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The Slap Bass Welcome Center

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bassist4Life, Dec 30, 2006.


  1. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Just a thought - is your action super low? If it is then the strings could be getting choked when you slap. Again it really depends on the bass. A friend of mine has a mid-70s Jazz (passive) and it is a slap monster (no discernable drop in volume when switching to thumb). But if you listen to Marcus Miller on "Just The Two Of Us" you can hear a pretty big drop in presence when he switches to slapping (this was before he had a preamp installed in his bass).
     
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  2. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    I don't switch basses often. I've been using a '98 Fender AM Deluxe for a while without that issue, and before that an '89 Guild Pilot. Both of which are light wood bodies, especially the Pilot. I'd suspect that the pilot might be a poplar body. Wondering now from this discussion if the more dense woods might cause that volume drop in relation to slapping? Lighter woods might resonate that style of attack better? Hmmm.
     
  3. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I think a lot of it is just the individual bass and not necessarily related to wood type. I have found that a number of the basses with maple fingerboards I've tried have had weaker fundamentals and stronger overtones, but I've also played maple boarded basses with strong fundamentals.
     
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  4. cman227

    cman227

    Dec 21, 2014
    I did set the action at the height documented in the Fender specs (about 3mm).
     
    bass12 likes this.
  5. This remains such an excellent book to learn slapping! It teaches you (almost) everything you need to know and with really great bass licks as lessons. In the old time 'before youtube' this book with the old vinyl flexible albums/records was the holy grail to learn proper slap bass (to me at least). :)

    Forget about all the other books and video's, this is the book you want. After you get this book down up to the last lesson and you can play it up to speed you don't need any more books or lessons.
     
    chapito and seang15 like this.
  6. MTBassMania

    MTBassMania

    Mar 5, 2013
    No doubt a noob question... I'm getting a lot of harmonics ringing and sympathetic vibration in my strings (especially low E). My left hand technique (carried over from fingerstyle) is kind of an amalgamation of upright bass and guitar style, so I have hard time keeping the lower strings silent without the use of my right fingers and thumb to naturally stop errant notes. I see some posts and videos of people arching middle and ring fingers over played strings in order to keep non-played strings silent. Is that about all you can do? It hurts my left hand because my fingers can't form a good arch, when I attempt to do that - my fingers have to be very flat when I play like that, so I have to bend my wrist to get my fingers everywhere they need to be.

    Am I missing something? I'm not looking for muted string pop/thump techniques. I just want to clean up the incidentals in my sound, without having to bend my wrist. Is there something I should be doing with my right hand? Any tips or links to fundamental left-hand technique for slap would be appreciated.
     
  7. tshapiro

    tshapiro Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2015
    Jax Florida
    Here's an answer you're not going to like... :-(

    I use lots of muting techniques that I really never sat down and learned - over time my hands/fingers just got better at doing it. I use both hands as needed and I use various fingers depending on the riff I am playing. One thing that seems to help is to play the riffs I'm learning hundreds of times and my hands seem to discover better ways of doing things - things I never would have thought of. One thing that works for me is to get really comfortable with a riff and then go on to learn other riffs. Then, come back to the original riff and it seems sometimes my hands have learned a new trick. I know this answer kind of sucks because we all want something prescriptive to practice, but, I believe this is the way muting is learned.
     
  8. cman227

    cman227

    Dec 21, 2014
    I was watching a Lee Ritenour video and was taken in by bassist Melvin Lee Davis's tone. We was doing a slap bass solo and it sounded so punchy and clear.

    My slapping seems to be softer than when I just use my fingers. Is there some effect or setup to get this? I noticed he was using an active bass. I use a '76 Fender Jazz (non-active). I do have an Ampeg SCR-DI I can use as an external pre-amp. Do you set the output high and let the pre-amp/amp do the work or does this come solely from technique?
     
