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Re: Slap Bass Setup/Technique Questions

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Posted by Chris Sherer on July 25, 2001 at 12:27:51:

In Reply to: Slap Bass Setup/Technique Questions posted by Kevbo on July 19, 2001 at 16:02:56:

: All I wanna do is funk up da place...

: I just starting out playing bass, been teaching myself how to read music and practicing as much as possible, not enough though.
: My main ambition for bass is to be able to play some funky, slap bass type basslines. I've been learning the bass part from "Higher
: Ground" by Stevie/RHCP and I think I must be doing something wrong. To get any sound out of my bass I have to beat the hell out of
: it and it still doesn't sound right. I live in Chicago and I go see live performers as much as possible. I particularly watch the bass
: players to see how they work and when someone is playing slap bass and jammin all over the place with sixteenth notes it looks like
: the he/she is hardly working! Their thumbs barely seem to move and I'm slamming my hand all over the place.

: I have a Warwick Corvette Standard, passive, 4 string, stock strings. I just set it up to lower the action (2.5mm from low E to 12th
: fret as manufactured recomends) and that helped a little.

: I plug into to an Ampeg B-50R, plenty loud for my apartment and I can't really turn it up without risking pissing off my neihbors so
: this could be part of the problem

: Specifically,

: 1. What do I do with my slapping hand? Should I keep it off the body or plant my palm on the body?
: 2. Where should I slap the string with my thumb? I read that I should do this on last fret on the neck (24th) but I've seen pro's hit
: strings at different places.
: 3. Is slapping easier with different types of strings? Like flatwounds?
: 4. Is it there any advantage to using the bridge or neck pickup more?
: 5. Anyone know a good slapping excercise to help improve my speed and precision?

: Thanks, beam me up Bootsie

: Kev

The biggest thing to remember in the beginning is that you want your arm to be as relaxed as possible. You describe slapping all over the place and not getting the right sound. Your playing to hard...very common in the beginning. Relax your arm and let your wrist do all the work. Also, another mistake in the beginning is that you don't bring your thumb back off of the string quick enough. The string must be allowed to ring clear and true. Once again this is all in the wrist. This may sound corny but I use the analogy of dribbling a basketball. Think of your thumb as a basketball. You want a nice even motion just like you would dribbling. Do not think of the motion as being completed until the thumb has come clear of the string and the string rings clear. Do not worry about popping strings at this point since that is another beast altogether. Develop the thumb first, then work in the pops. You will need to develop a callus. Most people slap somewhere between the neck and pick up. I was taught a different way. Every bass has a 'sweet spot'. To find yours slap your open E string close to the bridge or bridge pickup. It should sound a little tinny. Slowy move towards the neck slapping the string evenly. Listen close at some point you will find the tone gets real thick and fat. This is the sweet spot on your bass. Something to think about. I play a Modulus and the sweet spot on that bass is actually on the neck. About the 19th fret. So your sweet spot may be on the neck to. As far as exercises, a previous note mentioned Metronome. I couldn't agree more. Set your metronome to a comfortable tempo and play even notes with the click...Start off with 1 note per click(quarter notes), then 2 notes per click(eighth notes), 3 notes per click(triplets) and 4 notes(sixteenth). Keep notes even. Practice with a Metronome is the best thing you can do. Every musician needs a strong sense of time, but if you choose to play bass you must STUDY time. Hope this helps...any other questions let me know.

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