What makes a bass slappable?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Feb 28, 2004.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I know... not having dinner on the table on time. A bad attitude. etc.

    With that out of the way, I'm not quite sure exactly what makes one bass easier to slap than another. My MM is simple and fun to slap - and it sounds great. Same with my Warwick. Try to slap my acoustic however and it spits at me. Same with my Dan Electro, a Fender Mustang I own (anyone wanna buy it?- make an offer, it's got a dimarzio p pickup, early 80s, slightly beat up) and a few P basses I've played. Why do some basses slap better than others. Hmmmmm.........
  2. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I really don't know. I would guess it's the sturdyness of the bass, the action, the pickups and pickup placement, and string tension. You need the perfect amount of tension on the strings in order to get the good slap feel and slap tone.
  3. sunburstbasser


    Oct 18, 2003
    First, a slappable bass has enough tension to really bounce the strings. Mustangs and most acoustics are short-scale, so they don't normally slap very well. Second, they need the right tone. MMs and Warwicks have a very aggressive tone, with a lot of treble. Ps don't have that treble. Ps don't usually sound good for slapping because its all low mids, which makes them great for plucking but it takes a good set of hands to make them really slap well. It can be done, it just isn't easy. If you ever get a chance, try slapping a P/J, with the J turned up all the way and the P backed off. It'll sound great. Third, they need enough fret clearance to actually play them. If the strings are too low, they'll run into the pups, too high and they get a little harder to slap but your fingers can pop easier because theres more room to move under them.
  4. In my opinion, the action is the most important factor. The slap "sound" seems to be most affected by the impact of the strings against the fretboard. Even completely unplugged, a bass with the right action will sound great slapped.

    So, before trying to find the right "slap bass", try just lowering the action of your existing bass. You may be surprised. I sure was when I did it the first time.

    - Dave
  5. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    - A good set of strings is one of the most important factors in slap/pop
    - Action - and tension: higher tension will make it buzz less in lower action, too, but high tension and high action will choke the slap nad the pop; also will low tension; so higher tension and low action
    - Frets (I prefer bell brass, my next basses will most definately have them custom-fittted: it sounds a bit better IMHO, clearer and even the buzz is nicer)
    - P-ups near the bridge and closer to the strings

    To get that hi-fi sound, lacquer finish will help; maple and hard ash are very commonly used for "slap basses" - but I play oilfinished bubinga, and it still sounds good :p
  6. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    Well if your gonna go get a new bass, Make shure its not Fretless, Cuz Fretless basses sound bad when slapped...

  7. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I direct you towards Les Claypool, and let his supercool fretless slap knock that statement to the ground, and be beaten upon by the Rainbow Bass. Huzzah.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I don't think the scale length makes a big difference. Think Chuck Rainey. The action of the bass has a lot to do with it.
  9. FaBu-


    Jan 16, 2004
    Just what I was gonna say.. And I think you can make every bass sound good when slapped, it's just about skills and what you're used to. Ofcourse good strings and action will make it a lot easier ;)
  10. Skavenger


    May 26, 2002
    It's up to yourself. My friend has a $300 Squier and gets a killer slap tone and I have a $1200 Warwick that I get a very much the same slap tone from, with some slight EQ changes. We borrowed eachother's basses and none of us could slap the other's bass. It's how used you are to the bass that counts. Of course the strings, tension, action and so on has a bit to do with slap tone as well but when you look aside from that it's the player that has the last word. I can get a hand-built, ultra-expensive bass a get farts from it or I can get a cheap bass and have the coolest slap tone ever on it.
  11. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    yeah, but.... I still think that a fretted bass sounds MUCH better than a fretless... But thats just my opinion.