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Thumb technique for slap

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by AndrewShirley, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. I've been slapping for about 6 years now and I'm real comfortable with it.

    Here's the dilema: I've been watching videos from some of the greats such as Larry Graham and Victor Wooten, who use a different thumb technique then I learned. I "whack" the string at the last fret of the fret-board, kind of like trying to kill bugs haha. Anyway both Larry and Victor use their thumb more like a pick, where it skims past the string, striking it as it passes and comes to rest on the next string higher up. They typically do this over the PUPs. Both Larry and Victor take advantage of this and use the double-thumbing technique, like a pick.

    My question: How many of you "WHACK" that string on the fret board, and how many "thumb-pick" it? It seems there are at least 2 popular styles.

    - Andrew

    ps. I've been trying it Larry/Victor style and got a big blister ;)
  2. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Depends on the tune and wither you 're comping on a tune vs soloing.
    on a 70's cover tune, I 'd use either a L. Graham or L. Johnson technique. " Brickhouse" (Commodores).

    on the jazz tune :" Mercy,Mercy,Mercy" (J. Zawinal) in my band, I get a solo... so I' ll use a combination of techniques: bits of Victor's, Marcus's & Kai Eckhardht's (J. McLaughlin) ideas.

    Sometimes it's works real well :cool:

    and other times I 'll fall flat on my face. :(

    But I' m always working to improve it. :)
  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I seem to HAVE to use the thumb-pick method (only been learning this kind of style for half a year now). I do think that's the best way to do it; I mean 'follow-through' method makes the most sense to me, but I can't seem to get decent tone by bouncing my thumb off the string. I can bounce a finger off the string to get a great vowely tone - I'm beginning to do that more and more often in fact - but my thumb just won't bounce, it seems. ..then I see these guys double-bouncing (L. Johnson!) - yikes! I think I'll just work on double-thumbing with the 'thumb pick' method for now.

  4. I starting out "whacking the string" (no pun intended), until I noticed the same thing you noticed with Vic Wooten and others. I wanted to learn to double thump, so I figured I would have to learn it their way. It took me alot of practice to get used to doing it, but now that I am used to it, I rarely if ever whack at the string like you described. I use the thumb more as a pick.
  5. I think the double-thump/thumb technique is really cool! Its definately going to take some work but is well worth it from what I've seen of these bass masters.

    As for "Whacking the string" ( :) ) It did take a lot of practise to get the proper sound (and to quit hitting adjacent strings), but it did come eventually. Now in combination with hammer-ons, I get a lot of notes going. Nothing crazy like Vic, but hey, if I could play like him I would be too busy to be reading this board ;) Now then... off to practise

    - Andrew
  6. I origianally started by wacking the string. I would try and keep my thumb parallel with the strings but I have a plumbers thumb(the last joint almost is on a 90deg. angle to the rest of my thumb) and i would get a reaally bad cramp in my right shoulder. I stopped slapping for almost a year and a half. I have now started again with it, and I have got it to where I can use either technique with some proficiency. Go really slow at the start and the "going thru the string" technique will come. I now use a perpendicular thumb position for wacking the string and more parallel for thru.

    my problem is going down up and a pluck on one string. I have long fingers and I find it kinda cramped. oh well

    practice practice... :scowl: :rollno:
  7. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I've noticed the same thing. I'm starting late on learning how to slap. Right now, I bounce my thumb off the string and frets percussively(Or as you call it 'Whack'). I've tried the 'picking' motion with my thumb over the pickups but I can't seem to get a decent sound out of my bass. Even over the frets I can't get as much volume from this method.

    Any recommended exercises to improve on this would be greatly appreciated.

  8. It takes alot of practice. Practice going through scales and modes using this technique. Anthony Wellington's classes (Slap 1 and 2) on www.musicdojo.com really helped me get started using my thumb in that manner.
  9. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses

    Thanks for the info, I'm going to check musicdojo.com out.

    -Best Regards, Art