up the neck, many bass players (including myself) curve the thumb slightly in order to get a different sound and a different way of doing the up-thumb technique. MOST IMPORTANTLY though, get an experienced teacher. Don't be afraid to spend a little more for lessons, even if it means spreading them out.

    Lastly, you might consider groundwounds (like on your fretless) or half rounds instead of flatrounds or round wounds.
  4. My two favourite players Mark King and Stanley Clarke both use really light gauge 30 - 90s.Mark King uses Status hotwire bass strings from status graphite guitars.I use these and can really recommend them for percussive style playing. :bassist:
  5. When I was first learning to slap, I actually broke a couple strings. Therfore, I suggest you use some old dead strings, or the strings you have now, and when you learn how to slap properly, get some new ones. Rock on.