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Slap Bass: Techniques, Adjustments and Tricks to Develop Your Tone - Part One

April 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 130

Want your slap tone to sound more like Victor Wooten, Flea, Les Claypool, Marcus Miller and other slap bass greats? No problem! There are many free and inexpensive tricks, adjustments and accessories that can help you sound like your favorite bassists!

Before we get started, remember that tone is extremely subjective. One bassist's idea of good slap tone might sound horrible to another. You'll need to experiment and practice to find just the right tone for your ears.

Technique -

The first thing you'll need to get good slap tone is proper technique.

Your overall tone and performance will improve if you keep your slapping hand as relaxed as possible. When slapping or popping, attack by rotating your hand at the wrist only, moving your thumb toward the stings when slapping and pulling your finger(s) away from the strings when popping. Make sure not to rotate your hand more than 30 degrees in either direction, you will be faster and get less fatigued.

When slapping with your thumb, you want the side of the pad/knuckle to bounce off the string just hard enough to slap it against the frets. When popping, place the pad of a finger on the portion of the string facing the floor without using too much or too little of the pad. You want just enough friction so the string snaps lightly against the frets as your finger slides off the string with the least amount of force possible.

You can also experiment with attacking the strings at different points down their lengths, listening for tonal differences. Many bassists slap right over the last few frets and pop very close to the end of the fretboard. Others attack at different points and many even change which part of the string they attack between notes, phrases, songs, etc. Play around and find what's best for you in terms of comfort and sound.

If you haven't been playing bass very long, you might take a few lessons with a good slap bass instructor to work out any kinks in your technique. It is far easier to get things right from the start rather than spending hours un-learning bad habits. Also, remember there are many different styles of slap and you'll need to find the one that sounds and feels right to you. Developing the nuances of your own slap style can take years of experimentation and....

Practice -

The only way (outside of the Matrix) to develop your technique is practice, practice, practice! You probably won't sound like your slap bass idol the first time you play a bass. In fact, you might not even sound like the pros in your first few years, it all depends on how much and how consistently you practice. In fact, consistency is more important than quantity. It's better to practice a little every day than a lot every three days. Your brain and muscles develop memory faster if they are exposed to practice on a daily basis. If you are serious about playing bass, practice one hour per day minimum. The more consistent hours of practice you get, the faster your slap tone will develop.

While good technique and consistent practice are essential to your slap bass tone, there are also a few simple adjustments that make a huge difference with much less effort. Part two of this article will discuss how simple adjustments to the action and string gauges of a bass can really affect your slap tone.

Copyright © Anthony Olinger, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars 2011.

Anthony owns and operates Xylem Handmade Basses & Guitars, building custom basses and guitars made to each player's specifications.

Learn more about how to slap bass at the Xylem Basses & Guitars website!

Source: EzineArticles
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