  9. GSPLBASSDC

    GSPLBASSDC

    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    IMO, I have found that the larger the callus on my thumb, the attack on the note is crisper and better defined. Also, I slap with active and passive basses (5 and 4 string) and while active basses DO tend to help out due to their "pre-amp" and separate eq properties, I find that the type of strings I use, string setup, technique, scooped mids and WOOD makes the biggest difference overall...everything else just fine tunes and dials in my sound. Hope this helps!
     
  10. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    This is right on the money. I prefer to use active basses when slapping, there's just an extra little zing that makes the notes sing a little better. Technique is a huge part of it also. You just have to experiment and see what works best for you and how you get the sound you want. The only thing I would add is that I really like the action low on a slapping bass. Maybe its just me, but I find that I can move around with my right hand better with the low action and don't feel the need to overplay (overslap) the notes. A little becomes a lot, less energy expended, less motion, quicker recovery to the next note.
     
  11. GSPLBASSDC

    GSPLBASSDC

    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    Nope, it's not just you......I like low action as well for all the reasons you mentioned.
     
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  12. MarkM13

    MarkM13

    Mar 29, 2015
    CT - USA
    For those of you that slap on a Stingray HH or HS...
    I'll skip the back story and go right to the question. Do you find that the front pick-up gets in the way when you slap? I had a chance to play a 5HH and the first thing I noticed was the big hum bucker getting in the way. Wasn't sure if this was something that was easy to overcome. Couldn't help but wonder if the single coil would be easier but, it looks to be in the same position as the front poles on the HB.

    I'd love to get a used SR5HS but keep wondering about this issue. The HS are so rare that I can't imagine finding one to play.

    Thoughts?
    Mark
     
  13. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    It's the only thing holding me back from buying an HH Ray. I'm sure I could eventually get used to it and work around the pickup. I do love the slap tone they put out though.
     
  14. Chicken Steve

    Chicken Steve

    Apr 1, 2014
    wow, information overload! where is best to start? ~CS~
     
  15. Karl Kaminski

    Karl Kaminski Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    NYC
    @CS Best to start at the beginning of this thread ;)

    More directly, Id recommend Tony's book Slapit! Slapit is a great resource for concepts and techniques.

    While (in general) many want to jump-in and bypass the fundamentals, they all come back to it in the long run. The most important element is to develop your understanding of rhythm and syncopation. The best path is to practice the fundamentals (using a method book/video of your choice) while playing songs you like. If the fundamentals in the method books are frustrating (due to a lack of knowledge with understanding rhythms or reading) then you have some prep-work to do. Again, just another step in the process.

    It also helps to have some kind of understanding of the history of the style/technique—it didn't appear out of thin air. Listen to the history/evolution of the style, for example (my personal fav) players like; Larry Graham, Bootsy, Louis Johnson, Mark Adams, Abraham Laboriel, Victor Wooton. Or pick your favorite slapper now, and work backwards through his influences to an early influence and start your study there.


    hope it helps
     
  16. I've never sat down to learn slap technique. My problem is that I can't tell what players are doing with their thumb in particular, for either single or double thumb technique. Videos are great but often the description isn't too good for someone who can't see. I get a lot out of a lot of technique videos because I already know the fretboard, etc. but slap is new.

    So, from this blind man, if you had to learn slap with your eyes shut, what tutorial would you use? Just curious re: descriptions on these. A bit of a different request, I imagine, but if you know of one I'd be grateful. I just figure I need to learn it at some point ... may as well be now hehe
     
  17. Tom Magri

    Tom Magri Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2003
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Checkout talkingbass.net slap bass course 1 and 2. Very well done course that starts from the basics to some pretty challenging slap lines. If you make it through the entire course you will definitely have some new slap bass chops that you did not start out with.
     
  18. Karl Kaminski

    Karl Kaminski Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    NYC
    HI LeoFromPortland,
    When you say "from this blind man" are you saying you "just can't make out whats going on in the videos" or, are you actually visually impaired? Either way is fine but I may suggest a different approach depending on your needs. Also, a lot depends on where you're at in your skill level. So its hard to give examples without some personal background.

