View Full Version : Slapping Technique

09-23-2004, 04:30 PM
My first post in this section is going to be a question that I ran into while working on my bass chops:

What is propper slapping technique? The books I have don't give much insight on the actual technique and they just give you licks which are great to develop a solid rhythmic sense but they don't shed much light into the actual slapping.

I do it almost like a forceful thumb downstroke, except that my thumb goes down and in and then up and out (I guess that comes from my classical guitar roots) but I have seen bass players slap the strings by hitting them sideways... so what's the correct way? Any bass players out there, help out this guitarist strugling his way through bass.


09-24-2004, 07:40 AM
You dont want to pick the string in a classical sense, you just want to slap it. Bassists vary on which actual part of their finger they use, but I've always gone with the inside of the knuckle on my thumb, right where the crease is when you bend it.
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Killa Beaver
09-24-2004, 08:35 AM
I recommend Louis Johnson's 'Star Licks' vid. This has helped me correct quite a few errors and build up a fair bit of speed. Like Vilesilencer I use the side of the thumb joint, and flick using my wrist in a flicking motion so the thumb slaps directly on top of the string. A good exercise to start off with is to play 12 bar blues progressions just using the thumb.. not pulling yet...to work on accuracy. The key to good slapping is knowing when to mute the strings. You can vary the tone by slapping the strings in different positions - by the bridge, above the pickups and on the fretboard.

09-26-2004, 01:19 AM
just out of interest... does use of this technique over time not damage your thumb in any way? i've watched my good friend who is a bassist do it many times and it certainly looks pretty hefty on the 'ol thumb..

09-27-2004, 05:28 AM
just out of interest... does use of this technique over time not damage your thumb in any way? i've watched my good friend who is a bassist do it many times and it certainly looks pretty hefty on the 'ol thumb..
It wont damage your thumb anymore than playing guitar will damage the finger tips on your fretting hand. The bone of your hand is much, much, much harder than the string you're slapping.
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09-30-2004, 07:21 PM
thats like saying the sea won't damage cliffs because its softer. Its constant erosion over time that i'm talking about. I think it is quite different from fretting the notes on a guitar; you don't slap your fingers onto the frets when you play guitar, especially not the joints :eek:
with that said, i know of a person who, when he tried to play slap bass, dislocated this thumb :(

10-02-2004, 11:22 PM
Ive certainly never heard of anyone dislocating their thumb from slapping, ouch! I guess it depends on the hands of the player. I'm no autority on any of this, especially not the topic of damage adding up over time. I would think that your hand would tend to get more durable, but if you're really concerned I'm sure info is out there on the web dealing with musical injuries, etc.
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10-03-2004, 01:11 AM
If you play real hard out (primus hardout:cool: ) You are going to have ****ed up hands. My thumb has a small growth where bone fragments have calcified (according to the doctor). My left hand is the same....... I have flat munted fingertips from playing for years (not a negative thing to me, I breathe music:D )
and the nail on my right index finger grows all screwed up cos I used to pick with it.

10-08-2004, 08:07 PM

I've found that to slap the best way to have your hand is to have the thumb extended parralell with the string and the fingers of your hand pointing down (making sure that they are tucked away from ratteling ofg the other strings that you aint playing). To acctually slap, i think were all agreed that the best meathod is to flick your wrist so that the knuckle of your thumb slaps the string. On the subject of erosion - legend has it that flea has a hole in his thumb from playing slap bass so much - he has to fill it with a pollyfilla like substance (possably pollyfilla) before going onstage or playing at all

10-12-2004, 08:55 AM
Wow.. I hadnt heard that before! Only thing close to that which I know of is the legend of SRV use glue to keep tips on his fingers, bending with those damned thirteen guage strings.

I guess the best example I can point to on this is Victor Wooten. He reports that he began playing bass at the ripe age of three years old! He's been doing a lotta slapping in his lifetime and is still going.. and his hands are only funked up.. not fu..
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10-12-2004, 11:43 PM
oh, i have a question. Do you slap near the last fret of each string???

10-13-2004, 03:19 AM
I'm no bass player, but I slap over the bridge, the same place you'd best most of your time picking on a guitar. I'm sure where you slap will effect your tone, but I havent taken the time to mess around with it.
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10-13-2004, 01:23 PM
Thanks guys, that will do.

10-14-2004, 09:20 PM
If you slap near the neck of the guitar the strings are at their slackets and you get the bassiest sound plus you can have the most impact when you strike the string. Slapping near the bridge sounds cool to but I find that there isn't as possitive-a-feel when your thumb collides with the string plus. I also find that (dependig on the pickup set up on the bass) slapping in-between the pickups gives a realy nie, fat, warm tone - this works best on basses with two humbuckers (Neck & Bridge) but aint so great on basses with split single coils (like P-basses).


10-18-2004, 12:14 AM
I know this is more sloppy than slappy but it's how I do it. Just thought I'd throw it in..

> CLIP < (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/posts/slop.avi)

(DivX 5 codec (http://www.divx.com/divx/download/) required to view)


10-18-2004, 12:22 AM
Every tme i slap an D, or A, i hit the two strings around them. It gives out an ugly 3 strings instead of one. Im basically hitting other strings around the desired one. How do i fix this?

10-20-2004, 12:21 AM
Also, are you guys sure were slapping properly???

I was watching Stu Hamm live, and he was slapping on the side of the strings rather then on top. This allowed him to what i call "Double Slap". He slapped down once, then brought it back up and slapped again.

Is slapping on top of the string wrong, or am i supposed to be hitting from the side almost like i would with a pick?

10-23-2004, 11:22 PM
Nobody can comment...?

10-24-2004, 12:15 AM
From what I know, you slap on the side of string.

10-25-2004, 10:50 PM
when i say the top of the string, i mean my thumb would hit the body of the guitar rather then miss it by hitting it vertically.

11-15-2004, 08:07 PM
Hi LuisSavesTheDay

When i use slap technique on bass, i usually flick my hand (slapping hand) like turning a key(of course i slap quickly). I usually slap over the last fret or between the last two frets of the bass fretboard. It also depends on your hand's position over the strings. You are a guitar player too, so you can relate alternate picking to slapping bass strings. What i mean about hitting the strings is, try out some basic exercises in positioning your slapping thumb over the strings. Also, you could find a comfortable fit from your guitar strap, by setting your bass high enough for the angle of your elbow. I suggest you sit down, and with strap on bass, lay your bass on your lap (like when you play it), then adjust the strap's length to fit your shoulder's/back without slack left. now you can sit or stand with the bass in a position you may be comfortable.

Example, (for a 4 string bass) slap the 4th string using only quarter notes, no rest, for 8 bars, OPEn strings only,(use the side of your thumb, the knuckle joint to hit the strings. practice at a very slow tempo at first, gradually increasing the speed. experiment on slapping the strings to get the fullest sound you could possibly get) next, repeat the process with the other strings. I know this may be too basic for you, but this exercise makes us focus on properly (slapping) using the right hand thumb (or left hand thumb).

hope this helps.

11-15-2004, 08:11 PM
by the way, practice in duration. don't practice too hard. build your ENDURANCE slowly. like practicing exercises on the guitar, use a routine schedule. also build speed gradually.