Why do so many bass players hate on slap bass?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by DChalo, Jul 21, 2016.

  1. DChalo

    DChalo Guest

    Dec 16, 2015
    Austin, TX
    Not trying to name names, but when I see posts on this site about stuff that is overplayed, bass players are quick to say "Slap Bass" and stuff related to the matter, but at the end of the day, good slap bass is a hard thing to come by. I just don't see it. I guess it is annoying that a lot of kids at guitar center like to play simple slap songs, but is that a reason to hate on the style as a whole? I just don't get it.
  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Personal opinion only...
    I like slap tones, especially the pops and hammer-ons. I drop the odd sparce pops and pulls into things from time to time as necessary but I find relentless hemi-demi-semiquaver barrages just grate on me after a couple of bars. Music should move the listeners rather than awe them with technical prowess yet ultimately remain impenetrable. I wonder how many non-bassists feel moved by boom-taka-taka-taka-boom-takade-boom-tak?
  3. DChalo

    DChalo Guest

    Dec 16, 2015
    Austin, TX
    lol You're british.

    Anyways that's the thing though. Good bass players make it seem more than just takak
  4. Mostly because i can't do it- my thumbs never seem to land on the right string. That's a moot point for me, though, since the styles of music i like to play generally don't require it. Except "Slow Ride" by Foghat.
    G RICH 5 and Josh Kneisel like this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    I love it, but you can't do that all the time unless you're playing in your bedroom :)
  6. DChalo

    DChalo Guest

    Dec 16, 2015
    Austin, TX
    You can slap any song you want!

    My mom used to say: If you start to doubt it, then slap it
    Jon62602 and LUCE like this.
  7. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Indeed they do, and there is no denying how great it can sound. Like I said, I like the tones and I certainly don't hate slap at all. Its a bit like Spiccato and Col Legno bowing techniques - they are difficult techniques that have a place but add a very distinctive character to the music. Most composers call on these techniques sparingly, yet the musicians are required to know how to do them (and probably devote a disproportionate amount of practice time to develop them) when called upon. I think the same might be said for slap bass. In much the same way as some players use pedals, they are special effects that for the most part, IMO, should be treated as such.

    Paganini was a great player who composed some fantastic music that finds its way into programmes, but rarely a whole programme. I think a whole evening of Paganini would be too much for anything but the most devoted of people, most of whom would have a special interest.

    Still not quite sure what being British has to do with anything... :)
    Ikkir, groucho, DChalo and 3 others like this.
  8. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    It's another technique and I like to hear it in moderation and where it fits, not just slap for slap's sake.

    Wish I was better at it but I've had to learn 4 bars of slap in 40+ years of playing and then that song never got gigged (Rod Stewart - Hot Legs).
  9. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    LOL! 1/64ths, if you must!!
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  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    The problem is it gets substituted for being Eddy Van Halen on guitar. Tasteless bassists get on stage in a cover band and wank away in the middle of time-tested songs just because they want to. It is no longer about the music, the band, or the audience. "I want to slap so I'm going to slap and you can't stop me. :spit: "

    If it makes you feel any better, it annoys the ever loving crap out of me to hear a guitarist going off on pentatonic blues scale riffs all night. And I hate drummers that want to sound like tennis shoes in the dryer all night too. ;)

    Play what fits the song. That's the point. Don't slap a Bad Company song just because YOU like how it feels and sounds to play it that way. If you write a song that sounds amazing with plickity plackity on the bass then by all means slap away. If you cover a song that was written with a plickity plackity bass line, go nuts! But don't be an idiot and slap on Dock of the Bay. That would be about nobody but you and your ego. And if I were in that bar, I might have to waste a perfectly good beer breaking it over your head. :cool:

    If you can pull it off and bring your band and the audience along with you, and make good music that EVERYONE (not just the bass player) enjoys, then slap all night. I don't think you can. Just my view.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016
  11. We can all agree overplayed, poorly executed, non-stop slap bass puts people off it.

    In the right dose & played well it sounds great. But everyone has their own idea of right dose.
  12. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    There is slap and then there is slap.

    I'm not a big slap fan. It has its place, but I prefer nice warm, thick tones from bass, not the treble heavy twang from slap.

    The haters that you mention in the OP likely have no issue with Chuck Rainey's lines in say, Peg, by Steely Dan.
    He's holding the groove down and using that technique for the sound options he gets.

    Contrast that with someone who is just hammering as many notes as they can.
    In my eyes they have abandoned the rhythm section and the result is now more than one lead instrument competing with each other and no-one is left to tie the whole thing together.

    Guys like Wooten are monster players. I readily admit I will never have his chops. But I can't listen to much of his stuff for any length of time.
    Illini10, groucho, bdplaid and 11 others like this.
  13. franklindayala


    Feb 8, 2015
    I don't slap. Don't think I would use this style to be honest. But I love to hear Marcus Miller do he's stuff.
    madmanmerc, diegom, the yeti and 2 others like this.
  14. Just another usable technique no hate from my end. Everything thing has it's place taps, slap, finger style, pick, thumb, Some people can be great at a given style and others not so good I think the hate stems from the ones who slap but lose the groove imo.
  15. Susqmike


    Nov 15, 2011
    I powerfully don't like slap tones.
  16. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Generally I just don't like the sound of it. Sometimes I think that musicians may have a lower tolerance for music we dislike (maybe its just me). To me at least, music is a very personal thing - kinda like passed gas. Being force-fed someone else's brand is unbearable. When I like something, I want it to be so loud that it almost hurts and borders on inflicting hearing damage. When I don't like a song or style or genre, it shatters my consciousness so much it is worse than listening to a chainsaw or fingernails on a chalkboard (those green or black things from before we had whiteboards).

    Sounds that make my skin crawl to a point that I immediately leave or put in earplugs (which I carry at all times) include: slap bass, rap music, Motown music (unless it's an isolated bass line), disco music, pipe organs, anything high pitched like a trumpet or violin or alto sax (both of which my kids played), backup beepers on commercial vehicles, most female voices on TV/Radio and vacuum cleaners, to name a few. Snowblowers, jackhammers and chainsaws are on the list but rank after all of the above. End of rant. :)
    pudgychef likes this.
  17. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Its ok in its time and place. But it does get old if you are trying to find a sound sample of some pickups or a certain bass and all they guy in the video wants to do is slap.

    Personally I love it when a bass player slaps his way through line check, and then completely disappears in the mix when the set starts and every song is played finger style
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  18. fretter


    May 24, 2012
    I don't have a problem with it, probably because of this song:

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  19. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    It's flashy nonsense more often than it's tasteful and musical. Every guitar playing employee in GC fancies himself a bass player because he occasionally goes into the bass section and slaps a poorly timed groove in E. It's boring.
    ceesaar00, pudgychef, Whippet and 5 others like this.
  20. Tanner5382


    Sep 26, 2010
    Georgia, USA
    I just get annoyed when a demo video of a bass, amp or strings has slap only, and when it's referred to as "funk" bass. There's more to funk than slap.