    In general, I would suggest finding a good local teacher so theres some one-on-one time and they could help you tactually with the feel of the style. Having a teacher in front of you can aid in pointing out things you haven't thought of, as well as point to areas you need to work on with your technique. These things could include; Technique, Fundamentals of music, Instrument setup, Gear, History, etc.

    But more directly, heres a snapshot of how I get my students started on day one (you may be beyond this point, but again, having a one-on-one lesson with a teacher would aid in starting you where you need to be) Obviously there are multiple approaches and more advanced techniques to be acquired but this is the most fundamental aspect of the style.

    The first step is to be able to "strike" the string with the thumb. To get a feel for the hand "shape" and movement, I describe it to my students this way; in a relaxed manner with your arm extended imagine you're turning a door knob. You'll notice the movement is twisting from the elbow/forearm–not the wrist. Once you can feel that motion, pay attention to your thumb, and how it "rotates". Now, relax your four fingers into your palm while "turning the doorknob". That is the basic thumb movement. Finally, bend your elbow bringing your hand back to your body (the playing area on the bass—if its uncomfortable, then your bass needs to be repositioned).

    Now lets use the basic thumb movement to strike the string. This takes patience at first, go slowly. Everybody immediately starts banging on the strings real fast. Just strike the open A string ONCE, ...and <listen>. Youre trying to get a good tone and ring off the open string. There are a few approaches, I like to use this one first; Put the side of your thumb (at the knuckle) on the string around the end of the fretboard. Using the "doorknob twist", gently without leaving the string, bounce the string down and up like a trampoline. Get a feel for the "bounce". Once your comfortable, lift your thumb a little off the string and "bounce" off the string. I imagine this like bouncing off a trampoline. Practice to get the feel, then increase speed and/or distance of the bounce. Keeping in mind the rotating/twisting motion.

    The next step is to apply a rhythm. Keep in mind, practice playing on each of the open strings—SLOWLY WITH A METRONOME/or drumbeat. Play each rhythm for 4 bars, start with Whole notes, then Half, Quarter notes. Don't just play but BE AWARE of what you are doing, listen to the tone of each strike, listen to the length of each note. Doing this for a week or so, many aspects of the sound and the feel of this technique—and your playing—will become more apparent and natural.


    It a lot of description for a two-step process but thats always the challenge when putting motion and sound into words. :) Hope it helps!
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
    Chicken Steve likes this.
  19. Chicken Steve

    Chicken Steve

    Apr 1, 2014
    Yes it helps & thx. I'll try and work it all into my practice routine. Apologies if i missed it (i've read as much as my adhd allows) ,but are there any particular amp settings that would normally accommodate this? ~CS~
     
  20. Karl Kaminski

    Karl Kaminski Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    NYC
    Im a believer in using your ears over thinking in settings. The whole "scoop this", "boost that", is too generic for any application that changes from room to room, stage to stage, bass to bass, player to player, song to song.

    Again, listen to the players you like and thoughtfully listen to their sound. Is it; crisp and brilliant, think and muddy, a nice string sound but heavy bottom? Try to copy each sound/type on your bass/amp. Its like anything else you need to put the time in to understand what youre working with. Once you have a better understanding of what your rig can do, you'll be able to better emulate other players' sounds and start creating your own. IMHO, thats the goal. Nobody ever wanted to emulate their hero because they sounded like someone else ;)

    For the amp, I basically start with the amp settings "flat" with a strong input signal (gain level) and work the bass to get the sound I want. If it can't get the sound where I want to go, I then make slight adjustments to the amp eq to get the sound all the way there. I typically like to "cut" verse "boost" any amp eq but again theres no "silver bullet", moreover an active or passive bass will yield different results. Specifically, my personally preference is a mild cut around 400Hz, and sometimes at the top, about 1.8KHz.

    Sometimes I try to get that crisp finger string popping sound that I hear on a lot of urban gospel recordings but when Im actually playing that type of bright setting I find it uncomfortably brittle and distracting. So, to each his own. Mess around with it, you won't break anything. If you like a setting than its the right sound for you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017

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