Why do you young guys play like you do?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by oldfclefer, May 11, 2005.

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  1. oldfclefer

    oldfclefer low ended

    May 5, 2005
    Southern Ohio
    I'm going to start this thread because something has confused me over the past few years. Whenever I go to a music store or take a look at web forums that target bassists, why do so many young bassists use the pop and snap style of bass playing? The reason I'm asking is because as an old school bassist, I'm aware that most popular music uses unspectacular bass lines with a few exceptions--that includes today's most popular music. I know that guys like Wooten and Clarke are doing some great things with bass, but I'm guessing they're not making as much money as say Dusty Hill or Gene Simmons. So what is it that is attracting so many young bassist to a complex form of play that they will probably never be able to employ in a practical sense?

    Just wondering,

  2. Youth + Inexperience = Tendency to Overplay/Lack of Taste/Inflated Musical Ego = Pop 'n' Snap? :meh:

    Just a theory. :D :D :D :D
  3. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Two words: Ryan and Flea
  4. Because its flashy and it impresses people? Seriously, when's the last time you were thumpin out roots and fifths in a music store and someone came up to you and complimented you on your playing? No rock guitarist picks up a guitar and thinks "Hmm.. let me play some good old folk music..." they think "Yeah I want to rip out some Hendrix here..."
  5. gilbert46


    Sep 21, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    Im 23, so possibly young. Im not terribly experienced though. I like to give a bass a test drive with slap as well as my regular playing style. Its not something I ever perform with, but its fun to do, and good practice for my fingers as well as timing on my own playing. If Im buying a bass, I like the wide spacing to get my fingers in for those pops.
  6. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    Because, goddammit, it is the bassist equivalent of a guitarist shredding for all he's worth in a bid to impress musical novices and small children alike. Slapping gives the illusion of intense proficiency where in actual fact the basic forms (and most forms employed by said 'young lads with basses in music stores') of it are ridiculously simple to get to grips with.

    Never once have I heard a young bassist in a music store going over some cool/tricky rhythms or interesting finger lines whilst he tries out that Music Man. The kids have their musical priorities backwards :scowl:
  7. seanlava


    Apr 14, 2005
    In my humble opinion, it's because slapping is an easy way to impress people, without having to learn anything about music. Unlike a fingerstyle line a la Jaco, Jeff Berlin, Billy Sheehan, etc., which requires a tremendous amount of skill and musical ability, slapping is a simple parlor trick, which can be quickly learned, and used to wow the unknowing masses. It's a similar phenomenon to the two handed tapping that was so ubiquitous in 80's guitar playing; the simple, flashy technique was used (by most) to disguise the fact that basic picking technique was underdeveloped. Hence the "music store chops" you see when you visit your local instrument emporium, nobody is actually trying out gear with the intention of buying, but they are merely trying to impress other musicians in the store with these flashy, but not very musical techniques.
    Which, by the way, was actually the stated musical goal of a former student of mine. He wanted to get "good" (meaning he wanted to be able to perform whackita-whackita white boy slapping as fast as possible) because he wanted to be as "good" as the guys he saw playing at Guitar Center. Oy vey...needless to say, he didn't last long as a student of mine, since I couldn't provide him with the quick and easy shortcut to virtousity that he craved.
    Of course, this is not meant to discount the musical usage of slap technique, I happen to LOVE Louis Johnson's approach, but rather the overused and inappropriate use of the technique. I think Anthony Jackson summed it up best when he described slapping as "the musical equivalent of ketchup." It's fine when used judiciously, but in the wrong hands, it just gets slathered over the whole meal.
  8. zac2944

    zac2944 Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I'm sure some players get technical and flashy with their playing just to show off or because they don't know any better. However, some of us do it because we love to explore the musical possibilities of the bass. Slap, tapping, chording, and other "advanced" techniques allow bassists to express themselves in new ways; it increases one's musical vocabulary.

    I'm a working musician, I play old school R&B, soul, and Funk, and I know that most of the time this stuff doesn't fly on stage. However, if it is done tastefully, some of these techniques can add to the music. I may add a little riff here or there during a tune. If it is done right, no one notices that I'm doing anything unusual on the bass, they just know it sounds good. I always keep it in the pocket.

    I think that young bass players should learn these techniques as long as they know about the pocket. I you got no pocket, you got nothing.
  9. small, heavy be

    small, heavy be

    Apr 25, 2005
    i'm 22 but i've been playing for eight years. when writing lines in a band context i go for solid, simple lines with nice fills and flourishes to make it interesting. when sitting by myself, however, or when in a store, playing an accompaniment is kind of dull and pointless. i don't slap and pop, but i like runs, trills, and a bit of tapping.
    basically, while i may be expected to be a solid accompanist in the studio, when i'm on my own i am going to enjoy myself.
    i certainly hope you don't think that because some kid is wanking at your local sam ash means that he doesn't know what he's doing.
    plus, most of us will probably never make any money anyway, and that's not especially why we play bass. i don't want to be gene simmons.
  10. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    It seems slap is frowned upon by others as a bit low brow or something. Doesn't anyone else play slap for the same reason I do? Because it sounds cool. I love slap! I love the way the hand moves when slapping I like the cool rythms you can employ and the great sound. So what if its a parlour trick? I think its great when I see guys noodling about on their bass showing off or whatever. Who cares! If it's cool it's cool. I see a good few bands where guys use a good bit of slap and I can't get enough. I don't slap because it's showing off. I slap simply becase I think its great!

    I think the anti slap brigade are just being snobbish. So I say let the kids slap and pop till their hearts content after all its great fun!
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    I'm closer to 40 than I am to 30, and I love the sound. I use it nearly every gig, and nobody's ever accused me of playing tastlessly for doing so. Of course, I try to use it in a musical fashion, but that's just me.
  12. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    I respect your opinion, but I do beg to differ.
    Yes finger style playing is quite complicated, especially to play like Jaco and such. But with bass, it was always complicated in the beginning. It took me forever to alternate fingers properly.

    Slap has alot of hard techniques. Such as muting the open strings with your forearm if you play like that, you alternating different patterns like T, P, P, T, T, etc etc. Also Thumping the A or D string can be a pain when beginning. learning to Slap takes alot of pratice.

  13. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    As others have noted, I see the same stuff. I say let the kid's have their fun, they're harmless.

    I have done the occasional slap/pop lick whilst shopping, but it's for determining a tonal response from the gear under test. I'm certainly not going to impress anyone with what I'm doing. IMO, the kids are doing it 'cause that's what they like. If you do that constantly in a band setting, you won't be with the band for long. It's cool to have monster chops, but they should be displayed appropriately, in context. There appears to be several 'chops masters' making a living with these wondrous techniques (Wooten, et al), but most working bassists are the 'support' type musicians, as working bands require. It's cool to have the chops to display when your solo spotlight comes, but then it's back to the business of groove.

    Let the kids shred to their hearts delight, but if they want to be part of a working team, they'll need to do what us old guys already know: hold the bottom line in the pocket. That's where it's at.
  14. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    I am on my 11th month of playing bass in a serious aspect. My guitar player mentioned a few times to learn more about slap and I refused. In a way I find it a wank style and in a way I admire it.

    My primary interest(since I am in a trio to boot) is to stay in the pocket and lay it down.
  15. personally that is the way I play, I play some fingerstyle but in my last band they leaned heavily of slapping and popping of the bass. Call it easy showboating (which it is because it is the way I picked up the instrument) but when I am at a music store, I play riffs that I have used/plan to use in some variation
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Maybe because they like it?


    There are all kinds of reasons to slap, the legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder. People tend to spend more time doing things they enjoy doing so if they enjoy slap, I say knock yourself out and keep playing. Whatever level they choose to take that to is on them IMO.

    I do know from several conversations that quite a few who profess not to like slap haven't actully figured out how to do it.

    The shed is always open to anyone who cares to step in:D
  17. golden_boy


    Dec 27, 2004
    let people do what they like when trying out an instrument :D Not as if it is hurting you.

    Personally though, I dont use slap in a band setting, but I can see why it would be used when trying out an instrument, because it gives you an idea of the kind of tones you can get out of the bass.

    I dont see the problem with messing about a bit, as long as its improv - no playing of Higher Ground or Classical Thump please :D
  18. Quoted for great justice!

    I used to be like that. But now I've leaned how to clean up my slapping a bit, I know I was just in denial.

    People who are going to work as bassists need to be able to do all kinds of stuff. Fingerstyle, slapping and pick playing are all important to different people, and you never know who you'll be doing a session for in 6 months time. Besides, if you use it tastefully, slap is just f**king cool. Admit it. :D
  19. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Well to try out a bass, I normally play For Whom the Bell Tolls uses open, 1, 2, 3, and then like 19, 18, 17, 16 frets. Then I slap something.

    There ya go. I think people tend to brag and that's why they slap.
  20. I like to use it to warm up and as a way to express myself differently. It's a fun technique to use since it's rarely used in songs.

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